#Asia #Japan Why startups should be better than charities at solving social problems


Startups exist to develop new solutions to problems.

But many of society’s biggest problems fall outside traditional startup business models.

Today we explore why that is, and how it might be changed as we sit down with Robin Lewis, co-founder of Mymizu, a startup focused on reducing plastic waste by encouraging reuse.

We take a deep dive into possible monetization strategies, why startups should be better at solving social problems than non-profits, and we discuss a possible roadmap for a middle path between startups and non-profits.

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

Show Notes

The Japanese middle-ground between NGOs and for-profit startups
The hidden strategy behind beach cleanup programs
Mymizu’s current business model
The challenge of mixing environmental and social sustainability
When Tim became “The Destroyer of Dreams”
The unexpected (positive ) impacts of COVID-19
Why startups  should be able to do more social good than NGOs
How bottled water breaks economic theory
What happened to Japanese water fountains
One common recycling scam in Japan
A roadmap for the middle path between NGO and startup


Links from the Founder

Everything you ever wanted to know about Mymizu
Follow Mymizu on Instagram
Check out Robin’s personal home page
Follow his blog on social sustainability
Follow him on Twitter @robintlewis
Connect with him on LinkedIn
More about sustainability in Japan

7 Surprising Facts About Plastic in Japan
Sanpo Yoshi: the Japanese business principle of success through responsibility
25 Opportunities For Volunteering and Social Good in Japan

Milton Friedman’s landmark NYT article on corporate responsibility

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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.
Water, it’s one of the most common molecules in the universe and you personally are made up of about 60% water. There are a number of significant problems today that revolve around water but water is rarely the focus for startups, and today, we’re going to explore why that is and why that might be changing.
Today, we sit down in a properly socially distanced matter and talk with Robin Lewis, co-founder of Mymizu. The Mymizu app enables you to find places to refill your water bottles all over Japan, and the company itself exists in a very interesting space between nonprofit and a regular for profit company.
Robin and his team are already making an impact in Japan, and we have a deep dive into how startups can be a force to achieve meaningful social change. The challenges of balancing the need for revenues with staying true to your social mission, and we brainstorm about possible monetization strategies that could enable that, and also, you’ll learn something that will probably really piss you off about how recycling is done in Japan.
But you know, Robin tells that story much better than I can, so let’s get right to the interview.

Tim: So I’m sitting here with Robin Lewis, the co-founder of Mymizu, a water refilling app. Thanks for sitting down with me.
Robin Lewis: Thanks so much for having me, Tim, I’m excited to be here.
Tim: Actually, you can explain Mymizu much better than I can, so what is Mymizu exactly?
Robin: Mymizu, what we’re doing is we’re on a mission to help people live more sustainably, starting with plastic bottles. We accomplish that in, I’d say, four main ways. First, we have the app which you mentioned and it’s essentially a tool where you can find 200,000 locations around the world where you can take your reusable bottle and refill that for free, and so this includes public water fountains like in train station, in parks, and so on, but also, we have this network of what we call ‘refill partners,’ this is cafes, shops, hotels, and other businesses where you can walk in, you can get your water,

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#Asia #Japan The Dream of Flying Cars meets the Truth of Aviation Startups


Personal aviation is awesome!

Aviation has been a source of inspiration and a symbol of innovation since the Wright brothers’ first flight at Kitty Hawk, to Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon, to today’s dreams of colonizing Mars.

Unfortunately, it’s been very hard for startups to make money in aviation. Even the Wright brothers did not do particularly well in business.

But things might be changing. Today we sit down and talk with Tasuku Nakai, co-founder of Tetra Aviation, and we discuss how public research incentives, support from the aerospace giants, and the changing infrastructure needs might have just tipped the balance to startups.

