Young entrepreneur Yunha Kim wants to pay you every time you unlock your phone. Locket is an app that delivers ads on your lock screen, and pays you for just unlocking your phone.
Yunha quits her job in March 2013 to launch this platform, and today, she already has more than 20 advertisers running campaigns, including Hershey’s, Sunny D, Sears, ZipCar, eBay and Spotify.
Yunha was kind enough to share some entrepreneurship advice with us, and the story of how she started Locket.
Q: Please tell us a little bit about your company – what is Locket all about?
Locket is a mobile advertising company that transforms how brands advertise to consumers through “First Glance Advertising.” Locket is an Android app that delivers beautiful, print-quality advertising on smartphone lock screens, and rewards users for simply using their phone. Here at Locket, we are all about transforming the smartphone lock screens, and my personal mission for Locket is building a team of talented and passionate people who love working together to make cool things happen on 71 million Android lock screens in the US.
Q: Please tell us a little bit about your background and how you started your company?
Before starting Locket, I was working at Jefferies as an investment banking analyst in the healthcare group, and while at Duke University, I spent my summers interning at McKinsey & Company and the United Nations.
While pulling long but boring hours in banking, I wasn’t able to do anything fun on my monitor, so I was checking my phone a few hundred times per day. That’s when I realized I keep on checking my phone every single day, bringing it to the restroom, everywhere I go. Every single one of those moments I was unlocking my lock screen which was a picture of a daisy which came as a default lock screen with my Galaxy S3. One day, I was looking at it wondering why anyone wasn’t doing anything with the most valuable real estate in advertising. It occurred to me that this will be the next big thing in mobile advertising. I decided to quit my job that week, and that was six months ago, in March of this year.
I brought in three of my guy friends from various backgrounds including digital advertising, advertising sales and software development, and moved in to a two-bedroom apartment with three dogs and 1 hamster where we started working and living out of. And we still do till this date!
Q: What are some of the projects you are working on right now?
Locket is one and only project that I am working on. I don’t believe in side projects. There are so much things to get done, and we don’t even have time to sleep let alone other non-Locket related projcets. At Locket, we do not allow any side projects.
As for what I am working on here at Locket, I am consistently planning for the next generation product of Locket while being on never-ending search for talented and passionate people who would be good fit to the team, and that includes developers, designers and business people as well as investors.
Q: What are your plans for the future, how do you plan to grow this company?
Our vision is this – We want users to use Locket not because of the small cash rewards but the beautiful and highly relevant contents we recommend on your lock screen. Contents can include deals, recommendations, news and artwork in the form of a dynamic lock screen. The dream – you’re walking by Starbucks and you check your phone and see a deal or ad that touts their pumpkin latte right on your smartphone lock screen.
We would like to transform all the lock screens out there and put them to good use.
Q: What were the top 3 mistakes you made starting your business and what did you learn from it?
Hired the wrong engineer because of his resume and track record. Look at his commitment and passion first. His resume and credentials come after.
Spent one month launching a new feature – Locket’s October Swipestakes. Choose the fastest, easiest and cheapest way to test out a hypothesis. Do not spend too much time making a perfect product. Get it out there asap, test out for reaction and then improve the product. If anything takes longer than a month, you are probably not using the best shortcut.
Hired the wrong intern and didn’t let her go early enough. Interns can be very expensive because you need to spend the time to train and manage them. Don’t hire interns because they are cheap. Hire only the ones that you know are committed and proactive. I went through couple of this and now I think I am proud of my track record of hiring the best interns – our interns rock!
Q: Please share some advice for newbie entrepreneurs, someone who’s just starting out.
Sell on your vision, not on your current product, team, investor, or clients. And practice and learn how you can sell well. If you sell your vision successfully, you can overcome challenges that come with limited resources.
For those that are contemplating to start something – If you have an idea and you are passionate about it, drop everything you’re doing and start right now! Chances are, you will regret that you haven’t started earlier, not that you started too early. Even if you don’t know anything, just start it. You will learn it all as you go. The earlier you start, the closer you get to your dream.
Q: What was the best business advice you have ever received and who gave you this advice?
As we were growing our user base and number of daily served impressions at an exponential speed, we had to make a call between running more ads which include lower quality ads vs. running less number of ads but keeping the quality of ads high which cost us big financial loss. Jeff Tannenbaum from Blue Run Ventures gave me this advice – Focus on user experience. Don’t sacrifice user experience at an expense of making short term gains. Delight Locket users as they wake up their phone. This is the rule that we live by. Our creative team is committed to making sure every single ad we put out their phone our users’ lock screens are beautiful, delightful and inspiring.
Q: What are the top 3 online tools and resources you’re currently using to grow your company?
Q: What’s your definition of success?
My definition of success is looking back and thinking that I have done everything I could have done and that there’s not much to regret.
Q: What are three books you recommend entrepreneurs to read?
Instead of reading books, go out and make friends from other startups. My experience tells me that one hour of chatting with startup founders teach much more than an hour spent on books about startups or entrepreneurship.
Q: What is your favorite entrepreneurship quote?
This is not so much an entrepreneurship quote but this dictates how and what I do.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the things you did. - Mark Twain