Pos­i­tive think­ing pro­pels CEO’s pros­per­ity

JoongAng Daily - - Front Page - BY SONG SU-HYUN ssh@joongang.co.kr

“I have the abil­ity to do any­thing” is 56year-old Korean e n t r e p r e n e u r Jeon Hy­oung­tag’s mantra, both in life and business.

Jeon, who ma­jored in in­or­ganic ma­te­rial en­gi­neer­ing, worked for a small ceram­ics company un­til early the 1990s. But a three-month course of ex­pen­sive lec­tures on life — which cost him a full month’s wage — gave him the courage to launch his own business.

“To make my­self happy and to make my fam­ily happy, this is what I am do­ing right now,” Jeon said.

Jeon set up Bio­cera in 1994, a company that pro­duces var­i­ous ce­ramic prod­ucts aimed at im­prov­ing peo­ple’s health and the en­vi­ron­ment. It makes wa­ter-ac­ti­vat­ing ce­ramic balls, photo cat­alytic air pu­ri­fiers, and an­tibac­te­rial and al­ka­line wa­ter med­i­cal de­vices.

The en­tre­pre­neur came up with the idea for his business when his three­year-old daugh­ter started suf­fer­ing from atopic der­mati­tis.

“I stud­ied and stud­ied to find ways to cure my daugh­ter. So this is not just a business, it is for my daugh­ter’s hap­pi­ness, my hap­pi­ness, and also for ev­ery­one else,” he said.

As a business owner, Jeon felt he should keep learn­ing and went on to earn both a master’s de­gree and a PhD in ma­te­rial en­gi­neer­ing while run­ning Bio­cera.

The CEO be­lieves that com­mer­cial mar­ket­ing doesn’t help with sell­ing prod­ucts. Jeon prefers speak­ing at sem­i­nars or of­fer­ing lec­tures on the en­vi­ron­ment, health and hap­pi­ness for his global buy­ers in­stead.

Ev­ery month, he flies to dif­fer­ent parts of the world to spread his phi­los­o­phy and to meet the peo­ple who pur­chase his goods.

The fol­low­ing is an ex­cerpt from an in­ter­view the Korea JoongAng Daily held with Jeon.

Could you elab­o­rate on Bio­cera prod­ucts?

We largely have three prod­uct lines: an­tibac­te­rial-re­lated, air­re­lated and wa­ter-re­lated prod­ucts. One of the an­tibac­te­rial agents is Bio­cera A. It is a non-toxic an­tibi­otic agent that is harm­less to the hu­man body. Bio­cera A is known for its an­tibi­otic and bac­te­ri­ci­dal abil­ity and dura­bil­ity. You can add the agent to hand dry­ers, dish warm­ers, re­frig­er­a­tor lin­ings, plas­tic food pack­ag­ing, car gear, bed­ding, enamel, paint, cos­met­ics and oth­ers.

For the air, we have the Bio­cera pho­to­cat­a­lyst fil­ter. Coated by pho­to­cat­a­lyst cer­ti­fied by U.S. FDA, the Bio­cera pho­to­cat­a­lyst fil­ter is able to re­move bad odors and im­prove the at­mos­phere. It is highly ef­fec­tive in pre­vent­ing bac­te­ria, mold, fungi, as well as causes of sat­u­ra­tion. As for wa­ter, we have many sig­na­ture prod­ucts: a wash­ing ball, show­er­head and al­ka­line stick.

One of the most fa­mous is the laun­dry wash­ing ball. You put this ball in your wash­ing ma­chine and do not use any de­ter­gent. The Bio­cera Wash­ing Ball has ex­cel­lent an­tibac­te­rial ef­fects that elim­i­nate bac­te­ria and mold. It is de­signed just like a ball in or­der to min­i­mize the dam­age on the laun­dry. Inside the ball, there are hun­dreds of ce­ramic balls that have the abil­ity to ab­sorb im­pu­ri­ties and harm­ful heavy met­als, help­ing hu­man metabolism and en­cour­ag­ing nat­u­ral heal­ing.

Why do you em­pha­size the idea that wa­ter is so im­por­tant for hu­mans?

Wa­ter is a ba­sic ne­ces­sity and one of the most im­por­tant re­sources for the ex­is­tence of all crea­tures on Earth, whether an­i­mals or plants. This is not only be­cause the hu­man body is com­prised of about 80 per­cent wa­ter, but as tril­lions of cells in an or­gan­ism can­not grow, re­pro­duce and func­tion with­out wa­ter. This im­plies that the qual­ity of wa­ter can ei­ther heal or harm us. With­out good wa­ter, hu­man be­ings can­not be healthy.

