Yusuke epitomizes the new generation of Japanese startup founders. That means he is exactly the opposite of what most Westerners picture as a startup founder in Japan. He left a fast-track, high-status job in academia to start one startup after another, in both Tokyo and in San Francisco, and while Yusuke has not achieved a massive Silicon Valley style exit just yet, there is no doubt he is on his way.
Yusuke and I discuss his transition from professor, to freelancer, to founder, to founder, to founder yet again. He explains how a one-way ticket to San Francisco and a chance meeting with Steve Blank changed his thinking and changed his life, and why sushi is the secret to successful fundraising.
As an alum of well-known startup incubators in both Tokyo and San Francisco, Yusuke discusses his experiences at both and explains their most important value and their most important differences.
Show Notes for Startups
- Why most founders in Japan are doing Growth-hacking wrong
- How a chance meeting with Steve Blank changed his life
- Why Keio University is producing so many entrepreneurs
- The single most important difference between Tokyo and San Francisco
- Why the growth of mentorship in Japan is important
- Why sushi is the secret to startup networking and funding success
Links from the Founder
- AppSocially home page
- Yusuke’s Personal Home Page
- Follow him on twitter at @aerodynamics
- Friend him on Facebook
- Growthhacker Japan
- Steve Blank on Entrepreneurship
- Open Network Labs OnLab Accelerator
- Keio University
- Hooked (Japanese Version Translated by Yusuke
Transcript from Japan
Tim: Disrupting Japan Episode 10. Welcome to Disrupting Japan straight talk from Japan’s most successful entrepreneurs. I am Tim Romero and thanks for listening. Today we sit down with Yusuke Takahashi, founder of AppSocially and GrowthHacker.jp, and a contributor to TechCrunch Japan. Now he’s a bit earlier staged then most of our guests but he has an amazing story to tell about starting up companies both here in Japan and in the US. Now no one can say Yusuke doesn’t have guts. The man left a promising academic career to found a start up here in Japan and when that didn’t work out he left his wife behind in Japan and bought a one way ticket to San Francisco to join the 500 startup incubator and start another company there. I don’t want to tell you too much about it because the story is great to hear him tell it directly.
I am going to be a bit Meta today since the topic of this podcast will come up during the interview. I’d like to talk a little bit about the podcast itself. I get asked a lot what I am trying to do with the podcast and frankly more than anything else I am trying to show entrepreneurs around the world that Japanese founders are far more like them then they are like the old image of the Japanese salary man. And, also to let inspiring Japanese founders know that startup founders are not so different from them. I mean there is not magic to starting and growing a company. There is an awful lot of work but there is no magic to it. Now producing this podcast has led to a number of surprises both good and bad over the past couple of months. Two well know individuals seem to feel genuinely slighted when I declined their offer to be on the show because all thought they were very experienced respected knowledgeable they did not actually start a company themselves so they weren’t actually founders.
Now, Japan is very hierarchical society, and almost everything that happens here tends to be seen through the lens of ranking. The people who come on the show must outrank those who do not. Shows with higher ranking guest are clearly more important, and well that is not what we are trying to do here. Now some of our guest are wealthy and quite well know, but all of them are founders and all of them have enough experience to have real stories, real insights and they are willing to share them openly and honestly. Now by all means as founder or anyone else really you should read the books of people who are genuinely experts in the field, but you will learn far more from talking to real entrepreneurs about their real experiences.
As a founder people on the same path as you can probably give you far better advice about what your next step should be then someone who manages a 500 million dollar investment fund. Now these podcasts are edited down so that only the best content is included and a lot of what got edited out this time was me nudge, pushing, and even bullying Yusuke away from talking about Grand overarching global trends and getting him to open up about his own personal experiences and when he finally does so you can almost hear the switch flick and he tells an amazing story. Now, he is a younger guy but you will learn a lot from him, I know I did.
Ah, also, one of the most frustrating things about running this podcast is that so often the best conversations and the most amazing insights come after I turn off the microphones. Now, normally I handle this buy quietly weeping in frustration and I just let it go. But this time Yusuke had some amazing comments that I just have to include. I will paraphrase them after the interview during the outro. So let’s get right to it.
== Interview Starts ==
Tim: So cheers.
Yusuke: This is from San Francisco?
Tim: It’s a San Francisco Christmas Ale.
Yusuke: Oh this is a Christmas Ale?
