Alex begins the week with two very different pioneers. Bryan Do is producing Korea’s very first single malt whiskey having been the force behind the local craft beer maker Hand and Malt. Anthony Joshua is going boldly into the world of blockchain, offering individuals organizations, and smart cities the chance to use this technology for much more than cryptocurrency.
Alex talks with Bryan Do from Three Societies Distillery, and then with Anthony Joshua about blockchains and smart cities
Alex Jensen: You’re listening to Koreabizcast with the KBLA. I’m Alex Jensen. And it’s Monday, October 18th. And on today’s show, we’ll introduce a pair of pioneers. One is producing Korea’s very first single malt whiskey having been the force behind the local craft beer maker hand and malt before it was bought by the world’s largest brewing company. And the other is going boldly into the world of blockchain, offering individuals organizations, and even smart cities the chance to use this tech for a very different application than Bitcoin. Find out how they’ve gone about it, what drives them, and what advice they have share. As ever, we’d also love it if you could give us some feedback, get involved in our Koreabizcast community, or just share a great idea. Send us a message via LinkedIn search, KBLA.
Alex Jensen: You talk about Korean whiskey, and you might have in your mind one of those blends that you find sometimes poured out at a late night, Noraebang, or at least that happened in my memory before the COVID-19 pandemic, Bryan Do is doing a lot to change that image of Korean whiskey despite his product being relatively young, very young, in the whiskey world. It’s called ‘Ki One’ and it’s made by three societies. Bryan Do is the founder and CEO of that company. He’s also famous as a man who started hand and malt, the beer company that many people have grown to love, and cider iterations, made by them as well. Bryan, thank you so much for joining us on Koreabizcast to tell your story.
Bryan Do: Alex, thanks for having me.
Alex Jensen: So, there are so many places I’d like to go in this conversation, and I’m worried we’re not even going to do it justice. But beginning with the whiskey itself, the idea that it’s Korean, is that start to finish or is there any Scottish involvement, like for example, we’ve seen some of the other claims that whiskey is brought over here and then mature in Korea, for example?
Bryan Do: Yeah, we the only Scottish is the person that is helping us make it, so we are sticking to tradition. Our motto is steeped in tradition and but devoted to innovation. So we use just the same methods that has been used for years and years and years in Scotland to make our single malt whiskey, so we are bringing in the barley or the malt, the Pottsville malt from Scotland, directly from different maltsters there but it’s all made in Korea, we have a genuine copper fourth site pot still and we produce it here we ferment the wash here, we distill it in our both wash and spirit stills. And then we use three different types of wood to mature our product, currently. We’re using a virgin wood, which is Wisconsin oak from the US. And it’s shipped over here along with once filled bourbon, from the likes of your famous bourbon brands in the US. And then we also have some Cherry wood that we use, coming mostly, of course from Spain. So those are our three primary woods that we’re using. We are dabbling in Korean oak right now. So that will be an interesting, limited edition that will sell later on in the future. But as you said, we are young. We first had our first distillation spirits come out in June last year 2020. And in September, we just released our first express impression of our one-year single malt whiskey to Korea and soon it will be in stores in five different countries outside of Korea.
Alex Jensen: It’s just an amazing journey in such a short period of time because when we talk about single malts, the conversation often starts at 12 years or at least 10 years, but I’ve been told that your single molds at one year old is the equivalent of a Scottish single malt at five years old. How could that possibly be the case?
Bryan Do: Yes. Well, not just us, but you’re gonna start seeing a trend, I guess once the airport’s open up, I’d like to task your listeners to go to the duty-free and remember seeing before you would have seen a lot of numbers on bottles nowadays, I would be willing to bet half of those now do not have any age statements on there. And that’s because they are fairly young now. And there’s different advances and maturation processes that are going on around the world, aside from Scotland, but because of that, we were also able to take use of two different things I think that helped us mature our whiskey so much quicker. Number one, first and foremost is the weather that are distillery, is giving us out well where it’s at right now is a perfect area to mature whiskey because of the extreme swings there are during the summer and winter times, the summer, it goes up to an average of 33 to 35 degrees to the winter, it swings down to negative 20 for two months. Our warehouses don’t see the sun pretty much for two months. So, it’s almost like an accordion effect where the wood is sucking in all this spirit and then spinning it out. And all the goodness from the wood, the flavor. The different chars that we have inside of the wood, of course, adds to that. But we are quite pleased. And most of the whiskey avid fans that have come and tasted our one year are quite surprised. Starting from the aroma taste. Yes, it still is a one year and we’re only showing this impression to the world right now. But we’re, we were planning on launching it in three years, but we’re actually probably going to move that up probably somewhere close to two years or 2.5 years.
