There’s a very good reason most Japanese hardware startups fail.
Today we sit down with Takuro Yoshida CEO and founder Logbar, and we dive into the reasons and also go over Logbar’s strategy for avoiding the mistakes that have killed off so many other Japanese IoT startups.
Takuro is the creator of one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns and two of the most successful IoT projects in Japan, the Ring Zero, which is VR controller in wearable ring form and the ili automatic translator, which is just starting to gain real traction.
Of course, we dive into how he managed to create and bring these products to market, and we also talk in detail about Takuro’s unusual journey from professional bartender to successful startup CEO.
It’s a great conversation, and I think you’ll really enjoy it.
How to go from bartender IoT startup founder
Why a successful Kickstarter campaign can be a danger to your company
Why the Ring failed as a hardware controller
Why hardware translators will succeed where software-based translators have failed
How hardware devices will survive in the world of a standardized mobile phone platform
Why even in Japan all publicity is good publicity
Why Japan has fallen behind in hardware and how it can catch up
Why Japanese VCs don’t want to invest in hardware startups
Links from the Founder
Find out about Logbar
Info on the Ili translator
The video that got Logbar so much attention
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Welcome to Disrupting Japan. Straight talk from Japan’s most successful entrepreneurs. I’m Tim Romero, and thanks for joining me.
You know. One of the biggest changes I’ve seen in Japanese startups over the last 20 years, in the increasing number that are coming out of Japan’s top universities. I’ve got to say there’s both a positive side and a negative side to the large number of new startups being founded at these universities, particularly at the University of Tokyo.
On the positive side, it’s great that so many of Japan’s top students, students who have the option of a fast track career in government or a Japanese industry are choosing to take a risk and start a company. It’s a concrete sign that things really are changing in Japan.
However, the fact there there’s been such a large number of founders from the University of Tokyo in particular, shows that in some ways, not that much has changed. The fact is that when Todai ramped up their entrepreneurship program, they brought resources to bear that only they could. Todai students have access to government connections, funding, and industry programs, and alliances that no one else in Japan had.
Some founders in Todai rely heavily on these connection, some almost exclusively, and others barely use them at all. And in the end, of course, outside of a small handful of startups that rely primarily on government investment, all startups will succeed or fail in the same public marketplace. Still, however, sometimes the most inspiring founders are those who come from somewhere you don’t expect, someone who takes an unusual and u likely path to entrepreneurship.
And Takuro Yoshida of Logbar is a founder in that mold. When I first met him four, five years ago, he was tending bar and trying to innovate bartending. Over the past few years, he and his team have run one of Japan’s largest Kickstarter campaigns and developed, released, and secured national and international distribution for two completely hardware products. And I think you can learn a lot from him.
But you know, Takuro tells that story much better than I can. So let’s hear from our sponsor and get right to the interview.
Tim: So I’m sitting here with Takuro Yoshida of Logbar, one of Japan’s most creative internet of things startups. So thanks for sitting down with me today.
Takuro: Thank you.
Tim: Logbar has created both The Ring and ili automatic translator.
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