Tim: It seemed appropriate for the season and the location. So I am sitting here with Yusuke Takahashi of AppSocally. Thanks for sitting down.
Tim: Let’s first talk a bit about AppSocally, and it’s an application or a service that helps mobile apps get attention, get users and hopefully get some viral traction. You can obviously explain it much better than I can, so why don’t you tell m7e a bit about AppSocally and a bit about you customers?
Yusuke: I think you already explained everything.
Tim: Really? Is it that simple?
Yusuke: The product should be simple because we are a startup. We should be creating some scale of business and the beat of a business. Our company is called AppSocally which was founded last year in February and is based in San Francisco and we have a sub city in Tokyo as well that is why I am here back in Tokyo now. And the company providing a product called AppSocally which is a feature for mobiles for the mobile application process. So if you have a mobile application you can install a product, our ISDK into your product and we help all your customers to invite other friends. Like the Follow program of Google. So you are existing user invite a friend, and the friend start using it and both get for example $20.
Tim: And this can be integrated into anybody’s mobile application?
Yusuke: Yeah with just one online call you can install this feature, we help you keep track of customer referral metrics, like who invited who, how many, how? How is like via online, via Facebook.
Tim: All right so you know what channel is working the best for you.
Yusuke: And test and optimize landing pages which bring the message.
Tim: Now this isn’t your first company. In fact you founded something called the Individual Company.
Yusuke: Oh yeah why do you know that?
Tim: I do my research. I know all about you.
Tim: The Individual Company was your first company right?
Yusuke: Right. Before that I was working for University as a computer scientist after I got a Ph.D.; I majored in Database and Computer Science.
Tim: So the Individual Company was that related to your research or was that just a project that you wanted to do?
Yusuke: Before starting any bit of company I created my job at University and then, –so I was creating lots of websites for Swedish Credit Card Database for example. And also I created a website for opera singer in Russia. I created a website, I created mobile application, I created postcard, I designed business cards as well. So I did design, coding, and content management.
Tim: Just the freelancing lifestyle.
Yusuke: Yeah. So I had many friends like that, and I help them but I figured out that it was no skill and I found a company called Digital Garage which start something called the Incubator and they had some meet ups inviting from Twitter. So I met those people and I found that so how they are working or how those companies are created.
Tim: So the difference between being a freelancer and–
Yusuke: Being in a startup.
Tim: Being in a startup yeah. So you are learning by example basically.
Yusuke: Yeah so much.
Tim: Now you were in the original OnLab class? One of the early ones right?
Yusuke: Yeah the first batch. There was the Individual Company.
Tim: And so what happened after that? It just didn’t—
Yusuke: Well my company was about the crowd sources. I did it at the idea that people can work for a fee, but my idea was not something like crowd sourcing now but more like tools and platforms for those freelance people. So you don’t have to work for company or you don’t have to establish a company for example you can be in the company do everything including accounting for you or getting customers for you or e-books for you, you don’t have to do that. You shouldn’t just be creating work for other people.
Tim: That is an awful lot of work to take on though.
Yusuke: Yeah, and that was something that I had a vision with just myself as one founder.
Tim: The team was too small and the vision was too big.
Tim: So you’ve been very resilient. You keep trying and trying again because you also founded Growth Hacker right?
Tim: Well let’s talk about Growth, because this is something that I think San Francisco companies are obsessed with growth. It is the one metric that matters. The Japanese founders don’t seem to have that level of urgency yet.
Yusuke: Good startup founders are always opposite of growth but most others don’t. When I met Steve Blank he said “Growth Hacker, the time of Growth Hacker makes sense because when the startup people and the founders are working in a small team in a rapid growth environment even engineers have to understand the corporate vision, cooperate KPI’s and growth metrics as well.” That is the base of a growth company. People keep working on the product and the company focusing on growth.
Tim: So do you think in Japan the Growth Hacker ideas are being adopted? Are people using them?
Yusuke: Good companies know it.
Tim: But do they do it?
Yusuke: The idea of growth Hacking are tactics of a good company in San Francisco are just imported to Japan and they tried to copy it but it’s already different because the idea is already different. The customer and culture of their customers are totally different so they have to, –they shouldn’t just copy it.
Tim: That is a really good point. Well I met a lot of people who call themselves Growth Hackers here in Japan but most of it is like okay well that is social marketing. That is good, that’s important but that’s different. And, I think almost by definition growth hacking is understanding your customers ecosystem well enough to find out a little trick, to find out little spaces. Japan companies do you think they are starting to catch on?
