As an immigrant entrepreneur,
one of the hardest things was self-doubt, self doubt. Am I the right person? Can I do this? It's a demon thought
that is a very hard to overcome. I can only answer that question right?
I couldn't speak English. Everything was difficult. Hi, good to see you. I'm Saeju Jeong, co-founder and CEO at Noom. Noom is a consumer-led health care company
that we use behavior change to help our users master four pillars of exercise,
diet and stress management and sleep to build a holistic healthy outcome. 2021 We raise capital led
by Silver Lake a total of $540 million. We became the largest consumer-led digital healthcare company in the United States, and the company has been growing
very fast with a lot of support from many users and we feel very thankful. I was raised in a small fish town called Yeosu in South Korea. My father was a medical doctor. I thought I would become a doctor as well,
and instead I become a doctor. I became an entrepreneur as I found company at age 19. So in Korea, we all take an exam to enter the college at one day,
and based on the result that we choose a path which school, college we can enter.

And I fail to enter medical college,
unfortunately, but I entered pretty good school. I studied electro engineering,
but electro engineering was not my passion. So soon after I joined the school,
I realized I'm not going to finish the School And dropout college because it was not my choice.
I didn't have a real passion out there. My first business was Heavy Metal Record label,
actually Distribution company first, because I love heavy metal music
quite a lot since elementary school. I only listen to heavy metal music,
death metal, black metal, like progressive metal or metal music.

The music has to be consumed by CD cassettes or LP, so it was an importing good. And I wanted to provide a service
and that was my first business. What I learned that I cannot build
a business based on just my passion business. You know, it's my hobby. The first business did not answer my question
that why I'm here and this planet in this time. I was looking for a more deeper
philosophical answer that business could not answer. Second TAM was small. South Korea Total Access Market
for heavy metal listeners are quite small. Heavy metal music is all that kind of small.
That's what I learned.

So I need to start a business
where the problem and opportunities are bigger. I was trying to like a figure the place
where I can start again and I figured United State, the Land of Opportunity,
the most richest country. I came to New York because international friendly
and also I figured New York City is quite far from South Korea. If things are not working well, unlike LA
or Seattle or San Francisco, where there are big Korean community, I thought it will be harder
to compromise, settle with Korean community. That's why I chose New York city.
Everything was difficult.

For sure everything was difficult.
I couldn't speak English. I did not know any single human at there. I remember I stayed at home one week straight
without talking to any human because nobody is calling me and I didn't have any friends. So as an immigrant and I was nobody,
that means I had to really be very extra nice to appeal myself and try to leave a good impression
because otherwise they will not give me a chance.

I rebuild my network and learn everything
as an immigrant with fresh eyes. And they try to help me out and that's the way I rebuild my network, but also build my self confidence. My co-found Artem Petakov He came from Ukraine when he was 13
and he went to school Princeton University for computer
science and theater major. My cousin went to the same school
and my cousin had like the dinner with a of the alumni in Manhattan, and Artem was there. He and I, we got clicked from first day
and we we met in the two days after we spoke until like 4 a.m.. He was a tech lead at Google Maps
and he did a fantastic job of geo search project. He didn't think about becoming an
entrepreneur, but I think he's a wonderful entrepreneur himself. He always think about how to improve better
as a product person. I spent two years constantly.

I pitched to him that you need to get out from Google,
you yourself as a founder, and we can make a bigger impact in health care
because think about health care, how bad it is. And unfortunately, you got to say six
or seven out of ten are sick. We thought that is the area is less
touched by Silicon Valley approach, which is problem solving approach. That story over my two years,
he got convinced and he convinced the parent and he got out from the Google. In the beginning, we raised capital
from angel investors, from a lot of Googlers, Artem's friends and my friends from Korea,
my family invest in us and our company and angel investment in Harlem office that it was not an office was our apartment.

We stay together and we live together at there. Well, we actually had a lot of fun
time at there because we were young and also we're mission driven people. So we found the company and we built a lot of fitness driven product like a stationary bike, very similar to Peloton concept. That was our first prototype,
but it took like two years to build. We pitched investors,
but we couldn't raise capital. It was not a good product-market-fit by 2008-2009. we had many ideas,
but it was easier for us to convert stationary bike to smart bike. That's why we chose that path. But now, from today's perspective,
it was very cute the way we figured and actioned it which we don't do that anymore from Noom.

We test ideas before we built. We were very poor for years and years. We could not figure out product-market-fit
and we did not generate any revenue. So we were in a very difficult position
that we could raise any dollar. So I put my own personal money by asking
to my sisters bro's in Korea, my friends. So we ended up building an application
because we didn't have money to buy any hardwares by the time.

