Startups are changing Japan, and Japan is once again starting to innovate. Disrupting Japan explores what it's like to be an innovator in a culture that prizes conformity and introduces you to startups that will be household brands in a few years.
The Dream of Flying Cars meets the Truth of Aviation Startups
Personal aviation is awesome!
Aviation has been a source of inspiration and a symbol of innovation since the Wright brothers' first flight at Kitty Hawk, to Neil Armstrong's first steps on the moon, to today's dreams of colonizing Mars.
Unfortunately, it's been very hard for startups to make money in aviation. Even the Wright brothers did not do particularly well in business.
But things might be changing. Today we sit down and talk with Tasuku Nakai, co-founder of Tetra Aviation, and we discuss how public research incentives, support from the aerospace giants, and the changing infrastructure needs might have just tipped the balance to startups.
What’s really changed after six years of Disrupting Japan
This is our sixth anniversary episode. Over the past six years it’s been a Disrupting Japan tradition to have our big Disrupting Japan Live and Unleashed show on our anniversary. We get three of Japan’s startup thought-leaders on stage and invite a few hundred of our closest friends over for an evening of drinks, conversation, and just hanging out with a lot cool people.
So after six years, looking back, I want to share with you the three most important ways that Disrupting Japan has changed, and what that tells us about how things are changing for Japanese startups.
How this silkworm startup is taking on the pandemic
Bio-tech is messy because life is complicated.
A lot of attention is given to computers sequencing genomes, but some of the most advanced and important work is done by studying and using other living things to make our own lives better.
Kenta Yamato co-founded Kaico to commercialize a technique that uses silkworms to manufacture small-batch custom proteins. And Kico is involved with everything from veterinary medicine to Japan's search for a coronavirus vaccine.
We also talk about the challenges or creating startups based on university technology and the one e-commerce model in Japan that just won't go away.
I think you'll enjoy the conversation.
How to travel to the one place your GPS can’t find
We have always loved maps. Maps combine artistry and utility in a way that very few disciplines allow.
But of course, it's always been a trade-off. The beautiful, ornate maps from centuries past told you where the major landmasses were, but provided little detail. And today's GPS-based maps provide an unprecedented level of accuracy but uninspiring in their presentation.
Machi Takahashi, founder and CEO of Stroly, has a best-of-both world's solution.
We also talk in-depth about the unique challenges facing women founders in Japan, and what can be done to make things better for everyone.
It's a great discussion, and I think you will really enjoy it.
Selects: Why Japan’s Geisha are disappearing in the social media age
You don’t usually think of Japan’s geisha as being an industry, but it is. In fact, strictly speaking, it’s a cartel. A cartel that is now being disrupted by internet-based booking agencies and low-cost substitutes. It seems that even geisha are not immune to internet-based disintermediation.
In this special interview Sayuki, Japan’s only geisha that holds an MBA, explains the business model behind geisha. We talk about the way things used to be, the current threats that have many geisha concerned that the traditional art form and the lifestyle will not survive, and how some geisha houses are trying to adapt.
This is a rare, behind the scenes look at the business of being a geisha and a chance to see how Japan’s geisha might survive and even thrive in the coming digital age.
It’s a fascinating discussion, and I think you’ll enjoy it.
Your Japanese textbooks are lying to you
They probably mean well. They are telling you something that is easy to understand and that seems like it's true at first, but it's still a lie.
I received an overwhelming response to my recent episode on success via public humiliation, and more than a few people tried to set me straight about how Japanese keigo is supposed to be used, so today I'm going to return the favor.
Don't worry, this is not a Japanese lesson, at least not in the pedantic sense, but it might clear up a few of the lies you've been told, and perhaps even repeated about how honorifics are used in Japan and in Japanese business in particular.