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Disrupting Japan

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Tokyo, Japan






103: The Hard Thing about Hardware Startups in Japan – Logbar

There’s a very good reason most Japanese hardware startups fail. Today we sit down with Takuro Yoshida CEO and founder Logbar, and we dive into the reasons and also go over Logbar’s strategy for avoiding the mistakes that have killed off so many other Japanese IoT startups. Takuro is the creator of one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns and two of the most successful IoT projects in Japan, the Ring Zero, which is VR controller in wearable ring form and the ili automatic...

Duration: 00:34:00

102: Live & Unleashed – Japan’s New Wave of Hardware Innovation

Disrupting Japan is three years old, so we decided to invite a few hundred movers and shakers from Tokyo's startup community over to have few drinks and to hear three of Japan's most successful startup CEOs talk about what it takes for Japanese startups to succeed globally. Our panel included the CEOs of some of the most innovative startups in Japan. Ken Tamagawa (@kentamagawa) - CEO, Soracom Takuma Iwasa (@cerevoglobal) - CEO, Cerevo Shin Sakane (@laundroid_0 ) - CEO, Seven Dreamers We...

Duration: 00:56:09

101: How You Can Prepare for Japan’s Coming Wave of Cybercrime

Corporate Japan is about to go through a major transition in its approach to computer security. In the past, Japan-only payment systems and the Japanese language itself provided a barrier that kept international fraud and attacks at a very low level. All that is changing now. With payment systems becoming increasingly global, and free, instant translation available to anyone with a browser, fraud is on the rise in Japan. Today we sit down with Atsuyoshi Shimazu of Caulis, and he’s going to...

Duration: 00:38:36

100: Why I Turned Down $500k, Shut Down My Startup, And Joined the Enterprise

Welcome to our 100th show. If you are new, welcome to Disrupting Japan. If you are a long-time follower, thank you for being part of the community and helping to make Disrupting Japan what it is today. This is a special, and rather short, episode. Today I'm going to tell you a very personal story of startup failure, and let you in on what's coming next. Both for me, and for the show. Thank you for listening, and I think you'll enjoy this one. Leave a comment Transcript Disrupting Japan...

Duration: 00:25:17

99: What You Don’t Know about Japan’s Sharing Economy – Anytimes

Fewer than 1% of Japanese consumers have ever purchased a product or service from a sharing economy platform. It's actually quite puzzling. Social and economic factors all seem to indicate that Japanese cities would be ideal for sharing economy businesses, but for a number of reasons sharing economy startups have not really taken off here. Today we unravel a bit of this mystery as we sit down with Chika Tsunada, founder of Anytimes and the Director of the Sharing Economy Association Japan....

Duration: 00:33:44

98: This Startup is Turning Investing into a Lifestyle Brand

The financial services industry in Japan is pretty unsophisticated. There are relatively few options for brokerages and mutual funds, and what options there are tend to be expensive. Furthermore, since pensions and taxes are generally handled by the employer there is not much reason for the average Japanese to think much about investments. Jin Nakamura of Money Design is trying to change that with a very interesting strategy. In a market that is dominated by price competition, Money Design...

Duration: 00:39:21

97: This Is Why Japanese Startups Can’t Pivot

Japanese enterprises are particularly susceptible to disruption, and Japanese startups have a harder time than most pivoting. Both of these problems stem from the same root, and today we are going to dig up that root and have a look at it. Today we sit down with Shogo Kawada co-founder DeNA, and we talk about both the challenges of the company’s early startup pivots and the post-IPO difficulties they faced with new disruptive challengers. Shogo is now one of the most active and successful...

Duration: 00:42:04

96: Why Japan is Already Becoming the World’s FinTech Leader

FinTech in Japan is far more advanced than most outside observers imagine it to be, and based on new deregulation and government incentives, finTech in Japan is about to accelerate even more. Today we sit down and talk with Toshio Taki, co-founder of Money Forward, advisor to Japan’s Financial Services Agency, and the head of the FinTech Institute of Japan. He not only tells the story of the founding and growth of MoneyForward -- one of Japan's finTech success stories, but he outlines how...

Duration: 00:43:38

95b: Life Changes & Why Nerds Need to Stop Reading Tolkien

(Photo Credit: WurFi) This is a short and very personal episode. Things will be changing for me and for Disrupting Japan, and sometimes when you are facing a lot of big changes, it really helps to be able to share your thoughts with people you care about. That's you. There is no guest this time. It's a story about me and magic and chivalry and startups. I hope you find something in it. Transcript Disrupting Japan Episode… well, that’s kind of complicated. Hi. Tim here. I’ve got some big...

Duration: 00:13:07

95: How This American Got The Japanese Government to Fund His Startup – enTouch

Two of the most persistent and damaging myths about Japan are that it is hard to start a company here and that it is hard to do business as a foreigner. Well, those are not complete myths. Both of those things are indeed difficult, but no harder than they are in any other country. Today Marty Roberts explains not only how he started and rapidly grew a successful startup here in Japan, but how he got the Japanese government to pay for it. To contain health care costs, the Japanese...

