GAFA has been changing consumers' behaviors and eradicating old industry practices. Having worked at one of these firms, I retain a certain admiration for their strategies and timely implementations. That being said, this makes me wonder who will be dealing with domestic industries with Japan-peculiar issues, including childcare, elderly care, and agriculture. These sectors appear to have a foster-child-like status in the larger economy. Japanese bureaucratic systems are no longer effective in support of this business. Global tech firms are unlikely to influence Japan's unique social problems. This observation led me to believing that I should be the one who is to innovate the industry. I have working experience at global tech firms. Also I have worked in a global management consulting firm. I earned Master of Informatics as well as MBA. I am a complete newcomer to the childcare industry, but I think I may serve as a catalyst for improvement in the application of my skills to this field, something unimaginable for domain experts.
Innumerable startups and small businesses have been started in the industry. I imagine that some of them are only in the business to procure subsidies from the government. Others are driven by the personal frustration of their child-rearing experiences. My drive, in contrast, is the anger at the inefficient operations and vested interests. The fact that, as a child, I aspired to a career as a politician has probably had some effect on my own motivation. I will not be satisfied by solving mothers' problems. Rather, I would like to solve the supply-side issue to make the market work. This is what distinguishes me from other entrepreneurs.
I am searching for an 'invisible hand' that might enter this market. Conventional currency does not work well to move the hand , as it does in other industries. I think there are supplies and demands out there, but virtually biological factors keep them in abeyance. Mothers, specifically women during their maternity leaves or stay-home moms, feel a sense of guilt at outsourcing their work. Although women with child-rearing experience are willing to help new, like-minded moms nearby, they tend to hesitate to do so as they feel not qualified without a licence. Japanese people maintain a certain space among themselves, but they are willing volunteers if asked. I would like to stimulate their subconscious minds to encourage trading between suppliers and consumers with an innovative method. The essence of the problem is resolution regarding reduction of their psychological expenses.
What are the products on a Consumer-to-Consumer platform? How does a given service bring new users into the fold? The answer is users. People base their decisions on joining or leaving a C2C platform on the attractiveness of the participants and the contents that the participants have on offer. Treating our users not only as consumers but also as suppliers should be paramount for us. The majority of C2C or social media services go down the tubes because their incentives for users, key to getting users to equip a platform with value, are inadequate. The platforms of most startups come with a fatal design "bug" in terms of incentivization. By all means, we must avoid this error. It is incumbent upon us to offer an incentive for users' work, in the same way Google and Amazon do. Google and Amazon consumers do not think of themselves as suppliers. Nevertheless, they do in fact provide data regarding their behavior and thus enhance the convenience and success of those platforms.
What kind of moms do we want to display in our shelves and how? How can we motivate them to participate?
These are important questions. Eliminating messaging bugs has been a real struggle for us. Even so, we can not lose sight of the fact that messaging, though important, is not a true differentiator.
ここで実は1つ裏技がある。それがIELTSのRemarking(Enquiry on Results)だ。IELTSではTOEFL同様、スコアに納得がいかない場合には、再採点を申し込むことが出来る。僕自身は利用しなかったが、利用している人たちを見ると高い確率でWritingかSpekingのどちらか、もしくは両方のスコアがアップしており、下がっている人は一人も見たことがない。ReadingとListeningでは採点者の主観が入り込む余地が少ないので再採点の意味はほぼないが、WritingおよびSpeakingにおいては試してみる価値は大いにある。採点者が人間である以上、主観の排除は不可能であり、再採点が要求されたという事実から、スコアを上げる心理的圧力が再採点者に働いていると推測してる(再採点者はそれが再採点依頼だとは知らないとも言われているが、僕は疑わしく思っている)。
After having changed my role and employer several times, I came to believe a traditional, linear career progression is no longer valid. I found an article that validates my thought. "Your career is more like an iPhone than a ladder," says a ex-Google career coach. This is very true. One of my former seniors at a consultancy is now leading another global consulting firm as the CEO of the Japan office. He was a mere manager seven years ago. However, even when he was in a common position, he acted differently from the way other managers did. Eventually, he skipped climbing a corporate ladder to become a CEO while others were focusing on the regular path. Establishment of his self-branding image, up-for-everything attitude, and confidence contribute to his success. He could not have achieved this if he had been following others.
A younger worker at the consultancy I once worked for raised 3 billion yen from VCs to get his startup going. Managers there were quick to get down on his case. I have my doubts regarding his capabilities as a consultant, but there can be no doubt as to his great talent at getting a business up and running. His company is one of the most promising startups in Japan and shows up hundreds of news media outlets, both in Japanese and English. Back in those days, those of us surrounding him had no inclination to hear him out on his ideas or make measured business judgments on them.
Both passed on the corporate ladder so as to leapfrog their way to where they are today. These two characters were great exemplars for me. There is no guarantee that diligence in an ordinary career path will take you to where you really want to go. You are the one to decide which app, "skills" that you will download and manage to reach your goal, just as being mentioned on the above article. You are the one who makes your own "career" smartphone. Pursuing a career is no longer a linear progression but something more like infusing your portfolio with ecstasy and enthusiasm. The opinions of others, simply because they are older, are not particularly relevant. If they are not in a line where you want to be, it's better to ignore them.
All of this made me reflect upon my Oxford admissions essay, "I Want to Be a Nail that Sticks out and thereby Envision the Future and to Inspire Others" in a culture of "a nail that sticks out to get hammered down." My nontraditional career path must look inconsistent to common people, but I want to demonstrate a new way of career styles to others by my action. If we are to pioneer the future in the face of conventional wisdom, we must show our grit with our actions and eschew hollow truisms.
Traction is king for startups. This is what I have been feeling recently. A myriad of startup services and ideas have come my way since I took the first steps on my own my startup journey. All of them seem dull and unpromising, and they should probably be that way by nature. If these ideas look brilliant and promising, somebody else including a big corporation with enough capital has commercialized them already. It's easy to criticize a service from a safe place as a member of an audience. If one is to become an entrepreneur, courage to face the music for immaturity in one's dull and unpromising service is essential.
What is a thing to transform such an unpromising business idea to a promising one? This is traction: to have a set of measurable users. People, including VCs or angel investors, cannot judge a new business model. Only traction can convince them. This is a reason why I am in a hurry to release our alpha service as soon as we can. I can tell why entrepreneurs are often recommended full-time commitment. You cannot stay positive when you receive hundreds of negative opinions on your unprecedented idea. You must give it your all when the time comes for the release of your minimum viable product at utmost speed, meanwhile paying less attention on external noise, and then make upgrades depending actual user feedback.
This is something that people have to unlearn. To maintain the company reputation in a big corporation, you are not encouraged to make a mistake. This means you must demonstrate the viability of a theoretical concept with market data. By contrast, risk aversion is worse than error in the world of startups. Since your endeavor is novel, you will have no market data at your fingertips. To challenge conventional wisdom is the essence of startups per my definition. One must accept pain when building a startup, but there is excitement that is also to be had.