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Fighting the COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on entrepreneurs, especially those who rely on interpersonal contact. Even in ideal conditions, business owners need to do a tremendous amount of networking to bring their visions to their full potential.

Hustle Itaewon, a rooftop lounge in Seoul's foreign district, is holding a
panel talk this Saturday, inviting four foreign female entrepreneurs to share their personal stories, hurdles, triumphs and shortcomings.

"I hope to shed light on the knowledge and experiences I have?had as a startup founder and ways to obtain free and important information to improve and maintain startups," Kychele Boone, CEO and founder of the zero-waste brand
Wasteupso, told The Korea Times.

"It is my hope that fellow entrepreneurs and participants will use this opportunity to expand their network and seek assistance from each other."

She'll be joined by Amy Chu, CEO and creative director of
Kaesa, a design company specializing in sustainable luxury handbags and accessories; Marisa Steans, founder and CEO of Corico, a developer of interactive augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) content for daily life; and Marie Frenette, CEO of HAE Creative, a marketing agency for sustainable food brands. The four entrepreneurs are available as advisers for startups in their respective fields.

Each business was built to address social and environmental problems. Three of the four are concerned with issues of sustainability, either of food or nonperishable products or both.

Kaesa's products are made with ethically sourced and sustainable materials, such as vegan leather and plant-based materials.

Wasteupso deals with vegan and other sustainable goods, including food items, soaps, reusable containers and eco-friendly straws. The company also works to eliminate unnecessary packaging and encourage upcycling, or the creative reuse of materials that would otherwise be disposed of after a single use.

HAE stands for humans, animals and the environment, and the consulting and content agency works with sustainable brands, communities, NGOs and government bodies working to contribute to the wellbeing of humans, animals and the environment.

Corico, meanwhile, focuses on content that makes contactless interactions easier. Its 5G software Promo AR helps consumers to select products and offers AR promotional content. As the economy has been struggling in the face of the pandemic, Corico's products can make commerce more comfortable and entertaining by enhancing the e-commerce environment.

All four companies identify critical problems and offer creative solutions. But it takes more than just a good idea to succeed. Startups also need capital, consumers and guidance, and all of this still relies on a high amount of inter-personal contact and community support. Help comes in the way of startup accelerators, angel investors and mentorship from established business owners.

Through the "Hustle And Grind Women Entrepreneurs Panel" this weekend, they hope to connect with the next generation of female startup founders and entrepreneurs.

The event is organized by Mel Watkins, a writer and cultural diversity educator, and Pinnacle TheHustler, owner of the venue as well as entertainment and consulting services provider Planet Hustle.

"Women have to be conscious of so many things that men don't even have to think about, because, well, we're men," Pinnacle said. "This is another reason why this event needs to happen; women need to hear from other women that understand what they are, and will be, going through on this path to financial independence. There are other entrepreneurs and soon-to-be entrepreneurs that need to know that there are people out there that not only understand what you're going through, but are also available to give you the inspirational pushes that you need to help you to reach your goals."

He added that the event organizers will take various precautions to hold the event safely, including checking customers' temperatures, enforcing the use of face masks and encouraging hygienic practices such as frequent hand-washing. The entire venue is cleaned and disinfected every night after closing.

Visit or for more details about the event and to check for any updates.

Original Korea Times article posted 2020-08-25:

By Jon Dunbar

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