Home Founder's Stories Just Thank You brings appreciation to the workplace

Just Thank You brings appreciation to the workplace


Just Thank You

Industry: Human Resources
Service: HR Management Analytics
Founded: March 2016 in Seoul, Korea
Founder(s): Steven Cho
Number of Employees: 1-5
Company Overview
Just Thank You is a positive social platform designed to promote gratitude and impact productivity in the workplace. Its app was launched in August 2018 and is continuing to release updated versions. Currently, the company is seeking to expand their team in software development, design, and marketing.
Tel: +82 10 5489 7641

How It All Started

Steven Cho, Founder & CEO

Myung Jin Choi, Lead Developer

Sometimes a simple moment changes you. For Steven Cho that moment came sitting in Madison Square Park eating a Shake Shack burger with a friend. Thanksgiving holiday was approaching, and he had just completed his first semester of his MBA at NYU. He realized how fortunate he was. He turned to his friend, whom he was developing a game app with, and asked if he wanted to help build a social network that only focuses on thank you’s.

Steven strove to move his idea beyond people sharing thanks. The market was already flooded with gratitude journal apps. He also saw that posts of people expressing #gratitude brought anxiety in others less fortunate.

After graduation, he volunteered giving food to the homeless. Offering his last sandwich to a man sitting on the pavement, he was surprised by his response: “No thank you. It’s your last one. You should give it to someone else.”

Moved by his altruism, Steven decided to work during the weekends to pursue a platform that could generate genuine positivity while working as an an Associate Director at Amazon.

He formulated a B2B-focused business model, analysing companies that promote positivity and employee recognition such as Google, HP, and Facebook. Given that the greeting card industry is a 135 billion dollar market with thank you cards representing 12%, Steven knew that his idea was highly marketable. He quit his job at Amazon to focus full time.

He applied to social venture competitions in Korea, was selected as a finalist, and flew to Seoul to present his pitches. He bought a two-month round-trip ticket, but ended up cancelling his return flight.

In Seoul, Just Thank You received a flurry of support and funding, and brought on Minsung Kwak as Chief Digital Officer. Steven Cho turned his vision into the workplace positivity and analytics app, Just Thank You, and is introducing its concept to a growing list of Korean companies.

Challenges Overcome

Korean office culture is notorious for its long work hours, but it’s beginning to shift. Last year, the government introduced a 52-hour maximum work week, and Koreans are now talking more about work-life balance.

Still, inside the office, its culture is rigid and communication is usually top-down. Some companies do recognize the importance of employee appreciation and even have “praise relays” where workers relay their praise to one another, but of course praise is directed to a junior, otherwise it would be deemed disrespectful.

But Just Thank You isn’t about praising, which is evaluative and judgmental. Its focus is more on the small things like, “Thanks, Jun, for helping me analyse the statistics for my report.”

Feel good vibes in the workplace is great for individuals, but much research also points appreciation to solid increases in productivity.

“Finding companies that are brave enough to change their culture is a challenge, but the mindset in Korea is definitely changing.”

Looking Ahead

Just Thank You officially launched last month and signed on five Korean companies to participate in a three-month paid pilot program.

“They gave us a lot of insightful feedback, which we’re applying in our updates. We have two new companies signed on, and we’re excited to see how it goes for version two.”

They are currently rolling out version two in the App Store. Its initial release was featured as App of the Day.

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