Jungil Kim is the 26-year-old founder of Artisan & Ocean, a start-up company that developed DIVEROID, a multi-purpose diving computer that connects to your smartphone. It boasts four major functions: a dive computer, camera, compass and log book. DIVEROID was created for scuba divers to safely wander underwater with everything they need in one device.
Jungil was 22 when he founded his first start-up, a merchandising company that transferred Korean entertainment products to other east asian countries. The market for Korean culture products was increasing and Kim saw a business opportunity in Thailand. Even though the company was successful, he was losing his drive.”The point is, I wasn’t interested in entertainment. A lot of people brought our products but after six months, I felt tired,” Jungil explains. He shut down the company and a couple months later, he found his real passion: creating an innovative product or service and scuba diving.During the summer of 2012 on Jeju Island, Jungil witnessed a scuba diver pass away from decompression sickness because of the lack of dive computer. Because diving deeper into water causes many changes with the body, divers need to monitor their activity. Diving computers that record a diver’s depth and let’s them know when it’s time to make a decompression stop are expensive and many divers risk their safety without using them.Just a freshmen in university, Jungil came up with the idea for a dive computer that attaches to a smartphone to safely guide divers as they ascend deeper into the waters.”Dive computers are really expensive and it was difficult for divers to get. I thought that I could make it in a cheaper way and distribute those functions to divers.” Jungil says of the problem that divers have. Dive computers usually runs on average around $1,000. Prices can be higher depending on the features it has while DIVEROID costs $599.”Most people these days have smartphones. Because smartphones are basically computers, I had the idea that they could replace a dive computer.”
In 2013, 23-year-old Jungil applied for and received a grant from the Korean government to officially start DIVEROID as a start-up company.
“What I learned from my first start-up,” Jungil says, “was that if I have something I want to do, I shouldn’t take any detours even if it’s difficult. Even if I take the easy way now, there will be mountains in front of me in the future that I can’t expect.”
With that mindset, Jungil Kim left university to produce and market DIVEROID full-time.
How DIVEROID Changes the Game for Scuba Divers
DIVEROID promises to keep divers safe but that’s not all it does. It puts every function that a scuba diver would need while underwater in one device and application.
Dive Computer – This option graphs the user’s diving. It also allows divers to see their temperature, depth measurements, remaining time in the dive, battery life and nitrox levels. This is possible because DIVEROID has a built in temperature sensor as well as pressure sensor. If any safety regulations are broken during the dive, DIVEROID will vibrate and send a notification that will alert the diver.
Photo/Video – Using the camera on your smartphone, DIVEROID allows you to take photos and videos underwater while in the application. The application records your location, time and temperature for every photo taken.
Diving Log – After getting back to the surface, you can see your diving logs,a collection of all your dives with depths, photos, durations and notes. Photos are able to be shared on social media.
Compass – Compass for underwater navigation.
The social aspect of taking photos underwater (with location, time and temperature) and then being able to share them is arguably the most innovative feature that propels DIVEROID far ahead the rest of underwater sport technology. It proves that DIVEROID isn’t just a device that you need when diving, it’s also a device that you want as well.
The Business Side of Things: DIVEROID as a Startup
From a business perspective, Jungil is very aware of the niche market that DIVEROID appeals to. In Korea, there are around 300,000 scuba divers. That number goes up every year. Since DIVEROID’s launch in 2015, it’s user base has been steadily increasing. The sale of the device is available online as well as through dealers at scuba diving sites. Again, DIVEROID is on the market for $599, far below the general price of dive computers.
Even though there is a more defined consumer market, Jungil is very confident in DIVEROID’s potential. “I think the smaller market makes it easier to understand the user. Like understanding what the user wants and what’s important to them. For example, we can come up with the idea that scuba divers are adventurous, they love to travel, and not afraid to try things. We are able to understand our users more than companies who have bigger markets. Penetrating a target is far more important than the size of the target. Targets can be changed in any time.”
Overall, DIVEROID is a great example of a successful start-up. When DIVEROID was founded, startups in Korea were not thriving as they are today. Jungil ran the company alone while outsourcing for a year. Today, DIVEROID employs a total of six people.
Jungil explains working at DIVEROID as casual and friendly. “We speak without honorifics because we want to encourage everyone who has an idea to say it, without being influenced by the age differences.”
The DIVEROID team goes on company scuba diving trips to strengthen teamwork and test out DIVEROID. Like more and more start-ups in Korea, DIVEROID adopts a more westernized way of developing company culture to inspire innovation and creativity.
The Future of DIVEROID
Jungil Kim sets up a phone with the application to use with DIVEROID.
When Jungil talks about his hopes for the future of DIVEROID, one unavoidable topic is expansion. Although DIVEROID is currently focused on the Korean market, 50% of scuba divers in the world reside in the United States. Florida and California have a large and growing scuba diving population and Diveroid plans to expand to those markets in the upcoming years.
Currently, DIVEROID is only available for android but to break into the American market, Jungil plans to have an iOS version out soon.
“We want to make DIVEROID for snorkeling and other underwater sports,” Jungil says about DIVEROID’s plans on expanding to other underwater markets.
“We are focusing on software over hardware. Because with the help of the digital era, we are able to know exactly where and when a diver is, what they have seen and which creatures usually come up there. We believe it is very valuable,” Jungil explains, “We are preparing various services using that information in the near future.”
After sitting down with Jungil Kim and learning the story of DIVEROID and the innovative technology that it provides to its users, I have no doubt that DIVEROID will make an impressive splash in the American scuba diving market soon.
DIVEROID is also currently in search of recruiting a product designer and graphic designer. You can reach them at their website listed below.