This is Lab80’s weekly journal from our trip to the SF Bay Area to soft-launch Hello Money. See all entries.

Back in Stateside

I’ll miss Seoul but it’s great to be home in SF. First thing back we took a beach jog at Fort Funston, and the clean sea air was a nice contrast to Seoul’s summer heat.

It is our first time to host this many guests in SF, and getting everybody set up here was surprisingly painless (thanks to Keywon’s excellent planning) and our office is comfortably supporting five people.

I wish I could say our latest software release is also painless. We are running almost a week behind despite working long hours this past week. We’re scheduled to release tomorrow evening and I’m stressed about it.

We exist to create an excellent product. Let’s do it, right now.

michael1 michael2
You tell the CTO to jump; he asks how high.

I’m Grateful

So far so good, everything we prepared and hoped is working out.

Everyone arrived safely without any trouble; our SF work/live loft makes a very pleasant workspace, potentially the best one I’ve had; last-minute AirBnB find is a decent place; there has been no accident; no one is sick.

And most of all, everyone is getting along, trying to be helpful and considerate. You might say this is just the first week and we’re still in the honeymoon period as a team. But if you’ve ever taken a trip as a group, you know that a week is more than enough time for a bad group to fall apart.

keywon1 keywon2
Cooperative shopping and BBQing ;-)

I’m Proud

Why does this make me so secretly proud? Here is my theory.

All of us took a bet on each other, N-to-N (5-to-5 to be precise), when we decided to spend six weeks in SF as a team. It’s not only the two founders, Michael and myself, who decided that it’s worth the high monetary cost, but also Junhee, who’s been with Lab80 for over two years now, and Seungri, who joined the team only two weeks ago, who decided to have this experience.

This first week is an affirmation that all of us have good eyes when it comes to people. And I think that those with good eyes for people tend to have good eyes for other things too, including product and business.

Five of us, betting on each other.

I’m Hungry

Our team is by no means complete; we’re always short on developers, and it’s always a work in progress. Not to mention that the current team of five is just temporary since two interns have to return to their schools at the end of the summer. So this feeling of pride in team building I have won’t last.

Let me take this opportunity to remind myself that we’re only building a team because we have a change we want to bring to this world, and we want to bring it as a for-profit business.

I only deserve to feel this pride if I get to build a real business. We’ll be entitled to run a team of five, six, and more, only if we can set a clear plan as a business and execute it.

Always Ask Myself: What Can I Do?

Visiting USA came true finally. I am very honoured to be here actually.

It was pretty hard for me to settle in SF to be honest, but I am getting used to streets and atmosphere in SF. I really like the weather. The weather is really lovely. Brighton’s weather where I used to live was awful. All the members in our team are really hospitable. I am really grateful.

I had been pushing myself to work and concentrating on my secret “Palman” project as much as I can but I am feeling I am not good enough yet, so I should try harder! But like the sincere advice Michael gave me yesterday, I will constantly ask what I can do in a given time and control it. I will keep that in mind all the time.

For the next 4 weeks, I would like to browse what unique things SF has got. And also I should not forget this. Try eating as many different kinds of Cheetos as possible!

Seungri1 Seungri2

Things to remember while I am working:

  • Don’t be stressed out
  • Try to present my progress in the daily sync with a high level of clarity.
  • Prioritise what I do.
  • Contribute to Lab80 as many abilities I have as possible.

My Goals and Lab80’s, Aligned

After a month in Seoul I finally moved to San Francisco, the heart of all successful startups, the mecca of star developers.

Although I had had chances to come to the States a couple of times for breaks during my military service in Korea, it felt different when I landed in the SFO airport this time.

Aside from anything else, even feeling the cool breeze of San Francisco was a luxury I couldn’t even think of two years ago. I felt immensely grateful for Lab80 for accommodating me and wanted to give back as much as possible to really shape Hello Money into its final state.

Howon3 Howon4
Watching the World Cup Finals with the Germans

At the same time, I thought this one month in San Francisco might be one of the most important times for myself too. Since I will start my own startup like Lab80 before reaching 30, this will be the prime time for me to meet all the great-minded, inspiring entrepreneurs in Bay area and learn from them their attitudes toward life and what adversities they had to endure to deliver something of value to people.

While I can code in my dorm room, this time in San Francisco might be my only chance to meet such people and talk to them in person. It really is all about balancing between delivering as much as I possibly can for Lab80 and getting the best out of town for myself.

Howon1 Howon2

However, now that I am thinking while I am writing this diary, the two might not be so exclusive.

I am growing faster than ever as a developer while working alongside Michael, and networking with people also might help Lab80 recruit talents or publicize more easily later. I will try hard next week to learn how to keep the balance between the two goals or even better, to see if there is a way to make them mutually benefitting.

7 days past, 25 days left. Let’s make it worthwhile…