Alex Jensen: Like can’t wait to try it myself. I know that people queued up very quickly for this. It was over 1,500 bottles released in this first limited edition that were basically immediately sold out partly here in Korea also abroad. And this was by the way against the context of whiskies seeing a 21 year low for imports last year. So, you’re bucking that trend. But is that because we’re talking about very different products, i.e., the difference between a slightly harsher blend, shall we say, and something that’s as exciting as what you’re doing with a single malt?
Bryan Do: Yeah, you’ll see a overall decline in volume in whiskies. But however, you’re going to see an increase in the premium whiskey space, especially in the single malt space that continues to go upwards, whereas the less expensive or less premium were the budget whiskies are going down for several reasons, I think, number one, first and foremost because of the Coronavirus. Most of the Noraebang and the other establishments are not open to sell that whiskey. So, I think that’s the biggest one. But also, I think a lot of the Korean consumers are as Korea itself is becoming a much more mature society. People are now starting to take care of their health more, but they’re not drinking to get drunk anymore. It’s not a speed competition to see who’s gonna get drunk. It’s more of enjoying their liquors. And when they do, they’re searching out for more of the premium ones where there’s a store behind it and it could be a conversation starter and they can enjoy it with friends, wealth, talking about sports, politics or anything else.
Alex Jensen: Well, we’ll be following the story of ‘Ki One’ whiskey, that’s for sure. And I’m going to make it my goal in the guise of Koreabizcast visit this distillery in the hills of Namyangju in the not-too-distant future, I hope but Bryan, your story is also very interesting. I know that you’ve been working in the media in the past in the business world and I got to know about hand and malt a few years back and have enjoyed drinking that beer myself various different kinds. And it goes on today under huge business ownership. Can you give us the summary of that story and how you kind of found your business home in the world of alcohol?
Bryan Do: Yeah, um, first I was never an entrepreneur or a businessman. I was. When I first came to Korea over 20 years ago, I started off as a show host for a children’s quiz Show. then ended up in the state English broadcast station, Arirang. I was a journalist, TV news anchor, news producer, and also a new show host too. And then I went on to the private world where I did PR for several years and ended up being recruited by one of my clients, which was Microsoft. I was in the consumer division for Microsoft for almost a decade and found my niche in the tech world and I really enjoyed it. But during that time, I also moonlit and started a speakeasy with one of my friends out in Seoul, it was probably one of the first speakeasies in Korea. This was 2012, 2013. And we were one of the first to sell craft beers. And during that time, I was home brewing. And when I would sell the craft beers of other companies, I can see the astonishment in the people’s faces when they drink this going, ‘Wow, what is this? This is not the usual beer that we’re used to.’ So, I’ve always thought, wow, what if that was my beer, and I was making my own beer. And I was just doing that on the side, giving to friends and an acquaintance and they would all enjoy it. So having no experience in that, I decided to quit my job at Microsoft and start a craft brewing company. We were one of the first I would say in Korea that started craft beer. And we were one of the first to innovate on a whole slew of things, starting from barrel aging our beer, to making sour beers, and launching sour beers to starting our own hop farm and releasing harvested ales and a whole slew of other innovations that that we started off, but it’s been fun. And that’s kind of the same attitude that I’ve been bringing to three societies distillery. Whilst I was our company handed malt was growing way too quickly. So, we are looking around for some investment to build a much bigger brewery. And luckily, Anheuser Busch came calling and they of course, are the largest beer company in the world. And they liked my story, they liked the brand and we ended up shaking hands and the rest is history. But while I was doing that, I told them I have a distillery company that I’m going to open in the next year. So, if you don’t allow me to do a distillery, then the deal was off. And they said, you know what, all of our, not all but a lot of the people that we have merged with, end up graduating to distilling, and we totally understand just as long as you don’t make beer and cider anymore. We’re okay with spirits. So, with that, okay, from ABI. I started this journey in making single malt whiskey. One of the things was, you know, when you go abroad to see friends or other family members, you kind of want to bring back something from Korea. And you see people buying at duty-free just whiskies or sometimes those weird ceramic dragon bottles with some, I don’t know, some type of Korean traditional liquor in there. Most of it is mostly because of the bottle. But I would have hoped that people could be proud of a whiskey that’s comes out of Korea to share with people, and you know, that could be a conversation starter again.
