Japanese banking is one of the most conservative industries in one of the most conservative countries in the world. That’s what makes it both so difficult and so profitable to disrupt.

Today, Paul Chapman talks to us about the founding and growth of Moneytree, a personal finance app that is quickly growing into something much bigger and more important.

Japan still has a reputation as being a closed market, and it is harder than many, but if Paul and his two Western co-foudners can make this big an impact in such a traditional and conservative industry, it seems that things are opening up here.

Paul also gives some practical advice for foreigners, or anyone else, who is thinking of starting a startup in Japan.

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

Show Notes for Startups

  • Asking for forgiveness rather than permission in Japan
  • What’s behind the sudden interest in Japanese FinTech
  • The unique importance of loyalty points in Japan
  • Why viral-marketing a FinTech app is difficult
  • How foreign startups can reach Japanese consumers
  • Advice for westerners wanting to start companies in Japan

Links from the Founder

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Transcript from Japan

Disrupting Japan. Episode 43.

Welcome to Disrupting Japan. Straight talk from Japan’s most successful entrepreneurs. I’m Tim Romero, thanks for listening.

Today’s story is one that will resonate with many of our overseas listeners. It’s about how three foreigners in Japan are shaking up one of the most conservative industries in the country and one of the most conservative industries in the world actually. Paul Chapman and his cofounders Ross and Mark started Moneytree about four years ago as an app to help consumers manage their spending but the products and the company has grown into so much more than that over the last three years and they’re on the brink of doing something even bigger.

We’ll talk with Paul about the founding of the growth of Moneytree and also go over some practical advice for foreigners or anyone else really wanting to start a business in Japan. Japan still has a reputation of being a closed market but let’s face it, if a group of Westerners with no Japanese co-founder can have this kind of an impact than things are really opening up here. So let’s get right to the interview.

Tim: So I’m sitting here with Paul Chapman of Moneytree. If I was to describe it, I’d say Moneytree is Mint for Japan. It’s some much more than that. You can explain it even much better.

Paul: It’s an App that shows you where, when and how you’re spending your money.

Tim: And how does it do that?

Paul: Well, we use data aggregation technology so we’ve built a virtualized browser that can do everything a human. Log in your bank account, credit card loyalty points, digital money accounts online, it’ll pick up your balance all the transactions you have and it will clean the data because a lot of that data  is not too clean, it will categorize using artificial intelligence.

Tim: So to say the clothing purchase or if it’s a taxi cab or a business expense?

Paul: Yes, exactly.

Tim: Got it.

Paul: And then you get to see it on your phone and the idea was we wanted to make finances as easily accessible as email and as instant as chat because chat tells you things. Someone sends you a chat message “ping” and it arrives.

Tim: Listeners in America and Europe will think this is an obvious idea.

Paul: Yeah, it’s obvious.

Tim: But this was kind of a radical concept to Japan when you started out in…

Paul: 2012. The assumption was you’re not a bank, you can’t do this. In a country like Japan and you need permission for great many things. We didn’t ask for the banks approval or the card companies approval. The only person that we wanted approval from was our users because we think it’s their data. Banks may have licensed to use in many ways but ultimately it belongs to the person whose account, whose credit card it is.

Tim: So if I understand your technology right, Ross ran me through it before, Moneytree, behind the scenes, it’s logging into your user’s bank account on their behalf, collecting the information, collating it, making it much easier than the banks themselves presented. Presenting it in a comprehensive, easy to understand interface.

Paul: That’s right.

Tim: So, do this with the user’s permission but without the bank’s permission. Was that the part where people were skeptical about at first?

Paul: The thing most people skeptical about was whether or not anyone would use it. Founders of Moneytree are not Japanese, we don’t come from big Japanese companies or even big foreign companies. Three guys, two Americans and one Australian and we thought, “Look, we can do this, let’s go do it” but people said to us, one potential investor, not a single Japanese person will put their username and password to their bank in your App.

Tim: So the skepticism that the consumers just wouldn’t trust a small foreign company or that the banks just wouldn’t allow it and you wouldn’t get attraction without their permission?

Paul: I think most investors still would get away with it at least for a while. The real issue is whether or not people would trust us, whether they would use us. Japan is a very privacy and security conscious country. One of my cofounders, Mark calls it uninformed optimism. You don’t know much about “of course we can do that, it’ll be so easy.” That’s how most startup started actually. We thought we knew a lot. We did something that was very new, built an App that didn’t have a website. We just said no, just do it all on the iPhone and so Apple liked that a lot because it really show that the iOS could do but from UX user experience perspective it was difficult to fit such a big expansive concept into a few small screens.

