In conversation with Japan’s Samurai Incubate, Anydoor about early-stage startups (Part 3 of 3)


See the original article in Japanese

The partnership between investors and entrepreneurs is an interesting one. In the seed money round, investors not only invest funds, but they cooperate with entrepreneurs on many aspects of the business. But what’s actually going during the very early funding round? We spoke with an investor and an entrepreneur to find out more about this. Kentaro Sakaibara is the CEO of Samurai Incubate, a pioneer among independent incubators in Japan. Naoki Yamada is the CEO of Anydoor, the startup behind crowdsourced translation service Conyac, a portfolio startup of Samurai Incubate.

In the previous article, they talked about how they cooperated on the Conyac translation service early on. This conversation is the third and final part, where Sakakibara talked about his long term goals.

History of Anydoor

Feburary 2009: Naoki Yamada and Tomohiro Onuma founded Anydoor.
May 2009: Conyac, crowdsourced translation service, was launched.
March 2010: Yamada met Sakakibara, and became one of the first portfolios of Samurai Incubate.
December 2011: Anydoor fundraised from United.
February 2013: Conyac for Business was launched.
October 2013: Anydorr fundraised from three VCs.


Yamada: How do you support young startups recently?

Sakakibara: For the first half a year after investment, I use more schemes when I give advice, more than before. Hands-on for half a year, and then changing the meetings to twice a week… things like that.

Yamada: It’s more formulated rather than working together through trial and error.

Sakakibara: Right.

Yamada: Do you still have the Excel spreadsheet we used before?

Sakakibara: Yes, the form has changed though.

Yamada: Wow, I miss that. I struggled with filling out the tables, but I think that sheet helped me a lot in finding the next investor. The template made it easier for me to pitch in front of investors.

Sakakibara: Actually, some don’t like the sheet. They feel like they’re being controlled.

Yamada: Will you continue to support startups this way? Will you look at startups in Japan from a broader point of view?


Sakakibara: I think both perspectives are important. Some startups, incubators and CVCs were founded because of our influence. But I personally feel I shouldn’t be in Japan; I should create successful startups overseas.

Yamada: Are you going overseas? I remember when we were in the US, you’d been saying you want to try there.

Sakakibara: I’d rather go to Israel than the US, actually. I’d like to move on from Kobayashi-san to take a chance in Silicon Valley, and make connections on my own with investors in the Middle East and create a chance for startups in Japan to get investment from them.

Yamada: What is your final goal?

Sakakibara: The Nobel Peace Prize.

Yamada: You are very consistent about that. At our first meeting at Tully’s Coffee, you mentioned that. I thought you might be a crazy…

Sakakibara: Really? Did I say that then?

Yamada: And you mentioned Eiichi Shibusawa half a year later [1].

Sakakibara: Actually when I looked up business people related to the Nobel Peace Prize, I found information about Eiichi Shibusawa. He founded 521 companies, so I thought I would create 522 companies by the year 2020. You know, if I become a successful incubator in developing countries and contribute to making those countries richer, then it would be possible to win the prize.

Yamada: Quite a simple plan.


The Bridge: How do you spend your free time?

Yamada: When I used to spend weekends in Samurai House, I asked Sakakibara-san what he does. I remember he said that he watched DVDs, and I thought he was sort of introverted. We went to a rental video shop together, and I recommended him all the good DVDs for half an hour. But every time he replied he’d already watched them.

Sakakibara: Yeah, at GEO in Ekoda [2].

Yamada: The rental fee was very low, like 50 yen for each. He watched them all and had nothing left to watch.

Sakakibara: Haha. Right.

Yamada: I’m sure you will miss those days 10 years later. You will look back at the old days from Israel. Don’t you have a partner?

Sakakibara: No. Startups are my girlfriend.

Yamada: Ahhhh….


The Bridge: You got married, Yamada-san. Right?

Yamada: We started our relationship when I was 18 years old. We went to the US together. Quite a long relationship. A bit complicated though.

Sakakibara: Onuma-san told me that this subject is taboo.

Yamada: The funny thing is when we got investment from Sakakibara-san, Onuma’s marriage was then fixed. And when the next investment was settled, I got married. After our recent capital increase, the marriage of our CTO was fixed.

Sakakibara: Haha. Marriage-raising, eh?

The Bridge: I think we’ll end there. Thanks guys.

  1. Referred to as the father of Japanese capitalism.  ↩

  2. GEO is a movie rental chain in Japan.  ↩