So I contacted an old hand in the industry and asked, hey, do you know anybody who would be willing to start a distillery with me and a month later I got a contact to Andrew Shand, who is our master distiller and he had just finished setting up a distillery in Virginia and being an adventure man he is. I sent him a ticket and told him to come out here. And as soon as he came out here, I think he fell in love with Korea. Also, our philosophies are very much very, very similar. So, it was easy for him and I to get along. And yeah, so far, the rest is history.
Alex Jensen: It’s a wonderful story. In amongst that, though, when you mentioned, the huge buyout of hand and malt, I could sense that some people might wonder whether that would affect the quality of the output. And I wonder also whether that might influence the future of Ki One whiskey if a huge liquor company comes along and decides they want to get involved in that, How much creative process can people on the ground continue to have?
Bryan Do: Yeah, I’ve learned a lot through this merger. And because of that, I’m definitely not letting one of the big boys come in anytime soon. There’s a cask in my warehouse, that is the I think it’s the third one that we filled. No, that was the second one that we filled, ever. And on there, it says, my daughter’s college fund. So, we’re keeping this around for a long time because she’s just five years old, now. The creative process that was kind of stymied when I went into Anheuser Busch was not because they were trying to kill off the creative process is just because of the massive bureaucracy that’s involved there. So, I understood I worked in a massive company for a long time before so I knew that that would be an issue coming in. But the reason I merged with Anheuser Busch was because they promised me that the distribution would be something much more than I could do on my own if I kept the company. So, it was basically, I say this analogy to a lot of people is basically giving up my baby, to an adoption to very rich parents. And they would be able to take care of him or her better than I probably would. So, yes, some creative processes were stymied by but on the other hand, they never compromise on the quality of our product, our recipes are still the same. And we’re able to get beer to more Koreans at a more palatable price.
Alex Jensen: Again, as I said before, there’s so much more that I’d love to talk to you about. And I’m just going to use it as an excuse to come and visit. But I’d like to finish with advice for anyone who’s starting a business in Korea. I mean, it’s a horribly broad question. It’s necessarily general. But I can’t speak for everybody, that the question would be to a younger version of yourself or to anyone starting out what your advice might be.
Bryan Do: Well, someone who’s looking to start something new, I would just say, there’s a lot of hurdles that don’t get in your way at the very beginning. But always keep your eye on the vision and go towards that vision. And don’t compromise. Because once you start compromising at the very beginning, it’s a slippery slope. And it you just ended up compromising almost everything. So, what I firmly believe in is at the beginning, there are some compromises at the down the road that you can make. But at the beginning, probably for the first five years, you shouldn’t be compromising on your vision, the path that you want to go because once you set that path, and it’s your job to bring your team to that vision to that goal. So, once you start faltering people will your team members will see that too.
Alex Jensen: I’m sure there’s someone out there right now who needed to hear that maybe more than just one person Bryan Do. Thank you so much. Best of luck. We’ll all be cheering for you, I’m sure.
Bryan Do: Thank you appreciate it and you are more than welcome to come anytime to have a sip of a tipple.
Alex Jensen: I think we’re gonna have to take Bryan Do up on that offer. And thank you for joining us, Bryan. Let me say if anyone wants to get involved or offer any feedback, join our community in any shape or form. Just drop us an email via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alex Jensen: So, when you see blockchain reported in Korea or many other places for that matter, it’s often in the context of cryptocurrency but that’s certainly not all that blockchains good for our next guests business is evidence of that ‘CloudyBoss’ provides blockchain based solutions to organizations and even smart cities using its own technology and here to explain it is CloudyBoss chief of business development. Go Jinhyun, thank you very much for joining us.
