A Blessing
A Blessing
  • SPENDIT Founder and CEO Danny Song
  • 승인 2018.10.10 18:23
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SPENDIT  Founder and CEO Danny Song
SPENDIT Founder and CEO Danny Song


It is uncommon to start a business in South Korea. Most students from elite Korean universities as well as most job seekers only want to find positions in large corporations such as Samsung, LG, and Hyundai. This is because, once one secures such a position, one is always likely to have stable income, benefits, and employment.

With that in mind, it is far more significant to try and start one’s own business. A start-up is a very exciting challenge and one of the fastest ways to grow professionally and personally. Through a given process, start-up entrepreneurs can naturally develop three skills: The patience to contend with adversity, the ability to adapt to unexpected situations, and the endurance to take on new and diverse responsibilities.

When a start-up founder puts the efforts into building a team, making initial investments, and selling one’s idea to others, patience is essential. Until the company grows to some extent and can attract large investments or generate big sales, the company is under tremendous pressure. However, this pressure is a hidden blessing because it develops skills.

SPENDIT provides expense management software to businesses. Expense management software is widely familiar to global companies, with 100 percent of Fortune 500 companies and 87 percent of Fortune 2000 companies using it. Additionally, in 2014, SAP acquired an expense management software company called Concur for more than eight trillion USD. However, it is still essentially unknown in South Korea. Looking at such possibilities across Asia, including South Korea, SPENDIT started its business at the end of 2015.

However, in the beginning it was not easy to get ahead, particularly in South Korea where SaaS-type enterprise services have had no successes before. It was not easy to bring in human resources and invest in or sell to companies, as it was a time when sales of services were first being introduced like commerce. It seemed impossible to set up a proper development team at a time when the two founders had to compete in the market. Nevertheless, they had a team that could use all the channels and networks that they could without a break. They met close to 100 developers before finally managing to build a development team and create products within a year of starting.

During that time, the two founders were challenged both mentally and physically, but they didn’t give up their belief that it was a necessary service for Korean and Asian companies. After more than 10 months of development, the service was launched in July 2017, and in just one year it had 50 companies, including large and mid-size businesses. The founders are confident that they would not have arrived at their current status if they had not endured that initial year. They firmly believe that the painstaking experience of those days gave them the strength they needed to endure the challenges they have faced along the way.

Adaptation is one of the most important skills that entrepreneurs need. In April 2017, when the SPENDIT release of the expense management service was imminent, there were major concerns regarding SPENDIT. Primarily, there was doubt about the automation of the expense management system. At that time, the basic process of SPENDIT was to have corporate executives and employees link their cards, bring in credit card transactions, generate them into expenditure, and then upload the receipts themselves.

And although this was not a bad process (and is actually applied by most similar services), the founders thought there was something lacking and sought an easier and more convenient way to do it. It was vital to the final mission because they felt that not only would the SPENDIT release fail but so would the business if the total automation of expense management did not succeed. Quick action was needed because the release date was approaching. In the end, one founder came up with an idea from another product overseas and found a way to automatically match the card transactions with the users’ receipts.

Of course, these were only ideas at the time, and it was all but impossible to know how to execute them technically, but the SPENDIT team members racked their brains for months before finally finding a way, and their results are currently going through the patent process. If the SPENDIT had not been fully automated immediately before its release, the founder says that there would be no SPENDIT now. This is due to how it became a very useful tool in regard to sales. But perhaps the idea of matching receipts would not have come about if the team had not been under such urgent stress. The initial start-up journey to the final launch of the service is always said to maximize the hidden capabilities of those who undertake it.

Various experiences that take place in the early stages of start-ups train entrepreneurs. At the time of its founding, SPENDIT found that its understanding of software development was somewhat lacking. In short, they had decided that any function could be developed easily if they were merely good at planning. During the collaboration phase with the early developers, this assumption was shattered when they realized that after the planning stage, future development functions and directions had to be taken care of with great care and foresight.

So the initial SPENDIT which had been created by the first development team was abandoned, and the development team started working on new products, learning along the way that planning teams, development teams, and design teams had to communicate and collaborate organically. The scale of conception and development became much more modest as a result, and they also learned that this is why most startups likely fail to release. These experiences taught them that the pace of growth between a regular worker and someone who has to adapt to a new work environment every day is definitely different.

Entrepreneurship makes a country grow. The value of a successful start-up now in the Fourth Industrial Revolution is enormous. It is not just about increasing jobs. Rather, by creating a new industry itself through various value-added values and converting it into a large power, entrepreneurs contribute to their nation’s economic growth and development with great energy. South Korea has a well-established foundation for anyone to start a business. However, neither Africa nor the world’s developing countries has quite the same opportunity for business start-ups.

Business is a blessing. If you have a dream, you must try it. A failure in business is never a true or permanent failure. It may be a painful process, but I’m sure you’ll have a tremendous experience and that the power you gain from it will be a driving force in life. Whenever I felt fear, I realized that the answer was to face that fear and meet it head-on. I hope you will have the same experience.