A new generation of Korean startups

My colleague suddenly left the meeting room where we were preparing the final presentation for an important project. I took a short break and heard her on the phone in the restroom on my way back. She was brilliant and considered a role model among her peers, but she sounded tearful when talking on the phone. Her child had a fever and she was begging her mom to go collect them from school, because she couldn’t leave work — and neither could her husband. 

That happened in 2012, when I was 26, and it came as a big shock. I aspired to build my career at the same consultancy, have a family like hers and raise beautiful children while doing a great job at work. 

My married friends were thinking seriously about whether they had to quit work when they had a baby, even before they were pregnant. My co-workers with children had depression, or became anxious that there was no quota at a daycare center. They felt weary trying to balance doing a good job with taking good care of their children as a working mom. At the national level, it all added up: Korea’s female activity rate is very low compared to other OECD countries, affecting productivity despite significant investments in education.  

I realized I wanted to find a way to address this challenge, and that awakening led me to create Mom Sitter: a platform that connects parents with babysitters.  After working hard to grow user numbers to 850,000, and becoming the leading platform in the nation, we wanted to expand further with a mobile app. The ChangGoo program gave us support with technology development, access to educational seminars and help with app and YouTube marketing — enabling us to increase awareness of our brand. It was a proud moment when we were selected as a top service in the first year of Changoo, and earned the top ranking in the Play Store’s childcare category for Korea. 

I’ve realized that childcare issues concern not only working women but also all those who raise children, including dads and grandparents.. If they have strong backup , they can finish the childcare marathon, just as Mom Sitter has gained energy from Google’s support in the competitive startup environment. 

Seunghoon Lee 이승훈], Ringle