A Day in the Life of a Netpreneur

Back to Contents of Issue: June 2000

by Kyoko Fujimoto. Photographs© by Janet Jarman

His day usually begins with checking email -- Takao Ozawa, the president of e-commerce site Bizseek, gets about 100 to 150 emails a day. That's excluding all the mailing lists and newsletters he subscribes to. So he brings his laptop everywhere. "I can't live without this," he says, showing me his Vaio. That's what he does his business with, and that's what his life is all about.


Ozawa's father owns some companies and his parents raised him to be the successor, but instead he inherited his father's entrepreneurial spirit. After graduating from university in 1995, Ozawa first became a salaried employee at systems integrator CSK, where he learned a lot of technology skills and met his future business partner, Jun Okamoto.

"I had a good time, and it was easy being a salary man," Ozawa says. "I joined the company because I thought I could get training, and it was good preparation for starting up my own business. They even paid for the training. I'm so sneaky!"

Ozawa says he usually went home right after business hours. "Of course I went home on time. That's the best part of being a salary man. I went home and worked on my business plan."

In a way, he still goes home right after business hours -- the difference is that business hours are now 24 hours a day.

Bizseek is mainly a BtoC site. Users can either search the database for certain goods or enter what they need and receive quotes. Most of the registered sellers are businesses, but individual customers can also become sellers if somebody is searching for an item they have. The service was free, but Bizseek started charging a commission after it became a corporation last August.

"I'm surprised how things are changing," he says about the Internet boom. "When I started doing this, there was no Mothers or Nasdaq Japan. In order to get funded I had to ask around and get kicked out and ignored by many investors. But now they come to us. It's amazing."

"At the same time," he adds, as we head for a meeting with a real estate agent, "I sometimes wonder if this is right."


"How did you get to know Mr. Nishikawa?" I ask. (Kiyoshi Nishikawa is a board member and heads up NetAge, an Internet incubator funding Bizseek.) "I just emailed him," Ozawa says. "I saw an article about his NetDealers being sold to Softbank. I was amazed that such a thing was possible. So I emailed him explaining what I was doing, and met him the next day. Nishikawa-san thought our service was interesting, and suggested I set up a company. So I did." In August 1999, Bizseek Inc. was established.

He really does seem to appreciate Nishikawa. When Ozawa gave a speech at the last Bit Style party in February, all he said was, "Thank you, Nishikawa-san!"


But Ozawa doesn't care much about Bit Valley, even though Bizseek is considered a part of it. "We're so far away from Shibuya," he says. Ozawa set up his office about 40 minutes away, in Asakusa-bashi. "It was half way from my place, in Tsudanuma, and my partner Okamoto's place, in Ikebukuro. Actually, the exact half-way point was Akihabara, but there was no office space with a shower there."

"What, you live here?" I ask.

"I try to go home as much as possible," Ozawa says, "but he lives here." One system developer humbly raises his hand.

"We're planning to move to a new office," Ozawa says. "Our board members are key players at the Bit Valley Association, and they want us to be closer."

Ozawa usually has a monthly meeting with Nishikawa and Sonny Koike (head of incubator Netyear and a Bizseek board member), whose offices, of course, are in Shibuya. "I'm not the right type to be in a hip place like Shibuya," he says. "But since we needed to expand our office space anyway ..."

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