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Spotlight #2: NomadHer - Hyojeong Kim
Building a safe global network for female solo travels
This is the second issue of Spotlight by the Seoul Startups community. Here we cover impressive founders and startups with ties to Korea. Today we will tell you about Hyojeong Kim who worked for UNESCO before building the #1 App for female solo travellers called NomadHer from France.
About the company
Here is a (relatively) shocking stat - 78% of European women never attempted a trip outside of Europe. The main reasons are feelings of fear & loneliness and the overall cost of travel. NomadHer is tackling these issues through a community-driven travel app.
NomadHer is not just a travel app. It's an international community of young women who support each other, advise each other, share their stories, inspire others, and prove that it is safe to travel alone.
To bring trust to the platform, all new users are asked to go through a verification process where they have to take a selfie and present any form of ID (passport, driving license etc.)
The app's beta version was released in January 2020, just before the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Yet it did not stop more than 30,000+ female travellers from using the app.
You can find a social network focused on user-generated content and events. Additionally, a search feature allows you to find and message other members who might be travelling to the same destination.
Its revenue comes from 2 channels: paid advertising on the platform (B2B) for businesses who want to target their community. Additionally, they get a commission on trips and festivals booked through their platform (B2C).
About the Founder
Hyojeong Kim was born in Busan, South Korea. Her studies took her across the world from Ewha Womans University in Korea to Sciences Po in France. With her passion for language learning, she took courses in Mandarin, Spanish and Japanese.
Her degree and passion for social impact led to a year at UNESCO before she founded and led a social enterprise in Mexico for 3 years called SeoulAmo. It provided Korean language classes at an affordable rate for Spanish speakers.
While studying for her Masters in Paris, she met inspiring people from around the world, used different languages and grew to appreciate diversity in all forms. It has opened her to be more open and see the world from a different angle.
Since the age of 20, she has travelled to 45 countries (and counting) completely solo. More impressively, she took the Trans-Siberian train from Paris to Busan which lasted over 200 hours! At that time she travelled alone not because she wanted to, but rather because no one else wanted to join her on that crazy journey haha.
During her travels she’s had a fair share of unsavoury characters:
“Being followed by a drunk guy at 3 am in the train station when there is no one, or going through a terrible moment caused by a male couch-surfing host even though he had over 20 positive comments from previous guests,” says Hyojeong.
However, that would not stop her from continuing solo travelling:
“(Travelling solo) allowed me to realise who I am. Solo travelling allowed me to know “What I can” and “What I cannot.” It allowed me to find out that I am pretty good at dealing with everything, A to Z, by myself. Imagine, I survived in Russia with only three Russian words that I know.”
Having faced uncomfortable situations, she founded NomadHer to help other female travellers tackle their anxieties and experience an incredible journey of discovering the world and oneself.
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