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

Show Notes

How Tetra’s eVTOL aircraft came to be and what it might become
The steps needed to bring a new aircraft to market
Why it’s so difficult to innovate in aviation
The main hurdle in expanding the personal aviation market
Fundraising strategies and exist options for aviation startups
When investing is considered “evil” in Japan

Links from the Founder

Everything you ever wanted to know about Tetra Aviation
Friend Tasuku on Facebook
Connect with him on LinkedIn
Follow Tetra on Twitter @Tetra_Aviation
Check out a video of their prototype VTOL aircraft

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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.
Today, we’re going to talk about flying cars. That’s right, flying cars.
We sit down with Tasuku Nakai, co-founder of Tetra Aviation and we talk about what it takes to bring a new aircraft, especially a new personal aircraft to market, and it’s not easy. The Tetra Aircraft is an electric vertical take-off and landing, or VTOL aircraft, which they believe will form the backbone of a new aerial intercity transport system.
You know, I have a real soft spot for these kinds of startups. I have a private pilot’s license and I love the idea that the age of affordable personal aircraft might almost be here.
But as I mentioned, it’s hard, and as Tasuku explains, these kinds of companies don’t fit the traditional VC model for a number of reasons. We also talk about the possible business models open to aircraft startups, the release of Tetra’s new prototype, and the crazy world of experimental aircraft pilots who fly newly designed aircraft as a hobby.
But you know, Tasuku tells that story much better than I can, so let’s get right to the interview.

Tim: So, I’m sitting here with Tasuku Nakai of Tetra Aviation who makes personal electric aircraft, so thanks for sitting down with me.
Tasuku: Thanks for inviting me, Tim, and this is a really great moment to introduce myself and introduce my business.
Tim: No, the pleasure’s all mine. I think what you guys are doing is really interesting and I’ve had a passion for, like, aerospace startups for a long time, so actually, I mean, you can probably explain what Tetra Aviation is and what the product is better than I can. So basically, what are you building?
Tasuku: We are building personal electrical VTOL aircraft, so vertical take-off and landing, so wherever you want to come, just simply ride on it and fly to the air and arrive on your destination exactly.
Tim: And we’ll talk about the history later. This is kind of like the flying cars that startups have been teasing us about since the 1950s, but what you’ve built, is it considered an airplane or a helicopter, or a drone, or how is it classified?
Tasuku: Well, a really difficult question about that. There’s no category anymore. There’s a lot of class, almost 50 or 60 classifications, but basically, you think it’s similar for helicopter and the drone, to combine the helicopter and drone, so I mean, the people can ride on it and also, it has a distributed propulsion system as a drone has.
Tim: Actually, just today,

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#Asia #Japan What’s really changed after six years of Disrupting Japan


Disrupting Japan is six years old and ready to party!

Unfortunately, we can’t. Like so much else in 2020, this year’s big, live show has been canceled, but I hope you’ll make it next year.

It’s not all bad news, of course. There are a lot of great things happening for both Disrupting Japan and for Japanese startups. So looking back on these six years, I’d like to share some of the most important changes that are happening in Japan.

Please enjoy.

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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.
This is our sixth-anniversary episode. Over the past six years, it’s been a Disrupting Japan tradition to have our big Disrupting Japan Live and Unleashed show on our anniversary. We get three of Japan’s startup thought-leaders on stage and invite a few hundred of our closest friends over for an evening of drinks, conversation, and just hanging out with a lot of cool people.
Unfortunately, this year the coronavirus makes this impossible. So we’ll pick up that tradition again next year.  What I had planned for this year’s anniversary episode was to tell you a special story about innovation at it’s best in Japan. The real story behind a video you’ve seen a dozen times on the internet and Western news media.
But before that, I wanted to talk briefly about three critical things that have changed for startups in Japan and as those introductory notes became longer and more interesting, I realized I was going to have to split the show, so I’ll tell you all about that video in a future episode.
Today, there is something else you should know.
But before we get to that, I want to thank you.  When I started Disrupting Japan six years ago, I really could not have imagined what it would become. At first, Disrupting Japan was just me sitting down and talking with my founder friends, and I guess in all the important ways, it still is just me sitting down with my friends.
But Disrupting Japan has grown with Japan’s startup community. We now have around 10,000 listeners all over the world, and we’ve ranked as Japan’s #1 entrepreneurship podcast and occasionally break into the top five Japanese business podcasts as well.
So after six years, I want to thank all the amazing founders who have come on the show to tell us their stories so honestly, the fans who have spread the word about the podcast in a way that online marketing never could, and to thank you, for listening. I appreciate you choosing to spend your time with me, and I work incredibly hard to make sure this show is worth your time.
Looking back on six years, I want to share with you the three most important ways that Disrupting Japan has changed, and what that tells us about how things are changing for Japanese startups.
Now, these aren’t the big data-driven headline numbers that you already know about. These trends are more personal, more human, and maybe in a way, more important.

