[Forbes] Innovative entrepreneurs met by Kim Ik-hwan (48) Lee Chi-heon and Lee Da-in, CEOs of ALUX

The brightest light responsible for digital literacy

As the digital age rapidly approaches due to the COVID-19 pandemic, digital literacy has become an essential element of daily life. ALUX, an edutech startup founded in 2015, has continued to grow by developing digital teaching aids, such as robots and drones, learning content, and educational platform services, and is enjoying the benefits of the digital era. Its ambition is to become the brightest light that leads to future education.


 ▎Lee Chi-heon (right) and Lee Da-in, who lead the edutech startup ALUX, expressed their ambition to “become the brightest light illuminating future education.”


People of all ages and genders can easily use smartphones, and in restaurants, kiosks take food orders instead of employees. We live in an era where children use digital devices more skillfully than the elderly. In response to these changes in the world, a new term, 'digital literacy,' was coined. Digital literacy is not just about knowing how to use digital devices. It also includes the ability to acquire information and perform tasks using devices.

As digital literacy is rapidly emerging as an essential requirement, the government plans to mandate coding education in elementary and middle schools starting in 2025. In Korea, which boasts a high enthusiasm for education, there is already a wave of coding education for infants and toddlers. ALUX, an edutech startup that predicted this phenomenon early on, finally met the good news of the times. Sales recorded in the first half of 2023 amounted to 26.1 billion won and operating profit reached 3 billion won. Compared to the same period of the previous year, sales increased by more than 40%, and operating profit increased by more than five times.

ALUX, founded by CEO Lee Chi-heon (49) in 2015, encompasses all digital fields, including robot design, artificial intelligence (AI) technology, coding, and drones. CEO Lee, who holds a doctorate in materials engineering from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), conceived the business idea while working at LG CNS. He left the large company he had worked for for about 14 years to start a business, and the result was successful. Afterward, in 2017, CEO Lee Da-in (41), who worked with LG CNS, joined ALUX and has served as CEO since 2022. CEO Lee Chi-heon leads the new business division along with overall management, while CEO Lee Da-in is in charge of the domestic and overseas education business division.

ALUX's competitiveness is not limited to learning aids such as coding robots. The digital education system is fully equipped with educational content, software, and an education platform for instructors. Recently, the company has been expanding its business area by opening a new coding academy. On December 12 last year, Hansae Vice Chairman Kim Ik-hwan and CEOs Lee Chi-heon and Lee Da-in met at the ALUX office in Dobong-gu, Seoul, and discussed the future of global edutech.


Covering everything from educational products to content and service platforms.

▎ALUX's coding robot VINU received the Innovation Award at CES, one of the world's largest IT exhibitions in 2024. / Photo: ALUX


Please explain the reason for starting your business.

Lee Chi-heon: While frequently providing IT (information technology) consulting at my previous employer, LG CNS, I believed that the importance of digital-related education would increase daily. As of mid-2010, people were receiving coding education after becoming adults. However, it will not be long until coding education becomes mandatory in elementary and middle schools. Nowadays, there is a trend for children to learn coding as if it were a language from a young age. I decided to start a business not only because the business prospects were bright, but also because it was something I could contribute to society. I believed nurturing many talents in the digital field would be greatly helpful to social development.


What differentiates ALUX from its peers in the industry?

Lee Chi-heon: While most edutech companies have strengths in one or two areas, ALUX has the entire edutech value chain. We not only research, plan, and produce educational products such as robots and drones, but also produce high-quality educational content. ‘Tomorrow Teacher,' a community platform for instructors working on digital education, is also actively operated. As of March 2023, the cumulative number of students who have experienced ALUX educational content or learning materials reached 300,000, and the number of schools distributing the materials reached 2,500 nationally. There are approximately 25 patented technologies secured.


You are also active in developing digital educational content. 

Lee Chi-heon: The value that ALUX ultimately pursues is focused on the future. We must continuously develop educational content that fosters talent with capabilities appropriate for the future. As we enter the digital age, I want to do something that will have historical value. Of course, it is difficult to predict future educational trends and develop teaching materials or content accordingly.

Lee Da-in: Recently, we have been researching and developing AI-based educational content, as content suitable for learning materials that utilize AI is needed. We are also planning a service that provides customized educational content to students by analyzing learning big data with AI. This is a method in which AI analyzes the results that repeatedly produce errors. As times change quickly, we are making efforts to release materials and content as quickly as possible.


Tailwinds are blowing in the global market as well.

Lee Da-in: We have overseas branches in China, Malaysia, and Singapore. The response is particularly positive in Malaysia. Last year, ALUX's 'Global PRC (Pro Robot Championship)' was successfully held in Malaysia as an NRL (National Robotics League) overseas preliminary. NRL is a large-scale event hosted by ZeniusTech, a leading edutech company in Malaysia. I felt rewarded by being included in the overseas preliminaries. In the future, we plan to establish a new US corporation to expand our drone business and a Japanese corporation to expand our distribution network.