Tim: Things are certainly turnaround and you’ve just closed a new financing round where all of the major Japanese banks previously skeptical are now on board. So what changed?

Paul: I was having lunch with the deputy president of one of the large banks, along with four other startup CEO’s. So the banks were really starting to look at innovation and in particular FinTech and he said, “What’s changed?” I said, well we sat in the shoreline trying to surf and then we realize we needed water so we moved out to where the waves were and boom we’re surfing and that wave is FinTech.

Tim: So do you think the Japanese banks have just realized that the innovation in Fintech is supporting and they want to be a part of it?

Paul: Yes.

Tim: OK. Getting investment money from a large Japanese company and getting partnership and cooperation from a large Japanese company are often very different things. So are you guys looking at partnerships or is the investment more a vote of confidence that what you guys are doing are interesting and we want to keep an eye on?

Paul: Money can come with strings attached or with no strings attached. We wanted no strings attached. We were free to work with everyone. We were specific about that. So the two largest accounting software vendors in Japan are the Yayoi and TKC. They’re both our partners, they both use our platform. We kind of got lucky. We ended up talking to both of them around the same time and when the discussion got to release one of them exclusivity we said, “Well, actually we’re already talking to the other guys and we have for a while”. Our head of the brand communications, Zack he always said the best partner is the partner who needs you. There’s a lot of talk about cooperates partnering with startups and I would only ever do that when they really need us. Otherwise the balance of power is not beneficial for the startup.

Tim: So on both sides the investments was sort of at arms-length?

Paul: They wanted to make money. It’s an ROI focus investment and fundamentally they said, look, “We’re not for any one bank”.

Tim: What’s the plans for the use of funds? Are we going to see a new direction, new products rolled out?

Paul: We started out as a PFM. Personal Financial Management App. To support the App we had to build a data aggregation platform. You think of this is a thin layer that we place on top of every financial institution website and it makes it all accessible from your phone. It turns all that data into basically the equivalent of a mail service. When you open up your email client, mail comes in, you open up money tree, all your financial transactions come in from 2400 data sources in Japan. It’s a lot. So the partnership we have with some like TKC or Yayoi, those accounting vendors, they’re using our platform to get access to transactional data for their accounting software users.

Tim: Are we going to be seeing a lot more of these sort of partnerships maybe more on the B2B slide with invoice reconciliation, things like that?

Paul: The goal was to help finance institutions interact and engage better with their own customers and the flip side of that goal is we want to empower the bank’s customers to make better decisions and have a more equal relationship.

Tim: Tell me about your customers. Who is using Moneytree, what do they like about it, what do they get out of it?

Paul: OK. So, most of the people using our Apps are the 20s and 30s some are early 40s. It’s definitely focused more in the youth segment, not so much teenagers.

Tim: They don’t have a lot of money anyway.

Paul: No, they got mum and dad. We have almost 50/50 males and females using the App. Most of our users are on iOS. When we started, this is interesting a lot of these said, “You know, why don’t you make it an App for android?” Because at the time, no one really was in that ecosystem. They took a lot of flak for that but then fast forward like last year, people saying, why would you do it on android? iOS is at 60% market share.

Tim: Fintech particularly consumer facing finance is incredibly analytical data driven and sterile quite frankly. So to make it attractive for consumers. Let me ask you this is there anything that you’d say is uniquely Japanese about Moneytree? With the interface, with the product’s set?

Paul: It’s a loyalty points. Points are big in Japan. I like to say Japan is living in the future when it comes to points. Japanese people like points because they like they like the process more than the outcome.

Tim: So just storing up points and hitting different points?

Paul: It’s fun to collect points and see the balance score. We argued a lot about points. We argued a lot about points, the 1st to do it, don’t do it, do it, don’t do it. the funny thing is ever since I put my point credits on Moneytree, I like seeing them go up, I like seeing the balance go up and I’m like “Oh my god” either I have become really Japanese or this is something that everyone is subject to. It’s the natural game of vocation. I can’t make my salary go up every month but I can make my points go up.