Yusuke: I am trying to tell them.
Tim: You are trying to tell them. Good luck. No, they need to know.
Yusuke: that is why I am always talking with my friends, they are working as founders in companies here and also I am often invited by like big companies for example like Recruit Japan for corporate executive training session as a lecture to talk about myth origins and customers ways.
Tim: Do you think they are using the information?
Yusuke: Yeah I think so.
Tim: You do?
Tim: Okay, well that is encouraging.
Yusuke: For some people, like the good CEO’s of a company are now taking leading now and they have many product managers, young product manager working right in entrepreneurs.
Tim: Well that is really encouraging to hear. It’s good to see progress. Actually let’s switch gears there is something I want to ask. You got your Ph.D. at Keio?
Tim: Keio University seems to produce a very large number of startup founders. I will meet far more founders from Keio then from Todai or from Waseda. And, I know that Keio is really active, they’ve got their own incubation program. They seem to be very supportive of entrepreneurship.
Yusuke: I think they might be many reasons but I think maybe I can tell you like two things that I know. One Yukichi Fukuzawa so he is the only sensei in Keio.
Yusuke: Yeah, so he always teaches us to be independent if you learn something then you can be a teacher to other people, you teach them, and you help them. This is something that everyone I think has in mind able after they graduate from University.
Tim: So you think the school just has somewhat of a more independent culture?
Yusuke: Yeah, and also teach other people which means good managing people. The other one is the part of Keio called Keio is the sharing of the campus which is really a unique campus. So everybody but the people at medical school are there. Some people are creating movies, some people are creating companies. I was doing computer science. Other people are working on politics, other people are running like economics.
Tim: And it’s all on the same campus?
Yusuke: Yeah. So to be friend other people you always have to pitch, like everyone has to pitch them like “I am doing this. That is why I am here and I am working on that literature and I am working in that big conference in Tokyo as a –”
Tim: That alone probably does it. Because I have friends who are professors at Todai or students and the business school or the computer science it’s on different campuses so there is no chance to interact with people outside your discipline.
Yusuke: That is not good I think.
Tim: Yeah I think what is happening to Keio is much better.
Yusuke: And also because we have a lot of opportunities to learn many things. For example there are many designers who can code or an economist who can design. So there are many people that have kind of double or triple majors in the campus.
Tim: That is good Japan needs more of that. So when you left a good academic career to start a startup you mentioned before that it was really hard to explain to your family and friends why you wanted to do that.
Yusuke: Did you read the article from BBC?
Tim: I read the article. I told you I do my research.
Yusuke: One thing is that I was lucky that my wife is also from that same degree. She is a professional musician.
Tim: So she is also creative and independent.
Yusuke: Yeah so she works as a same way as a musician with the producers, but on the other hand every one of her relatives said to me after I decided to quit my job at the University because they saw that daughter would be married with future professor.
Tim: Yeah that is a very high status job to trade in. So are they still upset or are they okay now?
Yusuke: I don’t know. I think they are okay because we are still surviving I mean.
Tim: The image of founders and entrepreneurs in Japan it is getting better and more acceptable don’t you think?
Yusuke: I think so because I mean that industry, but I don’t think so because we are only like less than 1% of the whole operation in Japan. We know many founders, we know many entrepreneurs.
Tim: So you think the greater part of Japan is still very skeptical of this whole entrepreneur thing?
Tim: One of the questions that I ask a lot of our guest is I gave you a magic wand and I say: okay you can change one thing about Japanese society or laws or politics to make it better for entrepreneurs what would you change?
Yusuke: The culture aspect of helping other people.
Tim: You mean sort of mentoring?
Yusuke: Yeah mentoring and investing that is sort of different I think. We can see many people, many experience entrepreneurs like you for example. Like I met you here tonight I am so happy, but I am so happy. Most people cannot see you. If they really like to found a company it’s so hard to find someone who has experience who has good insight about doing this for example. Also working as a founder working as like App startup. But, when I was in San Francisco for example when I am SiteGlass coffee I say for example he does drawing for me from Kiss Metrics and Kiwa behind me and I talk with him and “hey I was just working like this. And do you remember me when I worked at 500 startups?”, “Oh yeah I remember you?”, “And I did that idea you gave me and that really worked. What do you think?”, “Oh that’s great. Try this one.” That always happens.