1) Origin Stories
During the first two years of Disrupting Japan, I would almost always ask founders about how they started their startup. Many had pretty dramatic stories. Many telling of how their wife or parents were opposed and tried to talk them out of it or force them out of it, or how they had to give up their apartment to save money meet payroll.
Many founders had a family role model. A non-conformist relative who was maybe an entrepreneur themselves, or perhaps an artist or musician. Someone who believed in them when everyone else doubted.
One of our founders even sold his wife’s jewelry to make payroll.  Although his parting advice to me on that matter was “Tim, your startup is very important, but there are some things you should just never do.”
But as long-time listeners have probably noticed, we don’t hear those kinds of origin stories anymore. When I bother to ask the question these days, the most common reply is something like “Well, I really wanted to do it,

from Disrupting Japan: Startups and Innovation in Japan https://ift.tt/2FAVaI8

#Asia #Japan How this silkworm startup is taking on the pandemic


Bio-tech is messy because life is complicated.

A lot of attention is given to computers sequencing genomes, but some of the most advanced and important work is done by studying and using other living things to make our own lives better.

Kenta Yamato co-founded Kaico to commercialize a technique that uses silkworms to manufacture small-batch custom proteins. And Kico is involved with everything from veterinary medicine to Japan’s search for a coronavirus vaccine.

We also talk about the challenges or creating startups based on university technology and the one e-commerce model in Japan that just won’t go away.

I think you’ll enjoy the conversation.

Show Notes

How to get proteins from a silkworm (It’s not fun for the silkworm)
Why silkworms, in particular, must be used
The importance and uses of small-batch, custom proteins
The start of a silkworm startup
The most common (and least successful) Japanese e-commerce model
Why it’s so hard for Japanese universities to spin-out startups
How Kaico silkworms are part of the fight against covid-19
How to scale a silkworm startup

Links from the Founder

Everything you ever wanted to know about Kaico
Friend Kenta on Facebook
Connect with him on LinkedIn
A Kaico video explainer

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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.
Today, we’re going to be talking about worms. No, no, wait, don’t go, I promise this is going to be really interesting.
Today, we’re going to sit down and talk with Kenta Yamato of Kaico, a Kyushu-based startup that is using silkworms to rapidly produce custom small-batch innovative proteins that are used for bio-research, medicine, and they play a part in Japan’s search for coronavirus vaccine. It’s a fascinating process but admittedly one that’s not particularly fun for the silkworms themselves.
We also talk about the most popular and most unsuccessful e-commerce business model in Japan, the challenges Japanese universities in spinning out startups, and we even cover some practical solutions to that problem. But you know, Kenta tells that story much better than I can, so let’s get right to the interview.

