From Confusion to Confidence

My journey from a bio-lab research assistant, a paralegal, a management consultant to a CEO.

The highest building in Seoul: Lotte World Tower

I founded Champ Kitchen about two years ago. The journey before founding Champ Kitchen was quite adventurous, and I am ever grateful for every single job that I have been through because the experiences and skills guided me to found Champ Kitchen. I was a bio-lab research assistant, a paralegal, a consultant, a business development manager, and a lifestyle coach. Majoring in Biology at Johns Hopkins, I loved learning about life and the human body, but my passion desired more than what was happening in Petri dishes and through microscopes.

I decided to become a patent lawyer so that I could catch up with the new biological innovations without myself being in the lab. While I was studying for the LSAT, I also worked at a patent law firm to experience what it is like to be a lawyer. Unfortunately, it didn’t take me long to figure out being a patent lawyer does not necessarily mean staying on top of the newly invented biological technologies. It was more like a mediator in between an inventor and the patent government office.

Confused and disappointed, I realized that I wanted to find a career outside of my comfort zone. Something that is not related to science or biology. After a few weeks of research, I decided to become a management consultant and experience various industries to learn more about business and work with high-level executives of large conglomerates like Samsung.
Being a management consultant in Korea meant working from 9 am to 2 am, six days a week. Yes, you read it right, that is 17 straight hours. The only time I could breathe in some fresh air was during lunch break, and the farthest walk of a day was from the office to a restaurant nearby. Not surprisingly, my body started to protest against the inactive and eat-whatever-available lifestyle. Due to a lack of circulation, my feet got so swollen that they could not fit into the shoes by 5 pm. I was so shocked that I decided to give up 2 hours of my precious sleep to take 6 am CrossFit classes. Physical problems aside, not being able to choose healthy meals was the hardest part. I always felt bloated after having MSG-laden dishes and gained several pounds. Without the daily workout routines and healthy eats, I lost confidence in my performance.

After a 4-months-long project at L.E.K., I decided to quit consulting and move on to a healthcare startup called Noom. Noom helps its users not just lose weight but establish healthier lifestyles for the long-term with a dedicated human coach who provides personalized support and encouragement through the mobile application. Coaching the users, I realized that when it came to making positive lifestyle changes and maintaining them, having a nutritionally balanced meal was far more effective than cashing in a lot of exercises. The lifestyle of eating whatever available and walking less than 3,000 steps a day was the reason why busy professionals could not manage their wellness, and it was what happened to my coworkers and me.

After all these journeys, I finally decided to start my own business and help people by providing their essential needs. Champ Kitchen is the first healthy meal delivery start-up in Korea that focuses on ‘clean eating’ as it’s foundation. As Arianna Huffington said, Champ Kitchen believes that there should be no trade-off between living a professional life and having nutritionally balanced meals. Champ Kitchen delivers the meals directly to doorsteps in between 12 am and 6 am so that customers do not have to cook or do grocery shopping. I truly believe in our mission statement, “Bringing out your inner champ one meal at a time.”

Little did I know about operating the business, being a start-up CEO meant constant problem solving, dealing with customers and trying to make better products all at the same time. I was always burnt out, and my usual stress relieving running or yoga could not fuel my low-running energy. Luckily, the local Lululemon store hosted a meditation community class. Without any previous exposure to the meditation, I went in with zero to no expectation. Since high school, I was the girl who always needed to be on top, never stop searching for opportunities, and never learned how to remove that resting bitch face. Voila, the 1-hour teacher-led meditation was exactly what I needed for my life. Finding the missing link of my life, I cried out of joy and started preaching meditation to my family and all of my friends.

Science, training, meditation and good eats are the things that I am passionate about. I sincerely hope companies like Thrive Global to reach out to Asia where there are countries with the highest suicide rates. When people start to realize that they can spare 10 minutes of their day for a meditation session, Seoul can get rid of the disgrace of being the capital of suicide.

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