We were delighted to join Startup Grind Tokyo, the worldwide network of entrepreneurs powered by Google. We have been regular attendees of Startup Grind London and were very excited to find out more about the startup scene and entrepreneurship in Japan.
The June session was particularly interesting as Tamami Ushiki, the organiser of Startup Grind Tokyo, was interviewing Peatix’s cofounder, Emi Takemura Miller. Why do we think so? Firstly, Japan has a conservative and risk-adverse culture and even if the startup spirit has reached the country of the rising sun, people still seem hesitant lacking in confidence. Secondly, Japanese women still have to face many challenges during their work life in which raising children is rarely compatible with traditional companies.
Peatix was founded 4 years ago and is a mobile ticketing platform enabling organisers with centralised tools to manage their event. Peatix is much cheaper than their competitors with a 2.9% rate of commission, making it affordable to Indie event organisers. The platform also relies on sponsorship – for example, Jack Daniel’s recently sponsored music events in Singapore. Peatix recently secured a series B round of funding to develop its global presence and has offices in Singapore, New York and Malaysia. Peatix features an event discovery system and a ‘colour sync’ feature.
The road to success was hard for Peatix; the company originally launched WIKITT in 2008 to empower authors and artists to buy and sell contents. The platform did not take off despite the combined experience of its co-founders as it lacked financing, a development team and did not find a high-potential market. Emi Takemura joined the project while working full time and fully committed to Peatix a few years later. Looking back, she now thinks that startups need to build a core team including talented developers and need to launch and iterate quickly. Now Peatix has a team of 30 people worldwide including 20 in Japan and is a flexible and agile organisation with development teams often working from home. The company is now focused on its international development, especially in South-East Asia and the US.
Emi Takemura has come back to Japan after spending some time in Singapore and notices big differences in the startup scene between the two countries. She believes that Japanese businesses are too focused on the national market and need a more global mindset. The startup ecosystem in Japan is far from mature, whereas Singapore offers more opportunities for networking and has a strong startup community. Startup events only started last year in Japan thanks to some foreigners’ initiatives, which may be surprising considering the hi-tech image that Japan projects abroad. The problem lies in the fact that Japanese people do not study abroad enough and that there is a bad judgement in society regarding risk taking and failure. Answering a question from the audience about the lack of female entrepreneurs in Japan, Emi Takemura told us that the country lacked role models but that things are changing. She welcomes the appearance of new incubators and of internships offered by companies and sees more women choosing this career path.
We really appreciate the fact that Startup Grind has dedicated a whole month to female entrepreneurs and are looking forward to joining the next Startup Grind Tokyo event.
Did you like this post? Maybe you will also be interested in our post about Startup Grind London May session with Divinia Knowles from Mind Candy.