Tim: So I’m sitting here with Kenta Yamato of Kaico, a company that uses silkworm to produce specific protein used in medical tests and vaccine, and thank you for sitting down with me.
Kenta: Yes, thank you for me and I have a very pleasure to explain our company’s story. Yeah, thank you very much.
Tim: It’s great to have you on the show. I tried to explain very briefly what Kaico does, but I think you can explain it a lot better than I can, so at like a high level, what does Kaico do?
Kenta: We started Kaico two years ago in 2018. Kaiko means silkworm in English. Maybe you know silkworm can make silk for clothes, but we will use this kaiko silkworm for making proteins. We are a startup company from Kyushu University and our products are many proteins, the protein the other companies cannot make because it is difficult to make it. We make this protein by silkworm.
Tim: So if I understand the basic process, you inject the silkworm with a virus containing the target gene, and then it makes the proteins as part of its silk, and then you extract the proteins from the silk?
Kenta: No, no. First, we’ll incorporate the gene of target protein into baculovirus, so this baculovirus is safe for us humans and animals, but baculovirus damage to only silkworms and we will insert this recombinant baculovirus into silkworm and their body can make the specific protein in their cell, and finally, we’ll collect and purify the body liquid from the silkworm.
Tim: Okay, so it’s not from the silk, it’s from the silkworms themselves that you extract the proteins.
Kenta: Yes, we don’t use silk.
Tim: Okay. So why silkworm? Is there something about silkworms that makes it easy to generate protein…

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#Asia #Japan How to travel to the one place your GPS can’t find


We have always loved maps. Maps combine artistry and utility in a way that very few disciplines allow.

But of course, it’s always been a trade-off. The beautiful, ornate maps from centuries past told you where the major landmasses were, but provided little detail. And today’s GPS-based maps provide an unprecedented level of accuracy but uninspiring in their presentation.

Machi Takahashi, founder and CEO of Stroly, has a best-of-both world’s solution.

We also talk in-depth about the unique challenges facing women founders in Japan, and what can be done to make things better for everyone.

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

Show Notes

Strolling with stories: How Stroly works
How to make Google Maps community-oriented
How Stroly pivoted to prosperity during Covid-19
How industry will be using VR after Covid-19 ends
Why corporate spinouts are so hard in Japan
Why Japan has problems commercializing fundamental research
The challenges female founders face in Japan
How Japanese women are taught they should not really be CEOs
Why Japanese startups need to think globally

Links from the Founder

Everything you ever wanted to know about Stroly
Connect with Machi on LinkedIn
Women’s Startup Labs

Ari Hori on Disrupting Japan

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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.
One of the most common themes on Disrupting Japan is the intersection of tradition and high technology. Stories about what things that we’ve known and loved for generations can teach us about how we should use technology today.
Now, I’m not sure how much of this is due to the fact that I personally find such startups fascinating and important, and how much of it is due to the fact that there’s something about Japanese startups and Japanese culture that encourages and appreciates these kinds of innovations.
Well, today, we sit down with Machi Takahashi of Stroly and we discussed that while mobile GPS mapping is awesome, there’s something important that we’ve lost in our rapid adoption of that technology and it’s something that Stroly is bringing back.
We also look into how COVID is not only changing things but changing some things for the better and how this is really a time for innovative startups to shine.
And we also talk in some detail about the challenges women founders face in Japan and some simple ways to improve the situation. But you know, Machi tells that story much better than I can, so let’s get right to the interview.

Tim: I’m sitting here with Machi Takahashi, the CEO of Stroly, so thanks for sitting down with me.
Machi: Thank you, Tim, for having me.
Tim: Stroly makes custom maps that are overlaid onto Google Maps, but I think you can explain it a lot better than I can, so why don’t you explain briefly what Stroly is, how it works?
Machi: Okay, sure. So, Stroly is our company name and also the name of our service and it means to stroll with story, so we came up with this idea to combine illustrated maps with GPS positioning while we were developing a new guide system for a theme park, and instead of choosing Google Maps, we chose to use this beautiful hand-drawn illustrated map of this theme park and we came up with this technology to combine these latitudes and longitudes on top of these illustrated maps.
Tim: Okay, so when people are visiting the theme park, instead of looking at Google Maps or Apple Maps as they are wandering around the park, they would look at those kind of cute hand-drawn illustrated maps and they’d navigate on top of that?
Machi: Right, exactly. So, we have this technology where we can adapt these GPS positioning on top of any kind of a map in any form so people can actually exaggerate some of the spots in the map, and then actually draw some of the spots in the map.

