#Asia #Japan DJ Selects: How this Musical Shoe is Helping Hospitals


Most great startup ideas don’t grab your attention right away. It takes a while before the founder’s vision becomes obvious to the rest of us. On the other hand, the startups that immediately grab all the press attention often go out of business shortly after shipping their first product. Reality never seems to live up to the promise.

And then there are products like Orphe. This LED-emblazoned, WiFi-connected, social-network enabled dancing shoe seems made for fluffy, flashy Facebook sharing, but only when you really dig into it, do you understand what it really is and the potential it has in the marketplace.

Today we sit down with Yuya Kikukawa, founder of No New Folk Studio and the creator of the Orphe, and we talk about music, hardware financing, and why this amazing little shoe is finding early adopters in places from game designers to hospitals.

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

Show Notes

The inspiration for musical shoes
Why Yuya’s first musical instrument attempt was a failure

The biggest challenge in moving from prototype to production
Orphe’s technical specs
How Orphe is being used in hospitals and other healthcare applications
How small Japanese startups can achieve global distribution
Where the next big startup opportunities in Japan will be
Why most hardware startups fail

Links from the Founder

No New Folk Studio Hompage
See Orphe in action
Check out Yuya’s blog
Follow Yuya on Facebook
Check out PocoPoco on YouTube

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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.

As expected, my new Google duties are taking a lot of my time and taking me out of Japan quite a bit. Things will be returning to normal soon, but in the meantime, I wanted to bring you a special selects show with a really interesting update.

Yuya Kikukawa first sat down together a few years ago to talk about shoes, but if you listened to the last episode of Disrupting Japan you know that when you are talking about shoes you are never really talking about shoes.

In this case, the shoes in question are the Orphe, and they are a combination musical instrument and social network, and yeah that will make a lot more sense when you listen to the interview. And we also talk about what defines a musical instrument, the unique challenges of Japanese hardware startups, and the nature of innovation.

Oh, and I also have some news. In our conversation, Yuya and I debated a strategic decision that all hardware startups face, and just last month we finally got our answer.  I’ll tell you about it in the update after the show.

You know, most good startups are obvious. I don’t mean that I could have had the idea before the founders did. By obvious, I mean that right away you can understand the problem the company is solving for their customers and how they’re doing it. Naturally, that makes it easier for the customers to buy.

Most non-obvious startups are in reality still struggling to find the product market fit and are probably not long for this world. And then there are products like Orphe, an LED-emblazoned WiFi-connected social sharing enabled dancing shoe. Yeah, it sounds like something you would find on Indiegogo and that one time not too long ago, it was. But when I sat down with Yuya Kikukawa, founder of No New Folk Studio and the creator of the Orphe, it became clear that this was not some quirky side project or some overfunded crazy hardware startup.

This was something really different.

We talked about the original inspiration for the shoe and what does and does not qualify as a musical instrument and how Orphe is being used by the artistic community in Japan. But we also dive into the technology inside it, and that, well, that’s something special.

from Disrupting Japan: Startups and Innovation in Japan https://ift.tt/2UUH4XE

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