During the winter break, two KAIST students started a café just outside of our school in Eoeun-dong. The KAIST Herald met with them to find out more on what this café is about.
Could you briefly introduce yourselves?
[Kim] My name is Jangheon Kim. I entered KAIST in 2009 and I am majoring in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and minoring in the Department of Management Engineering.
[Shin] My name is Geon Ho Shin and I am in the entering class of 2010. I am majoring in the Department of Biological Sciences and also minoring in the Department of Management Engineering.
How did you end up opening a café in Eoeun-dong?
[Kim] During the 2011 spring semester, I took a course called “Special Topics in Management Science: Social Enterprise Management.” In class, I worked with Professor Joosung Lee and other students to create the Café Chaeum, but that ended when the semester was over. However, I kept in touch with Professor Lee even after the end of the course, and he knew the owner of the old Coffee and Brunch café in Eoeun-dong. Apparently, the café was making losses from low sales, and so Professor Lee suggested that I form a team to run the café to help boost sales.
[Shin] Jangheon and I met through the school’s badminton club K-Bird, and one day we were talking and found out that we’re both minoring in the Department of Management Engineering. As we talked about the reasons behind our choice to take up the minor, we discovered that we are both interested in starting a business. Kim asked me to co-manage the old Coffee and Brunch café, which we renewed and is now called Café Rang.
How are you funding the café?
[Kim] The Korea Social Enterprise Promotion Agency held a National Social Enterprise Contest, in which winning teams each get 30 million Korean Won to start up its own social enterprise. The contest picked 14 teams from Daejeon, and our team was one of them. We used a portion of the money to renew Coffee and Brunch and turn it into Café Rang, and we are now using the money we have left to manage it.
This means that Café Rang is a social enterprise. What is the purpose of the café and how do you plan on realizing that goal?
[Shin] Our goal is to connect KAIST students who are interested in education and students from the low-income group of society. We want Café Rang to be the hub of this exchange of knowledge between the two groups.
[Kim] First, we plan on gathering about 20 non-KAIST students from all income groups who are willing to study. We will develop an education curriculum for these people free of expense, and when we have a curriculum model that ensures the students’ progress, we plan to charge students who are not from the low-income group and offer the curriculum for free to students from the low-income group.
If this structure works, then we want to add a private tutoring program to the study curriculum already being offered, and the tutors will be KAIST students. Basically, the low- and high-income group will receive the same service with only the students from the low-income group receiving it for free. Students of the high-income group will have to pay for the study curriculum, and pay extra if they want to take part in the tutoring program as well. All of this will take place in Café Rang and students are free to come any day of the week, but will be required to come in at least once a week, probably on Fridays or Saturdays.
We also want to open exhibitions with works from KAIST clubs such as Bittara and Grimijua, which are photography and visual art clubs respectively, for public viewing. We have yet to contact these clubs regarding our plans, but our goal for Café Rang to develop into both an educational and cultural hub will remain the same.
Who are your team members and how often do you meet?
[Kim] The people who are managing the café are only Geon Ho and me. However, we have Yongjoo Jee, our barista, who I’ve been working with since Café Chaeum. He is mostly in charge of developing and improving the menu, and he is very talented at it.
We already set up work hours and the menus, so we don’t need to meet on a regular basis anymore. When we do get together, we meet at the café and discuss topics ranging from dealing with sudden emergency situations to advertising our café.
Do you have any last comments for our readers?
[Kim] Because what we want to achieve is something that is of social value, we would like many KAIST students to be interested in what we’re doing. We welcome anyone who wants to team up and work with us to achieve our goal. Also, input from our students would be much appreciated. If you have any ideas or comments, even if those critical of our project, don’t hesitate to pop in and tell us what you think.
[Shin] Before it is a social enterprise, Café Rang is, well, a café. The coffee we serve is really good. Before we officially opened it, we went around and did our research on how to run a café. In terms of our coffee-making skills, I think we have it down. Please come and enjoy.