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#Asia #Japan Selects: Why Japan’s Geisha are disappearing in the social media age


You don’t usually think of Japan’s geisha as being an industry, but it is. In fact, strictly speaking, it’s a cartel. A cartel that is now being disrupted by internet-based booking agencies and low-cost substitutes. It seems that even geisha are not immune to internet-based disintermediation.

In this special interview Sayuki, Japan’s only geisha who also holds an MBA, explains the business model behind geisha. We talk about the way things used to be, the current threats that have many geisha concerned that the traditional art form and the lifestyle will not survive, and how some geisha houses are trying to adapt.

This is a rare, behind the scenes look at the business of being a geisha and a chance to see how Japan’s geisha might survive and even thrive in the coming digital age.

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

Show Notes for Startups

How Sayuki broke 100 years of tradition to become a geisha
How geisha are being challenged by both the entertainment and tourism industries
Changing geisha from a private art to a public one
Why geisha might not survive the modern era of tourism
The geisha cartel is being challenged, and why that’s not good for anyone
The challenge modern geisha face on social media
The changes in training for the next generation of Japan’s geisha

Links from the Founder

Sayuki’s home page 
Follow her on twitter @sayukiofasakusa
Become her patron on Patreon
Follow her on Facebook
Book a geisha experience

Geisha Banquet in Tokyo
Private Custom Shopping Tour with a Geisha
Private Lunch with Sayuki
Kimono Shopping
Tokyo Tour

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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.

I’ve got a great Selects show for you today. We sit down and talk with Sayuki a geisha. An actual geisha. and she also holds an actual MBA from Oxford.

It’s a great conversation that breaks down the business model of running a geisha house, and it’s a lot more complex than you might imagine. A lot of people talk about disrupting traditional business models, but this is a truly traditional business model. And we also talk about how the Internet and social media is threatening to complexly destroy it.

There are a lot of people wondering if geisha will survive this. In fact, there are a lot of geisha wondering if geisha will survive this.

It’s a story involving centuries-old cartels in new turf wars, counterfeit goods knowingly being sold over the internet, and the challenge of getting maiko off their social media accounts long enough to train them.

Although that last one is both a problem and a potential revenue stream. Anyway, please enjoy the conversation, and I’ve got an update for you at the end of the show.

Today I’ve got something really special for you. We are going to talk about the kind of business that you’ve probably never heard any details about. Today we’re going to sit down and interview Sayuki, a Geisha. And since this is Disrupting Japan, we’ll be talking about the business side of being a Geisha. We’ll look at the Geisha business model and examine how it’s being disrupted by modern technology. And believe me, it really is.

Now, listeners outside Japan might not understand how special this opportunity is. Traditionally, Geisha are not really supposed to talk about their business. Geisha create the illusion of comfort, beauty, and elegance, that is unsoiled by such base things as money. But make no mistake about it; it’s an illusion. Geisha is a very serious business and Sayuki, who also has an MBA from Oxford, has agreed to sit down and walk us through it.

In fact, from a business point of view, Geisha are an established cartel that are being disrupted by new technology, the internet, and tourism websites in particular,

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#Asia #Japan Your Japanese textbooks are lying to you


They probably mean well. They are telling you something that is easy to understand and that seems like it’s true at first, but it’s still a lie.

I received an overwhelming response to my recent episode on success via public humiliation, and more than a few people tried to set me straight about how Japanese keigo is supposed to be used, so today I’m going to return the favor.

Don’t worry, this is not a Japanese lesson, at least not in the pedantic sense, but it might clear up a few of the lies you’ve been told, and perhaps even repeated about how honorifics are used in Japan and in Japanese business in particular.

