What’s on your lock screen? If you didn’t answer Locket, Millennial leader, Yunha Kim, is focused on making sure you will soon.
Locket is an easy way to discover stories you care about right from your phone’s lock screen. It is the first application of its kind in the United States and the brainchild of Kim and her co-founder Paul Jang.
Just one year ago, Yunha Kim was working long hours as an investment banker. Because she couldn’t use her screen to do anything “fun” during work hours she found herself checking her phone hundreds of times each day. It dawned on her that her lock screen was valuable advertising real estate. She knew she wasn’t the only one unlocking her phone hundreds of times each day and wondered why nobody was taking advantage of this opportunity. She decided she would. From there things moved very quickly.
Kim remembers, “When we first started Locket it was a side project. But that lasted for about three days. I realized that I just didn’t have time to focus fully on banking and on it.” So she quit a very lucrative and very secure job, brought in a few friends with advertising and engineering expertise and got to work.
She learned early that having team members who viewed Locket as a side project was not something that worked for her. If the team wanted to launch quickly, focus was essential. Kim explains, “It became very clear that when even one person on the team is treating it as a side project certain types of challenges arise. It is difficult to coordinate schedules and it is frustrating when Locket is not a priority.” As a result, all full-time team members commit to focus solely on Locket and agree to forego involvement in other projects. Kim continues, “There just isn’t time. We’re still an early stage start-up. We need team members who are hungry to get to the next level and create a great thing.”
We’re a team of passionate & hungry people trying to make something happen.
This policy has been helpful as the now 8-person team continues to grow. This ultra-focused approach can be a difficult sell, but not to the right people. According to Kim they get a lot of leads but this is one policy that helps she and the applicants keep from wasting one another’s time. Kim says, “Whenever I conduct an interview, I always start by explaining why you should not work for Locket. I give prospects a list of possible reasons Locket isn’t the right place for them. I make it clear and it often scares away people who wouldn’t be the right fit in the long run.”
Whenever I conduct an interview, I always start with why you should not work for Locket.
When I asked Kim how her vision for Locket has changed in this first year of its existence, she was quick to correct me. “When we first started the company we didn’t so much have a vision as an idea. We were so focused on creating the application. We didn’t have time to step back and think bigger. It was more about creating a product that we thought could take off.” I suspect it is this kind of self-aware transparency that has enabled her to raise a million dollars in venture capital and keep Locket afloat despite a 180° turn in its business model during the first year. It’s clear that Kim isn’t afraid to admit when something isn’t working and she doesn’t waste time when figuring out how to change it.
When the application launched it paid users a small amount each month to unlock their mobile device. When they did, users were greeted with very traditional advertisements. Kim explains, “After a while, we were getting a lot of users and a lot of advertisers. But the model wasn’t working well. We had to pay users first but advertisers would pay us four months later! We realized that when we get a lot more users, we’re going to fail.”
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to Give You Momentum
- Success is admitting when a plan isn’t working & figuring out what will
- Recruiting the right team members will produce the right product
- A product is never complete – there’s always room for improvement
[/inset]So recently, they made a big change. Their focus has completely shifted. Kim reports that she and the team took a breath and began to consider, “What do we want to do? What is our purpose?” They decided instead of paying users, they would aim to delight users.
Kim explains, “We still knew that the lock screen was great real estate – but we had to figure how to use it well and create value.” Now, Locket provides users with specifically targeted micro-content. It is informative, entertaining and able to be ingested in a few seconds. Knowing that when people unlock their phones they are typically on the go, the content is similar to a magazine cover. It invites users to click through to learn more about stories that interest them.
Early indicators suggest that the new format is working. According to Kim, “On average, per day we’re seeing a 25%-30% click through rate from the lock screen. Before it was about 5%.” That’s quite an impressive jump. She attributes this improvement to a wider variety of better-targeted content explaining, “We’re putting a lot more effort into curating and designing our content now.” But Kim is quick to explain that this is still a new model and the team is very focused on experimenting and gathering feedback to continue to improve the user experience.
It is clear that Yunha Kim is incredibly bright, intensely focused and unafraid of hard work. In fact, her team is so focused on Locket’s success that they recently missed the application’s one year anniversary! That was a mistake they quickly remedied by planning a group trip to Las Vegas to celebrate. Whether the team is working or playing together Locket remains the number one focus. Kim explains, “The product is still so new. We really don’t know yet what people want to see on their lock screen. So every day we’re experimenting, gathering feedback and improving the user experience.”
That willingness to continue learning and improving will serve Locket, its users and its co-founder well into the future.
Join the Conversation
Focused Millennial Leader Yunha Kim
Molly, Yunha really shows how focus combined with a learning mindset can make a big difference. Adapting from information gained, both from the product and how to build a solid team, is a key way to build and grow products and people. The grit of Yunha is engaging and a great leadership attribute! Thank you for another great story! Jon
Very cool! Look forward to checking out Locket. Also love that she isn’t rigid about the product direction (sounds like some big changes in the first year!) but she is rigid about the team and hiring. Very interesting to consider the different level of commitment between a side project and being fully immersed and committed to success.
So glad you shared Yunha’s story!
Thanks for joining the conversation, Alli!
I totally agree with you, Yunha’s focus on building the right team really impressed me.
When I originally got my MBA I worked as a lending officer for a large NYC bank. I realized early on that this was not what I was really meant to do. I had to back paddle and figure out how to become part of the HR area. Just like you, Molly, my plan too wasn’t working but I was determined to find my right path.
Terrific post Molly with so many wonderful lessons!
Terri, it sounds like you made a big jump but that it was the right one! I imagine that had to be kind of scary but it’s encouraging to know the switch paid off for you.
Thanks for sharing your story!