Yunha Kim had a plan.
She was raising investment for her new Android app, and she was determined to pitch to David Rubenstein, the billionaire and cofounder of The Carlyle Group.
She heard he had a meeting at a certain building in New York City, so she planted herself in the lobby wearing a secret weapon: her Duke sweatshirt. Rubenstein couldn’t fail to notice her, she schemed, because he was a Duke alum himself.
And the plan worked – he glanced her way, she launched into a pitch, and soon they were having a full-on conversation.
“It was kind of like a dream – wow, I got to pitch to David Rubenstein for 15 minutes,” says Kim. “The fact that I was able to do that showed me that I was really serious about this.”
Kim’s generation may be criticized for having a smartphone addiction, but she and her team at Locket are trying to turn that into a positive. Locket is an Android app that puts beautiful content on your lock screen, from weather to quotes. Ads make up some of the content, which might offer you a deal or discount.
Launched on July 18, Locket isn’t the first app to target the Android lock screen. Plenty of Android apps let you add shortcuts, custom images, and weather there. But this hot app got a whopping 5,000 downloads in the first few hours after launch, and has since grown to over 350,000 users. In November, they got funding from Tyra Banks.
After graduating summa cum laude from Duke in 2011, Kim was working as an investment banking analyst. The hours were long, Facebook was blocked, and her boss sat right behind her – a recipe for boredom. Her only outlet was to check the Internet on her phone, but she soon grew tired of seeing the same yellow daisy on her Android lock screen.
A friend brought her to the New York Tech Meetup in December, a huge gathering of the city’s entrepreneurial community, and she peered into a whole new world. She spent a few weeks deliberating, but soon she had quit her job, given back her bonuses, and borrowed money from her parents to start her own company. She convinced her two cofounders – Paul Jang and Christopher Crawford – to quit their jobs, too, and they miraculously raised funding within a month (sadly, not from David Rubenstein).
Now, eight months after she first saw a startup pitch, Yunha is a bona fide entrepreneur. She lives and works in one apartment, a two-bedroom in Manhattan shared with four guys and a girl, three dogs, and a hamster. She stays up many days until 4 am having sales meetings, answering emails, and finding time to have dinner with her cofounders. They’ve worked weekends and holidays ever since they started, probably more time than they spent at their banking jobs.
And while their salaries are much lower, Kim isn’t worried. In fact, Locket’s mission is to “be brave”: “change is both uncomfortable yet exciting,” they say.
“It’s totally worth it. Now, looking back – thank God I made that decision,” says Kim. “Being brave is what we are and who we want to be.”