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“Smart Grid AMI settled in the US by establishing a local corporation this year… Planning to enter the top 5 ”

02.04.2020 Views:1756

Chairman Cho Songman talked about technology and globality throughout the interview. The tenacity and sincerity of CEO who once was an engineer were expressed as he wanted never getting technically behind in the global market.  

I met him in 2002 when he was developing AMI business that made Nuri Telecom known to the world and met him again after 18 years.

Chairman Cho said that he had not yet achieved the goal of entering the top 5 markets in the United States when the company was listed in 2000.  

Despite his humble expression, Nuri Telecom is already a national treasurer in the domestic ICT field.

Chairman Cho, a former Daewoo Communications engineer, founded ATI Systems, a telecommunications software company in 1992, intending to earn foreign currency with SW (software). Since then, the company grew with AMI and smart grid solutions, and in January 2000, the company name was changed to Nuri Telecom and registered with KOSDAQ in August in the same year. 

Nuri Telecom's consolidated revenue last year was 147.9 billion won, earning 29.3% of sales as exports for 20 years after registering in KOSDAQ in 2000.

After 28 years of founding, Chairman Cho said that R & D and business planning are still more fun than anything else and that it is a dream to leave a huge footprint in the global smart grid and AMI market. 


 Q. The plaque, appreciation plaque, and citation that fill a wall of the office seem to show the history of the company. 

We were awarded the 10 Million Dollar and the 20 Million Dollar 30 Million Dollar Export Award, respectively, in 2008, 2016, and 2018 for the Swedish, Ghana, and Norwegian AMI export achievements. Driven by Norway's export performance, it recorded sales of more than 140 billion won (individual standards) in 2018 and joined the venture billion club last year. There are also appreciation plaques from customers in Europe, Africa, and Southeast Asia. Of the 46 AMI customers, 45 are overseas power companies, excluding KEPCO, and there have been 3.4 million AMI readers installed at home and abroad.”


Q You started a company that was founded at the age of 32 as a national treasure company. Have you achieved your goal?

It is still far. The goal at the time of founding was to replace foreign software to reduce foreign currency exports, but when it was listed in 2000, it was revised to entry into the top five US markets, the world's largest market. The flagship business also switched from telecommunications SW to AMI and smart grid in the early days of its establishment. In the meantime, 45 out of 46 AMI clients are overseas but have not been successful in the United States. We are going to start this year. It is now preparing to enter the US market.


Q Are you prepared enough technically?

The first overseas export was a Thai project in 2004, and before that, the US branch was established in 2002.

However, it was unsuccessful, and the US branch was closed for 10 years. Now We are preparing for a re-challenge. The U.S. is the world's largest market with promising growth potential. Profitability is good as the US market puts much value on quality rather than price. We are also preparing to expand AMI in other fields than electricity.  

Technically, we are not the top 5, but we are confident that we are the most advanced. Thanks to that, the company has grown up so far. In the meantime, we have never been away from domestic and foreign bids.


Q What is the core of future technology strategy?

The basic is to bring meter reading data stably and quickly. Another development is an electricity theft detection technology that illegally steals electricity. In advanced countries, the electricity theft rate is around 4%, and in developing countries, it can be as high as 25%. If AMI and electricity theft detection technology are provided together, 100% ROI (return on investment) can be obtained within 3 ~ 5 years after the company introduced our AMI. Now, we have filed a patent for the related technology, and it has been proved internally.


Q If prepared with technology, there will be no problem anywhere in the world.

Yes. From now on, this is the main game. The last 28 years have been a continuous series of challenges, but now is a more important moment than ever. I think the possibility will be decided in two years. 2022 marks the 30th year of its establishment. We will do it with our own power based on the technology we have accumulated. The base is already established from technology to reference, and the necessary funds are to be expanded by external investment. In the future, the Korean headquarters will share roles with R & D and the US division with sales and marketing.


Q The company has grown concentrating development of one technology for many years, what is the growth secrets and management philosophy? 

The key to growth is over 90% of technology. The management philosophy changes every year and every moment. In the meantime, it was concentration on one technology that domestic companies aimed for and took precaution for diversifying business recklessly. However, the market competition pattern has changed from the consumer's consumption pattern. Now one technology is not enough. To increase the likelihood of success, it is necessary to diversify in areas that can be linked to existing businesses. We are preparing to expand the businesses that are linked to AMI Smart Grid. Moimstone is related to communication, and it is the linkage field of Nuri bill's internet map AMI.


