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Korean Travel Tech Unicorn Yanolja: Global Expansion and Nasdaq Listing

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This case follows the remarkable story of Lee Su-jin, founder of Yanolja, a global travel tech unicorn headquartered in South Korea which is considering an initial public offering (IPO) on Nasdaq. Orphaned as a child, Lee worked as a janitor at a motel before launching Yanolja as a hotel review website in 2007. Over the years, Lee reinvented Yanolja at multiple junctures, launching a mobile app in 2015, transforming the company into an Online Travel Agency (OTA), becoming a “super app” for travel, leisure, and accommodation, and finally branching out into the cloud-based solutions business for hotel and travel companies worldwide.

With an aggressive global expansion strategy, Yanolja’s cloud business has established a presence in the United States, Europe, Middle East, North Asia, Southeast Asia, India, as well as Africa. As Yanolja began its IPO process, it was vital for Lee to determine the timing, location, and method of listing. Concurrently, while the pursuit of new businesses and acquisitions of companies raised Yanolja’s corporate value, it may be prudent to reassess a strategy that resulted in deals across many countries and regions.

Learning Objective:

After studying the case, students will be able to:

1.         Understand the start-up ecosystem in South Korea.

2.         Articulate how start-ups like Yanolja can grasp the business opportunities arising from industry trends.

3.         Analyse the core competences of a business and suggest ways to strengthen its competitive advantage.

4.         Use the CAGE Distance Framework to analyse the impact of distance on a global expansion strategy.

5.         Identify the factors for choosing a venue for an Initial Public Offering (IPO).

Year of Publication: 2024
Ref. No.: 24/793C
Discipline: Finance & Investments, Strategy & General Management
Industry: Software & Services
Country: Korea (Rep. of)
Company: Yanolja
Languages: English
Pages of Text: 13