Interview with Charlie Kim, CEO of Soom Inc.
Tell Us About Your Journey
My journey as an entrepreneur starts very early on as a kid growing up and watching my parents. They actually immigrated from Korea in the early 60s as academics, but then quickly became small business owners and entrepreneurs themselves.
I learned quickly, as I helped them, learning that you do things by learning yourself, self- teaching, and then also working very hard and that work ethic I learned very quickly from my parents.
And this is my second startup, now a successful startup. And what I’ve learned is that you can’t do everything yourself. And so early on, I was self-teaching and doing a lot of things myself. And in this second startup is more of learning from others and learning from the employees and then also helping them through leadership and guidance.
What Is The History of Soom?
Soom is a software platform specifically for medical device manufacturers that helps them with compliance, but then also with safety recall alerts. Soom started out actually always in the medical device space and in healthcare. But really when I became a part of Soom early on as an investor, but then what came about was with a personal story of mine. My second daughter was born, and she was born with an airway disorder that required her to use a medical device, a life-sustaining medical device, to help her breathe. That medical device failed and it actually was on recall.
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We didn’t find out that the device was on recall until after maybe a month later in the hospital. After doing arduous research, going back and forth, what this was was a failure not in the health care system, but it was a failure in the supply chain. A failure in the way that recalls happen. And a failure in the way that the health care system communicates to patients.
What Are Some Inspirations That Motivate You?
The inspiration currently right now is actually my employees and the people that we work with. And we work with health care providers, but our main customers, the ones who pay the bills, are medical device manufacturers. And a lot of the folks that we work with are part of their innovation teams. They’re known as digital innovation, digital transformation folks.
And the inspiration that I get from them is that they remind me of our employees because they’re so motivated to actually do good in healthcare while also helping the business of healthcare, because that’s what it technically is.
I’m learning so many different ways of thinking, but now that we are growing as a global company, learning from these employees culturally too, on how to communicate, how to think, how to respect one another as we do work on bringing different ideas and different products together.
What Challenges Have You Faced?
The standard challenges of any startup today is all about, especially in technology and software development. Revenue comes after you develop a product and you have to prove really a lot of your hypotheses. And that requires capital funding. And so one of the greatest challenges that we always have is that we spend money faster than we actually bring it in. And so we have to reach out to investors. And so the challenges that Soom faces is doing the right thing and leading our mission to advance the quality and safety of health care. But then also figure out how do we attract investors, how do we generate revenue when we’re doing such big picture work at the same time.
What Advice Can You Offer To Other Entrepreneurs?
Similar advice that I give to many entrepreneurs is that you’re an entrepreneur for a reason. You are risk averse on many instances and you trust your gut. And I think as you go down that journey and that path is to continue to trust yourself. You can always look at data, you can always gather information to have as many advisors as you want, but always look back and reflect onto yourself as are you doing the right thing? Are you sticking with your core mission and why you believe in what you are doing? And again, always trust your gut because when you start to doubt yourself, all of the people that follow you, all the people that invest in you will see that. And that is when things start to sometimes turn in different directions.
Where Do You See Soom in 3-5 Years?
In three to five years, I guess I see it on two different perspectives. As a startup, three to five years seems like a very long time. But on the perspective of the industry that we’re in in healthcare, three to five years is not a very long time. So I would say where do we see us, Soom, in three to five years is making an impact and being around in three to five years, where we have a user base, where we’re part, we’ve created this community of collaboration and people are actually talking about us. That would be a great achievement. And then to have the employees who told me once that they’ll know when we’ve achieved success in the healthcare industry, when they come to me or one of my employees come to me and says, I think we’ve done it, I think that’s exactly where I would love to be in three to five years.
What Value Has Gesmer Updegrove Provided To Soom?
So in my career I’ve dealt with many law firms from sole proprietor to extremely large firms. And coming across Gesmer was probably a great blessing for us because Gesmer brought very large scale type of attorneys and services but catered to the size of a startup. And I can’t think of any other law firm that we’ve worked with that I’ve worked with personally that’s able to do that.
That when we make a phone call and we have a problem as a startup, especially in healthcare, and the way that we’ve rapidly fundraised, we come across some strange and complex problems and they’ve basically seen it all. And the interesting thing is sometimes they’ll say, yup, we’ve seen this before. Others they say we’ve read about it. But the interesting thing is they do come with solutions for us and they help us not only network, but there are times where I’ve spoken to our attorneys and they’ve just given just simple advice. Not like I wouldn’t say life advice, but employee advice and just things to think about as we grow. And so it’s been a great partnership that we’ve had over the years.
Why Go With Gesmer?
I go with Gesmer because they’re able to cater to the size and scope of your business at that particular time. And also over the years, we’ve built a great relationship both professionally and personally.
Click below to read more about the attorneys involved with Soom, Inc.
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