|▲ Disciples / CEO Dong Ji-hoon|
A Euromonitor International index shows South Korea is the 15th pet care market in the world. Global pet market is estimated worth around $200 billion and the industry seems to be expanding rapidly in South Korea.
A South Korean pet goods company Disciples is attracting a great attention from pet lovers with its flagship brand Uglugl. Under its business motto to take care of all living things on earth, Disciples has built strong presence in the field for a variety of organic food lines and eco-friendly goods.
CEO Dong Ji-hoon has traveled the whole country in search of eco-friendly ingredients and materials and Uglugl is the very result of this passionate endeavor.
Uglugl is divided into four product categories: eco-friendly steam, eco-friendly Jeju, eco-friendly snack and eco-friendly goods. The food lines are over 70 including horse, duck, goat, pollack, cow, rabbit, pig, lamb and kangaroo as well as vegan.
CEO Dong Ji-hoon
Dong flew to Canada when he was a middle school student and obtained a master's degree in financial engineering at Standford University US. He worked for Merill Lynch Bank of America Company Korea for 2 years and Hongkong for 1 year as an investment analyst.
The reason he left this dream job was his love of pet was greater than his socially acclaimed success. He lived with his dog for 20 years and one day found it suffered from breast tumor. Deeply saddened, he launched himself a study on healthy food for pets which led to establishing Disciples in a small office in Ilsan, Goyang City on April 2017.
For the first 6 months, he saw no profit coming into his bank account. Not discouraged, he deepened his study on veterinary science, animal nutrition and culinary arts. Furthermore, he proactively engaged in activities of pet communities from Seoul to Busan alongside pitching up a booth at various pet exhibitions. And this unquenchable passion eventually has been well paid back.
As of 2019, Uglugl is being sold at nationwide pet shops, animal hospitals, department stores and kurly.com. CEO Dong is expecting more than 1 billion won ($830,000) sales this year in confidence.
"Uglugl wouldn't be what it is today if I was profit-driven. I'm a serious pet lover and it makes me really happy to think how to make pets healthier and happier. As a CEO now, it seems to be important for me to read needs and wants of the market as well as the trend. I'm also running a cooking class for pets and a lecture about pet nutritions."
Dong took away two 'y's from ulgly and ulgly to make Uglugl and it sounds mild and tender for him. Dong says that he maned it to mean healing children in pain and difficulty.
In order to secure the freshest quality possible, Dong purchases all ingredients directly from the farmers. This also contributes to competitive price. All products are made to order for freshness and it takes 6 to 9 days to be delivered at the door.
"It is wrong to think that animals can eat anything while we become picky when seated on the table. All living things on earth, I think, have right to eat healthy."
All you need from A to Z for your pet
At Uglugl, you can find almost all you need for your pet that are organic and eco-friendly. Dong is a man who believes in value of business over profit. In the same respect, workers at the Disciples manufacturing lines are partly people with mentally challenged.
"I'm planning to add pet furniture to the existing product lines. It is very important for me to keep the image of premium yet good price brand image of Uglugl."
Dong has listed his name in the 2020 Innovation Winner held by The Herald Business and The Korea Herald in the category of eco-friendly pet goods.
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