This is a guest post authored by “Tex” Pomeroy. He is a Tokyo-based writer specializing in ICT and high technology.
Startup Grind Tokyo, currently the only Google for Entrepreneurs community in Japan of the startup-focused group, held a meeting on 19 April at its new venue in Roppongi for the first time. Sponsor Pivotal provided the space for the group on the 20th floor of Roppongi Hills Mori Tower. It will also be the main site for subsequent meetups, with guests from Japan for the May and June events already lined up. The Tokyo City Chapter Director is Tamami Ushiki, with Satoru Kobayashi acting as Event Host. Japan-based Indian entrepreneur Shyam Pyarauk is the General Coordinator.
As is usually the case, the April Startup Grind meeting in Tokyo featured a “fireside chat” with an interviewee, a prominent startup player, being asked to talk about their experience upon launching their business(es). The guest this time was Hallohallohome Founder Hiromasa Suzuki, a Japanese entrepreneur who found success in business in the Republic of Philippines (RP). He has recently written a book urging the Japanese to take a closer look at the market in RP and other “Emerging Markets” in addition to promoting land purchases in ASEAN centered upon the Filipino real estate.
In recounting his road to entrepreneurship, Suzuki said that he was working in apparel sales in RP when his Japanese employer decided the company should quit the market.
I first became an entrepreneur by default, when I asked my boss then not to fold the RP operation and was told ‘OK then, you run it!’… in the beginning things went quite well.
Then the mainstay business worsened and he faced major difficulties, including a huge debt. He notes that fortunately, “I had products in stock that could be monetized, so I continued on.”
By dint of hard work, he was able to regain success, by “playing smart and keeping an eye on the market conditions.” The Japanese entrepreneur in RP especially kept tabs on the financial field since RP was a country where “global currency abound due to Filipinos sending money back home from their workplaces abroad” not to mention the IT sector which he found to be the “game changer” both in RP and Japan. Regarding the Internet, he added that he learned a lot from his association with models, who used their blogs effectively upon marketing.
In retrospect, he asserts “I am lucky to be supported by very many people.” Today, he handles the marketing for Hallo Hallo Alliance which is a network of businesses centered upon his companies, involved in diversified fields such as housing, human resources and travel. The Aichi-born Suzuki concluded,
I am now spending much time in Tokyo but I found my way here via Manila. RP reminds me of Japan of yore, back when it was full of vim and vigor. Hopefully this energy will transfer here in part, as my colleagues and I shuttle back and forth.
After the meetup, Startup Grind Tokyo’s General Coordinator Pyarauk stated that hopefully the group can become even more international as time goes on.
If there are potential sponsors out there, hope they can contact us. Perhaps English-language speakers can also be lined up in the future. And of course there are other cities in Japan so the Tokyo City Chapter need not be alone in this country.