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Japan to foster startups by sending 1,000 people to Silicon Valley


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"Struck out swinging is considered (an experience) that can lead (people) to the next stage, here in America," Hagiuda said.

99% of these venture startups fail. The Japanese taxpayer will underwrite these entrepreneurial misses, but on the off chance any profits are made they will not be seen by the public.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

So we have gone from 3 arrows to 4 pillars and switched to the Chinese model of state funding. OK. You can short-circuit this and just connect people who have a good idea with incubator capital. It's not rocket science. You don't have to travel thousands of miles to lose your fear of failure. The trick is to know which projects/individuals to support, either as a potential win, or for ancillary benefits. If you allow Google access to your young talent, be aware that they might simply hire the best of it for the greater glory of Google.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

You just have to reduce your red tape, allow them to try, fail and possibly fly, but maybe there are too many vested interests in Japan to have change.Or even the financial investment. But maybe Japan thinks being an entrepreneur is about opening yet another ramen shop. You don’t need to send anyone to Silicon Valley to inspire them, their already inspired to start something. But they’ll probably fall foul to some rule, or there will be an accident and then Japan must create a new rule that crush it.

I remember drones were popular until someone did something stupid now nobody can basically fly them anywhere.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Most Japanese entrepreneurs won't survive in Silicon valley.

Silicon Valley works because it has educational institutions pumping out graduates(UC Berkley and Stanford), tons of experienced freelance engineers, and venture capitals all in one place.

While Japan may have financiers like Softbank willing to bankroll, Japan doesn't have the graduates(graduate quality of Tokyo University is piss-poor) and a pool of freelance engineers ready to switch employers.

This is why Silicon Valley doesn't work in other parts of United States, and why it won't work in Japan.

-10 ( +7 / -17 )

Silicon Valley is no longer the "hub" as the pandemic spread tech talent throughout the United States. Austin, Texas is the new hot spot. Everybody is trying to leave California.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Travel , Democrats rule Austin with an iron fist

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Anyone who goes to the US will get inspired by the hugeness of the country. I went there as a professional, for business and decided to take my 3 sons to the US as tourists to California to show than the amazing things in America. Once you visit the US your mind broadens, and once your brain is expanded it is a lifetime benefit. It is a good initiative of the Japanese government to send 200 people a year, 1000 in total, for sure it is a very good investment in people development. Would recommend sending also, CEO, directors and managers of Japanese companies, the top old senior high management need much more to learn about the dynamics of entrepreneurship than the youngs.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Most Americans are shade tree inventors,looking for an Angel investor,do like the Chinese and steal it

1 ( +3 / -2 )

My dad went to school in Boston but moved to California precisely due to its atmosphere encouraging entrepreneurialism. His first start-up (in the '70s) was a countertop water purifier. The business failed, but some five years later, I got a call (his business number was our home) from a customer who wondered whether his could be repaired as he loved it so much.

It's not the engineers who should be sent to California (or Austin). It is all of Japanese society.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Hagiuda told reporters after his visit to the headquarters of technology giant Google LLC that he was very impressed by the mentality there in which there is no fear of failure, and that it is something Japan can learn.

Unfortunately, this is not something that can be learned by a trip to Silicon valley. this is a fundamental mindset that has become prevalent in Japanese society as a result of the education here which does not teach young people to think for themselves.

One only has to look at post war Japan to see the industrialists and the risk takers that worked really hard to ensure that their dreams came true and we saw the car companies explode and the tech companies like Sony, Hitachi, Panasonic and others blossom.

Japan doesn't need to copy SV. they need a fundamental shift in education and thinking, as well as gov subsidies for startups. that's enough.

-1 ( +9 / -10 )

(graduate quality of Tokyo University is piss-poor)

I'm glad I'm not the only one to notice this.

-7 ( +5 / -12 )

Most Japanese are dissuaded from asking "Why?" or "Why not?" from kindergarten on.

These are the essential questions that need to be asked if you want to grow (not only in business but in life in general).

-2 ( +8 / -10 )

Japan to foster startups by sending 1,000 people to Silicon Valley

Hi Japan. If you send people to Silicon Valley for purposes other than tourism, they probably need a visa.

-8 ( +4 / -12 )

How naive to simply think you can emulate Silicon Valley. Start up hubs work by having creativity and vision, something that many citizens lack.

-12 ( +3 / -15 )

Well, I guess it can't hurt, but I don't know that it will have any great impact. If the objective is to encourage innovation then for Japan it might work better to send leaders or managers in established companies to get observe how innovation plays out in Silicon Valley unicorn companies and really any very innovative company. Just trying to increase startups in Japan, well, there are structural reasons why Japan doesn't have a great startup scene (not that it doesn't exist at all).

Some of those challenges are: a) not much of a culture of young people creating startups, b) companies have strict processes about their supplier businesses so for B2B it is really hard as a newly established company to become a supplier (seems like it almost doesn't matter what your value prop is) c) there's a sort of feudal system of big companies and suppliers and even if you do become a supplier they want to drive your margin really low d) it's hard to get investment money and e) big companies are happy to just take your idea and say they can do it themselves because they are full of engineers anyway and probably over-staffed f) Exits by M&A is way less common here. In the US you can have a little startup with some interesting but not profitable tech or proprietary content and you'll get "acqui-hired" in a small-scale acquisition. I don't think that really happens here.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

They've had decades to do this - learn from others and learn about innovation. Why so late?