Please leave a comment because I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

Show Notes

Feedback on Failure
How you are being lied to
Why keigo is not about social status or individual respect
How to insult by being polite
Actually showing respect

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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.

While the coronavirus lockdown continues to disrupt Disrupting Japan’s production schedule, whatever stage of lockdown or reopening you might be in right now, I hope you’re doing well.

Today I’m going to point out something that every Japanese language textbook I have ever seen gets completely wrong.

Feedback on Failure
But before that, I want to thank you for all the emails and messages you sent in response to last month’s episode on how public humiliation has been my secret to success in Japan. It was a hard one to make, but it seems like it really resonated with a lot of listeners, and the feedback was really overwhelming. So, thank you for that.

There was also, however, some comments about my difficulties speaking keigo and my description of it as a “mind-boggling complex protocol of honorific and humble forms whose use depends on a non-linear, three-dimensional matrix of formality, in-group out-group status, and the role you are playing in that particular interaction.“

OK. I admit I was a bit overdramatic there, but quite a few people emailed to tell me that keigo was actually quite logical and very straightforward as long as you keep in mind a few simple rules. It is something, they asserted, that can be mastered in a few years of serious study.

OK. Yeah, maybe. But it’s interesting to note that all the emails telling me how easy keigo is, came from non-Japanese. Among the emails I got from my Japanese fans, only two mentioned my keigo comments at all, and they both sympathized, saying that they also make mistakes sometimes. In fact, one of them even mentioned that she can’t understand why anyone thinks rakugo is funny either. So hey, maybe it’s my sense of humor, and not my language ability that’s the problem here.

But to those non-native speakers claiming keigo is simple and straightforward. Well OK, perhaps you have a gift for it. Perhaps its really clicked for you. You almost certainly have a better command of it that I do, but maybe you should consider, that just perhaps, you don’t understand it as well as you think you do.

How you are being lied to
In fact, I will go further than that.

Every Japanese language textbook I have ever seen completely misrepresents both what keigo is and how it is used. It’s almost always defined as a “means fo showing respect to individuals with higher social status”.

And that’s just wrong!

It is not about showing respect to individuals and it has nothing to do with social status. Sure, that definition might be useful for people with short attention spans or who know little about Japanese society. But fortunately, Disrupting Japan listeners have proven themselves as having long attention spans and they know a thing or two about Japanese society.

So let’s dig into this. If you are a non-native speaker, by the end of this short episode, I promise you’ll have a new way of looking at keigo.


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#Asia #Japan DJ Selects: Why startups lose control of their sales channels, and how to fix it – Allen Miner – Oracle


Oracle first came into Japan more than 25 years ago, but the challenges they faced and overcame then are exactly the same ones firms are facing today in executing their Japan market entry.

Allen explains why Oracle needed a unique sales and marketing strategy for Japan, and how he managed to get buy-in from headquarters — even though Oracle already had a sales and marketing program that had proven fantastically successful in other markets.

We also talk about how Oracle managed to negotiate a amicable exit out from their exclusive distribution agreements not just once, but twice. That’s an amazing accomplishment considering that many foreign companies have destroyed their Japanese business the first time they attempt it.

But Allen, tells the story much better than I do. I think you’ll enjoy the interview. I know I did.

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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.
Japan is slowly opening up again. The official “unofficial” lockdown ended at the beginning of June. Restaurants, bars, and shops are reopening with a lot if plastic curtains and sheeting separating patrons and proprietors.  It’s a long way from normal, but it’s better than being stuck in the house.

International travel is mostly shut down, but domestic travel is really picking up. It seems most of the hotels and resorts in Okinawa are already booked solid for the summer by Japanese who would normally be flying to Hawaii. And Okinawans, grateful for the business, but still nervous about the virus, have some pretty mixed feeling about that.

