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December 17, 2018

[INTERVIEW] Memebox aims to break even next year

PUBLISHED : November 30, 2018 - 09:51

UPDATED : November 30, 2018 - 09:54

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[THE INVESTOR] Korean beauty startup Memebox, which successfully secured funds from global accelerator Y Combinator in 2013, aims to reach break-even point next year.

“We expect to break even in the third or fourth quarter next year,” Memebox co-founder and Global President Doin Kim said during an interview with The Investor. 


Memebox co-founder and Global President Doin Kim
Memebox



Except for a few, the outlook is not usual for Korean cosmetics firms which are currently passing through a difficult phase. Even K-beauty giant Amorepacific saw its net profit fall around 40 percent in the third quarter this year.

Kim pointed out that Memebox’s competitiveness is largely due to its less dependence on the Korean market.

“Currently around 50 percent of our revenue comes from overseas. We try to make sure that a fall in one market does not lead to the collapse of the whole business when forming our global portfolio,” he said.

Speaking on the company’s know-how of expanding its business in global markets, he attributed the success to Y Combinator.

“Although it is important, we try not to set on becoming a global company as our ultimate goal. We consider it more as a process. Instead, we focus on providing more value.”

In order to deliver more value to customers, Kim puts his utmost efforts to recruit talented people. The company has been scouting employees from many conglomerates, including E-Land, Benefit and Sephora.

“All our executives spend around 30 percent of the working hours for human resources related areas. Also, I personally cold call people if I spot someone who I think fits well with our company,” Kim said. 


Memebox co-founder and Global President Doin Kim
Memebox



The company is also flexible enough to change its business model depending on the environment. It started off in 2012 with a subscription-based beauty product delivery service, and changed its model four years later.

“In 2016, we found out that given the business environment here, which makes it difficult to secure supplies for our subscribers, it was impossible to scale up our business further.” The company has since transformed itself into a mobile e-commerce platform that sells around 170,000 cosmetics and beauty products.

More recently in September, Memebox announced the launch of a new K-beauty brand Kaja with US-based multi-brand cosmetics store operator Sephora. During the interview, Kim also laid out the company’s plans to further expand in the US. “Although no specific details have been fixed yet, we plan to launch a new skincare line in the US in 2020.”

Kim and Memebox CEO Ha Hyung-seok met while serving in the military here. In 2011, the latter proposed the idea of establishing a startup to Kim, who was working as a retail private banker at Samsung Securities. The two officially launched Memebox the following year.

By Ahn Sung-mi and Song Seung-hyun
(sahn@heraldcorp.com)(ssh@heraldcorp.com)

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