Interview with DICO at Seoul Global Startup Centre.
By Seetha Lakshmi Ranganathan
You are a foreign citizen and have been following the “what’s hot” of a particular country for quite some time now. What is it that you would want to achieve a goal, that would help get you closer to that country even if you are miles away? The language. That’s right! The language is the portal to a country and it’s cultural riches. As Rita Mae Brown said, “Language is the road map of a culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going.” Citizens from all over the world are curious about what’s been happening so far in South Korea. One such group of people happen to be native Spanish speakers. Argentina, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Chile, etc are some of the countries where Spanish is the mother language. Over the past few years, native Spanish speakers have taken quite a liking to South Korean culture and the language, hereby paving the way for a possible platform for promoting the same. DICO is an innovative startup for educational content that is directed at achieving a personalized ‘Korean e-Learning Experience’, through the means of a strong sense of ‘gamification’ and visualization. Formed in Seoul by a group of highly dynamic and culture-aware people in the year 2016, the establishment has worked it’s way through several obstacles on toward successes.
So how exactly does DICO work and what makes it different from all the other language learning platforms? To find out more, I headed out to the Seoul Global Startup Centre located at Yongsan in Seoul, where DICO currently has their office space and a culture rich working environment. Seated at the centre of the workspaces were two of the six members of Team DICO; Founder Park Sebin and his colleague Won JiHyeon. Diving right into the topic after exchanging pleasantries revealed DICO’s unique characteristics and style of rendering services. As mentioned earlier, they banked a great deal on the rapidly evolving concept of gamification, with the addition to quite a few other features as well. They incorporate the special algorithm to recommend customized educational video-clips per person and a perfect learning environment setting up various of optional services such as 1:1 QnA, My Studyroom, etc. Strong educational optional services such as selective documentation and archiving has made education and language learning a fun-filled experience like never before! For example, if you happen to like the sentence/word on an article or a particular phrase used in any of the videos/files uploaded on the website, you can simple highlight that particular portion of the text or archive it for later reference by adding it to your favorites list, which is later accessible via the homepage. These also include a special outdoor theme that helps provide personalized video clips that are very much similar to the widely known RSS feed mechanism. Probably one of the most important features would be that they provide visual aids for the concept of ‘ranking system’ they follow on their website. For every level that the particular participant/student completes, he/she secures a particular amount of points with accordance to the DICO point system, of which every few points have a corresponding milestone. Q&A sessions and other participative sessions are available once a particular level has been attained on the website. This, as many would point out, is a sort of a positive motivation to keep the person on track through out the language learning process.
Dico won Grand Prize in the Educational service category at the Ministry of Education exhibition.
Sebin expressed his feelings and thoughts on what DICO means to him. After having spent quite some time in Argentina, he realized that language is more than just a difference in words or a complicated vowel system. It reflects the country and it’s origins itself! Wonji, an expert in the making in her field of language studies and love for everything cultural, reflected upon her moments in Argentina as well, along with memories from a couple of other countries where she put her Spanish to good use. Recently, I had a chit chat with the designer and main mastermind behind visualization, graphics and those very comic animations that you might see on their advertisement campaigns, websites and copies of brochures. Yee Sang Hyo is an art student with almost a decade of training in the creative and artistic field, who as much as he enjoys his work, is also quite serious about it and believes in dedicating the utmost amount of concentration possible, for the same. Through his efforts coupled with that of the team’s, DICO has successfully incorporated various faces and phases of gamification into their services, both at the point of sale and after sale. “Visualization along with creativity in art and concentrating while doing the same is quite important”, he says. After a second’s pause, he adds “MacBook pro is so much better than MacBook Air!”.
(Left to Right) Andy / Kim Hyekyung / Yee Sanghyo / Park Sebin / Won Jihyeon / Kim Jaewoon /Jeon Hwaryung
DICO in Korean loosely means vegetables, and the personality of each member has been immortalized in the form of various animated “vege-toons”. CEO Sebin has been portrayed as a smart looking potato with a pair of glasses (the likeness is uncanny!) while the other members come in different forms such as radish, spring onion, carrot, etc. SangHyo had a bit of a challenge with creating the “vege-toons” and incorporating the personalities of the members themselves into the same. Sort of like getting out there and convincing the world of the authenticity of a bunch of vegetables with glasses and flailing hands. (Did you laugh?)
The DICO family has been a resident of the Seoul Global Startup Centre since the latter’s establishment, and have come a long way since their days of a couple of hundred followers to almost more than a whopping 10,000 of them in the present day. Of course, they keep themselves quite busy and creatively occupied with continuous monitoring of the fanbase, the environment of potential customers, possible strong competitors, etc and are in the process of developing fun-filled activities that are set to launch later this year or so. Team DICO, just like most companies in the corporate environment, boasts a set of both long term and short term objectives that they would like to meet to with the help of their followers, motivation, and support from the centre along with the several other start-up co-workers at their side. The DICO family, along with Seoul Global Start Up Centre, would like to invite you to their world of fun and innovative entrepreneurship, put together with a cartload of personal touch, just for you! You can learn more about them at ‘disfruta_corea’ on Instagram or www.facebook.com/disfrutacoreadico, their ‘100% vegetarian’ Facebook page. For details on Seoul Global Startup Centre (SGSC), type away seoulgsc.com on anything it is that you use to communicate with the world outside!