And it’s true that in Japan everything has a loyalty points system. The one defining feature of points in Japan, are the common points schemes, so you go to the convenience store and you say I like to pay with my points. So 1 point is 1yen. That’s really powerful. In a lot of countries, you got credit card points and great I can go flying somewhere and when I can spend $100,000

Tim: A question something on the topic. So finance is mathematical it’s clean and yet the very very few global Fintech companies particularly those who that are customer facing. Do you think that Fintech is inherently local?

Paul: It depends which piece of the problem you’re tearing off. If you’re to doing something to deliver lending or taking deposits, payments anything that has compliance attached to it it’s inherent to local.

Tim: What about with just how people interact with the interface? How they think about money? Do you think there’s a significant difference from country to country?

Paul: We have a lot of hypotheses about that going into Moneytree. Those kind of policies were around the fact that Japanese traditionally think if money as a dirty topic. 150-160 years ago Japan was still feudal and the feudal system merchants were at the bottom of the heap that with the cultural memory still persists. We wanted to say it’s Moneytree because it’s organic.

Tim: I wonder if that’s related to why loyalty points are so big here. Because it’s not the money really, it’s like being in a club.

Paul: That’s very funny so one of the problems about the finance that for consumers is that people’s say “hey check out my cool App oh I can’t show you anything but the icon”. They don’t want to show their balances and so one screen people are happy to share, in fact they want to brag about it, look at my point balances, I have 50,000 T points.

Tim: So people would share point balances where they would never think about sharing Yen balances.

Paul: Money is inherently not social. This is universal actually not just Japan. No one likes to talk about how much they’ve got and how much they’re going to spend because I guess ultimately those relatives from the countryside are coming and say can you lend us some money?  As of today we have ten partners on the Moneytree making platform.

Tim: What kind of partners? What are they doing?

Paul: Seven accounting software companies, two startups and one mega bank tax preparation is a good example.

Tim: Tax prep? OK.

Paul: You want to do your tax? That’s easy. You can use Yayoi to do that. we have another start-up that does accounting called Asus Japan, on the tiny start-ups side, we’ve got a company called Crowd Cast they do expenses, one more called MakeLeaps, I think Jason Winder has been on the show, they do invoicing.

Tim: It sounds like you’re moving from becoming a mobile Fintech app to becoming a platform for accessing bank information?

Paul: At practical level yes that’s right.

Tim: That’s a great place to be.

Paul: I think it’s pretty cool. The vision is bigger. Let’s start with the financial system today. You have lots of banks, there are some connections between banks, there’s also MasterCard, JCB, Visa, American express payment networks but the fact is banks don’t talk to each other. If you want to apply for a new account you have to show the same paperwork that you did to the other three banks that you already use. If you want to apply for a loan you probably have to print out your statements online or use the paper one they sent you in the mail, take it to them and show them. This is kind of crazy, it’s 2016 and we’re working really on an augmented paper system. What Moneytree can do is, we can connect all of that and can essentially put the individual, the customer at the center of that, and we give them the power to choose who they’ll share it with and for what purpose.

Tim: Let’s back up a bit because I think the story of the founding Moneytree is going to be of interest to a lot of our listeners, basically three foreigners in Japan who decided to start a company.

Paul: You got some experience doing that yourself.

Tim: I do but not as recently as you guys.

Paul: So the founders of Moneytree came together to do another company. We all quit our jobs, and I was working for a Japanese professional services firm as head of IT and one weekend, golden week and we said look this iPhone is getting really popular, why don’t we try and make an App for it. One of us bought a new MacBook, I had an old Mac and someone else had a ThinkPad which he was literally writing code and sending it the other guy and then compile. Very manual. We made an App that was a language learning App that didn’t quite crash every time we ran it. It was pretty terrible. So we spent two years to evangelizing and learning how to make a good App. We never got featured by Apple. We made some android Apps as well.

Tim: Were you making Apps for other people at this point? Or were you just like spit balling with your own ideas?

Paul:  We were resisting the idea of working for other people, we did a little bit of all of it. Because we wanted to build a product company. We didn’t want to be just the consultants. We did all sorts of things, we had seminars, we taught at University, we ran a course for an Australian University for postgraduate students in computer science to learn how to write program and objectives C for iPhones.

Tim: How long did long weekend phase lasts?

Paul: That long weekend lasted about 2 and a half years.

Tim: That’s a long weekend.

Paul: We use to joke it’s always a long weekend of work for the three of us.

