8 entrepreneurs who quit to go their own way

Photo: Michelle Makar Parker

Read the original article in Japanese

There are two common paths that people take to success: either you climb the ladder in a company, or you start your own company and scale it. And while it’s easy for employees to envision success in large companies, but can be harder to imagine a way to find success with your own startup.

Two venture capital companies have put forth a solution to the latter problem with a new one day program called Spinout. Aspiring entrepreneurs make a business plan in a day, and them pitch a demo investors at the end [1]. On the program webpage you can see messages from eight entrepreneurs who decided to quit their corporate jobs to begin their own startup. I’d like to introduce those voices here since they are all inspirational.

CEO of Nanapi, Kensuke Furukawa, formerly of Recruit

kensuke-furukawaNanapi is a lifestyle how-to website. Furukawa started the company at the age of 28 and now he is 32 years old.

I just thought I wanted to become a person who could start a company and scale it up. And I couldn’t do that while I was in a larger company, so I just quit to start my own.

Founder and COO of OhMyGlasses, Ikuma Mutobe, formerly of Softbank and UBS Securities

ikuma-mutobeOhMyGlasses is an online glasses retailer. He started the company at the age of 26 and now he is 30 years old.

The biggest reason why I started my own company is I believed that I could run an online shop for glasses. You know you only have one shot in your life so I thought starting up my own company would give me the best chance.

CEO of Wantedly, Akiko Naka, formerly of Goldman Sachs and Facebook

akiko-nakaWantedly is a social recruiting website where users can find potential employees using Facebook. She started the company at the age of 26 and is now 28 years old.

I really like my life filled with unpredictable things. And I thought starting up my own company would certainly make my life interesting, so I just did it. It really can be unpredictable at times, but it’s also very exciting. You never know if you are going to fail or succeed, but looking at it long term I know it will be really fun. If you want to start something but are a little hesitant, just take action and you will see some results. You have to move if you want to make your world fun.

CEO of CFO, Daisuke Sasaki, formerly of Google

daisuke-sasakiCFO develops a personal accounting service. Sasaki started the company at the age of 31 and he is now 32 years old.

While I was doing marketing projects for SMBs, I figured out there are really few Japanese people who actually start their own businesses. It was a big problem for Japan, I thought. I figured it would be good if I could start my own business – and so I did. Working at Google was really fun but I started my own company to make things a little more fun.

CEO of Vasily, Yuki Kanayama, formerly of Yahoo Japan

yuki-kanayamaVasily is the developer of a fashion coordination app called iQon. He started the company at the age of 30 and is now 34 years old.

Entering into Yahoo Japan was an important step towards setting up my own company. I thought that to prepare for my own venture, it was crucial to learn more about enterprises, their resources and how they work.

CEO of CrowdWorks, Koichiro Yoshida, formerly of Pioneer and Reed Exhibitions Japan

koichiro-yoshidaCrowdWorks is one of the largest crowdsourcing sites in Japan. Yoshida started the company at the age of 37 and is now 38 years old.

The poem “The Road Not Taken” [provides a good lesson]. […] I felt that I didn’t want to take a path that someone already traveled. And taking the path that nobody has taken looked very exciting to me. Didn’t you think life had infinite possibilities when you were a student? When you become an adult, if you still want your life to have such infinite possibility, you have to create it via your own actions.

CEO of Bizreach, Swimmy Minami, former of Morgan Stanley

swimmy-minamiBizreach is a job recruiting site where you can search for executives. Swimmy started the company at the age of 32 and is now 37 years old [2].

I actually didn’t think I wanted to start my own company until I quit my previous job. When I was looking for a new job I didn’t understand what was going on in the internet space even though the ‘age of Internet innovation’ was happening [all around me].

I thought I could start a company that could solve problems and inefficiencies around me. Having a business that can impact society is great. If you can be a self-starter guy, you can do whatever you want and it doesn’t really matter whether you are an entrepreneur or employee.

CEO of UzaBase, Ryosuke Niino, formerly of Mitsui and UBS Securities

ryosuke-niinoUzaBase offers a software solution called ‘Speeda’. It is an information platform for corporate and industrial analysis tailored towards knowledge workers. He started the company at the age of 30 and he is now 35 years old.

I don’t want to live a life where I later regret that I didn’t try something. I was really nervous too, because family was the biggest concern as I could totally ruin their lives. But it was really exciting to create an awesome job and there was no other way that could instill such excitement in me.

If there are two ways and you can’t decided which to go, take the harder way. This is now one of our company’s core principals.

  1. The event will be held on July 28th, so if you’d like to apply you can do so here. It is somewhat similar to Incubate Camp, a two day business plan camp held by Japanese VC, Incubate Fund.  ↩
  2. Back in March we also featured Swimmy’s company LUXA, which at the time had raised 500 million yen, or about $5 million.  ↩