Yunha Kim, Founder of Locket: Why I Quit My Job To Launch A Startup

When you initially meet Yunha Kim, you wouldn’t automatically assume that she is the mastermind behind Locket, the super successful lock screen app for Android, but that’s before she begins to speak with an intelligence and passion that you would expect from the head of a company. I’m not the only/first/last person to take notice. When companies like TechCrunch and VentureBeat are writing about your company and when Tyra Banks expresses interest in investing in your idea, people are bound to jump on the band wagon. During my visit to San Francisco, I got a chance to speak to Yunha about her journey from Investment Banker to Founder and CEO of  her very own startup. Find out below what exactly it takes to get an idea from concept to realization.

1) You started your career as an Investment Banker and with your switch from iPhone to Android user, you quickly found the calling for this company. Can you tell me a little bit about your first couple of months of the company?

YK: I can barely remember the first couple months of the company. It was just so crazy.

In the first month, I was running around pitching our idea for investment. After getting funded by Great Oaks VC, I was then running around pitching to advertisers and I did that for a half year. Then I started pitching again for another round of funding.

When we had no money or product, I was getting somewhere around four hours of sleep every night. I was living with five other guys out of a two-bedroom apartment with three dogs and a hamster where we worked and lived. We were also getting by with hot dogs and ramen noodles.

Sometimes, I wondered, ‘What did I sign up for?’ but I think I was really happy, getting things off the ground, creating something out of nothing.

2) This idea actually came from our culture’s tendency of constantly checking our phones. Can you give us a little more insight into that?

YK: While pulling long but boring hours in investment banking (prior to Locket), I wasn’t able to do anything fun on my monitor, so I was checking my phone a few hundred times per day. That’s when I realized I keep on checking my phone every single day, bringing it to the restroom, everywhere I go. Every single one of those moments I was unlocking my lock screen which was a picture of a daisy which came as a default lock screen with my Galaxy S3.

One day, I was looking at it wondering why anyone wasn’t doing anything with the most valuable real estate in advertising. If people check their phone 150 times per day, with 71 million Android users, that’s 10.7 billion glances on the lock screen every day in the US that we have not been able to monetize. It occurred to me that this will be the next big thing in mobile advertising.

3) What do you feel are some of the benefits of Locket?

YK: Locket brings content you care about to your lock screen based on your interest, swiping habits and time of the day. It’s a quick passive way to learn about what’s going on around you, in your world. I am too busy to check out all my apps on my phone, but with Locket, I am consistently updated. I was able to learn about a fire in Soma which is only a few blocks away from our office through my lock screen, then I looked outside my window and I saw that fire.

4) How do you find a life work balance with being in such a busy and quickly expanding company? What does your typical day look like?  

YK: When you are in a startup, it’s really difficult to balance your work and life (if you even have a life). It’s like when you have a baby (your startup), and the baby cries, you can’t really say you are off your work hours and let it cry. So, it will feel like you are on call 24/7.

5) I know focus on the company has changed, can you tell me a little about that?

YK: Recently, we have stopped our paid-per-swipe-ad service. We are now focusing on contextual content on your lock screen. Based on an user’s interest, swiping habits and time of the day, we serve content that people care about in a visually delightful way on the Android lock screen, and as the apps is consistently used, the content becomes more relevant

For more on Yunha and Locket, please visit: http://getlocket.com/.

Stephanie Carino has spent over the past 10 years working in the city in the Fashion, Food and Event industries. She currently works in the PR Department at leading Technology and Business Book Publisher, Apress.  On the side, she also writes event coverage and reviews for, Socially Superlative, a NYC-based event website, covering predominantly food, travel and entertainment stories. Connect with Stephanie on Twitter.