Andand studio (CEO Pil-hoon Yoon) was founded in 2021 by two former game industry graduates. Based on his experience in business PM, planning, and marketing at a game company, he is creating digital content using gamification. As the first project, it is creating “NearVerse,” a local-based metaverse service that connects regions and people and aims to officially launch in 2022.
The interview was conducted over video call with Pil-hoon Yoon, CEO of andand studio which was selected for 2021 Youth Startup SMART 2030.
Q1. Please tell us about your service
A. CEO Pil-hoon Yoon(hereinafter referred to as CEO Yoon): NearVerse is a service targeting the MZ generation who is interested in local culture and enjoys and shares the culture. It provides a space for users to use their avatars to communicate with the backdrop of local hot places and trendy stores. In addition, it provides complex information such as business hours, seats, locations, and menus of the store, and advocates the closest metaverse service in real life that connects the actual products to be purchased directly through NearVerse. Currently, prototypes are developed through 2021 Youth Startup SMART 2030 and are preparing for growth to the next level.
Q2. Tell us about the development process from the beginning.
A. CEO Yoon: The lockdown caused by the prolonged COVID-19 situation played an important role in the development of NearVerse, but I was always deeply interested in communication since I was working at another company. NearVerse’s initial idea was to add a function to obtain store information to local location-based chat services, but it changed to the form of the current metaverse by implementing an avatar function that can express each identity.
Q3. What is the unique feature of NearVerse?
A. CEO Yoon: Unlike other services, NearVerse is a service that focuses on connecting to the real economy. In fact, products sold at local stores can be purchased through NearVerse and products purchased offline are prepared to be applied as avatar items by entering the code of the product in NearVerse.
Q4. What are the potentials for future growth in the market?
A. CEO Yoon: The Metaverse market, along with NFT and AI, is one of the fastest-growing markets in 2021. According to a survey by Emergen Research, a global market research firm, the size of the global metaverse market is estimated to be about 982 trillion won by 2028. In fact, metaverse services of various fields and companies have been launched in Korea this year, and the investment market has been greatly activated. Metaverse is not only in its beginning stage, but also has many functions and legal problems to be improved, but it predicts that in the future, these problems will be solved and accepted naturally by the general public.
Q5. Tell us about your future plans including your plans for entering overseas markets.
A. CEO Yoon: We are preparing for the beta service of NearVerse in 2022 and are planning to expand to various local areas in addition to Seongsu, the initial setting area. In addition, we aim to create a complete service by hiring development and design personnel through seed investment. Currently, we are focusing only on stable service in Korea, but after stabilization, we also plan to expand our service to neighboring countries that are interested in Korean culture. After entering the global market, we will find publishing partners who can do marketing and services.
In the future, andand studio will do its best to entertain not only NearVerse but also various digital content that connect trends, technologies, and people.
Meanwhile, Gyeonggi Content Agency, which runs Pangyo Gyeonggi Cultural Creation Hub, is supporting the ‘2021 Youth Startup SMART 2030’ program to help young prospective entrepreneurs successfully start a business. For 8 years, ‘Youth Startup SMART 2030’ has been supporting the growth of prospective entrepreneurs who wish to start a business in the field of content convergence. The field of support is a wide range of content convergence fields such as publishing, film, music, content solution, design, ICT convergence, and manufacturing convergence. With the growing importance of the contents field worldwide, interest toward these businesses is also growing every year.