Fostering the Startup Ecosystem, Japan Initiates New Mentoring Programs

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As Japan intensifies its efforts to bolster its startup ecosystem, more investors and accelerators are turning their attention to Tokyo’s burgeoning startup scene. However, despite the capital’s vibrant startup environment, it still lags behind global competitors like Silicon Valley, London, and Beijing.

Startup Genome, a U.K.-based company specializing in researching startup ecosystems, identifies globalization as a crucial aspect lacking in Japanese startups. Hiro Nishiguchi, president of Startup Genome Japan, notes that Tokyo’s startup ecosystem is progressing to the next level, citing the recent focus of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s administration on fostering startups and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s ambition to become the most startup-friendly city globally. This shift in momentum has prompted Startup Genome to launch the Global Hypergrowth Tokyo program, aimed at supporting domestic startups seeking to expand internationally.

Unlike many early-stage acceleration programs, Global Hypergrowth Tokyo targets later-stage firms with substantial experience. Twenty-two startups have been chosen for the initiative, which offers practical mentoring sessions conducted by seasoned business professionals. The program focuses on assisting startups in building connections with potential customers and investors abroad, rather than providing basic entrepreneurship or business management training.

Japanese startups have historically been viewed as insular, reluctant to venture overseas due to the sizable domestic market and language barriers. However, the selected firms for the program are eager to overcome these challenges, with all mentoring sessions conducted in English. Overcoming common hurdles such as identifying entry points into foreign markets and connecting with stakeholders will be crucial for their success.

According to Nishiguchi, these challenges are not unique to Japanese startups but are also faced by startups globally, including those from the U.K. Thus, the initiative emphasizes enhancing practical skills and facilitating networking opportunities to address these common obstacles and support startups in their global expansion endeavors.

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