Tim: What was the trigger? Did it just come to one of you? And you said I’ve got it.

Paul: For Moneytree?

Tim: Yeah.

Paul: So big three apps today, Japanese language app then animal phone, and then Moneytree. But after doing animal phone, we realized, look we need a little bit more capital. We can’t do this just with three guys, we need designers, we need marketing people, we need budget for advertising. Around that time the person who became our chairman, a gentleman called Jonathan Epstein he said, “Look, I wanted to do something that transcends the silos in Japan. I’ve seen this thing called Mint Yeah we saw Mint but Mint isn’t really for mobile and so we started from first principles, how do we solve the problem, not oh there not doing this, let’s do this.

Tim: So Jonathan sort of gave you the idea of the space? And you and the team engineer it?

Paul: At first we thought he wanted us to build it for him on spec and by that stage we’re looking for income, so we’re like “maybe we’d do that” and he’s like “no, no, I want you to do this company or not” it took about 6 months to convince my cofounders that we need to do this. That was early 2012.

Tim: So did you raise funding before launch or after launch?

Paul: Jonathan and I were both seed investors. So we put some of our own money in. I didn’t take salary for a year, everyone else took almost no salary. We start building and we had two other guys who was with us; one who was our intern when we were teaching at the University and a guy who reached out to us through that long weekend website and said, “I want to come to Japan and do an internship. They both still working for us.

Tim: As three foreigners, and an additional foreigner intern, your objective is to reach a larger Japanese consumer audience. There is a gap there. How did you do that?

Paul: With a bit of luck. Let’s look back at 2012. Feature phones in Japan still in the majority even now I think 45% of phones in Japan are feature phones. At the time, the quality of domestic Apps in Japan was really poor and it’s not because Japan doesn’t have good programs it’s because there wasn’t a lot of money going into smartphones. There was a reason for that. I had a friend who would make feature phone apps, it was a dictionary app, he could make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for one app. In the Apple ecosystem you get paid a buck once and Apple took 30 cents.

No one wants to leave that rich, rich source of income but it was dying. It died quicker than everyone thought it would. And then hopefully Apple will feature us once. We got featured more than once.  So we got app of the year twice. So one of the big daily that it was introduced to us by Apple for the interview. I interviewed the top iPhone app, the top iPad for that year in Japan. They put the iPad app like on page one of the digital version. They buried us on the page three of the same article. Why? We’re a finance app, finance publication, what’s going on? They didn’t want to be seen as promoting the same that Apple had somehow rather unpleasantly chosen as app of the year. But apple knew we were being change. They said it to us.

Tim: So you had the right product early?

Paul:  We just got this makes really good and do whatever we can to promote we didn’t know how to market yourselves, we didn’t know how game works and to be honest with you, the game is a little bit stacked against startups in Japan when it comes to the media. They’re a lot more gatekeepers and the separation between advertising and editorial here is a little more blurred, so the opportunities for free coverage are lesser.

Tim: Oh, very much so.

Paul: And that’s the way it works. I’m not complaining but we didn’t know that so, one thing that we also wanted to wear off until we started was that coming from a big company and having an MBA was seen as better qualifications for a startup then having built a startup and sold it.

Tim: Yeah. That’s changing now slowly.

Paul: 3-4 years ago, I would say to people oh my first start up was acquired by Thomson Reuters, have you heard of him? It wasn’t a huge company but we build it from literally nothing, no venture capital, no outside investors, we just build a product, we did this and they said do you have an MBA.

Tim: Japanese start-ups tend to spend a disproportionate amount of money on advertising and marketing. Was it the tie in with Apple and having the right product at the right time that really propelled you. Or did you a lot of marketing as well?

Paul: We tried to do a lot of PR and in the early days, we didn’t do it very successfully because we were really an exemplary app in the iOS ecosystem. We got featured a lot. There were no secret arrangements behind that. We like making a great iOS app. Apple this is a great iOS app. And they pushed us but we got featured for two weeks. Our servers practically melted down on the first day. I think a lot of people said we want to get behind you and this is not unique but it’s a lot less common in Japan than I’d say it is in the valley. Something you read about in the article about paying it forward.

Tim: Yeah, I think we’re starting to see more of it but not enough quite yet.

Paul: There’s not enough people who are paying it forward for Japan like they do in Silicon Valley. There’s too many gatekeepers who want to take a pound of flesh before they help you.