Q Nuri Vista's heating materials business is another area. 

Yes, it is. Nuri Vista was established in the hope of ahead of Japan in the field of material. Nuri Vista commercialized heat-generating materials, starting with electrode materials for MLCCs. To get rid of the frost on the refrigerator, the heating wire is used, but if the surface heating material is used, the electricity consumption is much reduced, and the process is simplified. It is also used in air conditioners, clothes dryers, food processors, and electric vehicles. Many companies are considering adopting it. There are many surface heating elements, but Nuri Vista leads the way in stability. I have invested in Nuri Vista for 9 years, and I want to try to the end.


Q Many companies are considering how to use data. Is there any related strategy?

We are looking to transform our business model using a data AI cloud. It is also looking for business opportunities that utilize data produced by the 3.4 million readers it has supplied. AI and the cloud are a natural change, and the market is now changing to a subscription type that pays and uses services. In line with this, we plan to complete the development of a model in which we will invest in infrastructure and provide services to receive subscription fees.  Analyzing the customer's electricity usage data with AI will not only prevent the electricity stealing but will also allow credit rating. Now, the credit rating will go up only when there are many financial transactions. The concept is that the more electricity is used, the higher the credibility is.


Q. The company is also participating in the Smart City project.

We are in charge of the energy sector by participating in the national pilot city project of Sejong Smart City & Busan Smart City. As citizens become prosumers, they are developing a platform to produce and trade electricity using solar geothermal wind bike electric cars. We are developing a platform that citizens become prosumers to produce and trade electricity using solar geothermal wind bicycles, electric cars, etc. The domestic smart grid market is stagnant due to regulations and rules. Differentiating hourly and seasonal rates may let the market grow exponentially. If there is a difference in the hourly rate, there is no need to build a power plant. If the electricity bill from 1 to 3 pm is 1000 won per kilowatt and 50 won at dawn, the consumer will control the usage with care. It can be stored in a battery when electricity is cold and used or sold when it is expensive. We have developed a platform to trade electricity between smart prosumers, and we have also completed a solution to monitor energy consumption by region, but there is nowhere to use it. We are only doing a pilot project. If the legal system and regulations are lifted, energy can be the core of the data industry.


Q. I am curious about the vision.

If you look at it for 5 years, the biggest goal is to establish a smart grid and AMI business in the United States. Also, we intend to reorganize the business model from the order method to the service type so that the stable performance can be continued. As an entrepreneur, I want to leave a significant legacy in the smart grid and AMI areas. In the meantime, the company has been technically successful, and we will be in the top 5 in all global markets, including the United States. Over the past 20 years since listing in 2000, cumulative total sales amounted to 900 billion won and exports totaled 264.3 billion won, accounting for 29.3% of exports. The goal is to grow into a company with sales of 500 billion won in 2023.  naturean@dt.co.kr


[About Chair Man Cho Song Man…. ]

He is an entrepreneur who was a SW Engineer. He graduated from Jeonnam Mokpo High School and Chonnam National University.

After graduating from college, he worked at Daewoo Communication from 1984 to 1991 and developed Communication SW. In 1992, at the age of 34, he established the ATI system, the predecessor of Nuri Telecom, and began to walk the path of businessmen. Since then, he has focused on the development of remote meter reading and smart grid solutions to secure 46 domestic and foreign power companies as customers. In January 2000, he changed the company's name to Nuri Telecom and registered with KOSDAQ in August.  

In recognition of his contribution to the development of the IT industry, he received the Presidential Award at the IT Innovation Awards (2009), the Minister of Commerce award for Industry and Energy of Intelligent Power Grid (2015), the Industrial Medal for the Merit of Venture Activation (2015), and the Excellence Award at the SW Entrepreneurship Awards (2016). He is 60 this year. 



(RE) This is an excerpt from the Digital Times interview report.

* Interview = Ahn Kyung Ae, Head of ICT Science (Digital Times) 

 * Source: Digital Times [Meeting a pioneer]  (March 18, 2020)

 * URL: http://www.dt.co.kr/contents.html?article_no=2020031802100431650002