X-HUB TOKYO Kickoff: East Coast Opportunities Discussed in Light of Differences Between Silicon Valley and Boston; Plan for Berlin/Munich Course Also Announced

vol.02X-HUB TOKYO Kick-Off Event


U.S. East Coast Course Begins; Open Seminars To Be Held Regularly

During the keynote address at the X-HUB TOKYO kickoff event held on October 30 in Tokyo, a senior official with X-HUB laid out the group’s vision for the future:

“Moving forward, X-HUB will work more closely with startup ecosystems from all over the world.”

In recent years, Japan hasn’t produced any companies that show signs of being able to move global industry into the future or significantly change the lives of people around the world. X-HUB TOKYO, a new Tokyo-based program that provides support for entrepreneurs, aims to solve that problem by creating a cooperation network between Japan and global startup ecosystems. The program’s goal is to help Tokyo become a serious player on the international startup scene, and to create an atmosphere that will foster the growth of more and more major venture companies in the Japanese capital.

Why The East Coast Boston Area Is The Ideal Environment For Startups

On the day the companies selected for the East Coast course were announced, Travis Sheridan, a representative of the CIC Venture Cafe Global Institute (“VCGI”) of the Cambridge Innovation Center (“CIC”), which boasts the world’s largest startup community, visited Japan to give a speech.

According to the 2017 Global Startup Ecosystem Report, New York’s startup ecosystem ranks 2nd in the world behind Silicon Valley, with Boston coming in at 5th place. In his speech, Sheridan told the audience that “there are four essential elements any city needs to sustain a startup ecosystem: skill collaboration, a wealth of ideas, capital, and a passion for innovation.” The U.S. East Coast, home to some of the world’s top-tier startup ecosystems, can lay claim to all of these elements.

But the East Coast’s advantages don’t stop there. Many world-class universities call Boston home, including MIT and Boston University, and VGCI has working relationships with 56 such schools. The area also boasts more than 700 venture capital firms, with more than 10% of all VC investment in the United States occurring in the state of Massachusetts. Sheridan’s talk emphasized that the area is a promised land for startups, offering ample resources to support every aspect of startup operations, including education, research, investment, commercialization, support, and infrastructure.

Differences Between Silicon Valley And Boston

In any discussion of startups, there is one topic nobody can avoid: Silicon Valley, the home of the world’s top startup ecosystem. What are some of the differences between Silicon Valley and the East Coast Boston area?

At a panel discussion led by Sheridan, Haruumi Shiode, who as CEO of Nature, Inc. has significant experience launching businesses in the Boston area, discussed some of the differences between Silicon Valley and East Coast cities, including Boston.

Sheridan clearly explained the difference between the two ecosystems: “Silicon Valley is where you want to be if you’re in the B-to-C business, but if you’re focused on B-to-B, Boston is your ideal location.” With a huge number of corporate headquarters located in the city, Boston offers many opportunities for joint ventures, partnerships, and other types of collaboration. Shiode, who has been involved in power- and other energy-related businesses, also explained that operating in Boston provided countless avenues for him to network with potential partners and acquire practical knowhow.

On the topic of local incubation programs and facility utilization methods, Sheridan advised entrepreneurs to only network with those people and participate in those accelerator programs that specialize in one specific industry. Shiode, who has participated in local pitch events, shared some of his personal experiences in that area, commenting, “Not only did they provide me with a chance to network with local entrepreneurs, they also gave me a chance to gather information and knowledge from specialists. It doesn’t matter if you’ve just started a business or are about to launch a service. As long as you can clearly and confidently communicate your vision for what you want to do, new networking opportunities will pop up right in front of you.”

Announcing The Berlin/Munich Course In Germany

In the latter half of the event, the companies selected for the X-HUB Program Course 1 (U.S. East Coast) were announced.

Five companies were chosen: Caulis Inc., which designs cloud-type unauthorized access detection services for corporations; Zpeer Inc., a company that operates the “Vetpeer” community site for veterinarians; Bespoke Inc., the creators of a travel chatbot; MATCHA INC, which has launched a platform for tourists visiting Japan under the concept of “Finest Japanese culture for a new era;” and Phantom AI, Inc., which has been making waves in the AI x FinTech world thanks to their bitcoin forecasts. The plan is for CIC and VGCI to collaborate in putting together acceleration programs for these five companies.

At the end of the event, X-HUB’s second program, the “Berlin/Munich Course in Germany,” was announced.

Startups founded in Germany include Delivery Hero (a B2C food delivery platform), Zalando (an online select shop), and SoundCloud (a cloud-type music distributor). When asked “why Germany?” X-HUB’s organizers responded that:

“Berlin is home to the world’s 7th best startup ecosystem, second only to London in Europe. The favorable conditions in Germany are not well known in Japan, but their cost of living is quite low, and many small-to-mid-sized companies have been gathering in the country. In addition, the German government is committed to attracting foreign businesses, meaning that excitement about Germany will only continue to grow.

The Berlin/Munich program will be held from the middle of January until the end of March. The course’s host cities are major hubs for two important technical fields, with Berlin a hotbed of software (service) development and Munich a stronghold for the automotive industry, home to BMW and many other corporate headquarters. Starting with the U.S. East Coast and continuing into Germany next year, X-HUB is determined to continue to expand its global network.