Anis Uzzaman, General Partner at Fenox Venture and Kentaro Sakakibara, CEO of Samurai Incubate Inc. spoke on entrepreneurship and innovation at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan. The conference is focused on the current Japanese startup ecosystem and the challenges they would need to overcome if they were to become the next Google or Facebook.
Kentaro Sakakibara provided a unique insight into the current mindset of Japanese entrepreneurs as they brace for the downward trend of large corporations in Japan. Regularly hosting pitch contests for entrepreneurs, he further expressed that current incubators and accelerators in Japan do not prepare their startups for the global market. He believes that these incubators should help their startups expand in Japan, and additionally groom them for global brand recognition.
Anis Uzzaman emphasized that Japanese startups have great potential to globalize their businesses but they lack the infrastructural support of venture capital funding and entrepreneurial environment that is found in the Silicon Valley. Partnerships with VCs can help startups expand globally. Drawing upon the example of Lark, a portfolio company of Fenox, he highlighted the operational support Fenox afforded to Lark, which resulted in their entry into the Japan market and the current massive growth in that region. Another example was Dream Link Entertainment (DLE), the largest flash animation company in Japan, for which Fenox is providing hands-on support as they establish their branch office in North America. By connecting DLE with Fenox’s network in Silicon Valley, it has access to all Silicon Valley has to offer.
Samurai Incubate, founded in 2008, is one of the largest incubators in Japan. It focuses on providing practical expertise in marketing, sales and human resource management to early-stage ventures. In additional to startup investment, members of the firm also hold advisory and directorship positions in startups.