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Lesson from Unicon and Media Innovation2017-01-19Hit:885

  Thanks to Uber, I take a taxi once or twice whenever I go to overseas conventions. If a taxi is reserved through the smart phone application, it comes immediately and the customers are protected from getting ripped off. Sometimes, the taxi comes earlier than expected so that the customers have to rush. These days, you can also choose accommodations through Airbnb, which offers both low prices and fun.

  Uber and Airbnb not only offer economic benefits to their customers, but they also provide unique experiences for them. In the past, whenever I went abroad, I didn’t know anything about where to take a taxi and how much to pay for taxi fees. The hotels chosenby academics wereexpensive, and they didn’t have any economic utility. Now, I can take a taxi conveniently without worrying about prices, and I can even get recommendations for restaurants and attraction from houseowners through Uber and Airbnb, whose services are more welcomed by the young generation.

   The corporate value of Uber and Airbnb is the highest among Unicorns. Unicorn is a start-up that has a corporate value of over $1billion (one trillion won) even before its growth. The name “Unicorn” is given because it characterizes a rare animal from legends or our imagination. Due to the dramatic advances in technology and services, the number of Unicorns has reached 179 worldwide. Uber ranks #1 on the unicorn list with a corporate value of $68 billion, and Airbnb ranks #4 with a corporate value of $30 billion. Unicorns also includes social media sites, such as Snapshots, Pintresses, and emerging media companies, including Buzz Feed, Vox Media, and Vise Media.

   What are the lessons from the emerging leaders, including Uber and Airbnb? In the past, industry knowledge and experience were prerequisites for starting a business. It was extremely difficult to enter the taxi business without having experience in the field, and it was impossible to enter the hospitality industry without previous experiences in the lodging business. However, the founder of Uber has never been a taxi driver, and the founder of Airbnb has never even changed a sheet at motel. From the perspective of suppliers, they constantly think of the best and the most suitable products and services for their customers. They also thoroughly lookfor the unfilled demands from their customers’ points of view.

   Innovation in the media industry has also been done by the third parties outside the industry. It was Steve Jobs, who changed the business model of the music industry by selling songs through iTunes. He was neither a singer nor a music producer. However, Jobs satisfied the customers’ needs of buying one preferable song by solving the inconvenience of purchasing the whole album. The founder of Netflix is also neither a broadcaster nor a film director. In order to solve the inconvenience of paying a fine for not returning videos on time, Netflix designed its service that makes its easy for customers to return a video. The founder of Youtube was also a software developer. Aware of the fact that there were no ways to easily share videos with friends, Youtube was developed to solve the inconvenience.

   As shown above, dramatic innovation is happening outside of the media industry. This is mainly because long experiences and stereotypes can sometimes be obstacles for a dramatic change. Innovation should be carefully viewed from the perspective of the readers and audience, not from those of the suppliers. The unfilled desire and demands of customers should be identified by carefully observing their daily lives. This is the beginning of innovation and the way to becoming a Unicorn.


Contact : Lee, Sohyun ( sohyun.c.lee@kaist.ac.kr )