Earning $15 million a month… the 20-something president’s reversal of a “freaking crisis


One of the biggest challenges for any entrepreneur is building a regular clientele. No matter how good your food is, it’s useless without customers. Here’s a young man who took on the challenge of turning his regular customers into fans. He worked 14 hours a day and stayed up all night to create a new menu, get reviews, and share stories. He started with the goal of getting 3000 fans of his restaurant, and within 4 months, he had 1500. This is the story of Lee Jae-ha (29), a novice business owner and host of the social platform Mundo.

Mr. Lee Jaeha, a host.

Q. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
“My name is Lee Jae-ha (29), and I host traditional wine and sake gatherings on the social platform ‘Muntou’. I worked in IT sales and planning for about three years. During the corona pandemic, I realized that it’s hard to live in the world with just one job. While working at my company, I wondered what N jobs I could do. I took on challenges such as Airbnb, drawing emojis, running a blog, and running a smart store. Then I realized that hosting a community (gathering) that connects people to each other was a good fit. I wanted to organize a proper gathering, so I opened a small traditional wine bar in Seongsu-dong.”

Q. You went into self-employment.
“I wanted to create a space for people who enjoy traditional liquor and wine, where they can share their tastes and enjoy each other’s company. Through running the space, I gained the know-how to run a hospitality business and a business. At the end of last year, I also opened a brunch bar in Euljiro.”

Q. Isn’t it overwhelming to be self-employed and organize gatherings?
“I opened the brunch bar ambitiously, but I didn’t have any customers because I didn’t promote it at all. I set a goal to promote my space through meetups and create 3000 fans who love me and my space. 400 people have come every month, and about 1500 people have visited in four months so far. After the meetup, I try to make them become customers naturally (laughs).”

Euljiro Brunch Cafe.

Q. What is your daily routine like as a host?
“Every day, I work nonstop to prepare for the gathering. The format of the gathering is to eat my new menu items and share stories. I have to make a lot of food at once, so it’s a lot of work. I haven’t started cooking in earnest for five months yet, but I’m getting more and more fans who are applying again. I’m spending a lot of time studying to make my food even more delicious and new for them.”

Q. Were there any early challenges?
“We have up to three meetings a day. It takes 14 hours from preparation to cleanup. It was physically hard to stand alone to cook and wash dishes, so I’m trying to manage my physical strength by running every day at dawn. (Laughs) At first, people often left food because they weren’t good at cooking, but now that I’ve made efforts and have the know-how, I’m very happy that very few people leave food.”

Q. How much revenue do you generate per month?
“Platform gathering revenue usually averages about 14 million won per month, excluding personal business revenue, and it accounts for a larger portion of our total revenue than personal business.”

A group discussing the new menu while eating.

Q. What are the store contracts for wine bars like?
“Seongsu Wine Bar is located near Ttukdo Market. We pay 21 million won for the rights and 1.1 million won for rent. Euljiro Wine Bar is located in Printed Alley. When choosing a location, I thought it was important to have a lot of foot traffic, so I showed a unique affinity for brokers. I was able to see a lot of properties by visiting them often with a smile on my face.”

Q. What were the initial costs?
“The Seongsu-dong wine bar cost토토사이트 10 million won for demolition, installation, and interior, and we earned 10 million won in sales in the first month to cover the initial costs. The Euljiro brunch bar cost about 30 million won for rights and equipment purchase. In the first month of November last year, we earned about 5 million won, and recently, our profits have increased to 14 million won.”

Q. How long did it take you to make a profit?
“I became profitable in about a month, which was faster than I expected. I tried to find more food and more interesting content to differentiate myself from other hosts. I focused on making sure people who came were full and having fun, even if it meant spending more money. Naturally, my reviews and followers grew. I also have more fans who look forward to my gatherings.”

The interior of Seongsu-dong Wine Bar.

Q. Do you have any memorable guests or episodes?
“I met a marketing and branding expert through a platform meeting. I didn’t know much about coffee or marketing, but with his help, I’m turning Seongsu-dong Wine Bar into a cafe. From delivering coffee beans to making sure the coffee tastes good, he also taught me how to do marketing on Instagram. I got to know a lot of different people through the meetings, and it’s great to be able to give and receive help in business.”

Q. Do you have any tips or tricks for those preparing for their second life?
“I think it’s important to be cautious and get as many opinions as possible before starting your own business, and I did that by meeting with as many wine bar and cafe owners as I could in the beginning to get their opinions, even if they weren’t necessarily owners themselves. I would recommend getting as many different perspectives as you can, and then proceeding when you have some confidence that you can succeed.”

Q. Were there any personal life influences?
“When I first started meeting, it was to create customers for my business. Talking to 400 people a month has changed my values. I’m learning and having great conversations with a wide variety of people. Seeing people from all walks of life, ages, and values has broadened my perspective on the world. As I’ve gotten more financially comfortable, I’ve been making monthly donations to PETA and Good Neighbors since last year. I still use part of my participation fee to donate to these organizations, and I plan to organize various volunteer events in the future. (Laughs)”

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