And of course, with international travel shut down, and all the trade shows canceled, most foreign startups have put their Japan market entry plans on hold. And that’s normally a lot of activity. If you are a B2B startup you need to be looking at Japan. It can be a hard market to crack, but it’’s a lucrative one.

So today, I want to re-share what is one of the most amazing Japan market-entry stories of all time. It has ambition, misdirection. drama, serious career-risk, and rock-concerts.  It’s an old story, but a good one. The technologies have changed since then, but the challenges and the strategies haven’t.
To kick things off today, we’ll get a chance to sit down and talk with my good friend Allen Miner about the challenges Oracle faced, and overcame, when breaking into Japan.

I’ll warn you in advance that this episode is longer than most, and believe me, I cut things to the bone. But there is just too much great information about how to overcome both the personal and professional challenges that foreign companies face here. I felt like I would be cheating you if I edited out any more. In fact, Allen explains how Oracle successfully maneuvered out of an exclusive distribution agreement, not only once, but two separate times. This is something that has sunk more than one foreign company here. But Allen tells the story much better than I can, so let’s get right to the interview.

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Tim: So I’m sitting down here with Allen Miner and Allen, you’ve been involved with the market entry of a lot of companies into Japan. But today I want to focus on the one that you led personally, which was Oracle Japan. So let’s back up. What was attractive about the Japanese market? What made Oracle decide that they needed to be in this country?

Allen: Actually, that happened a few years before I joined Oracle. In, I believe it was 1982, Oracle was about a $5 million a year company worldwide, 5 years old as a company, and just released their first commercial version of the Oracle database software. There was quite a bit of press about, “How interesting is this relation to technology? It doesn’t require traditional programming to do data manipulation…

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#Asia #Japan Why people pay for new online events


You would expect that event-focused startups would be some of the hardest hit by the global pandemic and lockdown, and for the most part, you would be right.

But Peatix is one event startup that adapted fast and is now actually thriving during the lockdown.  We’ve talked with Taku Harada before, and if you have not done so already, you should check it out. It’s a great conversation and there is no overlap with today.

Today we talk about how startups can pivot and survive during the pandemic, why having too much money can be a curse for startups, and we dive into what’s gone wrong with Japanese B2B SaaS startups.

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

Show Notes

How an evets company pivots during Covid-19
What makes a good online event
Will people play for online events
What will be the long-term behavioral changes from the lockdown
The surprising secret to scaling a social network
Tips for Japanese who want to run an international startup
The trap of startups having too much funding

What’s wrong with Japan’s SaaS companies

Why Japanese enterprise has too much influence on startups

The importance of an ecosystem is not what you think 

Links from the Founder

Everything you ever wanted to know about Peatix
Friend Taku on Facebook
Follow him on twitter at @takumeister
Petix 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.

Today we get a chance to sit down with (at a very safe social distance) with Taku Harada the founder of Peatix, and we’ll talk about how this particular event planning and booking company is not only surviving but thriving during this covid crisis.

And hey, this is the very first DJ episode I’ve released, where I’ve interviewed someone over video conference.  Oh, I’ve recorded a few interviews that way them before, but I’ve always found something lacking. Something impersonal and not fully connected when you talking to an image on a screen rather than a person in the same room.

But this time was different. Maybe because Taku and I are old friends, or maybe just because we all, myself included, are getting more used to living our lives online. So we’ll be doing more interviews this way, at least until things return to the way they were in the before times.

This is actually the second time we’ve had Taku on the show, but this is all new information, and I strongly encourage you to go listen to the other interview. It’s a great discussion about the things no one ever tells you when you first start your startup. I’ll have a link to that episode up on the site

But today we are going to talk about how to build, and expand, your customer base during lockdown, some things you should know about fundraising right now, and what the hell is wrong with Japanese B2B SaaS companies.

