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These startups from Korea, Thailand, and India have taken an interest in Japan. Here’s why.


Startups have often deemed Japan as a difficult market to penetrate due to the language and cultural differences. However, with the rise in corporate and government support in recent years, Japan has become more welcoming to foreign startups than ever.

As the world’s third-largest economy, Japan is an excellent launchpad for foreign companies looking to enter the rest of the Asian market. To understand this further, we spoke to three international startups who have ventured into Japan and they treated us to some interesting insights about this unique startup ecosystem.

Bentolingo (India)


Coming from India, why did you choose to exhibit at Tech in Asia Tokyo? What was your greatest takeaway?
“Tokyo is a strategic location for our latest product (Bentolingo) which segregates content and present them to our learners in bento boxes. What better place to talk about bento boxes than Japan, right? But more importantly, there is a tremendous market for language learning in Japan – not just for academic purposes but also as hobbies. Hence, it was very easy for us to decide that Japan would be at the center of our business model if we were to expand aggressively in Asia and beyond.

The greatest takeaway at Tech in Asia Tokyo 2016, in one word, is connections. The connections I made here were solid.”

What do you find interesting about Japan’s tech startup scene?
“I find that the Japanese startup scene is very heavily localized, and the startups here are more focused on solving problems for Japan rather than the world. It’s not entirely a bad thing, but I do think that recently Japanese startups have underperformed in terms of successful exit deals as compared to Chinese startups. I still see the Japanese startup scene lagging behind by a few steps. But hopefully, over the next decade, the Asian startup scene will stabilize with China, India, Japan and South Korea forming the backbone of digital and physical startups that solve global and local problems.”

What is one advice you’d give to startups venturing into Japan for the first time?
“Learning Japanese always helps. Also, don’t forget to make friends first and business contacts later.”

QueQ (Thailand)


Coming from Thailand, why did you choose to exhibit at Tech in Asia Tokyo? What was your greatest takeaway?
“Tech in Asia Tokyo was an opportunity for us to expand our services to Japan and also reach out to the Japanese VCs. The outcome was very good and complete as we thought it would be. We successfully connected with a potential business partner, and we managed to fill up our VC list with many potential Japanese VCs.”

What do you find interesting about Japan’s tech startup scene?
“I think Japan’s startup scene is very mature, but they’re also open to new technologies and services. The Japanese, in general, are polite, kind and somewhat more formal. Their unique culture sets them apart from other startup ecosystems, and it may be a little shocking for someone visiting the country for the first time.”

What is one advice you’d give to startups venturing into Japan for the first time?
“The Japanese are more comfortable speaking in their native language, so it’ll help a lot if you have a translator with you. We were fortunate the Thailand government agency arranged a translator for us for an event before Tech in Asia Tokyo. She became our great salesman during the event, so we asked her to help us out again at this year’s Tokyo conference.”

DoBeDo (Korea)


Coming from Korea, why did you choose to exhibit at Tech in Asia Tokyo? What was your greatest takeaway?
“There were many attractive reasons why we chose to exhibit at Tech in Asia Tokyo, but the main reason was Japan’s advanced manufacturing techniques. Also, as one of the leading countries in technology, I wanted to meet and learn from the startups here in Japan. I was happy we were able to gain all of that through Tech in Tokyo last year.”

What do you find interesting about Japan’s tech startup scene?
“Contrary to Korea, the platform and online services vertical isn’t really popular in Japan’s startup scene. From what I’ve seen, there are only a small number of startups dabbling in this field. I’m still curious about why it’s so different here.”

What is one advice you’d give to startups venturing into Japan for the first time?
“You should take some time to learn and understand the Japanese culture before venturing into this market. This may seem like a simple thing in other countries, but in the case of Japan, you must be extremely careful as they attach great importance to manners. It’s always good to be prepared so you’ll avoid making such mistakes in Japanese business meetings.”

Put your startup in the spotlight

If just like them, you’re all about building connections and ready to get your product in front of thousands of early adopters, Tech in Asia Tokyo 2017’s Bootstrap Alley might just be the right place for you. So long as your startup has a working prototype and have less than USD3 million in external funds, you’re eligible to join us as an exhibiting startup this September 27 & 28!

Each startup exhibition package costs USD397 before discount and consists of a one-day booth, two exhibitor passes, and access to all conference segments (except the Investor Lounge). Sign up below before July 21, 2359 hrs (GMT +9) and we’ll shave 20 percent off your booth package.

Want to join us as an attendee instead? Key in this code ‘tiatokyo20’ at checkout to enjoy 20 percent off all conference passes – that’s up to USD119.4 in savings! Lock down your tickets now before this deal expires on July 21, 2359 hrs (GMT +9).

This post These startups from Korea, Thailand, and India have taken an interest in Japan. Here’s why. appeared first on Tech in Asia.



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