FCC May 27 Event | Loren Fykes

Wed, 27 May 2015 19:00 - 20:00 JST

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Bucking the System: Japan’s Young Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Finds Its Mojo

“Joining our guest speaker, Loren Fykes, will be three tech/startup experts he has invited to have a conversation with him after his talk in a panel discussion. We will hear an insiders’ perspective on entrepreneurism in Japan and tackle the question of whether Shibuya Valley will take over Silicon Valley. We will also have a Q&A from the audience.

Ikuo Hiraishi
Born in Fukushima Prefecture in Japan. Upon graduating from university, he started a business in 1991, previously having worked at consulting firms and multinational advertising companies. He has been involved in Internet-related businesses since the late 1990s and participated in the planning and setup of WebCrew Inc., whose automobile insurance price comparison site became a hit and was later listed on Tokyo Stock Exchange Mothers. In 2000, he co-founded and became the CEO of Interscope, Inc. (Internet research company), which was sold off to Yahoo! Japan in 2007, and later merged with Macromill in 2010. Also, he co-launched an Internet research society, Internet Research forum of Japan, assuming the position of chairman; a field he has made great contributions to. In March 2011, he assumed the position of Tokyo Officer of SunBridge’s seed acceleration activities, and in May of the same year, in cooperation with Mr. Takeuchi of VentureNow, he launched "Innovation Weekend", a pitch event and networking platform for early stage startups and angel investors. In January of 2012, he co-founded SunBridge Global Ventures Inc. and became its president & CEO (current position). In addition, he presently serves as visiting professor at Hosei University Graduate School of Business Administration (MBA), and outside directors of several startups.
Firmly maintaining his foundational vision of “producing 'global challengers' who create 'global innovations' that inspire 'courage and confidence' and give 'hope' to society", he conducts his work with strong professional vigor.

Matt Romaine
Gengo, CEO, Co-Founder.
Tokyo, Boston, Palo Alto. Educated at ASIJ, Brown, Stanford. Built MiiStation, graduated from Sony.
David Corbin
David Corbin is the head of content strategy for Tech in Asia (TIA). TIA connects startups, entrepreneurs, and investors across Asia (and beyond). Its online media and research services are a digital bridge while annual conferences in Singapore (May), Tokyo (September), and Jakarta (November) link people at a handshake level. David invites the conference speakers and helps select and train the startups which pitch on stage.

At one point in recent history, Japan was poised to be the #1 economy in the world. From behemoths such as Toyota, Softbank, Mitsubishi and NTT, the world expected continued innovation and dynamic products and services. The country, however, stalled for two decades, and during this period was leapfrogged by Silicon Valley, Korea, and China, despite having developed many similar services first domestically such as Mixi. Where did Japan’s boldness, global vision, innovation and risk-taking go?

The great myth is that Japan is not conducive to entrepreneurism. Sporting the lowest levels of entrepreneurial activity among its industrialized peers—ranking 33rd according to the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Index—social customs and work life are often still characterized by big corporations, patterned and traditional organizational structures and top-down management, and an underutilized female workforce that produces economic risk and stifles creativity. Japan’s urban areas have the lowest number of double-income households; the highest number of full-time housewife households with 6 out of every 10 staying at home. These challenges to family and income aggravate an harsh scene of stingy bankers and risk-averse VCs. Add to this the fact that there are very few young people who want to take the leap, and change has been slow.

It takes two to tango – one needs both an environment conducive to startups as well as people who aspire to be entrepreneurs.

Loren will talk about the dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystem forming in Tokyo and in Japan, its characteristics, government regulation, venture capital, and the people and organizations behind the wild growth over the past 5 years. He will also share some of his own experiences starting Quchy, financed by one of Japan’s most famous incubators, and the marketing challenges startups face in trying to acquire new customers and build their brand in the Japanese market.

Loren Fykes is an entrepreneur, consultant and researcher based in Tokyo. Founder and CEO of Endymion, he launched the recommendation service Quchy, in June 2012 to help friends track and organize their favorite restaurants into “collections” for sharing. As the first American to be funded by Samurai Incubate, Japan’s top seed accelerator, he has a deep knowledge of and strong connections with Japan’s entrepreneurial community. He has also collaborated with many local founders and consulted on many projects—Samurai Venture Summit Silicon Valley, Youth Venture Summit Korea—that bring regional entrepreneurs together to discuss international strategy, market entry, pitching and strategic partnerships. Before Quchy, he amassed fifteen years of experience as an investment and business development professional for banking and television media companies such as Jardine Fleming (now JP Morgan Chase), MTV Networks, Turner International, a division of Time Warner.

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