FEATURED MEMBER -
Interview - December 2005
Lawrence Cosh-Ishii - Mobikyo K.K.
1. When did you start your first business? What was it? What lessons did you take away from that experience?
After spending several years working for a government agency in the late 1980's, I have been involved with four start-up ventures. My first company was a small photo studio doing freelance work based out of a big old house that I had bought - renovated - and ultimately sold for a nice return. At first it was a huge leap from the stable and comfortable, yet stifling and un-inspired, institutional atmosphere. I learned to concentrate on my core strengths while improving on my weaknesses and that creating a great product -- that clients would pay a premium for -- is the best reward of all.
2. What are some of the challenges you have faced in starting your business and how did you overcome them?
I think the key challenge for any successful venture is targeting. You really need to identify the opportunity and consider its potential, research the market and develop an offering that enables your company to sustain and grow. The entire process only works when you have the support of good people who are truly talented and dedicated to build on a strong model.
3. How did you form your business? (Yugen Kaisha, Kabushiki Kaisha, etc.) How long did the start-up process take?
After selling the house and tinkering around on the internet in the early days, I setup Video-Link.com Inc., which is still an active entity today. That process was relatively cheap and easy, however upon moving to Japan in 2001 going with the independent consultant or Aoiro Shinkoku route was deemed to be the best avenue for starters. After spending three years here, focused on Japan's wireless industry, we established Mobikyo K.K. in April this year. In comparison the process is more difficult in Japan so I would suggest retaining a skilled agent to handle the paperwork.
4. Where do you see your business in 5 years?
That's actually a
long life-time in this industry so it's difficult to say.
I think, looking at the evolution to date, that we will continue to see even stronger growth globally, so we must continue to adapt to ensure that our company
is prepared to innovate along that same path.
5. Do you see yourself as an entrepreneur? Why?
Yes, I'm definitely an entrepreneur. I really love the combination of freedom and responsibility that comes with running your own company, it's the passion that drives me to excel.
6. What is your definition of an entrepreneur?
The standard definition of an entrepreneur is someone who is a calculated risk-taker with the skills and initiative to establish a business. To me, it's an adventure where every day holds the promise of challenges and rewards with the direct end-result based on your efforts and vision.
7. What piece of advice would you give to a person wanting to start his or her own business in Japan?
Choose well. I know that sounds cliche but it applies to everything from the model to your partners, employees, location, the product and price point. Have fun, enjoy your success and learn from your mistakes. Ganbatte!
8. Can you recommend any resources such as books, websites, or support centers for entrepreneurs in Japan?
Building a strong network is really one of the most important resources, business is about people. EA-Tokyo is the natural place to start meeting like-minded entrepreneurs, and most industries will also have their own associations as well -- so just get involved! As for books, I really enjoyed John Nathan's "Sony: The Private Life" and "Sonic Boom" written by John Alderman. Online has the typical resources; Linkedin and Ecademy for example, the ClueTrain Manifesto (the end of business as usual) is here and HughTrain's re-write (the market for something to believe in is infinite) might also be 'interesting'. It depends on what you're looking for, though. I guess, maybe best to ask Google -- they seem to know almost everything.
9. Who are your mentors in business?
My family, partners and friends who also run companies and many of the people I've worked with over the years, including clients, of course, who have shared their perspective and given me valuable insight. As for famous people whom we've interviewed and I respect: Martin Cooper, the Motorola engineer credited with making the very first cell-phone call; James Gosling, the so-called 'Father of Java;' and Mr. i-mode, Natsuno-san. All of them were well spoken and very approachable; they were very smart and yet still humble. The main reason for me to do this interview is because I feel honor-bound to give something back for all I have taken.
10. What makes you happy?
Spending quality time with my wife, family and friends. Seeing good things happen to good people, and capturing a moment on film someone will enjoy.