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99 [NEWS]Korean tech firm vies to change the way we communicate 3466

By You Soo-sun

Video conferencing has changed the way businesses run, students learn and governments operate ― and most likely, it will continue to change and affect our everyday lives.

uPrism, a Korean tech company that offers video conferencing, has entered the global race to make communication faster and more efficient.

"It's a thriving industry, as its possibilities are endless," uPrism CEO Kevin Cha told The Korea Times. uPrism provides video conference calls, video counseling, and security and emergency control. It is seeking to expand into other related fields.

Kevin Cha, CEO and founder of uPrism. / Courtesy of uPrism

Video conferencing can save travel costs and time and thereby improve the performance of individuals and companies in many ways.

The CEO, 42, began his career as an engineer after high school and later launched his own company ― in his apartment. "I started the company in my living room with my wife, who is also an engineer," Cha said. "Swamped in a pile of debt, the only assets I had were passion and confidence." It took him a couple of years to get his company on its feet.

The company was officially launched in 2006; its sales kicked off in 2009, growing fivefold in a year. Since, uPrism has worked with over 200 companies and government bodies including major conglomerates such as Samsung, LG and SK, and cities and municipalities.

Cha boasts that it is the only venture technology company to have come to this point in Korea, where the industry is much smaller and the climate is unfavorable to startups.

But Korea is a difficult place for further growth. Cha said that the business climate and customer sentiment largely work against small and medium tech companies here, especially in expanding the use of video conference calls as it is simply not the preferred method in Korea.

"People here prefer to meet up for interviews and meetings," Cha said. This tendency comes from the fact it is a small country that doesn't require much traveling for work ― and most companies are already concentrated in Seoul, the capital.

In recent years, uPrism has been seizing opportunities abroad. Its services have so far been launched in Taiwan, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia and are planned for Vietnam. The company will also move into New Zealand, Italy, Australia, the U.K. and the U.S. in partnership with other companies here.

"What differentiates us from other services is that we tailor our programs to the users' specific needs," Cha said. For example, in Saudi Arabia, where the company's services are used in classrooms, it has incorporated features that allow breaks for prayer and options to cover the faces of female participants for cultural and religious reasons. And it provides these services at an affordable price.

"We're at a point where we can choose to either play it safe and remain as a mediocre company, or invest and expand to become a leading global company," Cha said. And Cha is determined to do the latter. It won't be easy ― as investments do not come easy ― but he believes he stands a chance as the quality of his services is competitive with other companies. It also has the advantage of providing customized services in other countries.

If uPrism succeeds, he hopes to improve the business climate here for startups and small companies. "My ultimate goal would be to support venture companies here, as the business climate for them is very fragile," Cha said. "By investing in those with potential, they could also have a chance to prosper.

[Source] THE KOREA TIMES by You Soo-sun


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