September 2008 Issue

September 2008September 2008

On the cover:

Tim Williams

Entrepreneur Special

Surviving the long haul
Cutting into the diamond trade
Using the ‘gaijin factor’

Plus: Jesper Koll on why Japan will be a winner in the next global up-cycle

From Start-up to IPO

Web marketing guru Tim Williams talks about making it in Japan

September 2008

No. 80

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Message from the Publisher

Terrie LloydTerrie LloydBy Terrie Lloyd -- The apparent lack of desire by Japanese youth to become entrepreneurs. -- There is much that can be done, and in fact, is being done, to encourage entrepreneurship as a career. Ranging from universities to tax breaks for venture capital, there are many changes taking place in Japanese society as the authorities start to realize they have to do something. A quick look through the METI website lists many press releases on what the government is doing to support new business owners.


Message from the Team

The TeamFrom the team -- Dear Readers -- Founded by a serial entrepreneur, J@pan Inc has always related to breaking the mold and starting new ventures. It’s not surprising that foreign residents in Japan particularly have a strong entrepreneurial spirit, utilizing their experience and knowledge of other countries to look for fresh opportunities in the Japanese market.

It is therefore exciting to have our first entrepreneur special.


Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor -- On reading the recent article on the implementation of Japan’s lay judge system, I recalled my recent call to duty in my home country (Australia). During a two-month visit back home my card was pulled for jury duty. Although in the end I wasn’t called upon to be a juror, I became fascinated by the process and ended up leaving with a sense of responsibility. I actually left the court a little upset that I hadn’t been chosen.


You know it don’t come easy

Illustration: Entrepreneur stepping on banana peelBy Hugh Ashton -- Surviving entrepreneurs tell us about turbulent times -- Any successful business has faced pitfalls along the way, but for entrepreneurs and small-to-medium sized companies, these mistakes can prove fatal. Those who have survived tell us their story.


Diamond Dealer

Diamond RingBy Peter Harris -- Tokyo diamond broker Mark Willis and his unique business model of serving the expat community -- Like so many long-term residents in Japan, Mark Hiroshi Willis’ first job here, back in 1991, was teaching English. Although he enjoyed the job, Willis was a qualified gemologist and had always known that his professional future lay with diamonds.


Foreign Entrepreneurs: Taking advantage of the ‘Gaijin Factor’

Illustration: EntrepreneurBy Dave Mori, President of the Entrepreneur Association of Tokyo -- How being a duck out of water can actually help you succeed -- When I first moved to Japan just 6 years ago, I was dismayed to discover that many of my Japanese friends didn’t know what an entrepreneur was. As a student I had heard compelling tales of Japan’s terrific entrepreneurial growth in post-war Japan and I couldn’t understand how entrepreneurship had seemingly disappeared from the Japanese way of life.


From start-up to IPO: New Zealand’s most successful entrepreneur

Tim WilliamsTim WilliamsBy Chris Betros -- Tim Williams of ValueCommerce fame speaks about his new venture -- New Zealander Tim Williams, struck gold with Internet marketing company ValueCommerce, and is now launching his latest venture—an online wine and lifestyle portal.


Business Break

BloodBy Greg Lane -- Street View lands in Japan -- Google’s controversial Street View add-on to Google Maps was launched for the larger Japanese cities in early August. -- NTT Launches strange SNS -- NTT has launched a Social Network called ‘Talk Feel’ with the honorable intention of bringing together people in Japan and China. -- Lots and lots of blood -- Tech and science news site Ars Technica reports that Japanese researchers have discovered a method to transform embryonic stem cells into red blood cells. -- Facebook has a big mountain to climb -- With 25 times more users, Mixi is still a big nasty Godzilla to Facebook. -- IPO Report -- As we go to press, there are 13 completed or forecast IPOs for the month of August.


Trends in Japan

WalletBy Michael Keferl -- The battle for wallet space heats up -- Japanese shoppers don’t get much for their money when it comes to major retail sales, especially compared to their American counterparts who can look forward to days like Black Friday, when retailers compete at dangerously low price levels. In Japan, customers are rarely rewarded if they shop around for a bargain. What they are rewarded for, however, is loyalty. Point card programs can give back 10-20% in store credits or gift offers.



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