FEATURED MEMBER - Tak Suzuki
Interview - January 2005
Interview with Tak:
1. When did you start your first business? What was it? What lessons did you take away from that experience?
While in the US, I majored in sports medicine and gained an Athletic Trainer Certification (ATC). ATC is a physician-extender-professional mainly working with injured athletes at all levels.
I got my first job in 1998. I started out as an athletic trainer for professional Japanese skiers and worked for the All-Japan Ski free-style team for seven years. While working and training with them, I discovered that there was a huge gap between US and Japanese sports medicine and fitness environments and began to think of opening up a place where people could be treated right - like in a US sports clinic. As a result, I launched R-body project with four other like-minded people including an old friend of mine who is also an ATC himself and had worked in the J-League.
2. What are some of the challenges you have faced in starting your business and how did you overcome them?
What we are trying to do is create a whole new service which no one has done before. We offer complete customized services and information to our clients that previously only the top athletes had access to. So it was a challenge for us at the beginning to explain our business plan and have people understand. At first what I did was establish my credibility as an athletic trainer by working hard and gaining more knowledge and experience. Then I performed a number of steady but passionate presentations to numerous potential companies, investors, and individuals.
3. How did you form your business? (Yugen Kaisha, Kabushiki Kaisha, etc.) How long did the start-up process take?
I came up with the original idea seven years ago but never had a chance to actually work on them until I met with current colleagues during the summer of 2003. We launched R-body project Co., Ltd. in December 2003 and opened up the facility in November last year.
4. Where do you see your business in 5 years?
I want my staff trainers, after gaining tons of experience, to widen their sphere of activity outside the facility. It would be nice if we can start up an educational program for athletic trainers so that we could produce knowledgeable and trusty trainers who will play an active part in this field. Meanwhile I hope R-body will be recognized by more people and you will hear them say "let's do R-body" on the street.
5. Do you see yourself as an entrepreneur? Why?
6. What is your definition of an entrepreneur?
My definition of an entrepreneur is a superb educator. I have met some stunning entrepreneurs through this business.
7. What piece of advice would you give to a person wanting to start his or her own business in Japan?
Do not be afraid of taking the first step in becoming a pioneer.
8. Can you recommend any resources such as books, websites, or support centers for entrepreneurs in Japan?
Not at this moment.
9. Who are your mentors in business?
My family. What I learned from them and their support absolutely played the most important part in my life as well as in my business.
10. What makes you happy?
For now I want this business to succeed. Also, I am always excited to see my staff crew do a good job with our clients.