app didn’t provide a way for Siwon and the team to earn a living, but the enthusiasm and sense of possibility he felt while collaborating during Imagine Cup served as a standard for his future work. He accepted an internship at a global tech company but when he wasn’t able to write the kind of code he loved, Siwon realized that to pursue his dreams rather than labor under someone else’s vision, he must start his own business.
Today he is channeling that verve into his technology solutions business, ZOYI. He is CEO of the company he helped create three years ago and has launched products such as
, which enables users to create their own advertisements (and was inspired by his award-winning Imagine Cup app), and Cooki, a program that allows consumers to curate a personalized magazine by clipping content from across the Internet. The company, which employs eight people, recently attracted the attention—and funding—of investors aiming to accelerate Korea’s start up culture.
Siwon and others at ZOYI are now developing a program called
, a solution that collects data from cell phone radio waves to track consumer behavior, patterns and traffic in stores. He believes the novel application of emerging technology will open new markets and help companies better serve their customers.
is by far the most rapidly improving person I know,” says Elly Han, his coach from Imagine Cup, who left her position at Microsoft to co-found ZOYI. “He is not only a talented engineer but a leader solving the real world's problems,” whether that means helping companies understand customer traffic in their stores or protecting the family business.
Siwon learned the importance of finding technological fixes as a child. With time, he has learned to trust himself as he balances and moves forward as if he were riding a bicycle. “You have to keep pedaling if you do not want to lose hold. If you remain motionless because you are afraid, you may end up being tripped over,” he says.
Through adversity, Siwon not only stayed upright but used Imagine Cup to change gears and speed headlong into the future. He reasons that despite the humble beginnings of his startup, he can change the world by creating technologies that are practical and transformative.
Years after he first struck out on his own, his mother’s guiding advice still rings true for Siwon. Every day he reminds himself to not be constrained by what is already established, lest he derail his dreams to make the world a better place through business. So he continues to think big and take advantage of the present.
“We should never waste our youth,” Siwon says. “I will never stop challenging myself.”