Student launches online talent marketplace

December 5, 2013
Choi Byung-wook, CEO at Otwojob

Choi Byung-wook, CEO at Otwojob

By Park Ji-won

Choi Byung-wook, 28, a senior at Yonsei University and CEO at Otwojob, an online talent marketplace like Fiverr, said being a student is not an obstacle to starting a business.

“I had a good business idea, and as a student, I had plenty of time and less pressure to start the business on my own. What I had to do was try my best to improve the service in my small office,” Choi said.

Otwojob’s business model is simple and market-oriented. It is an open marketplace, like Auction or Gmarket, for people who want to buy and sell services online at a “market price” set based on customers’ comments and ratings.

His business, which was launched in January this year, is growing every month in Korea.

Some 2,500 people have signed up as of November. The company’s total monthly volume averaged 80 million won ($75,379) as of last month. Its average earnings also stood at 10 million won every month since its debut, according to Choi.

Choi said being a student was not an obstacle. Rather, it helped him fund the business by gaining support from various institutions through student IT competitions.

“I was funded by the university and some private institutions through student IT competitions. I used the prize money to set up Book Jangter and Otwojob.”

Choi’s success did not come without failure. For example, his online social commerce business, launched in 2010, failed because the market was already dominated by companies like Ticketmonster and Coupang.

“When my business failed, I learned that I need to be the first to enter a market.”

After the first business failed, he launched Book Jangter, an online used textbook market for university students, in March 2011. Book Jangter is a huge success, serving more than 8,000 member students in 150 universities in Korea.

“Many people thought launching an online open market for used university textbooks was a good idea, but no one made it into the business before I did.”

“I have been stuck in my office for more than 11 months since Otwojob started in January, but I am so happy that I forget to eat when I’m working. Follow the road that your passion takes you. That’s what I want to say to students,” Choi added.

Choi aims to be a leading service trading platform provider within a year.