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Creww Inc. and Zero One Booster Inc., both of which operate accelerators and are exploring and experimenting with new business collaboration through open innovation between business companies and startups, held a discussion.
Yutaro Emoto / Zero One Booster Inc.
Tomoyuki Mizuno / Director, Creww Inc.
Asaki Suzuki / Director, Business Development Team, Creww Inc.
Kenta Kato / BusinessDevelopmentTeams Manager, Creww Corporation
What are the changes before and after the spread of the impact of new coronavirus infection?
- How do you feel about what is currently happening?
Mizuno:I am not an economic commentator, so I will speak only on the basis of what I feel in the world of open innovation.
As for the current situation where the impact of Corona is expanding, the government, public administration, and private sector are facing a situation where they must hurry to go digital, as many companies are now working remotely. In light of this current situation, we expect that various things will go online in After Corona, and that this will be an opportunity for the development of laws related to online and digitalization that are not yet in place today. For example, labor standards will be developed based on remote work, electronic signatures will replace seals, and improvements will be made regarding remote diagnosis.
Even now, online is being introduced to some extent ahead of legislation, but I think that perhaps we will see a development based on the premise that online is the way to go, and that offline will be well utilized as needed. In order to prevent the collapse of medical care, online diagnostics are now being introduced, and various digital diagnostic tools are now available. In this sense, there are some types of businesses that are able to go online and digital to a certain extent, and others that are not.
Some of the issues that have been raised at with Corona include the lack of tools to support online and automated operations, and the lack of precision and granularity of information on which tools are suitable for the job. In addition, the issue of layoffs and absences from work has made the continuation of employment a major challenge, and it appears that many companies are trying to reduce fixed costs as much as possible during the with-corona period. There has been a noticeable trend to temporarily stop hiring new full-time employees and instead utilize outsourcing, freelancers, and people working multiple jobs.
In terms of personal trends, as more people are working remotely and staying at home, I think they are making good use of it while gathering information on entertainment, healthcare, delivery, online education, etc. on their own. In terms of cost reduction, I feel that we are seeing the second wave of the sharing economy, where people are sharing rather than owning.
Kawashima:In the with Corona era, I feel that the means of approach is changing so much. The speed of in-person sales, alliances, and field visits is lagging across the board, and events and seminars are being shifted online. In fact, Zero One Booster has also started holding events online, and although we were groping at first, we have surprisingly had more participants than when we were offline, and we feel that we have been able to share a variety of information and provide input. We have held 36 online seminars and more than 2,000 people have participated. This kind of positive change has also been seen in one aspect.
Also overseas, accelerator programs are becoming more remote, and venture capital investments are becoming more remote. What used to be considered a value in the innovation world of having a rather local presence and actually meeting and investing in the company is now becoming completely remote as a nongovernmental organization. As a zero one booster, we are also changing our program design so that it can be done remotely.
-Mizuno, what do you think about the changes in the after-corona?
Mizuno:Since the future of the Corona situation is unclear, we honestly do not know how long it will take for the economy to recover, but we believe that this will be an opportunity for many companies to improve the quality of their online and digitalization efforts, including cutting costs.
I think the Corona Shock is a lesson we need to learn. There is no doubt that digital literacy will be raised at the individual level. On the other hand, I think this will be a watershed moment for companies to move with a renewed awareness of their own mission, digital literacy, and importance. This will naturally increase the demand for online and digital services for After Corona even more than with Corona. Therefore, although some companies may be trying to stop new businesses now, I think it is necessary for more companies than ever to engage in open innovation with startups and ventures.
On the other hand, there are still many companies that are overly concerned with the term "new business. At After Corona, I feel that the definition of new business itself will shift from the conventional focus on the company, profit, and synergy to a more issue-oriented approach. We believe that Corona will be an opportunity for us to "take theAdvancing new businesses based on issues will be the duty of operating companies in creating new businesses.I believe that everyone is feeling the importance of business in solving social issues. I believe that people are beginning to realize the importance of business in solving social issues.
