About the interviewee:
Tim Sae Koo, CEO & Founder of Tint was born and raised in Arcadia, CA. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business and Entrepreneurship from USC. During college, he pursued politics by interning with State Senators, and acted in some TV commercials. When asked to choose a more defined career path by his agent and parents, Sae Koo turned his focus to entrepreneurship to “solve tough problems with smart people” rather than grabbing the spotlight for himself.
Guided by Rear Admiral Grace Hopper’s notable quote that “it’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission,” Sae Koo prefers to look upon the mistakes and failures of his entrepreneurial journey as learning opportunities. With this go-getter mentality, Sae Koo has taken his startup to a multi-million dollar business in less than a year. When not engaged with Tint, Sae Koo enjoys playing volleyball, watching sitcoms, and rocking out on the guitar.
Tell me about your firm (number of employees, location, type of companies you work with, etc.). Tint is based in San Francisco, California with a team of 15 people working on a social media aggregation platform that aggregates, curates, and displays any social media feeds anywhere a brand wants.
We work with over 40,000 brands worldwide today that includes car dealerships, non-profits, malls, hotels, consumer brands, digital agencies, and e-commerce sites. Our team started as a consumer application with the same technology as Tint today, but as the company did not see healthy growth, we turned to our customers for advice.
They consistently told us that they would pay for our core technology we’ve built, so we naturally shifted into a B2B Saas model. In 3 months of launch, we hit profitability, and within a 1.5 years, we are at $2M annual run rate.
What type and size of companies do you have as clients The types of clients we love to work with are those that understand the value of social and invest time and resources into it. They see the importance of engaging their audiences via social media and seek a solution that aggregates all their or user-generated social content into one place for them to display it on any website, TV screen in stores, mobile apps, and digital billboards/jumbotrons. Our clients include Dallas Cowboys Sanrio, Krispy Kreme, 3M, NASDAQ, Playboy, Stanford University, American Heart Association, Bon Jovi, Fender, Cirque du Soleil, Clear Channel, Boys and Girls Club of America, Travelocity, Kaplan, ReMax, Yamaha, Chipotle, and many more.
What comes to mind when you think of “breaking the mold” in Business? Breaking the mold to me means challenging what the ‘traditional books’ tell how you should operate your business. It means to not follow conformity just because it feels safe. It means more risk can equate to more reward. It means that playing it safe is impeding potential growth for the company. It means just because others are doing it, doesn’t mean it’s right for you as your company is unique with challenges. It means to try things that don’t feel comfortable so you can quickly learn why others are or aren’t doing it. It means ignoring others if your gut instinct is telling you to pursue what you set out to do.
What are the best practices for being innovative and on the cutting edge?If you can hire a driven and trustworthy team while fostering an autonomous, empowering, and transparent culture, you will be surprised at how much innovation will be created. For hiring, we go through a rigorous culture and all-team interview. Everyone gets a say in whether they would like to hire the candidate.
And in our day-to-day culture, our team always defaults to transparency. This means we meet up every day for a roundup of what we’re working on, use multiple communication portals to ensure collaboration, and set desks next to each other for an open office space. All employees are even updated with how our key growth metrics are doing every day and how much salary and equity each employee has.
With these practices, our team has created a trustworthy, empowering, and exciting workplace that allows each employee to feel safe and focus on bringing value to the company with their innovative ideas.