An entrepreneurship project for women in fintech has inspired female entrepreneur Son Bo-nam to start an innovative legal tech company in Korea that helps clients protect their intellectual property rights.
Watching an investment platform launch in Korea helped to ignite Son Bo-nam’s long-held ambition to start a legal business. However, it wasn’t until she joined the flagship Futuremakers project Women in FinTech (WiFT) in partnership with Women in Science, Engineering and Technology (WISET), that she realised her dream.
In 2020, Son Bo-nam had become a mother juggling work and family responsibilities. Over the course of her career, she’d seen many cases of small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) missing the importance of intellectual property (IP) and experiencing problems later.
When Son Bo-nam watched a fractional investment platform in IP launch in Korea, it lit a spark in her heart. She said: “I was shocked to learn that you could leverage IP (e.g. patents, trademarks, copyright and trade secrets) for a start-up. It occurred to me that if IP rights can be an investment subject, the scope could be expanded to other IP areas, which made me dream of starting a business.”
Taking the first bold steps to a start-up
In 2022, Son Bo-nam heard about the WiFT Academy through an entrepreneur community website. It stirred her interest because it exclusively supported women fintech entrepreneurs. Another motivation was the project’s three weeks of mentoring by industry experts and the chance for participants to pitch their business model and win prize money.
Son Bo-nam didn’t hesitate to apply as it allowed her to develop a clear business idea to unlock her technical abilities before starting a company. WiFT helped Son Bo-nam visualise her business, verified the direction she wanted to take, and offered her networking opportunities with like-minded people.
She said: “I learned about the industry trends through seminars offered by other entrepreneurs and fintech professors, developed a clear business idea, and identified my target audience through a design-thinking curriculum. The investor pitch at the end of the project was particularly memorable as I earned good results though it was my first pitch.”
Rising to the challenges of a new venture
Son Bo-nam found surveying the market and verifying her business model the most challenging part of the WiFT project. No market surveys exactly matched her target audience, and it was difficult to determine whether the market existed and the demand for her business idea.
Nevertheless, with her ‘can-do’ attitude and entrepreneurial colleagues’ ideas, she refused to give up. In addition, mentors provided one-to-one support and encouraged her to share her experiences with aspiring entrepreneurs.
The project concluded with a Demonstration Day. Son Bo-nam won the Frontier of Women in FinTech award. The prize worth KRW one million (USD800) enabled her take one step further to develop her innovative ideas and improve business operations such as upgrading software.
Son Bo-nam sees growth on the horizon
Today, Son Bo-nam is the CEO of Indie-IP. By creating an IP ecosystem, she wants to help SMEs obtain IP protection and address information gap issues quickly.
Having built her confidence and won an award on the WiFT project, Son Bo-nam urges others to join WiFT, which is expanding as part of Futuremakers in 2023.
She added: “When you hesitate about doing something, I would say, ‘Just do it’. The project offers an opportunity to receive high-quality training and networking opportunities, and you can win prize money and enjoy tremendous privileges. I can’t find any reason you wouldn’t want to join such a project.”
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