The Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s X-HUB TOKYO project, which supports global expansion of startups in Tokyo, held the fourth seminar on December 3rd.
In this event, four speakers delivered their experiences：Mr. Tokushi Nakashima from Global Mobility Service Corporation, who runs business mainly in Asia. Ms. Fumiko Kato who is a CEO of WAmazing Corporation and also Mr. Akinori Ouchi who is CFO and in charge of runs business mainly in East Asia such as Hong Kong and and Taiwan CFO of WAmazing, and Mr. Junichi Okamura from Trigence Semiconductor Co.who has in-depth experiences in global business expansion.
We shared the latest information that would be useful not only for startups but also for organizations such as VCs and corporations offering various supports to startups.
Solving social issues in the world with power of entrepreneurs
Global Mobility Service Inc.,President / CEO, Mr.Tokushi NAKASHIMA
- We would like to start this event with the introduction of Global Mobility Service Inc., from Mr. Nakashima, a serial entrepreneur who has established three companies.
- We combine mobility, IoT, and FinTech fields to provide comprehensive services for those who have not had access to financial services in the past. Since our founding in 2013, we have expanded our business in the Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia and Japan, and have provided FinTech services. Our business enables low-income cab drivers and delivery drivers to purchase vehicles who were primarly not qualified for loans by local financial insutitions. We are committed to solving social problems through innovation. By 2030, we would like to deliver financial services to 100 million new people.
- What are the important points you have found so far to expand your business overseas?
- When we expand our business into overseas markets, we place great importance on respecting local culture. We have always found great value on the “attitude of dialogue” with the strong sense of growing businesses together with the local people. First, we analyze the local issues and think about what they want. Then we consider what we can offer to help. I believe that the key to develop business is how seriously and sincerely you can consider the interests of local people. Having established three companies, I have come to think that adversity makes people strong. Particularly when you expand your business into global markets, you would inevitably encounter many unexpected obstacles. Business professionals need to have great patience. Additionally ,you have to be strong above all else in order to promote the business with people around you. If you are not attractive as a person, it will be difficult to succeed in business. The power of entrepreneurs will surely improve our society, and each one of you has the power to change the world. I encourage you to take a new step forward and look forward to your action.
Analyzing the characteristics of the market and developing strategies that fit each market
WAmazing,Inc. CEO, Ms. Fumiko Kato
- Next, we will learn from Ms.Fumiko Kato, who is the CEO of WAmazing, a tourism platform service for foreign visitors to Japan, about the current tourism industry in Japan.
- The international tourism market has been hit sharply by COVID-19. The number of foreign visitors to Japan in April 2020 decreased by 99.9% compared to last year as many countries imposed travel restrictions and curfews. This is the smallest number of foreign visitors on record since statistics began in 1964. Japan has placed great importance on tourism as a growth sector for the country and the government aims to increase inbound travel consumption to 15 trillion yen by 2030. Domestic travel consumption is about 20 trillion yen which adds up to 35 trillion yen with the former oversea consumtion and tourism industry will be primarily the top in terms of Japan’s GDP if such economic success is achieved. We have been working on inbound travel service for foreign visitors in Japan as our main business target since 2016. Our service provides a SIM card for free of charge and for a certain period of time. Foreign visitors can get a SIM card with our special machine located at the main airports in Japan at their arrival and use our service after downloading our app and registering their itinerary and personal information. Our SIM cards are available at 22 international airports in Japan so far. Our app also offers online reservations service for more than 10,000 accommodations and activities in Japan.
- Are there any particular markets that you are focusing on?
- Looking at the propotions of numbers of foreign visitors to Japan by global area, East Asia accounts for about 70% in total and therefore we have been currently focusing on the markets of China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Local market research is crucial in expanding the comapny into a global market and making a new entry into a local market.In Hong Kong, for instance, as the local media is highly advanced and has diverse marketing media means, we decided to collaborate with local marketing agents to hold PR events and media conferences on a regular basis.
WAmazing,Inc, CFO, Mr.Akinori Ouchi
- We will ask Mr. Akinori Ouchi, who has been in charge of business in China at WAmazing, about the characteristics of the Chinese market.
- We have been working in China since September 2018. We believe that it is essential to have a strong product that can win in the local market as well as partners and employees who are familiar with the local market and a thorough understanding of the Chinese market. In China, Google and Facebook cannot be used and unique platforms such as Alibaba and Tencent are developed. On Baidu, a major search portal site in Chiha, the content displayed at the top of search results is often advertisements, which makes it difficult to implement SEO measures. To guarantee the browsing speed of web services, it is essential to set up a server in China and so the establishment of a Chinese corporation is also necessary. Taking these reasons into account, we have developed a web service within WeChat platform, an interactive application with a large number of local users for direct marketing. We also collaborate with companies that handle travel reservations for tourists visiting Japan to deliver our information effectively. The key to succeed in China is how deeply you can understand the market.
Preparing yourself to enjoy unexpected problems in overseas businesses
株Trigence Semiconductor, Inc., Executive Vice President and Founder, Mr. Junichi OKAMURA
- Finally, we will ask Mr. Junichi OKAMURA from Trigence Semiconductor Corporation about their experiences in overseas markets.
- As an Academic-Industrial collaboration startup from Hosei University, we develop digital signal processing technology for digital speakers. Our technology, “Dnote,” improves sound quality while drastically reducing power consumption. Dnote has already been adopted within some big comapny devices by Sharp, Lenovo and others. We had also focused on expanding our business into a global markets through the establishments of a US branch office in 2014, a Hong Kong branch and a Taiwan office in 2016. While keeping patents at the core of our business, we aim for growth based on collaboration with major overseas companies.
- What advice would you give to those who are planning to expand their business into global markets?
- You will be facing so many problems and obstacles that you can ever imagine in bringing your business into a global market. Therefore, be sure to have “Plan B” option in mind. When we established a subsidiary in the U.S., we experienced difficulties such as losing contact with the local manager. In China, we had go through multiple litigations to finally obtain our trademark rights. If unexpected problems arise, don’t take them too seriously, but have a sense of comfort and even enjoy them. When looking for VCs or collaborative partners, you also need to understand the needs of the other partyーwhat the VCs want to do and what synergies the collaborative partners want to have. By sharing the same goals and objectives, you will be able to get better outcomes.
The event delivered practical information and how to compete globally in uncertain times, sharing actual examples from senior entrepreneurs who are expanding their businesses overseas.Through various upcoming events, X-HUB TOKYO will continue to provide useful information for startups looking to expand globally as well as the latest trends in open innovation.