How is open innovation in with Corona changing?
-What challenges do you see in the context of open innovation, given that many aspects of lifestyles, business models, etc. are beginning to move online?
Kawashima:Until now, "contingency" and "network and community" have been considered one value in finding open innovation partners. And through a series of divergent meetings, the image of collaboration has been brushed up. In this way, the move was made to "create business from accidental encounters," but with Corona's current situation, this kind of approach is quite demanding. If anything, I think we are now in a situation where we cannot reach a person with whom we can talk unless we narrow down our collaboration proposal to "let's do this kind of thing" before talking.
In addition, I feel that information sharing is becoming more and more difficult at operating companies, and while there is no problem for companies that have CRM and other systems in place for knowledge sharing, I think that large companies that are shifting to remote operations are struggling with information sharing across divisions and departments. I think this is not a problem for companies that have a CRM or other knowledge-sharing mechanism in place.
In addition, during recessionary periods, budgets for new businesses and open innovation tend to fall, so I think the issue will be how to prioritize open innovation against this trend.
In terms of the impact on the startup side, the situation is slowing down, though not stopping, where collaborations with business companies are underway. On the other hand, there are scenes where we feel that it is becoming more difficult to set up new collaborations in the future. In particular, there are situations where we have to visit the site once to finalize the requirements for a product, and then the situation comes to a temporary halt.
-With Corona, what do you hope to do as an open innovation platform?
Suzuki:Creww is a 2-sided platform, so matching a startup's existing service with a business company is a good way to support the startup. We would like to pick up on this kind of feedback, regardless of whether it is for new business or not.
-While the number of "accidental encounters offline," which has been considered valuable in open innovation, is decreasing, there have been online encounters, such as the 2,000 participants in 01Booster's online seminar. What do you think of the potential of "online encounters"?
Emoto:Initially, we assumed that "meeting" people online would be a hurdle, so instead of assuming participation with the microphone and camera on, communication has been text-based in two directions, with the speakers and participants. However, recent trends show that online drinking parties are becoming popular, and experienced participants are not afraid to participate with the microphone and camera on, and in fact, there is a tendency that it is better to show one's real name and face when online. We are planning to experiment with ways for participants to communicate with each other.
Kawashima:Overseas, a startup that provides an online event platform called Run The Wolrd has raised $4.3 million from Andreessen Horowitz, and tools and SaaS specialized for online events are becoming a major investment theme. The tools and SaaS specialized for online events are becoming one of the major investment themes. Looking at services that specialize in online event services, there seem to be two patterns: one is to be able to communicate online, and the other is to be able to use it to acquire potential customers efficiently. Several such startups have emerged overseas. Since there are none in Japan yet, I think this is an interesting area.
What is Open Innovation in the After Corona World?
-What do you think will be the relationship with overseas startups in After Corona's open innovation? AI, for example, is still more advanced overseas than in Japan, so I can't imagine that our relationships will decrease.
Kawashima:Looking at the remoteness of overseas accelerator programs, it can be said that the current situation is that the programs are now completely remote, allowing for entry from overseas, and allowing for entry into programs in any country. In fact, the number of overseas applications is also increasing for the HARADA Accelerator held by Zero One Booster. The current situation of not having to immigrate or move has lowered the hurdle in terms of program applications. On the other hand, overseas startups are becoming more muscular as restructuring accelerates due to the impact of Corona. I am not sure what the priority of the Japanese market will be in this context.
-In the after-corona world where the situation in Corona has converged, what do you think large companies should work on to accelerate business creation around the axis of social issues, in terms of human resource development, environmental improvement, etc.?
Mizuno:There are three key points that large companies should keep in mind to accelerate business creation around social issues.
1) "Partners are not subcontractors. Understand them as collaborative partners."
(2) "Clarify the definition of new business and define goal setting."
(iii) "Forming communities with companies and experienced stakeholders with similar challenges."
In particular, I believe it is important how the company as a whole is aware of the definition of new business in order to accelerate business creation around the axis of social issues.
