Kitronyx is a Korean engineering startup that is helping companies with efficient pressure mapping solution for the manufacturing process. The company launched in 2014 has already got prestigious clients like Samsung and LG Electronics.
Started by a former engineer with Samsung Wook Chang, the company has garnered much appreciation from customers despite no major marketing and promotion strategy. CEO and founder Wook Chang spoke to koreatechdesk.com about the company’s technology and its future vision.
1. Tell us about your startup and the vision behind it.
My startup Kitronyx is manufacturing pressure mapping systems. The product is mainly used for industries such as smartphone manufacturers, semi-conductor device and industrial manufacturing. This industrial pressure mapping system is very crucial in the manufacturing process because there are many pressing processes like when two components are to be assembled using pressure by press machine. In this case, if the press machine doesn’t function properly the final product will have a defect. So engineers in the factory are interested in the pressure mapping of the press machines.
Basically our product is for industrial pressure mapping system, but as our product is based on multiple pressure sensing technology, with film sensors, this technology can be used for many applications like touch screens, wearable devices, etc. So the application of our technology is very wide.
Our vision is that we would want this company becomes the best pressure mapping company in the world. We want to spread the technology to other market segments.
2. What is the problem that you trying to solve? Can you give an example?
It is very difficult to measure pressure distribution when a machine presses some components. For example, when you assemble a smartphone its case is composed of two parts – the top and bottom, which has to be put gather by pressing. In this case, if the press is tilted these components cannot be assembled correctly. The waterproof and durability feature will fail. This is one type of pressing process in manufacturing. This kind of pressing is used in another manufacturing process like in semi-conductor devices where there is chemical-mechanical polishing (CMP) process and pressing is important.
3. What about the market opportunity for your product?
Our point of opportunity comes from the fourth industrial revolution, where the role of sensors is crucial and customers come to us to solve this problem. Our industrial customers come from various segments such as smartphones, semiconductor devices, and batteries.
The market is growing very rapidly especially with 11.9% CAGR. The size of the total market in 2020 is expected to be 284 billion according to the market research report.
4. Can you talk about your product types and how you sell it to clients?
Most of our customers are big companies such as LG, Samsung. So the process to buy our product takes 6 months, but most of the clients buy it. Even though we don’t promote it much as of now, customers who come to us end up buying the product.
The payment by clients depends on the product they choose. We have two types of products – one is low-cost assistance which is $500 and other one is advanced product which is priced at $4000. Some of our customers just buy our products off the shelf, but some customers want to have a customized solution. In such cases, the customized price range is between $20,000 to $50000. Clients also retain product contracts for which the process is repeated 2-3 times on average of a 3-month period. Our major clients are Samsung Electronics, Samsung Display, Samsung SDI and LG Electronics.
5. Can you tell us about your background and your team?
I received the B. S., M.S., and Ph. D. degrees in electrical and electronic engineering from Yonsei in electrical and electronic engineering from Yonsei University, in 1994, 1996, and 2001, respectively with control engineering as a major in Ph. D. course. In 2001 I joined Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT), where I worked for 9 years. SAIT is in charge of researching futuristic technologies for Samsung Electronics. I researched advanced sensor technology in the company for multi-touch screens and input devices. From 2004 I had been involved in the multi-touch project, and just before Apple built iPhone, in 2008 I transferred the developed technology to semi-conductor division in Samsung. During my work at SAIT I met many startups and wanted to do something of my own. So I quit the job in 2009 and I founded my first company, I sold the company after two years and then in 2014 I started Kitronyx.
I started the company alone and then built my team, which is now a 10-member team including me. We are all engineers by profession except one member.
6. How is your technology or product unique?
The industrial pressure mapping solution requires four components – sensors, electronics, software and algorithm. My company’s product has four components. In addition, we have a strong network in the academic field including universities and research institutes. So we do research based on strong scientific background. The strongest point of our company is that we have all the technologies. Many companies just have one part for example just a sensor solution or an electronic solution, but we have all of them. We have many patents registered. Kitronyx has more than 7 patents for this product.
7. In your journey as a startup founder, what have you learned?
From the point of view of business, I have learned that people are important. Kitronyx has good clients, good vendors and team members. So I focus on people in the business.
From the technology point of view, I have learned that sensor technology is very prosperous and the technological trends are changing globally. The market for pressure sensor has not yet matured at present time, but there is a growing need for the technology. So it is important for us to expand our technology and increase market penetration based on the technology.
This type of technology has got strong interest from many customers from different fields ranging from manufacturing industries to digital healthcare industries.
8. Can you talk about your funding history and why would you want to have Venture Capital investment?
Kitronyx never had any funding. I started the company on my own. My first goal was to attract customers over investors. Now we have LG, Samsung as clients and a strong team. We are now ready to raise funds from investors. We want a marketing and sales team as we are kind of not very strong in promoting our product. Also, we have to strengthen our engineering capabilities, so would want to hire more experts.
9. What is the next milestone that your startup is set to achieve?
Kitronyx is releasing a new product very soon. The product is designed for industrial customers. The product’s sensors can be embedded in the machine to check the manufacturing process in real-time. There is no such product in Korea as of now. Our product can be a standalone or embedded in the manufacturing machine.
10. What is your aspiration for the future of the startup?
I would want my potential business partners or clients to know that Kitronyx is an engineering company which unlike other companies has really spent many years to develop our technology. Now it is time for us to make Kitronyx popular in the market. We have been tested these products for five years before it being launched in the market. Now we have customers who like our products and it is useful to solve their problems. So we want to promote it more and expect in the future that potential investors will also like our products.