Tim Romero, chief technology officer for TEPCO Ventures and host of “Disrupting Japan” podcast, joined us in a discussion on the entrepreneurial technology ecosystem of Japan. We started with Tim’s background and how he built his podcast to discuss startups & innovation in Japan. Subsequently, Tim dived deeper into the current evolution of the Japanese startup ecosystem, highlighting the key verticals from space, robotics and consumer Internet, the cultural changes that have taken place in the past few years and discuss how the small and medium businesses will be the most interesting companies to look out for Japan’s next breakout phase in technology and entrepreneurship.

Here are the interesting show notes and links to the discussion (with time-stamps included):

  • Tim Romero (@timoth3y, LinkedIn), Host of Disrupting Japan podcast (iTunes, Stitcher) [0:22]
    • How did you start your career? [0:44]
    • What’s your current role and coverage in your present role as chief technology officer for TEPCO Ventures? [1:33]
    • In your career journey, what are the interesting lessons that you can share with my audience? [3:30]
    • You are the host of “Disrupting Japan” podcast, what is the theme of the podcast and who are its intended audience? [5:32]
    • What are the most interesting parts of being a podcaster in your journey with Disrupting Japan? [6:49]
  • Japanese Entrepreneurial Technology Ecosystem [8:50]
    • Can you give an overview of the Japanese entrepreneurial technology and innovation ecosystem? [9:11]
    • What are the common misconceptions about the Japanese ecosystem? [11:16]
    • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the Japanese ecosystem? [15:15]
    • What are the core technologies which are currently interesting within the ecosystem? [17:14]
    • What are the startups in your opinion are interesting on their innovation? Let’s work with a few categories [19:35] :
    • When we think of Japan, we often look at the big conglomerates such as Sony, Toyota, Toshiba, Yamato Group, Rakuten, Fast Retailing (aka Uniqlo) and SoftBank, how are these corporations viewed within the innovation ecosystem? [22:34]
    • Do Japanese startups have the desire to go regional or global? [24:04]
    • How about venture capital in the ecosystem? I was told a few years ago, most Japanese startups usually go public after series B funding, is that changing with the new breed of companies?  [25:07]
    • How do you see this new breed of Japanese startups and the evolution of their advancement of technology? [26:35]
    • Where do you think the Japanese technology ecosystem will be in the next 2-3 years? [29:43]
  • Closing [32:55]
    • Can you recommend a book or movie or podcast or anything which recently made an impact to your work and personal life? [33:20]
      • Tim’s recommendation: Peter Thiel “Zero to One” and “Guerilla Marketing” by Jay Conrad Levinson
      • BL’s recommendation: Tadashi Yanai (founder of Fast Retailing aka Uniqlo), “One Win Nine Defeats” (Chinese version)
    • How do my audience find you? [34:32]

Podcast Information:

The show is hosted by Bernard Leong (@bernardleong & weibo) and are sponsored by Ideal Workspace (Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn) with their new Altizen Desk (Twitter, Facebook, Medium). Sound credits for the intro music: Taro Iwashiro, “The Beginning” from Red Cliff Soundtrack and this episode is edited by Carol Yin, and co-produced by Carol Yin and Bernard Leong.