Anthony Joshua: Hello, Alex, thank you for the very strong introduction and thank you for using my Korean name. I appreciate it. I’ll start by beginning to dive in into a bit more detail about our organization, CloudyBoss, essentially CloudyBoss is a purveyor in the industrial and enterprise blockchain space. And as you have already hinted upon, we’re mostly dealing with use cases in the realms of smart city supply chain management, manufacturing this industry 4.0 in similar realms, a very quick background on the foundations of what industrial enterprise blockchain actually is. It’s sort of stems from permissioned and private blockchains, where whereby cryptocurrencies, such as Ethereum or Bitcoin, or so on and so forth are typically found in permission lists in also public blockchain segments. So, from that perspective, the private and the permissioned blockchain has more capacity to give organizations control over how they can introduce more nodes or companies into the blockchain ecosystem. It allows more scalability for the amount of data that may be transacted or shared within the blockchain ecosystem. So that’s really giving enterprises more control over their cybersecurity, more leniency, and more fluidity for dealing with complex, let’s say, organizations and complex arrangements of management of data in operations.
Alex Jensen: And how much interest in have you had in Korea for services like this?
Anthony Joshua: That’s a very good question. And, frankly, the enterprise blockchain market here in Korea is quite mature. We’ve been realizing that the likes of Samsung SDS, even SK Hynix, in other major organizations, within the software space, also industrial space, an enterprise space already using some version of the tech not technology. So thus, there is a bit of I don’t want to say competition, per say, but there are certainly other players in the market we have to be aware of. And in focus of that we believe we still hold a relevance in the market. And we have something that other protocol developers and other SI system implementers do not have and that’s bound by our technical foundation.
Alex Jensen: What’s the state of tech literacy, though, that you encounter in your daily business? Honestly, if you came pitching to me, a blockchain based service, I think I personally be scratching my head, even with the explanation you gave before, it’s quite a lot to wrap your head around.
Anthony Joshua: Yes. So, on that regard, the industry itself within the enterprise and industrial spaces. they’re familiar with blockchain being used for industry application. However, still, literacy, as you have mentioned, is quite low where a lot of organizations may have a more archaic paradigm for when it comes to digital transformation, that they want to maybe stick with more relevant systems that they’re used to such as ERP, in or let’s say, more convenient cloud setups. And even on that regard, initiative, digital transformation is surely spanning beyond that. And we’re seeing digital transformation really become autonomous, interoperable, and, of course, being based in real time. And what that means is that a blockchain acts as a middleware vector, which really secures different connections to different organizations or different IoT networks or different operations that may be complex to actually connect with traditional software models. So, we’re seeing that literacy is gaining some traction. However, the market still needs to be educated on a mass scale. And of course, there’s still a very huge misconception about the word blockchain being associated with just cryptocurrency. So certainly, the learning curve is hopefully hitting a point of inflection quite soon, Alex.
Alex Jensen: Well, there are a lot of guides online that explain the basics of blockchain. So, I don’t think we should use our valuable time here to go into too much detail there. But suffice to say, it does seem that it’s incumbent upon CEOs and other leaders in a whole variety of industries to make themselves literate in feels like this, if they’re going to be prepared for the future, we are seeing perhaps an acceleration on we even have of such tech trends during the pandemic. Is that also fair to say?
Anthony Joshua: Absolutely. And to maybe comment on your first point regarding C-suite executives and other business leaders really adapting to the learning curve and investing within their companies and in their teams to actually undertake such process. It’s very relevant for such organizations to a number one, become more trusting with their partners in their supply chains. And number two, become transparent, as blockchain facilitates transparency, and facilitates trust lessness or thus, more trust within ecosystems. So, it’s important for again, these paradigms psychologically for a C-suite leaders to actually engage upon. And yes, you’re also right about, you know, due to the pandemic, with the digital transformation at large, including blockchain, of course, is really growing at an exponential rate. We were realizing that humans, maybe, let’s say, devastated by a pandemic or another, let’s say relevant world event with a positive or negative impact. And because of that, humans may have less ability physically to interact with important segments in our worlds value chain. Thus, the creation of you knows, electronics or the development of automobiles is a very, very huge automobile, let’s say a backorder process there throughout the world because of Coronavirus in the in the pandemic, and also the food value chain. So, if we’re beginning to automate these sectors, and we’re beginning to replace robotics with replace humans with robotics, and really automate more of the mundane your jobs, then, essentially supply chains have more security and more, let’s say reliability and uptime.