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

Tim: So, I’m sitting here with Taku Harada of Peatix, the event ticketing and promotion service. Thanks for sitting down with me.
Taku: It’s great to be back, I guess. We talked several years ago. It’s nice to see you again.
Tim: Likewise, and we’re being very appropriately socially distanced here, you being in New York.
Taku: Very much.
Tim: Yeah. Yeah, actually, you were one of my very first guests on the show and that was, man, almost six years ago now.
Taku: Was it six years ago?
Tim: Yeah, 5 ½, six years. Times change.
Taku: When was it, 2013 or so? I’m curious to find out what I had said back then, if it matches up with the way I’m thinking right now.
Tim: Yeah. We finished off a bottle of wine at the old engine yard office in Tokyo.
Taku: Yeah, an Ebisu, right?
Tim: Yeah. Now, it was a really great interview and we’re not going to cover the same ground again today although I mean,

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#Asia #Japan Why public humiliation is the secret to success


I’ve never managed to find a direct road to success.

My bio reads like a random walk down many different career paths, so I always feel unqualified to answer when people ask me for career advice. Today, however, I’d like to share one insight about doing business in Japan that I learned the hard way.

If you’ve been through something like this, I hope you’ll be able to identify with it. If you haven’t, I hope you can learn something from it, and avoid it.

Please share your experiences in the comments.

Show Notes

More life lessons from Mark the Dog
Japanese fluency is an odd target
What’s worse than any horror movie plot?
Success via humiliating failure
How good does your Japanese need to be to do business in Japan?

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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.

Today I want to tell you the story about one of the most embarrassing and publicly humiliating events of my life, and something very important it taught me about doing business in Japan.

Before we get to that, however, I received a lot of great feedback from the last episode on the Japanese trap of the Glorious Failure, including a number of Japanese listeners who said they really liked Taniguchi-bucho’s explanation of corporate Japan’s negative point system.
(More) Advice from Mark the Dog
But by far the most popular request was for pictures and more life lessons from Mark the dog. Well, OK. I’m going to do that, but please understand that this is not a very deep well. There is only so much Mark the dog can teach us about how we should live our lives, because after all, Mark the dog, is … well, he’s a dog.

So I’ll put a couple of pictures of Mark the dog on the website, (Yes, he is very cute), and I’ll let you know that there is, in fact, one more thing that Mark the dog has taught me during the ongoing lockdown.

Mark being a good boy.

This was my wife’s idea.

Meet my PA, Mark.


You know how dogs get really excited every time they hear a little noise outside or see something move past the window? Or how they become nearly hysterical whenever someone rings the doorbell or comes to the door?

Well, I get that now. I totally understand where dogs are coming from on this. The other week two pigeons landed on my window sill, and I got way more excited about that than I probably should have.
So hey to all the world’s dogs; we’re cool on the doorbell thing. No judgment here.

OK, back our main story about my path to success via public humiliation.

Japanese fluency is an odd target
One of the things people always say when they find out I’ve been living in Japan for almost 30 years is “Wow. How good is your Japanese? You must be fluent!”

I never really know how to answer that. I’m definitely not fluent. I mean, I’m not trying to be overly humble here, my Japanese is good. I manage staff in Japanese. I do sales in Japanese. I do presentations in Japanese. So it’s good.

But fluent? No.

Often when I try to explain a complex or abstract thought, I manage to get lost before I find my way to the verb. I can’t get into a heated argument in Japanese. And I usually don’t understand most of the jokes. My wife loves rakugo, which is a popular Japanese form of comedy storytelling. They are these long shaggy-dog stories that people find hysterical, and I can understand 100% of the story, but I can’t for the life of me see how any of it is funny.

And then of course, there is keigo. The mind-boggling complex protocol of honorific and humble forms whose use depends on a complex three-dimensional matrix of formality, in-group out-group status, and the role you are playing in that particular interaction.

Frankly, once I get past basic greetings and a few set phrases, I tend to screw it up pretty badly. But, as I mentioned, keigo is hard,

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