Daniel Shin

Daniel Shin is the founder & co-CEO of PortOne, an innovative payment orchestration company in Asia. The company’s mission is to empower digital commerce partners in Asia and help accelerate their growth.

Previously, Shin founded TMON, Korea’s leading e-commerce unicorn, reaching $3.5 billion in GMV. In 2017, he transitioned from CEO to Chairman. In 2010, Daniel Shin founded Ticket Monster (TMON), one of the largest e-commerce platforms in Korea.

Daniel Shin has been widely recognized for his entrepreneurial ventures. “Wharton Magazine” has named him one of their “40 under 40” Wharton graduates. “Weekly People” has named Shin as the CEO of the Year. The World Economic Forum (WEF), Switzerland, named Shin as the 2019 Young Global Leader.

Daniel Shin is also an active angel investor. To date, he has invested in over 40 companies. Shin’s key investments include Team Blind, NBT Partners (Cashslide), Vonvon, Tosslab (Jandi), 82 Labs (Morning Recovery), Honest Fund, Marketit, Korea Credit Data, Pomelo Fashion, and Fave.

What is your typical day, and how do you make it productive?

My typical day used to be bogged down with calls and meetings. That led to a schedule that stressed quantity over quality, leaving many decisions to be made without due time and thinking. These days, I try to think hard each day about what is most important and what is a priority. Focusing on a few decisions that are key and punting the rest is significantly more effective than doing everything in an average way.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Bringing ideas to life is ultimately execution, and execution is done effectively when it is a result of teamwork with people you trust. As a result, I try to focus on surrounding myself with a team that is just as passionate and excited about execution as I am. When the right people are in the room with you, ideas naturally come to life without much friction.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Last year has been really about AI for XYZ. I’m excited about what AI can do for digital businesses once it gets married to real-time payments data. Being able to real-time analyze digital businesses by the numbers and recommend actions to help improve the business, or even further put the action plan into execution, can be a game changer.

What is one habit that helps you be productive?

I believe productivity is about having a command over where to spend your time. While in the shower each morning, thinking about the 1-2 things that must get done today with priority, has been helpful in getting the important things done and canceling out other noise.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I would tell myself to find the right balance. Life’s not all about getting to the finish line, but also how you ran the race, and the impact you had on others along the way. I found myself getting more and more result-focused as the years passed, and I’d like to tell myself that there is more to life. Take the time to have lots of fun along the way!

Tell us something you believe almost nobody agrees with you on?

Money is not important. I believe to run the marathon well, you must be focused on building something great and having the money follow. Too many people focus on making money and that deters you from the path to greatness you were on previously.

What is the one thing you repeatedly do and recommend everyone else do?

Counterintuitively, I actually make it a habit to work outside the office often. This really gives me the opportunity to think and zone in on what I believe in. Then, when I go back to the office and meet people, I can debate with higher conviction and give energy to colleagues when necessary.

When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?

I take walks or take baths. Even taking a quick walk/bath calms me and allows me to focus my mind on what is important and push away issues that are not as important.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business or advance in your career?

Cliche, but hiring the best people. You are only as successful as the people you work with. You are only as happy as the people you surround yourself with.

What is one failure in your career,  how did you overcome it, and what lessons did you take away from it?

While TMON was a pioneer of mobile commerce in Korea, it also spent away millions on competing with the competition. We were not decisive enough to build a unique angle that would make us different and sustainable. Rather, we competed along numerous verticals with others. If I could go back, I would choose where to fight and where to retreat and strategically pick my battles with the long-term in mind.

What is one business idea you’re willing to give away to our readers?

This is not necessarily an idea, but a need as a user – I think sleep apnea is a rampant disorder but the medical device to treat is very much outdated in its user experience. Significantly improving this, I believe, can be a huge market as well as an improvement to the lives of hundreds of millions of people.

What is one piece of software that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

I am extremely software-dependent and derive tons of productivity from them. Recently, as with many people, I’ve kept the ChatGPT tab open and have been asking questions constantly.

Do you have a favorite book or podcast you’ve gotten a ton of value from and why?

I’ve recently enjoyed ‘Ride of a Lifetime’ by Bob Iger. Disney is such a fascinating company, building its success on ‘magical experiences’, love, and creativity. It’s exciting to read about Bob’s leadership, as well as how Disney built such a unique company based on unique principles. Disney as a company, I believe, is like none other.

What’s a movie or series you recently enjoyed and why?

Unfortunately, I haven’t watched much lately.

Key learnings

  • Prioritize your day to focus on what is important and cancel out the rest of the noise.
  • Surround yourself with talented, like-minded people who can add passion to your life and help execute your ideas.
  • Build businesses that are truly unique, rather than competing for the same pie.