What does Mirai Souzou do?
This week I had the chance to sit down with Mr Kaneko, the founder of Mirai Souzou, to learn more about the technology world in Japan. Mirai Souzou is a venture capital investment fund of 3.3 billion yen founded in 2014. The fund is based in Tokyo, with an office overlooking the lush Imperial Palace, but has expanded to a virtual office in Malaysia, too. Mirai Souzou uses its strong connections with the Tokyo Institute of Technology to support various companies to grow from the seed level and beyond. Mirai Souzou supports ventures based on the talent and vision of the members, not on race, gender, or sexual orientation.
Mirai Souzou means ‘Innovations and Future Creation’, and as the name suggests Mirai Souzou does not look behind at the past but only forward to the future. Mr Kaneko explained that Mirai Souzou gives back to the community as a sponsor for the Hult Prize which is a competition focusing on young people and foreigners in technology.
Where is tech in Japan heading?
The consumer tax in Japan will be hiked from 8% to 10% in October, 2019 which has led to uncertainty over how this will affect businesses. According to Mirai Souzou this will affect B2C (business to consumer companies) but B2B (business to business companies) will not be affected as much.
Due to the changing demographic makeup of Japan’s population, young Japanese graduates have record high job offer rates which means companies (especially ventures) need to focus on their vision and how rewarding the job is in order to attract and keep new staff members.
Mirai Souzou places importance on AI, satellites, and both SaaS (Software as a Service) and MaaS (Mobility as a Service) which form the backbone of a sharing economy, as the technology that will drive and shape the future.
Research and development is very strong in Japan and the Japanese government is increasing its support for further research to maintain Japan’s position at the top of the field.
How can foreigners get involved?
Japan has been ranked as one of the most innovative countries in the world and is famous for being very futuristic and high tech. Mr Kaneko says that it is hard to compete globally with big markets such as the US, but that this is an advantage in itself. The Japanese idiom 鶏口牛後 (keikougyuugo) being the head of a chicken is better than being the tail of a cow explains this thought. Why enter into a very competitive market oversaturated by talent when you could stand out in the Japanese market?
Regular large companies in Japan usually require near native Japanese language proficiency, however, ventures value tech skills rather than language skills so you may have many more opportunities in the venture capital world than at a large company. For example, there is a robotics production company in Shizuoka Prefecture which has almost one third foreign workers, most of whom don’t speak Japanese. Japan is increasingly becoming more diverse with most companies having a few foreign staff members, and an increase in the number of companies and ventures started by exchange students, but you will still be very valuable in your unique perspectives as a foreigner.
The world of technology in Japan is clearly filled with opportunities for foreigners and it’ll be very exciting to see where the future will take us!
Take a look at Mirai Souzou’s website to see what exciting new companies and technologies are coming out of Japan.