Sungho Choi of VEAT tells us about a law firm that provides comprehensive legal services including advising Venture Capitals and Startup Accelerators.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Sungho Choi: Due to the recent surge in Covid 19 in Korea, in the past three months, more than five people have not gathered, and I have not seen my relatives. Individuals are also practicing distancing themselves as part of self-defense. Vaccination started in Korea last week, and we are waiting for the order of the vaccine, and it is expected to get vaccine around November. It’s a difficult time for everyone with Corona 19, but we are trying to overcome them together.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded VEAT.
Sungho Choi: Originally, my dream was to become a venture businessman. Since I majored in computer science engineering, there were a lot of founders around me, so we talked together, and it became a reality. When I entered the Seoul National University, my colleagues were so competitive, and they had similar knowledge as the professor. Meanwhile, at the National Information Contest, which I had prepared for 2 weeks, seeing my best friend win the grand prize after only studying for a few hours, I thought I could not do it, and decided to become a lawyer who understood IT.
In October 2015, I established the legal office VEAT by myself. It’s been seven years since its establishment. We have steadily developed and are now a law firm that provides comprehensive legal services to a variety of companies, with ten attorneys, one advisory attorney, one consultant accountant, and two technical advisors.
Personally, I was awarded the 8th Outstanding Attorney Award in recognition of legal advice for startups by the Korean Bar Association, and We were also introduced to the ‘2020 Leading Lawyers in Korea’ selected by the Legal Times, which plays in major areas of corporate law, such as M&A and company law. In the 2020 Annual Bloomberg League Table, we ranked fifth legal advisory area in M&A and investment.
How does VEAT innovate?
Sungho Choi: We mainly provide legal advice on M&A, investment, Venture Capital, corporate, startup, game business, software, intellectual property rights. We have extensive experience in advising Venture Capitals and Startup Accelerators. In particular, the attorneys of our law firm understand both ‘IT/Technology’ and ‘Law’ based on their major in science and engineering and practical experience, so we quickly and accurately understand the customer’s requirements and work as corporate advisory lawyer base on this.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Sungho Choi: Covid-19 is still going on all around the world, and it has a serious impact on the health of humans as well as on companies and economies around the world.
Like an IT-specialized law firm, we are implementing strengthened Covid-19 prevention measures based on our experience in utilizing various IT technologies such as conference calls and remote business systems. Except in cases where face-to-face meetings are inevitable, non-face-to-face consultations, such as e-mail advice or video meetings, are made in principle. In case of inevitable on-site face-to-face meetings, only a small number of people are deployed in the conference room to maintain a safe distance, and desktops and wired equipment are also regularly disinfected.
On the other hand, we were able to secure working hours by minimizing inefficient time. Although it was initially difficult to consult with new customers due to telecommuting recommendations, it was overcome by actively utilizing non-face-to-face counseling.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Sungho Choi: Due to Corona 19, the court entered a recess, delaying most of the trial dates. Although it was initially difficult to consult with new customers due to telecommuting recommendations, it was overcome by actively utilizing non-face-to-face counseling. Through this, I realized that even if the situation is difficult, there is a way to overcome it if I constantly try and improve it.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Sungho Choi: We mainly use video conferencing software that can replace face-to-face meetings, and we’re introducing any direction that clients can easily proceed, such as conference calls and remote business systems.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Sungho Choi: I think my competitor is me from yesterday. Rather than comparing with others, I want to work a little harder than yesterday and move forward with patience. Like VEAT’s motto to be a growing legal partner with customers, if we put the customer’s growth first from the perspective of customers, we think that our goals will be achieved naturally by growing with customers from startups to unicorns.
Your final thoughts?
Sungho Choi: With many people suffering from Corona 19, there are more attractive businesses such as big data, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, and cloud-related businesses, while there are businesses that have been hit hard like the travel industry, which is getting more polarized.
There will be many difficulties, but I believe that a better environment will soon come if we work together to endure this period and change our thinking of crisis as an opportunity.
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