And that was a right challenge for us
because we that's the way we explore the app business. We launched the first fitness driven product Cardio trainer,
which was using smartphones, GPS accelerometer to measure the sports
activities such as cycling and running. And that was a mega hit.
We actually achieved quite good success. We became number one at the market right away,
achieved 5 million users within six months, and we were able to raise
institutional fund, the VC fund. Kleiner Perkins came to us and that's
how we raise our seed round. But we figured that the service is not
answering our promise, which our company mission, that we were looking for more
holistic outcome and our users were looking for losing weight, not just becoming a fit. And then we discovered we need to build
a service for overall health, not only just fitness, so we have to sunset our product, the Cardio trainer. And that was a very difficult decision,
but we made a right decision. First version of Noom was we only
provide AI service that we guide our users to how to manage our weight.

That was our very first version in 2014. But we quickly learned with the human coach,
providing holistic approach will deliver better outcome. So we relaunched the service in 2016 May. The current version of Noom that comes
with a behavior change approach led by passionate health coach and provide the service
that is mastering four pillars of diet, exercise, stress and sleep management. Noom became a house of brand in the United States as a change behavior platform, and we have changed the way over-all health care. The view has been overly optimized for sick care,
but we are trying to change the view to more preventative approach. We believe that we just built
a foundation of the company can long last more than a century. So my co-founder, Artem Petkov,
is a great teacher.

He gave me a book as a friend
before we found the company. Good to Great, written by Jim Collins
and can be a good book that we can read together and we share our ideas
and we both love that book because the book is basically the author, Jim Collinson. He figured all the references and examples
from the company by research, the company that exists more than 100 years over a century. Isn't that amazing? So that really inspired us. We want to build a company,
that long lasting company over a century, not a quick success.

So we loved it. Most importantly, we love
that the company mission driven and also company is constantly make sure
that the mission driven people are on the boat. That was the great lesson we learn
and we apply it from day one. My version of Good Company,
Great Company is Good Company is the company that produces amazing service,
but great company is durable across company over years and years, hopefully more than a century. We hope noone can last more
than 100 years with a great brand name and reputation and that is very difficult. That is a great company. Think about how many brands you can
think of that exist more than 100 years. Not many. A lot of companies come and go
and we don't want to see that from Noom. Think about a lot of tech driven startups.
They are very zero to one. Many companies can do that.
I mean, it's still hard. People can do that. Zero to One We did it, now 1to 100.
That is another next level journey.

That's very difficult.
Everything is hard startup everything is hard. Money, motivation, direction, roadmap. There's no such a thing I can
answer What is the hardest thing? Because everything is hard. To be honest. as an immigrant entrepreneur,
one of the hardest thing was self-doubt, self doubt. Am I the right person? Can I do this? Is the most difficult emotional barrier. It's a demon thought
that is a very hard to overcome. Can I do this? No one ask, but I ask myself
and no one can actually give a right answer. I can only answer that question right? Mission driven thinking and always remind myself
why I found the company, why big, Why? Why did I found the company? My self doubt was able to manage
by actually working with the right people. I got a lot of support from my people,
so they support me to stick with the company mission and how thankful I am. And also I built a very healthy habit
since then, wake up early, do exercise and also keep thinking
about the difficult part of the questions.

I actually have seen a lot of early
stage startup entrepreneurs. They are not thinking hard. They think hard about product for sure,
but they don't think about entrepreneurship oneself. That means their emotional rollercoaster,
their self doubt. I don't think they really think
hard about it and be honest about it. I recommend be honest to yourself
and ask for help to not act like you're okay. Ask for help and also admit where you are
not good at so we can actually provide a room others can help you. Don't act like you know everything
and it's okay to be vulnerable.

Strong, fearless leader. Wrong, wrong. That's not the right approach
because you are breakable. And that's okay because startup is hard. Everybody knows that it's okay
to ask for help. As company has grown so much, now we have more than 3000 full time
employee in the United States. So my role has been changed. In the beginning, obviously I participate more
and got everywhere. But as company grew fast,
I tried hard to delegate my work, invite better person, better executive than me, the domain expertises. Give my work to them
because they are better than me. And my job is constantly sponsoring them. Remind a company mission
and based on mission we align our company strategy, discuss a strategy,
but operate by experienced, seasoned executive for every department. That has been the major change
and the evolution. We believe the timing was correct,
that people, consumers who are seeking for how to get a smart, healthy lifestyle
and there is a trend and the people are seeking for service, they can do
by themselves and they will look for help.

In my case,
I'm not a serial entrepreneur, right? I've been doing it Noom for the last 16 years.
I will continue to do that. For me, entrepreneurship is the way I approach
the problem of the society and the world and figure the problem by providing a better solution,
by doing so can contribute to the community to have a better, healthier lifestyle. Noom helps people's lives as many as we can
by changing behavior. Our users were seeking. Time was right, and that's
why we were able to enter the hypergrowth stage. I think luck is the necessity of success,
but I also, I would say luck only arise if you stick enough for one path for a long time. Basically, you are making your own luck..



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