X-HUB TOKYO, a program supporting the overseas expansion of startups in Tokyo, held its #3 Overseas Expansion Seminar “Challenge to New York -Creating a Business Strategy for Market Entry-“ on September 17th.
The event featured VP & Business Development Director, Mr. Daniel Clark from the New York City Economic Development Corporation, CEO of Curina, Inc., Ms. Mio Asatani, and Mr. Murat Aktihanoglu, Co-Founder & Managing Partner of Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator (ERA). In this event, the speakers introduced the characteristics of the New York startup ecosystem and provided tips on conducting business for a successful expansion.
There were, in addition, tips provided on creating meaningful business strategies for Japanese startups aiming to expand their business into New York.
New York’s market attractiveness and characteristics of its ecosystem
New York City Economic Development Corporation
VP & Business Development Director
Mr. Daniel Clark
- First, we would like to ask Mr. Daniel Clark, VP & Business Development Director of New York City Economic Development Corporation to provide us with an overview of the New York ecosystem and its attractiveness to startups.
The business scene of New York has three main points of attraction. First is that there are the best people around. It is said that there are more than 330,000 people skilled in the IT and tech fields working just within the city. Not only that, many people on the front lines in fashion, medical, creative and financial fields are attracted and gather in New York.
The second point is the diversity in both people and culture. The vast majority of New York’s population consists of immigrants, and the collection of people with various backgrounds and cultures creates soil in which innovation occurs. This diversity is a very important factor especially when speaking about the ecosystem of this city.
Last but not least, New York carries a large customer base. There are more than 20,000,000 consumers who follow the latest trends. When companies are considering launching new services or products, it is essential to go through the trial-and-error process while being conscious of speed to brush up the end product. There are not only consumers but also more than 9,000 startups and 200,000 SMEs, along with 100 higher education systems, which all organically connect to form the city and ecosystem that is New York.
- I’m sure New York has suffered from the COVID-19 pandemic from 2020 to 2021. Could you tell us about New York today and future outlooks?
With the spread of COVID-19 in 2020, New York took a huge hit. Now, however, I feel as though daily life before the pandemic is slowly but surely coming back, thanks to the vaccination. Alongside sports and musical events, the Broadway musical scene has reopened for the first time in 1.5 years just this September. New York has been hit with various crises, including the financial crisis, 9.11 and natural disasters. Through all these hardships, we take pride in the fact that for every crisis, our citizens have taken each others’ hands to increase resilience.
By industry, life science has shown a surge. New York’s government agencies are investing immensly in an internship program to connect more than 100 life science companies with incredibly skilled students and experts. Not only that, New York is home to major financial companies and internationally renowned media agencies, boosting the focus towards companies offering cyber security solutions and technologies.
As you all know, New York is a city very open to business. In addition, as we are overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic, now is the ideal timing for investment and expansion into the city. I’m certain the companies in Japan are able to create a bright future in New York, and I look forward to your challenge.
The Secret of Business Development in New York
Ms. Mio Asatani
- Now, we would like to invite Ms. Mio Asatani, CEO of Curina, Inc., a company located in New York providing a subscription platform for art to speak to us about her business details and her experience during the pandemic.
At Curina, we provide a subscription platform where anyone can easily rent or purchase art pieces. We are located in New York, and I chose to launch the service in the US because it is the largest art market in the world. The subscription prices are set from $38/month, and customers have options to purchase their artworks whenever during their rental period.
Our business had also been affected by COVID-19, but we actually saw a huge uptick in 2020 since people are staying at home for such a long time and are inclined to invest in their home. We have, during the pandemic, launched various measures to promote our business, including campaigns where we donate a part of our proceeds to non-profit organization that creates surgical masks for healthcare workers.
When launching this business, I made sure to define the problem I wanted to solve, research the industry, and understand the consumer persona. I created tactics for marketing, etc. after interviewing 100 potential customers.
- Tell us about what you have valued while doing business in New York since starting your business in 2019.
Looking back, there are three points that I believe are important. The first is to build connections and leverage your business relationships. When doing business in a foreign country, there are many issues that arise where, in order to solve them, you need a strong foundation or connections to the right people. Thus, you need support and advice from the people around you.
The second point is to be speedy in getting your idea out into the world. Business environments change minute by minute, so in order to provide business or services that fit the current needs of the market, it is crucial to create prototypes in a short period of time and proactively acquire feedback from the people around you.
Last but not least, you need grit. In order to succeed in a foreign market, you need to be able to keep a straight mindset while tackling problems that are not necessarily common when doing business in the Japanese market.
My team and I are going full throttle to expand our business to other parts of the country. I hope to see you all find the issue you want to solve, realize the solution, and tackle entering the US market.
Drawing up a business strategy for startups aiming to expand into New York
Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator (ERA)
Co-Founder & Managing Partner
Mr. Murat Aktihanoglu
- Finally, we would like to ask Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator (ERA), Mr. Murat Aktihanoglu to tell us about ERA and why Japanese startups should choose New York.
ERA has been operating in New York as a startup accelerator since 2011. Our 3-month-long program focuses mainly on cultivating early stage startups, and support their product development, marketing strategy, etc. Our mentor network has expanded to over 1,000 members, and we have turned out many unicorns.
I believe more strongly than ever after being involved with many companies and startups through our various acceleration programs, that New York is a city with many opportunities. In addition, the diversity in culture contributes to our open environment, creating an area fit for foreign startups wanting to expand into the US market.
- If you were to give advice to Japanese companies and startups aiming to enter the NewYork market, what would it be?
I’d like to speak on two points. One, have a global point of view even when you are just starting your company. If you don’t hold yourself to a limit, it is possible to find users and customers anywhere around the world. Second, create a strong team in Japan whilst keeping an eye out for global expansion. It is crucial to have members whom you can trust to make important decisions.
When considering options for overseas expansion, you will have more opportunities to listen to other people’s opinions on the matter. It is important to have an open mind and listen to others, however, do make sure to make a decision where you yourself are satisfied with the decision you are making.
Everyday is a challenge after starting a business. There will be tough times, but by committing an extended period of time to the business, you will be sure to see the light at the end of the tunnel. To the startups and companies in Japan, do not give up just because your business isn’t moving as you hoped it would, and work through the hurdles.
- In this event, we shared the characteristics and attractiveness of New York’s startup ecosystem and the secrets to success in market entry into the city. X-HUB TOKYO will continue to provide useful information for startups aiming to expand overseas as well as the latest trends in open innovation through various events.