Alex Jensen: Well, that is certainly an area I’ve heard a lot of talk about blockchain technology and logistics, for example. But before we started this interview, I was really interested with what you were saying about digital twin technology and how we can take the human experience into an entirely digital sphere. Although it sounds both convenient and kind of scary at the same time. Can you elaborate?
Anthony Joshua: Yes, it certainly sounds like an Orwellian nightmare, right? 1984 the whole the whole world becoming digitalized in humans losing a sense of emotional stability. However, I think this is something that we should not fear, we just have to be in control of the technology. Even though AI arguably can control us, we have to be aware of the parameters of how AI is built to avoid that, that reality. And now diving a bit more into the digital twin aspect. Yes, we’re seeing in conjunction with digital transformation, as a buzzword that the world is becoming slowly but surely, digital place, right, where everything is connected to the internet, everything as a cloud connectivity, everything shares data. In major industry technology, which is indicative of this is a digital twin, where whereby manufacturers or supply chain management companies or even companies producing food, whatever relevant to industry organization may be, and they want to create a digital version of their entire value chain right over supply chain, if you will, from production to also to end delivery, right? So eventually, we’ll be able to interact with let’s say, a manufacturing plant completely remotely through title robotics. And thus, robots will be able to manage the entire production process without, you know, little human intervention. So, we’re seeing this digital twin, sort of TIC form. And even in the European Union, the European Union invested a lot of euros into developing a digital twin of the world. So, one such digital twin is filled in, if you will, or develop that a very finite level. Everything becomes autonomous, everything becomes alive in the digital space. And you sort of see this matrix flight like feedback or matrix like reality that we may be living in. However, again, we need to be aware of the repercussions as humans, you know, Elon Musk himself is developing this Neuralink as an example. Right? So, his Neuralink is a chip that’s implantable in the brain. So, it’s a very interesting time and we have to make sure that as technology becomes closer to humans, perhaps embedded within us under our skin, right, we have to be conscious of the ethical ramifications and also the emotional ramifications as well.
Alex Jensen: We’ve gone through layer upon layer, they’re ending up almost somewhere fairly philosophical, but you do hear those words digital twin mentioned, even in fairly innocent government meetings about smart city develop. For example, don’t use so it’s, it’s pretty realistically tied with where the world is today. It’s not just something on the distant horizon.
Anthony Joshua: Absolutely this is this is technology that that’s, you know manifesting on the market right now. This is technology. That’s reality and it is at its infancy at its early stages, of course, however, within the advent of faster internet speeds, that’s upcoming 6G and beyond also with the advent of quantum computing, whereby connectivity may be unhackable, and also have unlimited data transfer speeds potentially through quantum entanglement in other physics-based principles, it is becoming a very interesting, you know, reality. For when it comes to digital twin, I think we have to again, make sure that the correct foundation is placed, and governments must have a very strong dialogue with large organizations as they currently are and we need to also make sure that humans, when jobs become automated humans are engaging in more emotionally driven occupations to make sure that humans don’t become redundant in certain spaces with an industry and the global value chain. So, this is all very important throughout this digital twin transformation process.
Alex Jensen: Yes, indeed. And I suppose that also explains or gives us a good reason for becoming literate in touch matters. So, we don’t allow technology like this to just be dominated by people who we either don’t understand or can’t trust or whatever the worry might be for global security. Go Jinhyun is one of your names, by the way. And before letting you go today, I wanted to touch on your own personal story. Because I was first introduced you as Joshua Anthony, you’ve got such a global background, you’ve worked in Morocco and Vietnam and in the United States. How did you get this Korean name and how important is it been for you to make that kind of commitment in order to adapt culturally here?
