Big market, similar culture, high ARPU, this is what you hear about the Japanese market. But is it all true? According to Jason Wi, Senior associate of Softbank Ventures Korea, 80% of their portfolio companies are now seeking opportunities in the Japanese market, or have already entered.
TechCrunch Japan will hold TechCrunch Tokyo 2014, November 18~19th in Tokyo. This event presents a great opportunity for startups from around Asia to explore the opportunities that the Japanese market has to offer. In addition the event will provide unparalleled access to Japan's venture capitalists who are known as some of the most active in Asia.
Attendance at conferences can be a difficult decision, but TechCrunch is dedicated to building profitable business between Japan and other countries in the region, with a powerful focus on tech startups. I know this first hand, as I joined a Korean startup, based on a meeting at Tech Crunch Tokyo in 2011. I now run their Japan office.
In 2011 TechCrunch Japan invited over 10 Korean startups to explore opportunities in the Japanese market. Many of those original companies now have thriving japan operations, based on business opportunities that were first explored at TechCrunch. Below I have highlighted several of these startups, whose CEOs were exploring opportunities in Japan at the event. These opportunities all eventually led to Japanese market expansion.
This year TechCrunch Tokyo is also inviting Korean startups to take part. With even stronger ties between Japan and Korea in 2014, compared to 2011, there has never been a better time to explore this large and mature tech market in Korea's back yard.
Richard Choi, CEO of Spoqa Inc., joined the TechCrunch Startup Battle in 2011 and was given the opportunity to pitch in front of the Japanese judges. His service Spoqa, successfully won the Grand Jury’s Prize. He explained this as a “very positive” step for his subsequent entry to the Japanese market. Richard has since concluded an extensive pilot test in Tokyo and now his new pivoted service “dodo” will soon be arriving in the Japanese market. He advised to us that "The service we offer in Japan will not just be a translated version of the Korean original." Instead his insights and knowledge of the Japanese market, that sprang from his experience of Tech Crunch, have given him a broad knowledge-base and helped to establish his japan network. These were both crucial issues in conducting the effective pilot test. "Get out there and talk with your customers," he explained. "Observe and understand what similarities there are between the Korean and Japanese market, but also what differences there are," he went on. He emphasized the importance of actually having experience on the ground and stressed that an event like Tech Crunch can set solid ground work for a successful market entry strategy.
Jaeuk Park, CEO of VCNC, highlighted three core values he had extracted from attending Tech Crunch Tokyo. First of all he emphasized the value of the local market understanding that he was able to garner through the event. Secondly, was the network he built as a result. At an event like Tech Crunch, many of the key people are available in one place, so the value for building a network is unparalleled. Thirdly, he was able to meet potential employees to run his Japan operations. Building a foreign business entity requires the right people who not only understand the local market, but can also drive the company's vision.
After attending the event, it took park more than a year to finally establish the Japanese office, but the ground-work was set at Tech Crunch. He mentioned that one of the keys for success in new market entry as “Patience. Entering a new market always takes much more time than you expect, so you must be patient if you really want to achieve it. Understanding the market, building trust with the players in ecosystem, knowing key people to build a strong network are all key to success.
About TechCrunch Tokyo 2014
Date: November 18~19th
Venue: Shibuya Hikarie, 2-21-1 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Buy Tech Crunch Tokyo tickets here:http://jp.techcrunch.com/events/techcrunch-tokyo-2014/info2014/
Other: English translation will be provided for attendees at the event
About the author: Kei started his professional career at a Japanese venture capital company. He then joined VCNC, a Korean startup which runs Between, the popular app for couples. He has now acted as the General Manager of VCNC Japanese branch for two years, after joining the team. His passion toward bridging Korean and Japanese startup led him to organize a number of events in Tokyo for Korean startups, including Tech Crunch Tokyo 2011. To reach Kei to discuss Japan market entry please contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org