Meet The Black Man Leading One Of South Korea’s Most Popular Food Delivery Services
By DeAnna Taylor
Jason Boutte was born and raised in Lake Charles, Louisiana but made the move to Seoul, South Korea in 2007.
As a former nightclub owner, Jason would find himself in search of great food delivery options after long nights of work. There were none to be found. So, he decided to create his own.
We spoke with Jason via email about what led him abroad and about his company, Shuttle Delivery.
Travel Noire: What initially led you to Korea?
Jason: As a young child, I always dreamed I would somehow live in Asia. I had no real plan on how to execute this dream but it stayed with me all the way up into adulthood. I finished my bachelor’s degree at LSU in Finance in 2007 and got a job doing internal auditing, but was not happy with the work I was doing. With the urging of a college buddy, I decided to make a change. My friend had gotten stationed in Korea as a U.S. Airman, so he was the person giving me the confidence I needed in order to up and leave my home, to start a new journey in Korea.
TN: How was Shuttle Delivery born?
Jason: Shuttle Delivery started in a little bit of a unique way. For 18 months, we were two separate food delivery companies that were competing in the same market, going after the same customers. I was motivated to start my original company because I co-owned a night club at the time, so I was waking up in the afternoons often needing food delivered. Unfortunately, delivery food options were really limited at the time. There were only four delivery food categories and I was 100 percent sick of those.
I decided to do something about it. In 2014, I started my original on-demand delivery company in order to solve my own problem of not having my favorite burrito delivered from my favorite restaurant. This eventually led me to merge with my business partner Zach’s company to make a bigger and better version of those original on-demand delivery concepts.
TN: Tell us more about the business.
Jason: Shuttle Delivery is a food solution platform. Our customer-facing platform connects people to restaurants in their area and gives them the option to schedule a pickup or get food delivered. We get paid by the 500 restaurants by a 20% commission and an administration fee of 25,000 won ($25 dollars) per month for being on our app. We also get paid a delivery fee from our customers for delivering their food.
We are going after the premium delivery market. We offer different features and far more impressive customer service than our competitors. We want our customers to feel like they get an experience superior than they are used to, from their usual food delivery transactions. We have 52 employees now, around 30 of those are our drivers.
TN: Have you faced many challenges being a foreigner in this business?
Jason: There are always going to be language barrier issues when doing business in another country, because no matter how well you speak the language, it will never be at the level of the native speakers. So it’s better to find native speakers who you consider trustworthy partners, in order to truly compete at the highest level.
Hiring issues are also tricky because Korea has a lot of rules to make sure Koreans are hired before Foreigners. Essentially, Korea demands that an organization must have five Korean full-time workers for every one foreign worker they want to hire. This can be a real shame when you have a foreigner who is a great fit for a specific position but the regulations will not allow you to hire them.
TN:Can you give us the basics on how to start a business in Korea?
Jason: To start business in Korea, you will need a lawyer to help with setting up the business license. You will need an office with a mailing address in order to register the business and you will need your employees registered with local tax and insurance offices. All industries differ with the red tape, but these are the basics.
TN: Where can we find you online?
DeAnna Taylor is a criminal defense Attorney turned travel blogger, author, and writer. While Charlotte, NC (her hometown) is her base, she's always somewhere on a plane. Catch her on IG: @brokeandabroadlife.