Tim: Yeah I think that is one of the things that is really wonderful about San Francisco is that people are very generous about giving introductions and “oh I have 2 friends who are trying to solve the same problem they should met each other.” And I think you’re right, Japan is still there are too many gate keepers. Whereas “well if I introduce you to this person I want to get 5% of this” or something like that.
Yusuke: Some people are generous, some people are really helpful, and then so many people around their experience are just around just like–
Tim: A depth of experience and people want to share.
Tim: Yeah, I guess in Japan well there are 2 things we are up against here I suppose. One is that we don’t have as many entrepreneurs with real experience that you can talk to. And the other is the culture itself isn’t quite as open.
Yusuke: So if I direct a change in something I direct a change of culture of helping other people and each other. It’s not about Japan, it’s not about Tokyo. It’s about San Francisco. It’s about experience where there was like 7 or 8 cycle of people from the company grew.
Tim: 7 generations of entrepreneurs yeah.
Yusuke: Startup founders, they help other people; they found other companies, they advise other companies; and this is the 7th or 8th time. But, in New York City it’s just 3 or 4. So it’s so hard to compete with a company because there is so many people, much of the people so much experience, people always helping other people.
Tim: But I think here in Japan though we are still on our first. I think right now is really the first time we are seeing a lot of successful entrepreneurs wanting to mentor and invest in the next generation.
Yusuke: I agree with you. I think 5 years ago or maybe 6 years ago Dave McClure came to Japan for Geeks on a Plan and he came to some Drinkup and everybody was talking. He suddenly stood up and said in really loud voice “hey just listen to me! If you meet Mr. Tanaka or Ms. Namba tells them that you should come here.” In America are like there are people that repeat the tale, they are always allowed to share their experience but they were also raised by other people who shared experience for free. There is no place where I can just do chat with Mr. Tanaka to ask him “hey I am working on this what do you think?” there is no place like that.
Tim: Are you saying that in Tokyo very successful entrepreneurs aren’t necessarily hanging out with the next generation you guys.
Yusuke: They don’t come back.
Tim: I think you are spot on with that. I think you are right. Another question but this is something I am really interested to hear your opinion on. Incubators. And you’ve been through 2 different incubators with 2 different companies. You did the one here with Open Network Lab here in Japan and you did 500 Startups in the US. So what is the real value incubators add? What is the advantage of going to an incubator?
Yusuke: It depends…
Tim: Okay, well what was the value for you personally? And then we will talk like general.
Yusuke: The realest thing I love provided was the place for Digital Garage building. It’s like Silicon Valley but it’s outside Silicon Valley.
Tim: Do you mean the environment or the number of entrepreneurs there? What was like Silicone Valley?
Yusuke: There are obviously a lot of founds working here but it’s more about people I can met. For example Phil came to the building and I can just talk with him for 5 minutes on. I met business owners, I met Ian on the floor. They just come and hang out around you or the building.
Tim: Yeah Digital Garage has a fantastic group of coaches and mentors that come in as part of that.
Yusuke: Actually most mentors don’t come, but we can just reach out to them by asking them to make intro.
Tim: Okay online. And how about 500 Startups? What was the value you got out of that one?
Yusuke: I don’t compare anything with Japanese one.
Tim: Well not comparing just what’s the value you found?
Yusuke: It’s well done I think. They provide things that we actually need when we actually need.
Tim: What kind of things?
Yusuke: For example when enter Silicon Valley we had nobody like Japanese founder, we have this guy is invested by Dave and maybe this guy might be working on a really good one. That is helpful. Like good founders in the same growth stage in the world gathered to one place. So we work with 30 companies from every country in the world and they are also—-
Tim: So a lot of the value was the other companies you were working with?
Yusuke: Yeah they are so small; the best entrepreneurs in the same generation in their countries. For example when I was there the project was really rapidly growing that is why there was 2 or 3 companies in my batch. We can just learn from how they work, how they communicate, how they grab the chance.
Tim: 500 Startups in particular seems to be very intentionally trying to get an international group of startups. They are trying to find the best from all over the world and bring them together.
Yusuke: Yeah they are trying to make a really strong family in the world.
Tim: Yeah you learn as much from other entrepreneurs or more then you do from the official mentors. As long as I have you here you are my incubator expert.
Yusuke: Just from experience.
Tim: We’ll you’ve been through 2 very good incubators with 2 different companies in 2 different countries and there is not many people who’ve done that.
Yusuke: Actually many people in 500 Startup graduated from other incubators.
