Japanese internet conglomerate Netprice.com announced today that it has launched a new incubation program called Beenos, which will provide hands-on support to promising young entrepreneurs. Netprice.com has another incubation program called Open Network Lab (aka OnLab), led by MIT Media Lab director Joi Ito and jointly operated with Digital Garage.
So a natural question to ask here is why would Netprice need to run two different incubators at the same time? How do they differ? I had an opportunity to visit the Netprice.com office and hear from key members of the program’s team: Hiro Maeda, Bora Savas, Daisuke Imai, and Kazuya Kawakami.
How is the Beenos incubation program different from OnLab?
At OnLab, we’ve been helping as many startups as possible to launch and [grow], because it’s a seed acceleration program. In terms of helping participating startups learn more about what they have to do, they can receive advice from our mentors.
For the Beenos program, we formed a 15-person hands-on team with the aim of committing ourselves to working with entrepreneurs. Most members of the team have previously launched their own startups, so they know what entrepreneurs are going thorough based on their own experience.
What do you provide in the Beenos program?
We provide everything you need for launching your startup. If you have an idea but no team, we can help you build a one. If you have an app but no user base, we can give you ideas that help boost user growth. You can apply for the program even if you have no great idea because we think the idea is not a key factor in terms of making your startup succeed.
For early-stage startups, we typically provide operational support using our Netprice.com personnel. For mature-startups, we help you expand your business reach globally using our international network comprised of our investees, subsidiaries, and partners.
So what do you expect from entrepreneurs?
For entrepreneurs, we think the success of your startup very much relies on how much your idea fits your mindset rather than your skill set as a business owner. We expect you to have a mindset where many people can follow you, [including] good co-workers or ardent customers.
According to Mr. Maeda, a recent trend in the startup incubation industry has seen US incubators focus on acquiring high-profile people for their advisory or management board, such as Digg co-founder Kevin Rose who joined Google Ventures, or SuccessFactors’ founder Lars Dalgaard who joined Andreessen Horowitz. Beenos expects this trend to seep into the Japanese incubation industry.
The team consists of experienced people from various fields. Dr. Bora Savas is a Turkish entrepreneur and data specialist. Daisuke Imai can help you build up prototype based on your idea, and give you advice from a user experience point if view. Using his network of investors and entrepreneurs in South East Asia, Mr. Kazuya Kawakami can help you expand your business quickly in that region.
For the time being, they will focus on nurturing Japanese startups in their Tokyo office, but they aspire to do more regardless of geography or nationality as it becomes possible later on.
Netprice already boasts an impressive portfolio of services like group-buying platform Netprice, auction site Brandear, and localized e-Bay service Sekaimon. Some of our readers may recall that the company also recently invested in two Turkish Internet companies as well.