Ep 29: Decrypting Japan startup landscape – Part 2

Ep28_Nik_Darren_Andre_part2Japan startup landscape is in deep mutation. I’ve witnessed so many changes for the past few years as startups are raising more and more interest. In this episode, I wanted to have an open discussion about different aspects of the local startup ecosystem, trying to draw a picture about how Japan looks like.

This is a two-part episode with multiple guests of various expertises and backgrounds. Nik Pavesic from Justa, the #1 recruiting platform for startups in Japan and a popular hub for entrepreneurs to connect. Andre Casaclang, founder of a Tokyo-based startup called Climbing Beans and organizer of the Pioneers Tokyo event. And finally, Darren Balcombe, co-founder of Make It Creative, an NPO focusing social innovation programs and an active community builder. They all provide a fresh yet different perspective regarding the Japan startup landscape.

The discussion is articulated around four themes, which are four questions we’re trying to answer:

  1. Where is the next ground breaking idea in Japan?
  2. Japan startup meetups: what shall be improved?
  3. Can foreigners really start a business in Japan?
  4. How will the Japan startup ecosystem in 5 Years look like?

If you’ve missed it, you should listen back to Part 1 first.

In this second part, we’re talking about foreigners setting up a business in Japan. Since corporate jobs at Japanese companies look very unattractive to foreigners, many decide to take the path of entrepreneurship. However, they soon realize that Japan is a very complex country with many hurdles for small businesses. While there are countless obstacles for foreigners, the language being the main barrier, there are also many assets that “gaijins” can leverage. We discuss about these advantages as well as the existing structures that can help young entrepreneurs starting up.

Finally, we are trying to project ourselves 5 years later, when Japan will be hosting the Olympics and try to imagine how the Japanese startup landscape will look like. Will Japan be able to overcome today’s main problems? What role will Japan play in the region, while surrounding countries show tremendous growth potential? How can Japan create its own identity to be different, not better, than Silicon Valley? These are some of the questions we’ll try to answer.

I hope you’ll enjoy this group podcast format. Feel free to share your comments and tell me what you think. Also, let me know if you have other themes or guests to suggest. (reply in the comments)

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  • (4:40) Can foreigners successfully run a business in Japan?
  • (30:35) Japan startup ecosystem in 5 years
  • (48:42) Many exciting projects: Justa, Climbing bean, Pioneers Tokyo, Make it Creative, Japan X, Startup Bar
  • (1:02:30) Quick-fire questions

Thanks for listening!

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