Duration: 00:45:47

94: How Micro-Retail Shops Are Changing Japan – Nokisaki

Japan has a long history of small shopping streets and tiny markets. In fact, despite the population density, American-style mall culture never took off here. The back streets of even the most crowded downtown office districts are filled with little specialty stores and vegetable stands. Akiko Nishiura, the CEO and founder of Nokisaki, wants to see that culture spread even further in Japan, and her company is helping small merchants find physical spaces for pop-up shops, vegetable stands...

Duration: 00:41:06

93: The Fastest Way to Start a Startup in Japan – Mobingi

Platform as a Service (PaaS) has been a difficult startup business model in the US, but Wayland Zheng, founder and CEO of Mobingi, has found a way to make it work in Japan. His approach involves a combination of leveraging both a unique feature set and some unique aspects of Japanese technical buyers. Wayland also shares his story of what is probably a record for the fastest time to startup launch for any foreigner in Japan. Within two months of landing in Tokyo, and unable to speak the...

Duration: 00:40:04

92: The Little Startup from Japan That Took Down NTT – TownWiFi

It’s rare for a Japanese startup to challenge NTT and come out ahead. But that’s exactly what Takehiro Ogita and his team at TownWiFi have accomplished. TownWiFi is a mobile app that automatically detects and logins into available WiFi hotspots. Since TownWiFi was very modestly funded, Takehiro and his team relied on a better user experience and word of mouth to get the word out. Today we sit down with Takehiro and dive into that story, but we also look at the company's existing overseas...

Duration: 00:34:53

91: I Was Wrong. Startups Are Not the Future of Innovation in Japan

This is a rather personal episode. We have no guests this time. It’s just you and me. We talk a lot about Japanese startups on this show and the role they will play in shaping Japan's economic future. Well, today we are going to look at this from a different angle; one that puts the hype aside and looks at some cold hard numbers. The result is sobering, surprising and, believe it or not, kind of inspiring So let's get right to it. Leave a comment Transcript Disrupting Japan Episode 91...

Duration: 00:33:54

90: How this Musical Shoe Startup is Helping Hospitals – No New Folk Studio

Most great startup ideas don’t grab your attention right away. It takes a while before the founder’s vision becomes obvious to the rest of us. On the other hand, the startups that immediately grab all the press attention often go out of business shortly after shipping their first product. Reality never seems to live up the to promise. And then there are products like Orphe. This LED-emblazoned, WiFi-connected, social-network enabled dancing shoe seems made for fluffy, flashy Facebook...

Duration: 00:37:52

89: How One Good Idea Emerged from Japan’s Nuclear Disaster – Safecast

After the March 2011 earthquake and the explosions at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, TEPCO and the Japanese government tried to assure us that everything was just fine. The repeatedly insisted that there was no serious danger posed by the radiation. Not very many people believed them. Reliable data from fallout areas was sparse at best, and many Japan residents doubted that the government was telling the truth in the first place. It was in that environment that Pieter Franken and his...

Duration: 00:47:17

88: How You Can Build American Startup Culture in Japan – OpenTable

Selling innovative software to conservative Japanese businesses is never easy, but it’s particularly challenging in the cutthroat and low-margin restaurant industry. Today, we sit down with Masao “TJ” Tejima and talk about how he brought OpenTable into Japan, and why it took him much longer than he had originally hoped. It’s a wide-ranging and deep-diving discussion on how to identify which companies are most suitable for Japan market entry and TJ’s rather extreme approach to maintaining a...

Duration: 00:46:04

87: How This Startup Makes Money from Children’s Old Notebooks – Arcterus

Education is one of the hardest sectors to disrupt -- or even improve upon -- and most EdTech startups struggle. Today we sit down with Go Arai and we talk about how his company, Arcterus, is taking a bottom-up approach to improving education. Arcterus has developed a service called Clear, which profits by helping students help each other study. Clear is basically a study-notebook sharing platform, and now Go and his team are building it out into something much more than that. We talk...

Duration: 00:41:02

86: Why Only the Uncomfortable Succeed in Japan – Jeff Sandford – Wovn.io

The translation and localization industry has seen some impressive innovations over the past decade, but in many ways, it has remained stubbornly resistant to change. Today we sit down and talk with Jeff Sandford co-founder of Wovn.io. The Wovn team has developed a way to take the pain out of web localization and translation. They promise to do it all with a single line of code. We talk a bit about the mechanics of web-site localization and state of the industry as a whole, and we also...

Duration: 00:43:59

85: Can This Founder Solve Japan’s Hidden Mental Health Problem? – Hikari Labs

Seeking help for even minor mental health problems still carries a stigma in Japan. This is particularly unfortunate because clinical research shows that a significant portion of Japanese adults suffer from depression or other mental illnesses. Ayako Shimizu, the founder of Hikari Labs, has an innovative approach that represents a huge step forward in addressing this problem. Hikari Labs develops and distributes video games based on cognitive behavior therapy, and these games enable...

Duration: 00:45:11

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