Daniel Hyunsung Shin, Founder and CEO of Ticket Monster, Inc., has been called “the closest thing there is to a Korean Mark Zuckerberg,” (Inc., December, 2011), and the company he founded could be considered a cross between Groupon, its latest acquirer, and Amazon. Daniel Shin is also a TJ graduate.
After graduating from TJ in 2004 (following TJ custom, Shin notes this on his LinkedIn bio) and from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School in 2008 with a degree in finance and marketing, Shin spent a year and a half working as a business analyst for McKinsey & Co. Like many young entrepreneurs who started companies while still in college (Shin’s first was unsuccessful; he left the second, InviteMedia, before it was sold to Google), Shin was itching to get back in the game. He decided to start his next business in Korea.
Back in the country he had immigrated from when he was nine, he and some college friends started Ticket Monster (known as TMON in Korea), a business that would offer deals on restaurants, events, and merchandise. Almost overnight, TMON became one of the largest e-commerce companies in Korea.
Shin’s company, which now deals in such diverse offerings as luxury travel, food, and electronics, grew so fast that in 20 months it had 700 employees and roughly $25 million a month in revenue. In late 2011, Shin sold his company to the DC-based social-commerce site LivingSocial for a reported $380M. We Are Ticket Monsters (cover at right), tells the start-up story.
Shin, CEO, retained control of the company after the sale, and as proof of its continued market strength, the number one social-commerce site in the world, Groupon, bought it from LivingSocial this January for a reported $260M. Business Wire’s report of the deal stated, “TMON has consistently seen year-over-year billings growth in excess of 50 percent, with annual billings of more than $800 million today. Moreover, approximately half of its sales are transacted on mobile devices. Based in Seoul, the company has grown to 1,000 employees serving more than 4 million active customers.”
After the deal closed, Sterne Agee analysts rated Groupon a “Buy” based on TMON’s “potential to add $1B in billings in 2014 and expand Groupon’s size by more than 15%. . . . Overall,TMON and its management team (led by its current CEO, Daniel Shin) is expected to provide Groupon a strong foothold for further expansion in Asia.” (ValueWalk, January 2014).
When asked what he missed from the U.S. in an August 2013 LivingSocial Q&A, Shin said, “I really miss the food! It’s hard to find a good burrito in Korea. . . Of course I miss my family and friends, . . . being in the middle of a ginormous city, I miss the suburbs, nature, trees . . . .”
It sounds as if Shin also misses something that too few of us probably appreciate about TJ, especially given its workload and intensity: By supporting the whole person and creating a true community, TJ fosters a sense of balance. In addition to being able to take the computer science classes that helped him prepare to enter the IT industry, he honed his leadership skills by serving as Vice President of his class for two years and built camaraderie, perseverance, and teamwork as a member of the tennis team.
“TJ helped me get connected to strong, well-rounded friends who encouraged me and motivated me to try cool things and be confident that I can be successful doing them. TJ allowed me to not only get entrenched in academics, but leadership, sports, and skill-building as well to become a more balanced individual. I think this balance is much more helpful as I go deeper into my career.”