Monday, June 10, 2024


Interview with Yeasol Lee, Manager of CBB Science

Photo: Yeasol Lee, Manager of CBB Science

Tech Seoul, in partnership with Starta VC, a leading New York-based VC, successfully hosted the NYC Korean Startup Showcase. The event took place from September 18-22 (ET) and was held in conjunction with the Ulsan Creative Economy Innovation Center's flagship accelerator program 'Ulsan Creative Economy Center U-Star Global'. The audition allowed three tech startups to compete for a spot in the U.S., with the selected startups receiving investment and the opportunity to go global.

Today, we conducted an interview with Ms. Yeasol Lee manager of CBB Science, one of the three startups that participated in the NYC Korean Startup Showcase. The interview is expected to provide useful information for Korean startups and Tech Seoul readers who dream of entering the US.

Ms.Yeasol Lee , thank you for taking the time to speak with us. I think this interview will be interesting for Korean startups and Tech Seoul readers.

Q. Please tell us about yourself and your company.  

Hello, my name is Yeasol Lee and I am working as a global sales manager in the external relations team of CBB Science.

Our company is a startup founded in late 2021 that utilizes graphene, a two-dimensional carbon nanomaterial, to develop materials that can be used in various high value-added industries such as battery materials, paints, and pastes. Called a dream material, graphene has the advantage of excellent electrical conductivity and chemical stability, which can improve the capacity, lifespan, and charging speed of silicon cathode materials by coating graphene on the surface of silicon. CBB Science is the first company to perform TIPS in the graphene flake industry and is producing K-Graphene, the only high-quality graphene flake in Korea and the world's best flake, based on which we are pioneering the world's first full-scale commercialization of graphene.

Q. What was the goal of your visit to New York?

We are visiting New York as part of the U-STAR GLOBAL 6th program activities to strengthen our ability to enter the global market. The main purpose of our visit to New York was to promote our BI, K Graphene, and discover new business opportunities such as attracting collaborative partners and investors for graphene-silicon cathode production through the program's networking activities.

Q. What did you discuss with the immigration lawyer?

Based on my discussions with immigration lawyer, he provided me with information regarding the types of visas available for my company to incorporate in the United States.Q. Who was the most impressive person you met in New York?

Q. Who was the most impressive person you met in New York?

I was most impressed with Start's communication coach, Lisa Patti. On the first day of the Starta program, we had a one-on-one communication session, and her confident demeanor and ability to engage the audience really stuck with me. As I was preparing for my IR pitch, I was thinking a lot about how to get people to pay attention to my presentation, and working with her on the pitch taught me the importance of having good communication skills to clearly convey what we want to convey without losing the audience's attention.

I think there will be many more pitching opportunities in the future to introduce our company's unique graphene flake manufacturing technology. In this regard, the coaching session with her was a very valuable and grateful experience, and I was able to improve my pitching skills during the session, and the feedback I received during the session was shared with me via email. I think she is a person who has the ability to engage the audience.

Q. What was the most difficult part of pitching in front of New York VCs?

First of all, I was very nervous because it was my first presentation.

The idea of traveling to New York and presenting in front of investors was one of the most challenging parts for me personally. I spent the most time preparing for my presentation leading up to my trip to New York, but I still felt like I didn't have the skill set to dominate the roomQ. What feedback did you receive from New York VCs?

Q. What feedback did you receive from New York VCs?

One of the feedbacks we received from investors was that it would have been helpful to have fewer slides in the IR materials to help them understand the overall content, and that it would have been helpful to have a clear investment amount and plan to use the investment. In addition, one of the feedbacks we received from investors was that it would have been helpful to explain the battery cathode material field in relation to secondary batteries in an easier way by using images with good visualization.

Q. What was the biggest lesson you learned from your visit to New York?

I learned once again that it's important to have the will to realize my company's vision and a strong belief in what's possible. New York City was so big and diverse that it made me wonder if there was a country called "New York" instead of the United States. 

Throughout the Starta program, I often heard the phrase "New York is the place where you meet unexpected opportunities and people in the strangest places," and without a doubt, this experience confirmed that New York is a place of countless opportunities and possibilities, but at the same time, it's also a place that can easily falter if you don't have clear goals and belief in your company's growth.

With a strong belief that our company's technology will change the world, we learned the fundamental importance of setting goals and direction to realize our vision.

Q. What plans do you have for entering the New York market in the future?

Similar to the attention we are currently receiving in South Korea, we plan to steadily increase our networking efforts in the U.S. market to spread the word about our technology. Above all, in order to achieve our technological end goal of manufacturing graphene-based cathode materials that can travel 800 kilometers on a single charge and be recharged in 10 minutes, our current short-term goal is to complete the construction of research and prototype facilities after raising seed investment by early next year.

In order to achieve these goals, we plan to conduct technology development, investment attraction activities, and various networking activities with the US market in mind. We recently became an official member of the Graphene Council, which is headquartered in the U.S. and the U.K., and we plan to be more active in exploring new business opportunities for the global market, including the U.S. market.

Q. What advice do you have for Korean startups looking to enter the US market?

Just as staying in one place tends to solidify the scope of activities to a certain extent, I think the same is true for the company's growth. Just as the saying goes that where there is a will, there is a way, so I would like to advise you to take a comprehensive view of the company's growth strategy, such as setting the US market as an entry point for the company's vision and values.

Q. What do you think Korean startups need to succeed in the US market?

I would like to say that in order for a Korean startup to succeed in entering the US market, it is important to have analytical skills to objectively look at the company's situation in achieving milestones, and clear communication skills to provide clear information to investors when seeking investment, apart from the value or vision of the company's growth.

Q. How would you describe yourself in one word?

I'd like to say "ENTJ". While the popularity of the MBTI has waned somewhat, I'm still one of its biggest fans, with the main character of the American drama House of Cards and Apple's Steve Jobs being the most prominent ENTJ personality types.

Q. Where do you see yourself in five years?

I'm thinking about becoming an expatriate of our company and selling graphene silicon cathode materials in the US.

Q. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

My greatest strength is having the courage to go ALL IN when I have a goal. My weakness is that I don't always take care of or consider the people around me.

Q. If people who know you well were to ask you for three adjectives that best describe you, what would they say? 

Creative, goal-oriented, bold

Q. How do you usually spend your free time? 

I usually spend my personal time hiking or journaling to organize my thoughts and plan what to do next.

Q. Name three of your favorite things.

Graphene, CBBS, cheeseburger

Q. With only three months left in 2023, is there anything you personally want to do for the rest of the year?

This year has been a busy and hectic one for me both professionally and personally. At the same time, I had a lot of valuable and meaningful experiences, such as visiting New York City, and I want to finish the rest of the year calmly by remembering the things I'm grateful for, and personally, I want to get my driver's licens.

Q. Thank you for your time today, and I wish you and your company all the best. Lastly, please say hello to Tech Seoul readers.

Happy  Christmas in advance to all readers of this article! We hope you all have a happy and healthy 2023, and thank you for reading. Cheers!