KingsBay Capital’s Daniel Shin: ‘Entrepreneurship is a journey, requiring endurance.’

Daniel Shin is a prolific investor who believes startups should make ‘bolder’ moves early. Daniel has been a venture capitalist for a long time and also holds the position as a senior luxury fashion executive. He is a founding member and partner of KingsBay Capital, a cross-border venture capital firm based in San Francisco.  

Daniel also oversees corporate and business development work at MCM, a German luxury brand. Prior to venturing into investments, Daniel served in various executive roles at DreamPlus (Hanwha Group), Korea Telecom, and BINEXT Capital (Daesung Group). He has published several books and is a frequent speaker on subjects related to innovation and tech entrepreneurship around the globe. had a tete-a-tete with Daniel Shin regarding his views on investments and startup ecosystem.

1. As an investor, what kind of startups have you invested in? And how did you find those startups to invest in?

I have led 33 companies so far over the past 17 years of being a VC. There are a lot more as an indirect investor, but I had first-hand access to many underlying portfolios. We always have good teams coming into our radar first from a trustworthy relationship, not that we read from the news.

2. What are the core factors that you decide to invest in particular companies and what’s your basic investment philosophy?

Quality of the founding team would count the most. I personally prefer a team play than a single dominant founder. I try to gauge team dynamic as much as I can. You can go far when you walk with colleagues. The entrepreneurship journey can take a long time and requires endurance.

3.  What is your company’s investment range? In a typical year how much do you invest and how many startups do you invest in?

We’re coming back again but we’re not actively looking for a new deal as of now to fund.

4. What are the main reasons that startups fail that you have experienced or noticed so far and how can those mistakes be prevented in advance from your personal perspective?

Entrepreneurs should take on a well-calculated risk. Sometimes, entrepreneurs are too opportunistic or feel content way too much and way too early from their small success or the image projected in the media. Also, when the founding team fails, your venture often fails, too.

5. What’s your advice for entrepreneurs who meet investors like you?

Please be genuine and build good rapport first before making your own agenda in the form of a pitch. You recruit the like-minded talent, not money or sales outcome.

6. What’s your general thought about the term “Global?

“Diversity”. We’ve lived in the fairly cohesive community. A global perspective is a sense of awareness there could be a different opinion. Being different is not wrong. No need to say there is a much bigger market opportunity we can embrace when we become truly global.

7.  What are the important factors for Korean startups to consider for a US expansion?

Access and finding the right partner. It is team play.

8. As you know, our media company name is “beSUCCESS”, what’s your definition of the term “success” as an investor or as an individual human being?

Status of “being satisfied.”

9. What are the things that you would do if you could go back 10 years ago?

“Be bold, there is nothing to lose,” I often preach to entrepreneur-wannabes. I also had nothing to lose 10 years ago. Happy with what I am for now but could have been bolder.

10.  When you come to Korea next time, what kind of Korean entrepreneurs and startups you would want to meet?

I’m quite interested in retail innovation and advanced material for consumer application these days.

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