Data is now the modern-day equivalent of gold mines for big enterprises and is becoming vital for businesses. However, despite the rapid expansion of the market, the role of individuals in these businesses is undervalued. So far, only large volumes of mass- produced data are available for data transactions. The idea of individuals becoming providers of valuable data is not conventional.
Kim Yu-vin, a senior in the Division of Business Administration, is now opening new doors for individuals to enter data-transaction markets. She is the founder and CEO of database-tech startup Paprika Data Lab. In December 2021, Paprika Data Lab launched its hyper-personalized data transaction platform app, Cada.
On Cada, an enterprise or individual requiring data can open a project to collect the data. Then, the users on the app, who can accumulate such data, participate in the project to provide the data. Moreover, in this procedure, the app provides users with rewards – dependent on the value of the provided data. With this creative business idea, users on Cada are now over 23,000.
“Suppose there is an individual in need of integrated data of pictures and locations of stray cats,” Kim said. “Accordingly, we make a project with a template of separate modules of images and locations. Then, a single data set is formed as each data that users submit gets collected.”
Kim’s team first met at Ewha’s Winter Startup Hackathon camp and worked on an AI-based solution. Kim and her team needed blueprints for AI training to make it smarter, so they began consulting construction companies to obtain the data. They spent months being rejected by firms and failed to acquire the data they needed. This, however, led them to start a new chapter and led to the development of their data transaction platform.
“Thinking that there must be data that we need on someone’s computer and that person may be willing to share the data, I thought it was ridiculous not to find a way to have access to it,” Kim said. “Since there are so many platforms in which goods and services are traded, I wondered why data itself cannot be traded, when there is as much data as there are goods and services. Then, I thought to myself what really matters is to create a platform for data transactions that does not exist now, rather than to create an AI- based solution.”
The team working on Cada knew that data transactions are new to the public and could come off as too intellectual, unfamiliar, and potentially dull. For this reason, they brought in the idea of fintech to be more appealing to users, where they can earn small sums of cash. The app, modelled off popular apps like CashWalk – an app that collects data from a user’s smartphone for small cash rewards.
“Though there is only a small reward, many individuals enjoy participating in popular app-tech platforms, such as Cash Slide and Cash Walk, which was the model that we exactly desired our app to be,” Kim said. “Going forward, our goal is to make people feel they are actively engaging in the transaction, moving a little further away from the app-tech.”
While Paprika Data Lab’s idea was novel, receiving investment from investors proved to be tricky, as most team members were undergraduate students.
“In the beginning, the investors and others thought that we were not that serious and just doing it to take the easy road,” Kim Said. “Though such misunderstandings were upsetting at first, it eventually motivated us to push for more learning opportunities such as entering so many competitions. Eventually, this led to recognition by investors.”
Kim added that the positive responses from the users is the most rewarding for her team.
“The concept of the app is that everything in front of you can be data and money,” Kim said. “This includes scooters lying on the streets or pictures of stray cats. Therefore, many users often tell us that they were able to see the things near them that they missed out on so far. That is what makes us the most happy.”
Furthermore, Kim revealed what motivated her to pursue school and business at the same time, despite the fact that it is not easy to hold down both. Surprisingly, she stated that she has never taken a year off from school ever since she first started working on startups in the Ewha Challenge Semester Program.
“Obviously, there are things that I missed out on while pursuing both paths,” Kim said. “But, the reason why I am not taking time off of school is that there are still so many things to learn at school that cannot be learned elsewhere, both academically and non-academically from the individuals you meet at school. I may be too ambitious, but I do not want to miss out on what both have to offer.”
Kim concluded the interview telling the readers that the sooner they jump onto the data market, the better as data is rapidly becoming not someone else’s business but the users.
“There will soon be a time where individuals with a lot of data will have an advantage over others,” Kim said. “From now on, I think the more active data transaction becomes, the better position you put yourself in. I think it would be great if people can join us as soon as possible.”