#Asia #Japan 115: Their Successful Kickstarter Campaign Almost Bankrupted This Startup


Hardware is hard.

In fact, sometimes the simplest and most straightforward ideas turn out to be the hardest to implement.

Today I’d like you to meet Kyohi Kang the founder and CEO of AtMoph. AtMoph is a programmable window which can display the sights and sounds of hundreds of scenic places from all over the world. It’s an exciting project, and the team attracted a great deal of early interest. They even ran one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns and a smaller, but still successful, Japanese campaign on Makuake.

But this success almost bankrupted them.

Kyohi and I discuss how this happened and how other startups can avoid falling into the same trap.

We also discuss Kyoto and the fledgeling startup ecosystem that is just starting to spread its wings there.

And we’ll dive into detail about why, unlike most other startups, AtMoph has decided to remain a hardware startup rather than pivoting to software and licensing when presented with that option.

It’s a great discussion, and I think you’ll enjoy it.

Show Notes

What are digital windows and who wants to use them?
What happens when the Kickstarter money runs out?
What are the important differences between crowdfunding in Japan and the US
What hardware startups really need to know about crowdfunding
How you can be bankrupted by crowdfunding too well
How to maintain sales momentum after the crowdfunding period ends
Why you have to choose to be a hardware company or a software company. The dangers of trying to do both.
Why the founders left Tokyo to start a company in Kyoto
How the Osaka and Kyoto startups communities are different

Links from the Founder

Check out AtMoph – You won’t really get it until you see it.
Friend Kyuhi on Facebook
Follow him on Twitter @kyohik
AtMoph’s Social Sites

AtMpoh on Twitter
AtMpoh on Facebook
AtMpoh on Instagram

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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, I was moderating a discussion panel at the big Hakusuka event last month and before things kicked off, I sat down at a café with Kyohi Kang, the found of AtMoph. Now, AtMoph is one of those ideas that is so obvious once you see it that you’re sure that someone has thought of it before. In fact, you’re pretty sure that you’ve thought of it before.

We did, right? And yet, AtMoph seems to be the only company in the world that is producing this product. What is it? Well, I’m getting to that.

You’ll hear a lot of the details during the interview and it’s always challenging to describe something so intensely visual on an audio podcast, but AtMoph is literally a window onto the world. It’s a 27-inch diameter monitor that’s mounted in a picture frame and it displays the sights and sounds of, well, anywhere, really: a window onto a Polynesian beach, a Roman Piazza – anywhere.

Kyohi and I also talk about how AtMoph’s very successful Kickstarter campaign almost bankrupted his company and since the team has run crowdfunding campaigns in both the US and Japan, we’ll go over some of the most important differences between the platforms in both countries, and more importantly, the important differences about the customers and the customer expectations in both countries, and even though we met in Osaka, we talk a lot about Kyoto.

Kyoto has the potential to become one of the most important startup communities in Japan. It’s not quite there yet but there’s a lot of promising signs and a lot of promising startups, for that matter.

But you know, Kyohi tells that story much better than I can. So let’s get right to the interview.


Tim: So I’m sitting here with Kyohi Kang of AtMoph and it’s kind of a digital window, so thanks for sitting down with me.

Kyohi: Thank you for inviting for this interview.

Tim: I think you guys have got a really,

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