Last week I published a article on Medium about why I was shutting down my current startup. If you haven’t read it yet, you can find out Why I turned down $500K, Pissed off my investors, and Shut down my startup.
The post went viral and I’ve received several thousand emails in the last few days. The outpouring of support, questions, advice and random thoughts I received from readers made me realize that rather than my usual chaotic way of deciding what I will be doing next, I should really ask your advice about it.
In this special (and rather short) episode I explain who listens to Disrupting Japan and why it makes sense to ask for advice on what is normally a very personal and secretive topic.
Let me know what you think, and I look forward to hearing from you.
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Transcript from Japan
Disrupting Japan episode .. well that’s a bit tricky. Let’s call this episode 47 1/2.
You see this is a special show, oh yes, I know we have special shows every ten episodes, and that one is still coming up. This is an especially special show. In fact we are going to break a lot of the rules for podcasting in this episode.
Let me give you the background. I’m in the middle of a personal transition right now — don’t worry Disrupting Japan is going to continue and I’ve got some ideas on making it even better. This is about me personally, and I’d like to ask your advice.
I recently decided to shut down my most recent startup ContractBeast before it really had the chance to startup. I won’t go into the details here, but the core problem was that we were not really providing enough immediate value to our users for them to pay enough for the company to make a profit.
One of the reasons I’m not going into detail here is that I wrote a medium post title Why I turned down 500K, Pissed off my investors and shut down my startup. that post explained my decisions and everything that let up to it. That post went viral and endue up at the top of HackerNew, the top of Medium and the top of LinkedIn Pulse. It was also picked up by VentureBeat and a few other sites.
Now, because of Disrupting Japan and my presentations and other appearances I get a steady flow of emails from listers and people interested in doing business in Japan from all over the world. I enjoy those, and I’m happy to help when I can.
None of that, however, prepared me the recent assume on my inbox. I’m still digging my way out from under several thousand emails and comments, and so far it’s overwhelmingly positive and encouraging.
There is a link to the post on the website disrupting japan.com/show047b if you haven’t read it go read it it will let you know where all this is coming from.
Go ahead and read it. I’ll wait here.
All done? Good. Now that you have the background understanding of. … No, no I know you didn’t stop the podcast. That’s OK. No one else did either. You can check the article out when you get a chance.
I thought about why this post resonated with so many people, there is certainly no shortage of articles on every aspect of startup life both from a personal or professional perspective. I think what it came down to was a willingness to be open, I mean ridiculously open and honest about my doubts my thoughts and my decisions.
Just being human seems to be enough to stand out in today’s startup culture.
In fact, I like to think that is a big part of the appeal of Disrupting Japan. You learn about some amazing startups and cool technology, of course, but if you’re like me it’s our guests willingness to open up and share their stories and doubts and dreams that makes Disrupting Japan worthwhile. In fact, I’ve been told by more than a few guests that they would never have been able to be so direct and honest in Japanese.
So with that spirt of openness and honesty in mind, I’m asking you and the rest of the Disrupting Japan listeners to help me decide what I should do next.
To understand why this makes sense, and is not just another one of my crazy experiments, I’m going to have to break one of the carnal rules about podcasts:
We’re going to take about demographics. I’m going to explain who you are. OK, I mean you know who you are. I’m going to explain to you who the rest of the Disrupting Japan audience is.
Audience size varies from show to show, but not as much as you think. On average we have over 2,500 listeners per show but the gap between the most popular shows and the least popular shows is only about 25%. When people discover the show they tend to listen to the whole back catalog, and that’s fantastic. It means that we have real value here.
About 40% of our listeners are in Japan with 60% being out elsewhere in the world. San Francisco accounts for about half of our overseas listeners, which I’m sure comes as no big surprise to you.
In terms of who the people actually are, the data gets a little fuzzier, since I have to base it on those who have reached out and contacted me by email. Based on this, Disrupting Japan’s listenership is primarily founders, aspiring founders and VCs and is probably about 705 male. Disrupting Japan listeners are also extremely intelligent and exceptionally good looking.
OK, those last two points are based on extrapolations from the data, but I stand by them!
With access to such a creative an innovative group of people, I’d be foolish not to ask for their advice about what I should be doing next.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not looking for job offers, although I guess I would not rule them out.
No. I’m someone who has started four companies in Japan. Led successful market entry for Western companies into Japan and has decades of experience selling technology to Japanese businesses. Taking a position running the Japanese subsidiary of a western company or helping Japanese companies expand overseas is something I’m strongly considering.
You know though, I am hesitant to walk away from the startup world. I don’t think I’m ready to start a new company right now, both the most difficult and rewarding times of my life have been getting startups off the ground. I might move over to the VC side of the table or move into education, although education, I suspect is a lot like podcasting, a labor of love. It’s very rewarding, but there is not much money in it.
Working on open innovation helping large Japanese companies work with startups and leverage some of the most powerful techniques from the startup world appeals to me an is something I might well pursue.
I also seem to have some small talent for telling stories about business in Japan that people find engaging.
But really, I want to hear what you think. If you really want to dig in that way, my life history is on the disrupting Japan site and my work history is on LinkedIn, but I’m really interested in what kinds of ideas 2,500 creative startup-focused people can come up with.
If you have a crazy idea, or even a not-so-crazy idea, send me an email at [email protected] or leave a comment in the comment section of the post.
I look forward to hearing from you. And Thank you for listening to Disrupting Japan.
Yes, as the world is changing rapidly with technology the traditional way of keeping things secret in business just doesnt work. Even if you keep it secret and work super hard on developing the idea, on release date there will be a team of developers out there who will copy your idea within a day or so. Example: Nike released the Back to the Future self lacing shoes. 14 days later there was a copy out on the market for sale!
The next evolution is on crowdsourced teams working on ideas and developing them together (think Hakathons). The complication with this is that these teams need basic business software to manage and run, measure and evolve their ideas. This software needs to be automated with the integration of AI functionality.
All business plans I make now include automation and AI. If you don`t, your product will already be behind the times.
Thank you for the great posts, involvement in the community and forward thinking!
Thanks for listening. I agree. People working together openly will create more value and better decisions than trying to keep things secret or figure things out by yourself. It’s going to be interesting to see how AI plays into this mix in the coming years.