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Disrupting Japan: The Japan Startup Factory

An interesting discussion with a long time entrepreneur about the challenges and opportunities of starting a business in Japan.

By 1 min read 1

Casey Wahl has been on the founding team of several Japanese startups in markets ranging from from retailing, to recruiting, to information sharing, to private social networks for pachinko parlors.

Add to that the fact that he’s just published a book on Japanese startup founders, and you won’t be surprised to find that this turns out to be a pretty interesting and wide-ranging discussion.

We talk a lot about both what is wrong with and what is getting better in the Japanese startup ecosystem and dive deep into the changing attitudes among both Japanese investors and entrepreneurs, and explore the desire to maintain corporate control in depth.

In Casey’s research, he discovered that many Japanese founders are still reluctant to give employees stock options, and many investors still seem to prefer to deal with a man who sees himself as President for Life. It seems this is not a generational thing, as a particular type of young entrepreneur seems to cling the tightest to these old ideas.

Of course this is changing as more companies are founded by teams, but is it changing fast enough?

Give it a listen and let us know what you think.

For more podcasts about the startup scene in Japan, check out Disrupting Japan.


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  • JQ says:

    Interesting podcast and how the culture in Japan does not embrace failure. Failure is part of growth? I can understand the concerns surrounding diluting a company’s equity through the granting of employee stock options. On the other hand you need to incentivise people to get the best out of them. Phantom stock options are an alternative and are becoming increasingly popular to reward staff based on company performance.



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