Interview With Sae Hyung Jung
Describe your product or service:
“oVice provides 2D virtual spaces for people to meet, talk, and collaborate just like they do in person. It helps create genuine conversations and fosters a realistic communication experience. It can be used for remote work, events, and conferences.”
Describe your company values and mission:
“oVice is on a mission to humanize the online communication experience for natural interactions. We help people coordinate meetups and real-time collaboration in a virtual world where things are more spontaneous and fun.”
How are you funded? I.e. venture capital, angel investors, etc.
“In terms of funding, we've raised a total amount of $2.5 Million USD up until the pre-A funding series from VC.”
How big is your team? Tell us a little about them (I.e. co-founders, freelancers, etc.)
“We have more than 100 employees now and [are] still expanding. From the beginning of our company, we worked fully remotely. This gave us opportunities to work with many talented individuals all around the world, making our company multicultural.”
Did you always want to start your own business? What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
“As a kid, I used to be a fan of the Doraemon Manga, and I wanted to build a Doraemon robot in the future. When I was in high school, I've always dreamt of becoming a robotic engineer, but things didn't really go as planned, especially when I started university in Japan. I guess school wasn't the right pathway to pursue my dream. As I was doing an internship for an IT company, I decided to start my own business while still catching up with university life. The entrepreneurial lifestyle felt like a good fit for me, so I went ahead with it and became a serial entrepreneur!”
How did you come up with your startup idea? How did you decide to actually act on the idea? What gave you confidence that you were on the right track?
“It all started when the COVID-19 pandemic hit us with the news that everyone is going to be working from home. At that time, I was on a business trip in Tunisia, North Africa, and the government issued a lockdown. So, I couldn't go back to Japan or even go outside to meet with my Tunisian team. I could barely work with only using Zoom and Slack, and I started feeling the frustration of not being able to talk to my colleagues, who would usually be sitting next to me at the office. That's when I decided to build our own virtual office where teams from Korea, Japan, and Tunisia can come together and work in the same space despite being physically apart. The virtual office was later commercialized under the name 'oVice' and became a service that is used by more than 1,200 companies in less than one year. Right now, oVice has a market share of more than 90% in Japan and is ranked second in the world. I was confident that I wasn't the only one struggling with bringing unity to my remote team, and the more people I know sharing the same frustration, the more I become sure that oVice will grow beyond expectations.”
How did you come up with your company name? Did you have other names you considered?
“Since the goal was to build our own virtual office that is based on spatial audio, we combined the words ‘voice’ and ‘office’ to call it ‘oVice’.”
What is the greatest challenge you faced in starting your business, and how did you overcome it?
“When we first started oVice, one of the main challenges was to figure out whether it is fit for the market or not. Because at that time, everyone was talking about Zoom and other cloud meeting services, but the idea of having a virtual office wasn't that common – not until when companies started switching to fully remote and ‘work from home’ became the new trend and companies wanted to adopt their own virtual office where teams can work and collaborate just like in the real physical office.”
Who is your product or service made for? Who is your target market?
“oVice is made for anyone who's still stuck in the rigid online communication phase. For people who are looking to create a more flexible communication environment that is both fun and engaging, oVice is the one. We are mainly targeting companies with over 10 employees, facing online communication challenges while doing remote work, and searching for ways to strengthen team bonds while doing things remotely.”
What's your marketing strategy?
“We like to think of oVice as a rockstar that's on its way to build the remote culture anew and develop inspirational ideations for remote communication. Technically, if you come to think of it, every rockstar has a fandom, so we are also building a loyal fanbase [and setting] up word-to-mouth triggers to actively influence and encourage organic word of mouth.”
How did you acquire your first 100 customers?
“Our team prioritizes a stable network to grant a comfortable communication experience. Secondly, we make things viral. If something is trendy, it goes viral. If it goes viral, everyone will be talking about it and referring it to other people.”
What are the key customer metrics / unit economics / KPIs you pay attention to to monitor the health of your business?
“Our company has a SaaS business model. We monitor churn rate, conversation rate, customer acquisition cost, and net revenue retention closely to check how healthy our business is currently and to optimize our external expenses.”
What is the biggest lesson you learned during your journey?
“You can't really do things on your own, that's why having a great working team will ensure the company's scalability.”
Who is your support system?
“We built a close relationship with our stakeholders, and we take their feedback and insight into great consideration.”
How do you stay motivated?
“Staying eager to try out new things in life and achieve my goals keeps me moving forward. As the saying goes, ‘Stay hungry, stay excited’.”
Did you have to develop any habits that helped lead you to success? If so, what are they?
“One of the habits that I acquired is to hire people that can do a better job than myself. If you choose the right people with the right mindset and creativity and give them the big picture of what you're envisioning things to be, they will have the freedom to create bigger things. At the final stage, you will get to decide whether it's worth it or it should be changed to something different.”
What are you most proud of as an entrepreneur?
“I would say turning my dreams into reality. Being able to come up with an idea, execute it, and make it work for everyone to benefit from it is a real pride I take in myself.”
More on oVice
We were fortunate enough to hear some valuable insights during our interview with Sae Hyung Jung of oVice that will inspire, motivate, and teach aspiring and established entrepreneurs alike.