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Aly Rustom makes a good point. If you spend the first two decades of a person's life banging into their heads the need to conform, a school trip to Silicon Valley isn't going to rewire their brain. You can't have your cake and eat it. Either you teach the next generation to question everything and innovate a better world, or you freeze your society in the Showa era and accept what that entails. Under the economic nationalism of Abe, Japan did loosen up a bit. It is already more isolated under the more ideological nationalism of Kishida.

Ditto incandescentwithrage. English has historically been the default language of online internationalisation, much to the disgust of the French. The Japanese response to this is too often to stay in their comfort zone, developing in Japanese for fellow Japanese, in Japan. Despite the internet being (still, just about) global.

The Japanese language does offer one (questionable) benefit: It permits Japanese developers to largely ignore copyright and patent issues, developing just for Japan. The RotW is not going to waste money trying to prosecute JP developers in JP courts for a product that doesn't stray beyond JP borders. In most cases they would never even know it existed, as so few outside Japan read Japanese. The Japanese language at once insulates/secures Japanese developers, whilst suppressing their outreach and excluding them from the RotW. It offers a safe, domestic playground for tech, but when something is developed that could go global and dominate, it is unlikely to escape the bubble. This domestic freedom may make JP developers lazy, as they are not attempting/needing to compete globally.

Japan does have some young, creative innovators and tech developers. Enough of them speak enough English or could be assisted in internationalisation. It does have the financial muscle to back them (SoftBank, Sony and the rest). It is attempting to connect them. It's just a lot tougher than it needs to be, as - like a 10,000m hurdles race - almost everything in Japanese culture mitigates against it. And as I said - those who are most capable, if they have a sniff of the promised land, may well stay there.

With regard to the comments about Todai, they are supporting tech innovation with the IPC and their Deep Tech Dive newsletters. Many Japanese universities have similar units connecting students to industry where they can. They aren't that different from their UK equivalents. The US ones are generally better funded and plug in to bigger companies.

It is worth pointing out that some of the best tech innovators are not products of the university system (in the West or Japan) even though they may gravitate to places like Stanford. Back in the 80s, we had better tech and did cooler stuff on our own kit at home, than was possible at school or college. Unis have caught up a little, chasing revenue with incubator programmes and offering access to industry and VC. But universities often do segmented work - research projects that are theoretical/pure or fairly obscure. They don't often concern themselves with next generation consumer tech. That generally involves private cash and individual talent coming together in corporate-funded R&D. Because most of the big tech corporations are American, that is where starry-eyed innovators want to be. Migrant-hating US politicians keeping them out may be the only thing that keeps them away from Silicon Valley.

Governments do not seem to want the internet to develop and empower individuals anymore than it has. Much of what they do now is intended to restrict, condemn, criminalise and censor technology. That does beg the question, why are they promoting start-ups at the same time as wiping them out with restrictions and regulations? It doesn't make a lot of sense. And if you want kids to go into tech, having mainstream media running endless scare stories about 'online harms' is not the way to go about it. You can't benefit from computing developments, financially and technologically, if you suppress tech for political reasons. Politicians need to stop trying to reverse the tech revolution because it scares them. It is a wave they need to learn to surf.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

meh..Japan doesn't need Silicon valley style inequality. It has taken 2 decades and countless sufferings for Japanese people to be able to afford to live and preserve a special culture. I would hate to think of Japan going back to the Heisei era style of unaffordable living, and mass rise of homelessness etc.

IMO, the only people looking favorably and aspire to SV style economic development are people well above the average working man's pay grade.

BTW, you can have innovation and entrepreneurial risk taking without creating inequality, Japan did it post war.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Does Japan really want a bunch of startup billionaires hoarding wealth and treating workers like peasants like what happens in silicon valley? Seems like a terrible goal to me.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I guess more School trips to California then.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If Japan really wants to foster new businesses, then it needs to provide proper support for them.

Sadly the largest sector of "startups" in Japan, is related to Amazon drop-shippers, and most of those are run by Chinese, and these should not count as small businesses... sole traders maybe.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@Makoto Shimizu - Perhaps Japanese Companies should hire more Foreigners and place them within Managerial positions ... and not, do as Nissan did.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Isn’t it cheaper to offer a Yoga course, set up a table tennis room or allow a nap in the afternoon just here in Japan? They won’t come back, if they do, with much new knowledge, but only with many new work time leisure like hobbies.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Most Japanese entrepreneurs won't survive in Silicon valley.

The correct statement should be almost to none. In the last a hundred year, we haven't seen any successful Japanese entrepreneurship on a global scale nor prominence of Japanese executives at big firms. Yes, I don't consider crazy rich people during the bubble era as entrepreneurs or big executives because they likely lost it all by now.

In the professional world, I have seen fewer Japanese people in prominent positions in big companies and rising entrepreneur businesses. Except for Japanese Americans because they are entirely a different breed (still seeing their names around is still uncommon). There are now even more Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, and Chinese professionals everywhere at high positions across the big companies and big entrepreneur businesses. Silicon Valley is littered with these ethnicities, while you rarely find a Japanese national but you still have a chance to find any Japanese American in the mix.

What happened to the old Japan that send students across the world? Run out of money.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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