Loopin’ for more — Upon attending “Startup Mantra” recitals in Tokyo


This is a guest post authored by “Tex” Pomeroy. He is a Tokyo-based writer specializing in ICT and high technology.

Image credit: Invest Tokyo

Startups, Startups Everywhere

Tokyo I daresay is as of June looking to launch full-fledged efforts to leverage various international events, not only the Olympiad but also — American football in Japan having besmirched its name during May — Rugby World Cup, Gov. Yuriko Koike having had to clear some obstacles such as those related to Central Fish Market and development/environment issues.

As a prelude, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government in late May organized in conjunction with Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Invest Japan Center a Startup Tokyo gathering. It was followed thereupon by startup-focused events, to culminate in the once-every-five-year international fire safety and disaster mitigation event which this year particularly highlights startup roles. Thus, the startup mantra recitations.

To underscore Tokyo’s friendliness towards foreign-affiliated startups the Startup Tokyo seminar was held at a WeWork facility in ARK Hills South, aptly located next to JETRO HQ as well as Invest Japan office. The event was opened by the Governor herself, with a short speech. In fact, prior to her arrival the participants got to view a looping video of her exhorting the merits of Tokyo.

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Yuriko Koike, Governor of Tokyo
Image credit: Invest Tokyo

Invest Tokyo

The Governor noted that the Financial Times [I would note the paper is owned by Nikkei now] and some others had found Tokyo to be the best city to live, and that thanks to first-instance use of National Strategic Special Zone scheme, the Tokyo One-Stop Business Establishment Center (TOSBEC) facilitates corporate foundation for startups as well as foreign companies to set up branches and subsidiaries.

The WeWork Japan CEO Chris Hill then spoke about the foray made by the international collaboration group into Tokyo since the beginning of this year. His staff gave a presentation after this, and invited participants to explore the facility while networking with entrepreneurs there, including two (a Japanese husband-and-wife team as represented by cleanliness expert Ms. Ohashi and a global outfit) who presented their experiences.

American businessman Mr. Erek Yedwabnick spoke on behalf of his international Internet consultant colleagues at Webguru. He noted that even with the combined knowledge of multinational web-savvy people and language support from his Japanese wife it would have been quite cumbersome to set up shop so quickly without use of TOSBEC. As it is, going forth Webguru will need to negotiate IP issues and suchlike.

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Chris Hill, CEO of WeWork Japan
Image credit: Invest Tokyo

Expanding Business

As for Ouchi Detox headed by Ms. Ohashi, she outlined her company expansion. A former nurse, she started out at an individual level armed with knowhow as to compact storage of goods and struck a chord with the social problem of “hoarders” in Japan. She methodically expanded business, gaining IT-literacy and business-computing prowess (her husband being good with numbers too), to enable incorporation.

Apparently, she is expanding operations into Kyoto area with a business partner located there. As it is, Kyoto and other history-laden locations in Japan could use expertise in proper storage methods since some items with value could become irretrievably ruined, whether they be family heirlooms (as the old saying goes, a spoilt… or moldy, as it were… apple will ruin the whole basket) or invaluable documentation.

Interestingly, clean storage can be seen becoming a good business in Asia-Pacific overall. Not only such necessities as the need to reduce allergens and infections becoming widespread, there is the Damocles sword of natural and even man-made disasters hanging over the region so preparedness in terms of appropriate storage and maintenance is foreseen forming new demands at home/work (including collab space).

Waka Ohashi, CEO of Ouchi Detox
Image credit: Invest Tokyo