Monica Kang: Creativity and Innovation Warrior

From nuclear weapons security to tech-reliant entrepreneur

Monica Kang tapped into her true passion for creativity and innovation after feeling down and depressed in a previous role.

A snapshot of Monica Kang founder of InnovatorsBox.
Monica Kang

Kang said she found a visible pain point in her previous work in nuclear weapons security after often feeling down and stuck in her position. As a result, she switched her mindset in 2015 to launch InnovatorsBox, a tech company specializing in culture, leadership, and team development for organizations.

Kang describes InnovatorsBox as a creative educational firm that helps employees at other companies tap into their untouched creativity through workshops, consulting , and, most notably, online tools and courses.

The company manages a wide range of offerings centered on three pillars: customized professional services, community programs, and accessible online learning.

For culture and leadership development, InnovatorsBox provides customized workshops, facilitation, coaching, consulting, and strategic planning. The company also provides events, workshops, and content online for its global community. 

"Without platforms like Zoom, Typeform, Facebook, Clubhouse, Google, and Youtube, we wouldn't be able to easily reach our global audience where they are," Kang said in a phone interview with Lifewire.

"While we only have a few full-fledged online courses, as we plan on doing more, we're looking forward to being more tech-enabled as a team and company so that we can continue to scale and share the work further."

Quick Facts

Name: Monica Kang

From: Fairfax, Virginia (The hospital she was born in is now a condominium.)

Random delight: She attended elementary school in Korea before moving to the States long term.

Key quote or motto he lives by: "Change how you think to change how you feel."

How Her Pain Fueled Her Startup

Kang said she was working at her dream job when she felt those pain points that inspired the launch of InnovatorsBox. When she found out that 87% of professionals don’t feel creative at work, she decided it was time to change that statistic. 

As the only full-timer at InnovatorsBox, Kang said she’s managing up to 17 employees a month. One thing Kang said she is proud of is the grit from her team to do the passionate work that she’s trying to accomplish with InnovatorsBox.

Kang’s team is composed of subject-matter experts such as therapists, content developers, coaches, facilitators, and operational support staff, including a copyeditor, designer, audio engineer, and legal representative. Since her team already was working remotely, taking her company online wasn’t as difficult as Kang expected.   

"I’ve been super proud these past few weeks with onboarding. What makes an InnovatorsBox team member is that they will be somebody who dreams big, they clearly have the talent to back that up, they are also humble, and they’re grounded," she said.

A portrait of Monica Kang.
Monica Kang

"While we've always been a remote team, during this time we've learned how to make the workplace more 'belonging' and connected as we work across six time zones." 

One important aspect of being a tech founder is delegating tasks to team members, Kang said, which she has mastered. When she decided to go full time with her venture in mid-2016, it was around the same time she officially incorporated InnovatorsBox and began applying to pitch at competitions. 

"Every year has been a journey," she said. "Every year I thought I figured it out, the next year, I’m looking back and I’m like, 'I’m glad I didn’t stop growing.'"

Adjusting and Thriving

A big change that Kang had to adjust to is taking InnovatorsBox fully online when the pandemic hit. Kang said she lost nearly all of her clients last spring.

The firm often was hosting in-person events before it began offering its robust online programming that's available now.

Since Kang isn’t a fan of those two-day cram course programs, InnovatorsBox now offers more multi-session (60- to 90-minutes per session) programming across months and weeks, instead of just a few days.

The company also is offering more on-hands support, helping clients before, during, and after sessions to streamline communication, onboarding, and messaging, even moreso than before, Kang said. 

Prior to the pandemic, Kang said she was one of those people who resisted downloading Zoom. Now she’s running her business completely online.

"While we've always been a remote team, during this time we've learned how to make the workplace more 'belonging' and connected as we work across six time zones."

"It’s permitted us to grow in different ways," she said. "I never thought about how to do this online. I was a little scared and—I think looking back—because we had to adapt so much, we’re able to empathize and serve our customers who are going through those pain points a lot more thoughtfully.”

As a minority woman founder, Kang often faces more than one challenge at a time, but she’s always stayed optimistic about her work. She said that by not letting her race be her determining factor, she’s not limiting herself to the opportunities in front of her.

"I’m very proud of who I am, but that doesn’t mean I’m letting that part of who I am limit me. There’s a fine line," she said.

Moving forward, Kang said she’s focused on tackling burnout and wellness for employees through her company’s work. InnovatorsBox will be releasing new products by the end of the year to make its online programming available to anyone anywhere. 

"I'm looking forward to using tech to continue to scale and find new ways to optimize how we engage internally and externally, to make things feel at ease and build out internal operational procedures, to help ensure we fly further and faster," she said.

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