Tim: Oh yeah? So there are so many incubators now both in Tokyo and San Francisco. So what kind of companies should join an incubator?
Yusuke: It’s always about what you like to do? For example if you’d like to have the traction to enter Silicone Community, that is a small community. Maybe you should have someone who is famous who is respected in that community–
Tim: So an incubator with a good brand.
Yusuke: Might be really helpful. But it doesn’t’ have to be an incubator can be a good a good invest as well. If you can at the end of the day teach at each other they always have a really great traction towards their customers. It’s not easy but it’s so helpful.
Tim: That makes a lot of sense especially if you are traveling somewhere else. If you are moving to San Francisco or if you are coming to Tokyo from Osaka or Sapporo or something. Especially among founders the community is so important because let’s face it most of us fail a couple of times. I certainly have, and there are very few people who understand what that is like unless you’ve already done it. Let me ask you the information like 500 Startup and Y Combinator is fascinating but lots of people are writing about that so I want to talk about you and your opinions. I think the change from a fast track professor position to move into entrepreneurship is a huge change. What was the most important skill you had to learn when you became and entrepreneur? What did you have to change about yourself?
Yusuke: There has been so many things. Everything is like, everything is like so hard.
Tim: Let’s talk about a couple. What did you have to change in your personality or your skills or what did you have to become comfortable with?
Yusuke: For me scientist, artist, entrepreneurs are the same.
Tim: How so?
Yusuke: We create something new by not just solving problem but creating a different approach of news ways of solving the problem as well.
Tim: So developing new systems?
Yusuke: New systems. For me being an entrepreneur is almost the same as being a computer scientist.
Tim: So it wasn’t as big of a change as it looks like.
Yusuke: But it shouldn’t be always the same if you try to become a professional you always have to be active learner, you always have to keep learning or studying something new. As an entrepreneur everything is new for me. Being entrepreneur about learning everything, our customers, industry I should know about how they make decision, I have to know how to raise money, I have to know how to think about like–
Tim: But these are all skills you had to learn right?
Yusuke: Founder and being a CEO is so tough. My goal is that I should always be growing much faster than the company grows.
Tim: Oh wow that is interesting and that makes a lot of sense.
Yusuke: Yeah, I have to be a better CEO.
Tim: All of these things you had to learn, what was the most difficult for you personally?
Yusuke: That is it like every day. It depends on. I am always faced with really big changes which I have to solve with a team. The most important thing I can tell is that people who like me or people who think I am a good founder always tell me that “you are a good person” and that is, I was told by my parents they were always saying like “hey you always have to thank people, you always have to say sorry when you do something wrong.” Those things are something that I think people are always telling me that, sometimes they join us because they say “I like to work with you—“
Tim: But I think that is so important the trust and being a true person. So many for example traditional sales models are not necessarily honest and open and trusting but as like a founder that is an incredibly valuable thing.
Yusuke: I think so. I am not experienced entrepreneur. I have never experience publicity or going public. The only thing I think that our previous invest the only reason why they invested in us I have been talking about this story to many people but I think I can share it with you tonight. So after I quit my job at University I got one way ticket to San Francisco and then I stayed for 2 months for 9 weeks in San Francisco without any hotel visit.
Tim: How did you explain that to your wife?
Yusuke: I had to go. For us.
Tim: Just you have to do it.
Yusuke: So I went to San Francisco having only one friend who gave me a couch for a week. I had no idea how to budget my idea. I met him in Tokyo when he was traveling he told me “you can stay here for a week but you have to leave in a week because I am going for travel”.
Tim: Yeah, that is fair.
Yusuke: “But because you are here let’s have dinner on Wednesday night inviting my friends”, “okay that sounds great, I think I can do something like Japanese how to make sushi dinner”. And I went to Japan town to buy some seaweed and rice and beginning to create sushi rice and seaweed and miso to create miso soup. And everyone liked my hand made sushi. Japanese food for parties is a really good food because people create it on the table. French dish they create in the kitchen and–
Tim: It’s complicated.
Yusuke: They just get it into a private dish but nabe, yakiniku, sukiyaki and hand making sushi.
Tim: It’s collaborative cooking.
Yusuke: Yeah people just talk to teach, teach how to cook it when they eat. So that is really good. And one of them said “hey Yusuke your sushi was awesome you should come to my couch next week.”
Yusuke: And that happened 9 times.
Tim: And so you just kept cooking sushi?