I often say to people let me know how I can help you. Always no one ever follows me up on that. I mean it sincerely.

Tim: Yeah I know. It is sad people are more cynical about it but we’re starting to see it change. Do you think there was actually an advantage of being a group of foreigners running the company? Did that put you outside of some of the social obligations?

Paul: It did not help at all. If anything people be like a meeting with a large regional bank, “What are you doing here? How did you get this meeting? Wait a second you speak Japanese, I thought I have to do this in English despite sending them an Email in Japanese. It was not an advantage from our perspective. Now perhaps, because we try things that other people dismiss, that’s probably an advantage. My business adviser, from my first start up, a friend of mine for 20 years. He said to me, “Paul being a foreign entrepreneur in Japan is like being a female entrepreneur anywhere else, you have to be better than the standard, so everyone else people expect male entrepreneurs. Then there’s the female entrepreneur and they’re like “oh why are you doing this? Why would you choose this path?” As if some special reason beyond what a male entrepreneur here is needed.

Tim: Every woman entrepreneur I’ve talked to, without exception in this show, has said that they were able to turn it into their advantage. They can get a lot of press attention from it so sometimes being different is good.

Paul: I’ll tell you what we’re getting outside advantages from outside of Japan. For examples, MasterCard that 200 companies that applied we were the only Asian company chose it. We’d like to think of as the future of Japanese companies. We think a lot of Japanese companies will be like Moneytree, we have 50% Japanese stock, and 50% from seven other countries and not everyone speaks Japanese, not everyone speaks English but enough people speak both.

Tim: Let me have you answer the question I get most asked from my listeners. What’s the best advice you have for foreigner who want to start a company in Japan?

Paul: Don’t do it.

Tim: That’s a great answer.

Paul: No, no. It’s not don’t do it. It’s only do it for the right reasons.

Tim: What are the right reasons?

Paul: Because you really want to do something that can impact not because you want to make money not because you want to be cool, and have all the girls “oh you’re a CEO”. Someone who is seriously wants to start a business in Japan and really passionate and they’ve got a good idea, they think they can get other people to help them. Here’s some advice; make sure you have a balanced team, don’t have too many engineers, and have a finance guy from day one. Find a senior advisor from the industry that you are in, 99% of the time will be a 60 to 65 Japanese gentlemen. Other things would be make sure you understand which game you’re playing.

Tim: What do you mean?

Paul: We had a little game we’re playing, we thought we were playing the same game that’s pre-series a Silicon Valley style. Show cool products, show attraction, attention all that cools stuff but I think outside of that Silicon Valley ecosystem series that you have in your revenue and everything else. So when I say what game you’re playing, you need to know what their perspective is and how the rules of that microcosm works

Tim: It’s just being aware of what the VCs and the banks are looking for?

Paul: If I have to go back and do it again, talk to a lot more VCs about what they want and how you get funded. I always talk to VCs and say I want advice but I wouldn’t actually as for advice, I just tell them about my business and that was really terrible even in English.

Tim: You can actually go and ask for advice and listen? What a radical concept.

Paul: Now look in business we listen to customers. VCs are another kind of customers

Tim: Yeah, it’s sales

Paul: At the end of the day the VCs have to stake their reputation on you. So here’s one killer piece of advice, and it comes from a VC here who said to me we trust you now, we’ve known you for more than a year. Know them long enough so that they feel comfortable and they can stake their reputation on you.

Tim: Before I let you go, I’m going to ask you what I call my magic wand question. If I gave you a magic wand, and I said you could change one thing about Japan, Japanese society, Japanese attitude, Japanese banking system, to make Japan better for startups. What would you change?

Paul: So if I had a magic wand, Tim and this can only be done with a magic wand. I would wave the wand and all the sudden everyone think that startups were much more interesting, much more safe, let’s try that product. Let’s give them our guarantee for that tiny office that they want as opposed to saying “sorry we can’t do it. You’re going to need to pay 3 months of run-in in advance because who the hell are you? We’ve just raised millions of dollars to that we don’t know who are”.

Tim: You think it’s a general risk aversion or like an image of startups in particularly.

Paul: Small is risky in Japan and people think small is not to be trusted and that needs to change because very small groups of people can effect really huge changes of technology. The other day I think Prime Minister Abe actually responded to a group of people online. This is the power of technology of how to get your voice heard. The fact that the same people who would benefit from it are suspicious of it, is a little rich. Now I understand why it’s like that but as one startup I’d like to be able to help change that. Now if I have my magic wand, it’s done.

