It was a big transition for a travel magazine publisher to reposition itself as a tech company in 2013. “We had a readership of around 30,000 and two million Weibo followers who were fans of our magazine,” ZaiSeoul co-founder Jaeyoung Jang said. “We asked them to visit our new website and some of them became actual customers.” After the transition was completed, the company set up a branch in Shanghai. Jang now works with a full team in China, while the other co-founder remains in Seoul running operations.

Founded in 2011, ZaiSeoul started out as a travel magazine. In Myeong-dong, a renowned Korean commercial district, coupon books attract pedestrians to nearby restaurants and hair salons. With his experience publishing coupon books whilst at university and time spent in China as an exchange student, Jang thought it would be a good idea to target coupon books at Chinese tourists, and started the company with a friend whom he met six years previously in China.

ZaiSeoul’s website now touches areas such as travel packages, accommodation, fashion and cosmetics. Jang said the company’s value lies in specializing individual holidays rather than group tours. The travel website attracts a niche market of female tourists in their 20s and 30s by offering accommodation options like traditional Korean guest houses and boutique hotels, where their Chinese counterparts cannot.

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Eva Yoo

Eva Yoo is Shanghai-based tech writer. Reach her at evayoo@technode.com