All entries for Friday 17 March 2017

March 17, 2017

Interview with the founders of Tree Planets, Hyungsoo Kim and Min Choel Jeong (2)

Writing about web page https://youtu.be/KXAwOxF7vzc

Written by Yachi Chen and Suiki Park



Q: What is the business model of Tree Planet?

H: We connect the players, business, governments, and NGOs through the mobile game. Instead of the traditional method of the mobile game that simply received the money from the players, we involved in the business as a part of support us. The logo of the sponsor business will be put in the scene in the game, or they even become the characters in the game. In this case, the players won’t be annoyed by the advertisement from the business; instead, the image of those green business can be truly improved. The business provides us the money to really plant the trees in the real world. The player can always check how the tree grows in the real world. And we put the environment issue in the game, such as the flood and the desertification. People can experience the problem in the virtual world in Tree Planet, and thus further realize the problems in the real world.

M: We also fulfill our idea with crowd funding and fan club. There are different fan club on our official website, and we plant the tree for their idol by naming the forest with their names, including Paul McCartney and certain Korean super stars. We turned the trees as gifts and memories. People feel more connected by planning the tree for their idols. And sometimes people gathered in the tree of their fan clubs, they even kiss the trees. They are connected by the spirits.

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Q: What isthe most unforgettable memories asbuilding up this business?

M: In 2015, we initiate the planting of the trees as the memorials and the tribute to the Sinking of MV Sewol happened in Korea, the Audrey Hepburn family from the US actively sponsor 50,000 US dollars to Tree Planet to create forest memorial for the victims. We saw the victims were crying when they was looking at the forest, it really touched me, and we know that we can do something bringing more impacts to people. Recently, we further bring different meanings by planting trees. We plant the forest at the boundary between North and South Korea as we hope to bring the peace among two countries. We plant mango trees in Sudan to further solve the malnutrition problem of the local children. Also it provides the work opportunities for the unemployed local women.

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Q: There are many young people who would like to have their own business. What suggestion would you give to the young entrepreneurs nowadays?

H: Finding your goal. Many people didn’t know the goal they really passionate in the deep inside in their heart. There may be some people don’t support you and even against you; however, as long as you set your goal, knowing your destination, maybe the way to reach it would not be straight. Sometimes you will face long path, round path, and sometimes you need to make a turn, you need much time to get the destination. But once you have a clear goal in your mind, it does not matter how much time you need to get there because you will finally figure out the ways to go. We are still on the path. Our goal is to plant 10 million trees by 2020. We are still far away from there, and there will be a lot of challenge in the future. The market has been changing, the mobile device has been changing, and it is needed to build up a new business model every 3 years. But we will keep carrying on, we won’t give up until the day the earth is covered by trees!



https://youtu.be/KXAwOxF7vzc


Interview with the founders of Tree Planets, Hyungsoo Kim and Min Choel Jeong (1)

Writing about web page https://treepla.net/

Written by Yachi Chen and Suiki Park


Tree Planet is a mobile game from Korea, which combine the playfulness of mobile game and the action of protecting the environment. When the player plants a tree in the game, Tree Planet will further plant a tree in the real world. The vision of the business is “to make green the most visible color on our planet. “In the past 6 years, Tree Planet has planted more than 73 forests over 10 countries, including Korea, the U.S, China, Sudan, more than 488,165 Trees, in total. It is found by Hyungsoo Kim (29 years-old) and Min Choel Jeong(30 years-old) from Korea.


tree

Q: What’s your rational to start the business of the mobile game Tree Planet?

A: Hyungsoo (H): We would like to solve the problem of environment protection. I majored in media and communication in undergraduate. Since I was 17 years old, I spent 5 years to make a film about environment issue. I used to watch TV programs related to environment issue, and I noticed that the deforestation had become a serious problem. In recent years, there are forest as big as half size of the U.K disappear every single year. Many people watched the film I made, but only few of them would really take an action.

Min Choel (M): We met each other in 2008 as I majored in animation. At that moment we were going to the army (In Korean, all males have to go to military serves for 2 years.) Both of us desired to do something fun and meaningful instead of commercial movies. We want to solve the problem, change the world. We might go to work in the government or Non-Government Organization. However, we decided to do something by ourselves, something worldwide and bring more deep impact.

Q: How it became the idea of mobile game business?

H: One day, a friend of mine was playing the farming online game. I asked him why he enjoyed it so much? He told me that he really enjoyed the feeling of planning trees and making money in the virtual world. That gave us an inspiration. We did not know much about the business or entrepreneurship, so we read many books about environment protection and CSR business to develop the idea.

Q: Both of you just graduated from college. How did you solve the problem of lack of resources and finance?

M: Our experience is, when you really desire and endeavor to do something, people will try their best to help you! At the beginning, we knew nothing about mobile game. During the 2 years we were in the military, we took off the army suit and put on the suit on the weekend. We went to many places visit different people as long as they might give us some suggestion, including engineers in the colleges. We have 40 holidays during that 2 years, and we tried our best in those days.

H: At the beginning, our idea is to develop a computer game. At that moment, the iPhone just went into the market. An engineer suggested me “hey! Why not develop a mobile game?” as he saw the future trend of the smart phone. We also visit some small enterprise or start-up venture, some people suggested us to visit the government, some people suggested us to start our own business as a social enterprise. After 15 days, we started our own business. It happened so soon! When we just focus on our goal, it just happened, we never even have time to think about giving up. Everyone around us was really willing to help us. It was the moment that smart phone, green business hit the market.

Q: What is the most difficult things to start this business? And how did you try to solve them?

M: People don’t believe that this could really make money at the very beginning, which make it difficult to convince them to help us. And in fact, Korean People rarely use smart phone at that time. We did not think it was difficult at the beginning, but actually it was really difficult (laugh). At the beginning our financial target is 100,000 US dollars, and we visit different people to find the sponsor. There are Angel Investors in the US but not in Korea at all. So we tried to join different entrepreneur competition, including the ones in Korea, and the global ones such as in Berkley University in the U.S. We won certain fund from the competition, and many business leaders noticed our idea from the competition and wanted to help us. We reached 1,000,000 US dollars in 3 months, which is beyond our expectation.

H: Another difficulty is to find the land to really plant the trees as they are owned by the government, and we have to convince them to join our idea of planting trees. What’s more, every country has its own regulation and law, to say nothing of the difficulty of communication in different languages. However, we really wanted to solve the problem in various countries. For example, the air pollution is really severe in China and Mongolia. China is closed to Korea geographically. Environment issue would not be a problem for an individual country, it is a global issue. People have to solve it even if we come from different countries.

Q: How did you reach the local government and business to solve this problem?

H: We tried to make the connection through the internet. We tried to reach a Chinese professor through his blog. He speaks Korean and cares much about the environment issue. We wrote him an e-mail to tell him about the idea. He was willing to meet us, and he further supports and help us since then on. He told us “At the beginning when I met you, I thought you would only take action for few time. But then you keep carrying on, never give it up. I saw your passion and belief.”

M: We also went to the US to visit Google. They gave us lots of suggestion and would like to work with us. The CMO told me that he was really impressed by our idea. He said he had seen many mobile application, but never an app changing a world like this. He joined the Tree Planet game and plant a tree in the game, and he is looking forwards to see how the tree is going to look like in the real world. After 20 years He is looking forwards to see how our business is going to look like after 20 years. It is hard for people to predict a picture of a company after 20 years, but they can image how the trees we plant after 20 years. That’s the value of Tree Planet.


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  • Thanks to Olivia and Oscar for posting this some great questions and food for thought here. by Ruth Leary on this entry

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