Yusuke: Sushi, tempura, udon; many things. So my friend who gave me couch invited their friend other company CTO’s like head of Rose those people are always there invited by my friends who gave me a couch. Those people who I met in the private dinners are now my investors, my already customers.
Tim: So you met our investors by feeding them.
Tim: Hey it’s a great strategy.
Yusuke: When we are eating they say “Hey Yusuke actually what are you doing? What can I do for you?” That is always their question.
Tim: But I think it goes back to what you were saying before about the important of just being an honest simple person. Cooking, sitting down for dinner is just a very direct human thing to do.
Yusuke: That was really good because I could enter that community from their house.
Tim: As an insider.
Yusuke: Yeah. Actually I was not very good at English before I traveled to Silicon Valley but when I was coming back in the airplane I could just listen to the movie without being concentrated.
Tim: So your English skills jumped up a lot.
Yusuke: Yeah so much.
Tim: How long were you there?
Yusuke: 2 months, 9 weeks.
Tim: Wow that is a very intense 2 months of couch surfing in Silicon Valley.
Yusuke: But the bad story about this was that 1 week after I left Tokyo my wife got pregnant.
Tim: Oh my god. That makes things complicated.
Yusuke: So she was so, –she had such a tough time I think.
Tim: Wow that must have been an incredibly stressful time for both of you.
Yusuke: Yeah but she is strong, and she said “that was really good because I didn’t show you my angry part.”
Tim: Oh wow, well listen this has been really great. Do you have anything you want to talk about?
Yusuke: Yeah, I’d like to know why you invited me?
Tim: Okay, that is a very humble question to ask.
Tim: What I am trying to do here is introduce the Japanese Startup Ecosystem and Japanese Entrepreneurs to the rest of the world. And it’s not necessarily to get all super famous people are certainly not the people who their English is the best or any of that.
Yusuke: Does that include me?
Tim: No stop that, your English is good.
Tim: To get people that have really valuable stories, really valuable experience and what I am hoping is that right now young Japanese entrepreneurs are listening way too much to VC’s. VC’s will say you need to do A, you need to do B, and they will say yeah we should. But, Japanese entrepreneurs need to learn from other founders. That is why some of my guests are people who have already IPO-ed, some of them are like you very early stage but with really interesting stories that I think everyone can benefit from hearing. So I was really excited and I still am really excited to have you on.
Yusuke: Thank you.
Tim: Because I think your story is something that a lot of young Japanese will be able to relate to and say “oh I can do that”. You know what I mean?
Yusuke: Yeah. Maybe I can add something. Don’t read TechCruch to much.
Tim: Don’t read TechCruch? You write for TechCruch you shouldn’t say that.
Yusuke: I think that is a really good medium you can learn a lot from them but it’s not everything.
Tim: Okay, what’s missing?
Yusuke: For example maybe you think if you go to Silicon Valley you can easily raise one million bucks.
Tim: Oh yeah that.
Yusuke: But it’s only news. But there are really, really human aspect in the vary where people are communicating often people are focusing on product that look start entrepreneurs they are always helping each other because most of them are foreign people who are trying to find their home there. Other people who are helped by other people aren’t helping us so much. So that is more of a human and that is never been board casted in big mass media.
Tim: That is true, the most important thing is people helping each other, and that is why I had you on the show.
Yusuke: Oh thank you very much.
Tim: So that’s so much for coming in.
Yusuke: thank you so much for having us.
Tim: No it was my honor.
== Interview Ends ===
Tim: And we are back. See I told you he had a great story, and who would have imagined that sushi would be so central to company formation. Now the interesting insight I mentioned, the one that I felt I had to include was that Yusuke mentioned that although Appsocally is based in San Francisco a lot of its customers are based here in Japan including some pretty big firms. And, he shows up to those sales meetings in pure San Francisco style wearing T-shirts and jeans and the fact that he is a Japanese with a company in San Francisco makes it much easier for him to sell to the Japanese customers in Japan. It gives the larger Japanese firms more confidence that the innovation is valid. He gets away with showing up in casual attire because that is how it’s done in San Francisco. And this makes sense since one of the ways that new ideas are often accepted in Japan is by having those ideas validated overseas.
If you want to see the show notes and links to all the resources we mentioned during our discussion come by DisruptingJapan.com. If you have some ideas on how to improve the show or who we should be interviewing send me an email at [email protected]
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This has been Disrupting Japan. I am Tim Romero, and thanks for listening.