[THE INVESTOR] “We have saved 250 years of waiting time in total for our customers,” Jeon Sang-yeol, founder and CEO of Nowbusking, told The Investor in a recent interview.
The startup provides a waiting list service to businesses such as restaurants, banks, shopping malls, amusement park or just about any place where people can expect to wait. Instead of waiting in front of restaurants, for instance, diners can note their phone number on a tablet placed at the host stand and spend their time doing other activities such as shopping.
Nowbusking Co-founder and CEO Jeon Sang-yeol
The waiting service is gaining popularity in Korea as businesses -- especially shopping centers and theme parks -- try to utilize customers’ waiting time. As of Oct. 10, the service has accumulated 3 million users since its official launch in 2017. It has some 1,000 businesses using the service but plans to attract 10,000 businesses by the end of next year.
Even though diners or shoppers who use the service appear to be the biggest beneficiaries of the service, Jeon emphasizes that his company is a business-to-business service and aims to help business owners run their stores more efficiently and make offline places better. By doing so, the company can collect hard-to-obtain but very valuable data on small businesses in the country. This would give Nowbusking so many more opportunities in the near future, Jeon said. “With our data, we can analyze hours of use, purpose of visit and also find other online and offline business opportunities.”
Jeon worked for Korea’s internet giant Naver and a financial company before he founded Nowbusking in 2014 with four co-founders including former Naver and Samsung employees who have firm belief in each other and spent four years for team building.
“I was certain that I wanted to build a startup with these members but we didn’t have any particular business in mind. So we wanted to have hands-on experience in many sectors to figure out what we wanted to do,” Jeon said. “We worked at a game company and a broadcasting station together, from which we gained experience in media, content and platforms.”
Through four years of team building, Jeon and his co-founders concluded that onlife-to-offline is the last domain with a huge growth potential.
“While the internet arena focuses on general traits of customers, focusing on offline enterprises entails a lot of attention to details and you need to respect the history of each store,” Jeon said when asked about his strategy to entice business owners to use the fee-based service.
Nowbusking, with a staff of 39 people, wrapped up its series B funding in March, raising 5 billion won (US$4.40 million) from Korea’s prominent venture capital firms including Kakao and Sema Translink Investment. The company raised 2 billion won in its series A funding last year.
With the raised funds, the company plans to expand its business both in domestic and overseas markets. It is conducting a test run in Indonesia now and plans to officially launch early next year.
By Park Ga-young (firstname.lastname@example.org)