 Like a ray of light that extends infinitely


▎On December 12, 2023, Hansae Vice Chairman Kim Ik-hwan (left), Lee Chi-heon (right), and ALUX CEO Lee Da-in met and talked about the future of global edutech.


In addition to its rapid sales growth, ALUX has recently been recognized worldwide for its innovation. Ahead of 'CES 2024,' the world's largest IT exhibition held every January in Las Vegas, USA, it was listed as an innovation award winner in the robotics sector. ALUX's coding education robot 'VINU' is designed to enable block coding learning even in places where network connection is a rarity, and is said to have lowered the entry barrier to coding education, allowing access to the digitally underprivileged.


After VINU, is there a product where innovation is expected?

Lee Chi-heon: VINU received the CES 2024 Innovation Award, but its first launch was in 2021. This award is the result of the continuous advancement of VINU technology. The VINU is divided into the top and bottom parts, and the top corresponds to the coding education system. After developing the top, wheels were attached to the bottom to allow the VINU to move. Next, a lens was attached to enable autonomous driving training, and now we have reached the stage of linking wearable devices to VINU. In this manner, VINU has repeatedly expanded its so-called ‘worldview.' In addition to VINU, we are developing new drone products. We plan to develop innovative products to meet market demand and gain a competitive edge that sets us apart from latecomers.


Drone products are also garnering attention.

Lee Da-in: Drones help with three-dimensional education, including developing spatial perception skills. This is why we acquired ‘Pro Air,' a drone aviation science education company, and signed a business cooperation partnership with flying robot company ViRobot. For example, when conducting logistics drone simulation training, creativity can be promoted while performing a mission to move objects to a specific location. Since fine-tuning a drone is also an important skill, drone competitions can develop into a type of sports competition that can provide students with as much excitement as a soccer competition.


What is the secret to success as a startup?

Lee Chi-heon: ALUX, which handles the various value chains of edutech, is comprised of five headquarters. These include the Robot Division, Education Division, Education Platform Division, and Education Network Division. Because experts from various fields gathered, there were concerns that the decision-making process would not be easy. However, in the belief that the strengths of each expert are needed to achieve ALUX's overall goals, all employees are working hard to respect each other's characteristics and strengths. There were several failures before ALUX became what it is today. If we had only blamed others at this time, we would not have been able to resolve the failure quickly. I think that thanks to ALUX's organizational culture of accountability, we were able to shake off the failure quickly rather than let it linger.


What are ALUX’s short-term goals?

Lee Chi-heon: ALUX is making plans every two years. The sales target is approximately 50 billion won in 2023 and 70 billion won in 2024. In 2023, we are projected to exceed the target amount. If this upward trend continues, I think we will achieve sales of 100 billion won by 2025. By then, we expect the ratio of domestic and overseas sales will be similar at 50:50.

Lee Da-in: The initial public offering (IPO) is expected to take place in 2024. We have been preparing for an IPO since 2021. There are concerns about the side effects of an IPO, but ALUX does not plan to hesitate in an IPO because overseas exports are going well and growth potential is high. Through this, we want to prove that ‘ALUX is a trustworthy company.' I believe that only then can we gain a minimum level of trust in the global market.


Please tell us your ultimate vision.

Lee Chi-heon: ALUX’s motto is ‘the brightest light that illuminates the center of future education.’ Light begins from one center, but its end has no limits. It extends infinitely. We do not know which direction future education trends will take, but if a form of education that the world needs without defining boundaries or limitations exists, we want to create technology and content that fits it. In this way, I hope that the world will become a better and brighter place.


※ Kim Ik-hwan - An innovative CEO who is achieving results by applying IT to Hansae, a labor-oriented manufacturing company. He directly participated in the management of fashion subsidiaries such as Hansae Dream, Hansae MK, and FRJ, leading to remarkable growth and generating sales of 2.2142 trillion won in 2022. He has recently become interested in the social role of corporations and is carrying out various social contribution activities at home and abroad.


- Summary = Reporter Noh Yu-sun noh.yousun@joongang.co.kr _ Photo Reporter Ki-woong Choi

https://jmagazine.joins.com/forbes/view/338972


 

  



ALUX

CEO Chi-heon Lee, Da-in Lee 


Business License Number  587-81-00224
Business Establishment 

1602-ho, C-dong, Seed Cube Changdong, 61, Madeul-ro 13-gil, Dobong-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea
Service Inquiry  alux@aluxonline.com
Business Partnership Inquiry  02-3665-8956 · Fax 02-3665-8957 

Copyright ALUX, Inc. All Rights Reserved



ALUX

CEO Chi-heon Lee, Da-in Lee


Business License Number  

587-81-00224
Business Establishment  

1602-ho, C-dong, Seed Cube Changdong, 61, Madeul-ro 13-gil, Dobong-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea
Service Inquiry

alux@aluxonline.com
Business Partnership Inquiry 

02-3665-8956

Fax 02-3665-8957 


Copyright ALUX, Inc. All Rights Reserved