[Korean Startups] POD startup pierces trend with unlimited design possibilities

  • 2020-02-13

When Park Hye-yoon (pictured) visited Disney Land in 2006, she wondered why all the Snow White merchandise only had to do with either Snow White or the prince. She liked the grumpy-looking dwarf.

After returning home, Park began her search for a print-on-demand (POD) business that would create customized products. Unlike overseas, there were no standout POD businesses in Korea. And so she decided to open one herself. The brick-and-mortar shop opened in Hongdae in 2007 and it shifted to an online business in 2015. That marked the beginning of custom printing startup Marpple.

marplle

Park is an art major from Ewha Womans University. She went on to get her master’s in virtual reality (VR) at Illinois State University and that’s where her eyes opened up to information technology (IT). Marpple is a custom printing platform. Users can easily upload a design using their mobile or desktop and place orders without a minimum. More than 600 clothing, accessories and phone case products are available to custom print any unique design.

Marpple’s advantage is its hassle-free ordering system. Its independent algorithm enables users to order and pay in just three easy clicks. More than 30,000 reviews show a diverse range of products from gifts for family, customized photo accessories for friends and lovers, and unique goods for enthusiasts of all kinds. Businesses looking to test the market before an official launch also frequent Marpple to create samples.

Global markets are also responding well with overseas sales adding up to some 400 million won last year. The company’s English service kicked off in early 2019, followed by Japanese service in November. Many of the orders feature K-pop and other Korean pop culture elements.

On her secret to success overseas, Park says, “I was well-trained by picky domestic customers in Korea.”

“Our local customers have very high standards when it comes to print quality. We can’t push off on enhancing our technology as mediocre quality immediately leads to customer complaints.” she said. “When we compare our products against overseas POD samples, they are rarely better than ours.”

Park says she will be focusing on expanding the one-person e-commerce tool MarppleShop this year. The platform will enable anyone to create and sell merchandise with their unique and original design. Would-be sellers, without initial capital, can attempt to start a business and reap profits from design sales.

By Suyoung Jo

delinews@hankyung.com