Ep 38 – How to pitch your start-up business – with Masa Tadokoro

masa tadokoroYou may have the best product in the world but it won’t sell unless you know how to sell it. Far too many startups believe that best products always win. But the truth is that the best sales win. Products come second. The ability for a startup founder to communicate his idea and sell his business is a crucial skill that only few really master.

My guest this week is Masa Tadokoro, a serial entrepreneur and a Venture Partner at Fenox VC. Masa has started several start-ups, both in the US and Japan. Furthermore, as part of his VC activities, he’s used to get pitched all the time. He’s become really good at filtering promising co-founders from others. In particular, he shares with us the key elements that make a great start-up pitch.

For him, most founders spend too much energy praising their product while in fact, most investors are looking for invisible issues, that is problems that haven’t been identified yet. According to Masa, promising founders are able to find the fine line between being a visionary but with enough flexibility to change their business idea. To use his own words, the best founder is a “paranoiac geek but flexible.”

We also discuss about Masa’s latest venture, Skillhub, an ed-tech company that he co-founded in 2013. Being used to give advice to others, I’m asking Masa about how hard it is to follow his own advice.

Questions: What are the common mistakes to avoid when pitching your start-up? How would you consider Japanese web design? (reply in the comments)

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  • (2:35) Introduction of Masa Tadokoro
  • (5:20) Japan vs Sillicon Valley
  • (7:40) Missing ingredients in Japan
  • (12:46) Exciting startups in Japan
  • (16:33) Where should Japan avoid being like Silicon Valley
  • (19:04) Improving Startup pitching
  • (24:45) Need for technical expertise
  • (26:52) business idea vs. team strength
  • (28:25) Fundraising: what’s the right time?
  • (32:00) Is it hard to be a VC in Japan?
  • (35:37) Skillhub: edtech startup
  • (40:40) Hard to follow our own advice
  • (45:25) Quick-fire questions

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