Mar 2 Taiga Ogusu
Welcoming Techstars as Program Manager, Dennis List and Founding Partner of SoGal, Pocket Sun and Managing Director & Partner of EY-Parthenon, Nobuko Kobayashi, the three (and the facilitator) had an intense talk.
The status quo in Asia
When the three were questioned about the current status and issues of entrepreneurship in Asia, Pocket’s answer was clear. China has become the next Silicon Valley and Japan has been falling behind. “Nowadays, you are able to see some reverse copying between the U.S. and China,” says Pocket. The stereotype of China being a copying country has been shifting drastically. “When one wishes to be happy and rich, you either become an entrepreneur or get rid of the desire of materialism.” adds Pocket as she gets a good laugh from the audience.
Dennis follows up as he explains how he learned entrepreneurship the hard way in Boston. “Entrepreneurship doesn’t have to start at Silicon Valley. You just need to take action.” As he indicated the importance of inclusivity, he additionally mentioned how there is a necessity of a hub for innovators. In other words, a community where people are further connected to another. While there is no security or a way of backing out in entrepreneurship, he explains that TechStars gives that opportunity for a startup.
On the other hand, Nobuko was concerned about Japan and its social norm it withholds. While positive failure does exist, Japan continues to proceed with its “one failure and you’re out” way of thinking. She also talked on how rushing to the conclusion may be a mistake. “Figuring out the right form is important,” says Nobuko concurrently acknowledging how Japan’s status quo where small-medium companies and enterprises possess a high level of skills. Entrepreneurship is to create an opportunity to materialize their colors.
The entrepreneur mindset
“Ask for forgiveness and not permission,” says Pocket while the other two nodded their head. It’s simply to challenge the current situation. To find your own conclusion and spreading the word as you become the center of the issue. Pocket indicated that her initial motive on pushing SoGal further appeared when she realized people gathered because they really needed it. Additionally, saying it’s crucial that geography isn’t a constraint to oneself and knowing who else is in the game (which means to seek out the potential customers and so on).
Dennis was with Pocket and continued saying that “You must be able to give first.” Community mentality wise, allowing your resources to be put in use and making time for people is the first step. Further on, he explained the significance to tailor one’s product. Taking Grab and Uber as an example, in specific regions, cash has more weight compared to credit cards. To localize your products and shapeshifting it according to real cultural differences is vital.
However, Nobuko warned the audience not to look only on the big picture. As globalization and seeking new products outside the country may be a positive aspect, Japan already has services and materials that are appealing internationally.
Sota Ishii, the CTO of ALIS, started off with two key points.
While Sota referred personal information as “New Oil for the digital economy”, he emphasized on how data has increased its value. Even considering an alternative payment, where using the people’s personal information should come at a fee. With that said, he had evaluated Bitcoin as one of the succeeded decentralization of money and personal information. Additionally finishing up by saying “We have control of our own data, therefore we should have control on society too.”
“Our privacy is a right,” said Taiki as he started off with a strong line. He criticized the current internet platform that the web doesn’t provide privacy. Saying, it’s been used for political use and for micromanaging. In the panel discussion (with Mayato Hattori as the facilitator), the main theme had been the lack of personal information protection and privacy. However, Mayato indicated how Sota and Taiki had made an additional option for the people. Talking how within the society we live in, entrepreneurs might be the ones who will provide an alternative.
Esther Imai, Executive Officer of Global Business Division at DMM.com LLC and James Chou, Managing Director & CEO of Microsoft for Startups issued their secret on their global expansion. Welcoming a Slush facilitator, the three had kept the panel talk simply yet deep in content.
Throughout the fireside, Esther, and James agreed on many parts on how to truly succeed on expanding globally and the common denominator was:
Getting real information and acknowledging it– As the first step for an expansion, James mentioned the importance of talking to your potential customers. However, he gave an example about Japan and how the people are polite, therefore when a customer says yes or a nice as a reflection towards the product, there is a high percentage they don’t mean it. This was a lesson on how an entrepreneur must always get rid of their common sense and put everything into account. While Esther added to physically going to the county and understanding the cultural differences and contrasting it to the research you’ve done on the internet.
To get a local partner (or to send someone you trust to the area)– The two consisted of this key point where a local partner is crucial for global expansion. Simply, because to enter a new market, the locals understand their way of doing the most. The market know-how, networks, and constraints (such as governmental restrictions) are not easy for a foreigner to bypass alone. In conclusion, Esther had stated that “Even though you do your homework, you will face differences and difficulties so you must have an open mind.”
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