Anthony Joshua: So, it’s been a very long journey since my departure from living in the US. Originally, I’m from the east coast of the USA, and for the past, maybe five years, almost, I’ve been living abroad. And it to me, being a global citizen is very important in this day and age, at a time where we’re so connected to everything around us, actually going to a new country, and meeting new people with, who speak a new language, who are operating with a different culture is very important for the growth of one’s consciousness. In my time, in living in Southeast Asia, within Africa, within Europe, within Eastern Asia, now, everything has prepared me for this moment, of course, by living in Korea, by really engaging in a new market where there’s exponential growth rate of the economy, of the culture of the cultures, let’s say, PR and in global presence. And because of that, I’m big I became aware of how to somewhat correct I’m going to master just yet but somewhat quickly adapt to society, in that regard, by being here in Korea, and having my global experience, I truly feel at home. You know, I feel as if that I’m accepted, though I am a foreigner. Even though my Korean language abilities are not where they need to be. I still certainly develop valuable relationships with people. And it’s a very pleasing in a very comforting thing that one can be accepted in a society to where you may be lost in translation yet, you still feel like you belong somewhere.
Alex Jensen: There are people outside of Korea right now, though, you might be listening now thinking I’d love to go and work in Korea, I’d love to go and start a business in Korea, but they might not have the family connections, i.e., they might be someone like you before you came. What advice would you have for them?
Anthony Joshua: Yes, that’s a fair enough question. Frankly, if, in life, my motto, if you have interest in something, and you find maybe a passionate inclination behind something, then you know, just go do it. You know, there’s a very, very likely chance that you’ll do well with it over time. If you are wanting to do something, if you want to move to the Korean market, if you want to move to a different country, do it, you know, figure out some level of a plan. develop that plan on paper in the beginning, do your research, really develop an idea of why you may want to go to this new culture does Korea for this matter. I That in the eastern or the eastern Asian market and territory, Korea is a very special place in that special place attracted me originally. In my first arrival here in Korea, I was invited by the Korean government to the startup program called KCC, which is hosted by the Korean startup in an SME ministry, and also by NIPA. So, I came here with a business intent, however, as Korea sort of found me where I wasn’t expecting such a rewarding cultural environment. So, I suppose that, yes, it’s a mixture of cultural desire, but also a desire to see the potential in the market to understand that, within the past 60 to 70 years, Korea came from a very, very humble beginnings, such a global powerhouse writing the 11th or 10th, most powerful economy in the world, by being named the most innovative country in the world by the Bloomberg report this year. So, it’s a very, it’s a very good timing, you know, culturally, personally, and also professionally for me to be here.
Alex Jensen: How does that happen? How do you get approached when you’re relatively new to Korea, by government agencies, because a lot of people will have spent years here without having that kind of initiative coming to them.
Anthony Joshua: Well, I guess, to make a very cliche comment, seeking you shall find, right. But dial in on that. Essentially, for those of you who may be listening to this and are in startup, there are many opportunities here in Korea, for global talent transfer program, global tech transfer programs, innovation programs, so on and so forth, so that the Korean market will only disseminate more and more opportunities for foreign startup companies. So, there’s plenty of opportunity do Look, do your research. And eventually, you will resonate with the right program. If you’re working hard enough, and you find the right niche and you have the right solution. Again, because Korea is a very competitive market, the connection with government agencies is difficult, they want to make sure that you know, new innovations which the market hasn’t seen before are coming into the country, right? So, it’s best to do your homework is best to align your organization or your idea wherever you may be at in your development process with the markets needs and with the market trajectory in even being here on the ground. You know, after being accepted originally into the contrary, it’s quite difficult at the same time quite accessible to access government partners as well. Again, it’s about doing the research finding the correct targets in reaching out and not being afraid of rejection or is it too early Is it too late? You’ll find those answers throughout your communications with such profiles.
Alex Jensen: Well, Go Jinhyun, to use your Korean name once again and we’ll continue to do so at least while you’re based here. I’m maybe forever more wherever you happen to be as a global citizen. CloudyBoss, Chief of business development, best of luck and thank you for joining us.
Anthony Joshua: Okay, thank you so much and ‘Gamsahapnida’.
Alex Jensen: Well, thank you to Go Jinhyun and before that Bryan Do for being with us today on Koreabizcast with KBLA as ever see you again tomorrow from 7am, Korea time.