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Digital stationery marketplace Webudding charms MZers

Digital stationery has emerged as the new norm for MZers amid the global pandemic

Sep 27, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

CEO of Noutecompany, Daniel Shin
CEO of Noutecompany, Daniel Shin

Stationery products such as planners, calendars and notepads have long been essential everyday items for busy people. And the stationery market has been experiencing a digital transition in recent years due to the global pandemic, which has increasingly ushered in an era of working from home alongside online classes, thereby prompting demand for digital stationery.

In South Korea, Noutecompany Corp., the operator of the digital stationery marketplace Webudding, is at the forefront of the stationery industry's digital evolution.

Founded in 2018, the company wasn’t always a digital stationery company. In fact, the idea first came about when Daniel Shin, the founder and chief executive, became fascinated by intellectual property issues while attending seminars hosted by patent lawyers. During this time, he came across a unique hexagonal grid chemistry notebook while shopping on Amazon.com.

“As an engineering student, I found the notebook to be very useful and realized that Korea didn’t offer these types of notebooks. It overlapped with my interest in IP and it occurred to me that there could be a promising opportunity,” said Shin.

From thereon, everything moved swiftly. Shin made inquiries to a patent lawyer and acquired the IP for a hexagonal grid notebook in Korea. It only cost him around $600.

“Now that I had acquired the IP, I had two options. I could either sell the rights or exercise them,” said Shin, adding that he decided to make hexagonal grid notebooks since he had to prove that they were profitable even if he were to sell the IP.

To do so, he decided to set up a company, which is how Noutecompany was born in November 2018.

Shin began to sell the notebooks at university libraries. They became a huge hit and the business began to flourish thanks to word-of-mouth among students. He also expanded the types of products into fashion design and programming notebooks.

GOING DIGITAL 

In the first quarter of 2020, Noutecompany began to see increased requests for digital stationery products.

“Increasingly, more and more people were using tablet PCs to take notes as online classes became more common during the global pandemic. So we decided to look into the market,” said Shin.

It turned out there was strong demand for digital stationery products but not enough options available. Noutecompany decided to pivot their business in the second quarter of 2020 and launched Webudding, an online marketplace for digital stationery products and creative assets.

Webudding page view.
Webudding page view.

Through OnWebudding, users can purchase various types of digital stationery products, including stickers, tapes, calendars, and notebook templates, which are created by artists who upload the designs onto the platform.

Webudding offers around 3,800 products with around 400 artists who upload creative assets on the platform. All of Webudding's digital assets are interoperable on most note-taking apps.

Also, the company has been developing technologies that deal with preventing plagiarism since Webudding offers mostly image-related digital items.

“We’re creating tools that can detect and prevent plagiarism as well as a tracking program that identifies how a file has been copied and shared,” said Shin, stressing that the company prioritizes protecting the rights of its creators.

The company’s revenue model is based on the marketplace commissions, which range between 5% and 35%. Noutecompany expects its revenue to increase in the coming months since it has just launched the English version of the website, which is likely to give rise to overseas traffic. 

Digital stationery marketplace Webudding charms MZers

SEEKING PARTNERSHIPS

In November 2020, Noutecompany raised its first angel funding followed by its first investment from institutional investors including Capstone Partners and D.CAMP in May of this year.

The company is planning to raise a Series A funding round in the third quarter of 2022 after its English site takes off and there's steady traffic from abroad.

The company is also actively seeking partnerships. Currently, Noutecompany is collaborating with Hottracks, the country's major outlet for trendy stationery products. The best-selling digital items on Webudding are set to be re-produced into physical goods and distributed nationwide via Hottracks' network.

Likewise, the company is hoping to collaborate with potential partners that can help expand the outreach of Webudding services.

For example, content, edutech, craft and utility service providers would be a good fit as they can incorporate Webudding content into their services, according to Shin. Also, manufacturing platforms could make use of Webudding by physically producing popular digital stationery products.

By Danbee Lee

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