Changyeol Lee / CEO / Arkive Corporation
Among the startups that Sunbo Angel Partners invested in so far, Arkive Corporation has received the biggest amount of investment. Arkive Corporation is a unique startup venturing to make real estate into a lifestyle platform. Sunbo Angel Partners had faith in the challenge and decided to invest in Arkive Corporation. “One of the keywords coming into the spotlight today is ‘lifestyle’. We are living in a world where people spend according to their values and make decisions for their own life. With a vision and objective of utilizing and adding value to real estate by finding trendy spatial cultural content, Arkive Corporation is basically a real estate content business based on lifestyle and beauty,” explained Mingoo Kim, Investment Manager of the Connecting Team.
Consumption patterns have changed. In the past, consumers made spending decisions based on their trust in big brands, but today, individuals choose to consume small brands that fit their personalities. In other words, the era of big franchises has made way for the era of mini-shops of approximately 33-66m2.
Arkive Corporation is a startup epitomizing the current trend. Their very first business item is shared hair salons. Arkive Corporation began planning in January 2019 and opened its first shared hair salon “Salon Forest” in Gangnam, Seoul, in January 2020.
In the past, the 1st and 2nd basement floors were mostly eateries. Today, however, these spaces are occupied by shops that can draw in not only the employees of the companies within the same building, but also the consumers around the area even during after-work hours and weekends. A typical case is beauty shops that target female consumers, which is why the first Salon Forest was opened on the basement floor of a building in Gangam, the epicenter of Seoul.
“Salon Forest is the easiest hair salon solution for opening your very own shop. It features a high-quality interior that anyone would want to enjoy and an independent space at a reasonable price. There is no doubt that this is an exceptional solution,” emphasized manager Kim.
Salon Forest provides not only the exclusive space but also the equipment, marketing, and other operational and managerial services, enabling hair designers to fully concentrate on their customers. Therefore, even people with absolutely no experience of starting a business can open their shops simply with a pair of scissors and hair-styling skills.
Salon Forest is now moving on to top the beauty shops targeting working women with culture and community, transforming into a space to read, relax, and rest. Salon Forest will expand its presence by opening the 2nd and 3rd shops in the major areas in Seoul. “We are aiming to open the 4th Salon Forest shop within the year. Our vision is to re-design the way we produce and consume. That is, enabling service providers to focus on the nature of the service, and consumers to get the most out of their time and money spent, thereby adding more value,” said CEO Changyeol Lee.
Each shop will have a unique concept. The concept for the first Salon Forest is to relax and care for oneself, so Arkive Corporation has created a comfy and cozy atmosphere. As some hairdressing procedures take up to 4-5hours, customers can work with their laptops or relax while reading a book, which is a differentiating point from conventional hair salons.
Team power is another reason behind Sunbo Angel Partners joining hands with Arkive Corporation. CEO Changyeol Lee is an accountant-turned entrepreneur, and Executive Director Younghoon Kwon, an adjunct professor at the Department of Architecture, Ajou University, is the spatial director for Arkive Corporation. Director Kwon was scouted multiple times by prominent real estate management agencies, but Kwon empathized with Lee and joined Arkive Corporation. Executive director Byungin Jeong, the brand director, is Lee’s junior who worked together with Lee when the latter started a business back in college. Lee and Jeong moved on in their distinct paths before deciding to re-join their hands for Arkive Corporation. As such, the strength of Arkive Corporation lies in having the right manpower in the right position.
Among the many investors, Lee joined hands with Sunbo Angel Partners. Lee believed that with Sunbo Angel Partners, he could realize the vision of creating a lifestyle platform. “Choosing an investor is as crucial as deciding on your spouse. Manager Kim reached us even before we launched the first shop. Along with an investment offer, Kim contemplated the aspects to help from a third-party perspective over two months. We naturally built trust as we communicated over a long time,” Lee explained.
Sunbo Angel Partners is a united platform for mid-sized businesses in the Busan, Ulsan, and Gyeongnam region. This platform will enable Arkive Corporation to expand not only in Seoul but also in other regions. Lee also added that Arkive Corporation has a greater possibility to enter into the global market with the support of Sunbo Angel Partners which has offices in Singapore and Germany. Arkive Corporation will benefit from Sunbo Angel Partners’ overseas network to go global. Sunbo Angel Partners will develop the potential of Arkive Corporation and help Arkive Corporation scale up. We look forward to the growth of Arkive Corporation that will develop along with Sunbo Angel Partners.