When a per­son drinks wa­ter, it reaches our blood and brain in less than a minute, our skin tis­sue in 10 min­utes and kid­ney, and liver and heart in 20 min­utes. In wa­ter cir­cu­la­tion, min­er­als take the most im­por­tant role. The dif­fer­ent min­er­als in wa­ter flow through blood ves­sels and en­able or­gans to func­tion prop­erly.

It is im­por­tant to bal­ance your body with al­ka­line wa­ter be­cause the harm­ful things in our body are all acidic. An­tiox­i­dant al­ka­line wa­ter is also known as ion­ized wa­ter. Through the process of elec­trol­y­sis, which breaks up large mol­e­cules into groups of five or six, nor­mal wa­ter be­comes an­tiox­i­dant al­ka­line wa­ter that can be eas­ily ab­sorbed by the body. Also, this type of wa­ter is abun­dant in min­er­als that help the bal­ance of our metabolism.

Was it just a whim that you de­cided to cre­ate your own business?

I’ve thought of hav­ing my own business since I was young. I had the goal of open­ing a company at 44. But some­how, the chance came ear­lier than I ex­pected, at 36. After learn­ing from the lec­tures, I said to my­self ev­ery day that I could do ev­ery­thing. I came to ex­pe­ri­ence that what I said just tended to hap­pen mag­i­cally. Then I got this habit of telling peo­ple that if you are healthy and happy then you can do ev­ery­thing, in­clud­ing mak­ing other peo­ple happy, too.

You seem more ac­tive over­seas than in Korea. How much of your sales come from ex­ports?

About 70 per­cent of my to­tal sales are made abroad. It is very dif­fi­cult to run an en­vi­ron­ment-re­lated business in Korea. Many con­sumers in Europe first showed a good re­ac­tion to the Bio­cera wash­ing ball, be­cause I think there are many peo­ple suf­fer­ing from atopic der­mati­tis there. Rather than just do­ing PR for our prod­ucts, I pre­fer giv­ing sem­i­nars on health and the en­vi­ron­ment. Be­cause I couldn’t speak English flu­ently I was re­jected by Amer­i­can buy­ers at least three times. But I kept try­ing. Once they lis­ten to my sem­i­nar, they un­der­stood who I am.

What have been your most dif­fi­cult ex­pe­ri­ences run­ning the business?

As I said be­fore, it is very hard to run an en­vi­ron­men­tal business. After the wash­ing ball be­came a big hit in Europe, it gained pop­u­lar­ity in Hong Kong. There many copy­cats of the Bio­cera wash­ing ball. And a sad thing was that big Euro­pean de­ter­gent com­pa­nies didn’t want us to be in the mar­ket. A Ger­man de­ter­gent company broad­cast that its de­ter­gent was bet­ter than the wash­ing ball. A num­ber of my prod­ucts were re­called as a re­sult. A Hong Kong buyer’s son com­mit­ted sui­cide and the buyer also shut down their business. It was too aw­ful. Even in Korea, I can­not think of sell­ing my prod­ucts on home-shop­ping chan­nels be­cause of some con­glom­er­ates. Since there are so many de­ter­gent prod­ucts be­ing sold on those chan­nels, pro­duc­ers say it seems con­tra­dic­tory to con­sumers to sell both types of prod­ucts on the same chan­nel.

What is the dif­fer­en­ti­ated strat­egy of Bio­cera com­pared to other sim­i­lar busi­nesses?

I don’t think there is a big dif­fer­ence in tech­nol­ogy. In the com­pet­i­tive smart­phone world, Ap­ple and Sam­sung do have neck-and-neck tech­no­log­i­cal ca­pa­bil­i­ties. What makes us dif­fer­ent is our sense of duty. We are fully ded­i­cated to im­prov­ing the en­vi­ron­ment and health. That’s it. As for the cre­ative econ­omy ini­tia­tive, I have the same opin­ion. There is noth­ing new un­der the sky. Earth al­ready has ev­ery­thing. What we do now is just com­bine dif­fer­ent things that we have never thought of. I don’t think cre­ativ­ity is mak­ing some­thing up. Rather it used things that we al­ready have.

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