Tim: I think in japan especially large is synonymous with quality and safe in of itself big is beautiful.

Paul: A VC explained this to me; if the startup messes up, well what can you do but if it’s a big company they can pay compensation but in my mind its the opposite you’ll never see anything. I can explain it like this, Japan is a society without an undo button. If you make a mistake, it’s not easy to take it back. I’ll give you a very mundane example. Let’s say you moved house, you need to pay for water and electricity and everything else, you sign the automatic debit approval form my bank invariantly will always not recognize my signature and say I’m sorry this is not you please fill it in again. They don’t send it back and say just sign here. They sent it back this is wrong and they sent a new form and I have to fill it all in by hand again start from zero. That’s a cultural thing. Any process that you undertake in Japan, the penalty for getting it wrong is extremely high. So in Moneytree we make certain to have only one or two scary buttons, that’s the technical term; scary buttons and so everything else was undoable, you can undo this you can undo that. With the scary button we would actually even pop-up something that said “do you agree with our terms and conditions?” because you are giving us a bank password, now you’re registered or you’re logging in again. The society with no undo button means that everyone becomes risk averse, everyone looks for the rules, everyone then says these are the rules. Even I just said it before; learn the rules, know which game you’re playing. Unfortunately then you think, I know what the rules are and this for the game.

Tim: It’s one of these things that makes Japan both so difficult for disruption to take place and so right for disruption in general.

Paul: Yeah.

Tim: Excellent. Before we wrap up. Is there anything you want talk about that we haven’t covered yet?

Paul: So one of the problems of a lot of Japanese start ups face is that the ecosystem here has some unique attributes and some course built for Japan. Even if it is a product centric company, if you listen to your customers too much and I don’t have this view of will it work everywhere else? You make something that they call it Galapagos solution, only in Japan, isolated island environment unique environment. So people say to us, “Could this work anywhere else what you’re doing?” We’re a platform, we have our own apps that should work everywhere because everywhere in the world we have the same financial system. The banks have this big gaps between them. It’s like the Internet of paper, you are photocopiers and scanners and it’s a big mess and we can do better than that. It doesn’t lend itself to a top-down solution. It’s a bottom up solution. So the way we’re is by bringing banks into this IT world. Taking IT to banks being banks to IT.

Tim: Kicking and screaming.

Paul: Kicking and screaming, no doubt. Because their customers have the ultimate power so they can go somewhere else. Because most banks provide a very similar service to each other. We are one step further into that world then were before because we have one of the Japanese megabanks implementing IPI, they get it. How much they get it? We’re still trying to work out with this as well

Tim: Is just the first step though that really important one?

Paul: It is. I think it would be funny if a country like Japan with very conservative banks that actually where the company becomes big and meaningful companies and millions of people around the world to the way they interact with financial institution to financial service providers. If this economy creates that, that’s going to an amazing story.

Tim: I hope to be hearing that story about Moneytree in the years to come. Thanks so much for sitting down.

Paul: Cheers.

And we’re back.

I was really impressed with Paul’s ability. Well the whole Moneytree team’s ability really to walk that fine line of what is acceptable business behavior in Japan. They moved forward when many people told them that would never work out like many founders before them but they also walk that line in accessing the financial data without the explicit permission of the banks.

Now nothing they did was remotely illegal or even questionable but large institutions are very protective and accessing a Japanese bank system without their explicit permission undoubtedly raised more than a few eyebrows.

The San Francisco School of innovation teaches us that in this situation the startup should loudly and publicly declare that the old ways and the current players are obsolete and out of date and then just like Uber and AirBnB, they should begin a public battle for mind share and market share. Moneytree took a different approach. One of pushing innovation forward while not stepping on anyone’s toes, at least not publicly and now the industry is taking its first steps of coalescing around them.

It’s a group of Westerners who have executed a nearly perfect Japanese start-up strategy.

If you got a story about starting a growing business in Japan, Paul and I would love to hear about it. So come by disrupting Japan’s/show zero 43 and let us know what you think and when you drop by you’ll find all the links and sites that Paul and I talked about and much much more in the resources section of the post.

Most of all thanks for listening and thank you for letting people interested in Japanese start-ups know about the show. I’m Tim Romero and thanks for listening to Disrupting Japan.