If you look back at the significance of your company's existence in relation to the issues facing the world today, there is no need to focus on new business if you can solve the issues with your existing business, but there are many aspects that are difficult to solve with the existing business model alone. I think it will become a must in the future to think in reverse, making "society" rather than "ourselves" the subject of our business thinking and theme creation: "What are the difficulties with the resources we have now? I think it will become a must in the future.
In terms of human resource development, I personally do not see much value in the training itself, since human resources with a sense of ownership who work on their own, create their own work, and accumulate awareness are more valuable. I think it is important to create an environment in which people can work individually, rather than providing training all at the same time.
When it comes to environmental improvement, I wonder if it will largely depend on how management will steer the company in the wake of the social and economic changes caused by Corona. While there are situations where employment is stopped due to layoffs. Some regions in Japan have begun to transfer laid-off workers to high-demand industries, but there is no national system in place to do so. I feel that there is a need for local governments and public administrations to establish a system in this area, but I also think that private companies can also work on this issue.
What is expected of operating companies with Corona
What is expected of an operating company in the world of -with Corona??
Kato:Creww conducted a "Survey on the Impact of the New Coronavirus Infections (COVID-19) Expansion on Startups," and the results of the first round of the survey showed that while 60% of startups had raised less than 50 million in funding and 20% had raised around 300 million yen, over 80% of startups were were found to be affected, with a particularly large decrease in sales. The second most impacted is the transformation of the way they work. Some qualitative comments in the survey revealed that financial support for startups is not in place and that sales opportunities are not being created.
Mizuno:Various financial measures have been introduced as a Corona measure, but the reality is that the application process shows no change. No matter how many support measures are increased, if the financing process does not change, the timeline for obtaining financing will not change either. For early-stage and seed-stage startups with a few people and little knowledge of the business, the effort of financing is very difficult.
If startup investment by business corporations slows down due to the impact of Corona, money will be channeled toward somewhat stable, later-stage startups, and the flow of the startup ecosystem that has been built over the past three to four years to nurture early- and seed-stage startups will cease to flow. From the perspective of not stopping the flow of the startup ecosystem, "startup investment" is one of the things that are expected of business corporations.
Suzuki:In order to accelerate collaboration through open innovation with startups in the after Corona world, what do you expect from the operating companies now with Corona?In addition to speed, devote time to improving the accuracy of goals and vision.I think we should do something like "What if we do something like this? That way, when Corona settles down and the economy recovers, we will be able to smoothly collaborate with startups.
Kawashima:The style of collaboration will have to change. We will not be able to keep up with the changes in society unless we become more and more digital in all processes.
So, at this point in time, we are going to have a "Making positive changes.I think that the new business area will be expected to be "digitalized". In the area of new businesses, I think resources will be allocated to areas adjacent to existing businesses and to the digitization of existing businesses. I don't think new businesses in these areas will disappear even with Corona's timing. Ideally, we should take this as an opportunity to create new businesses and change the process to achieve rapid growth in two to three years' time.
-with Corona, so you are conducting the event dialogue online. What do you think of these social changes?
Mizuno:By conducting this dialogue online, we were also able to have people who live in remote areas participate, and this is a value that cannot be achieved offline. Whether this is seen as a positive, a negative, or an opportunity depends on the individual. How you deal with your own intentions and beliefs may be what you should be thinking about right now. First, it is not about doing the mission that is given to you, but what you should be as a person. Next, I think it is as simple as recognizing your role in the company and then how you perceive it and move on.
In a sense, online events can be difficult to listen to due to the Internet environment and other factors, so there are many situations where you have to concentrate on listening. I think this makes it more personalized, and the quality of the information that comes in will be higher. In this sense, I would like to see more opportunities to hold online events, not only in Corona with Corona now, but also in Corona after.
Introduction of Panelists
Graduated from Waseda University, School of Political Science and Economics. After working for a Japanese medical device manufacturer in new market development in the EMEA region and a foreign medical device manufacturer in product marketing, he joined the business creation accelerator 01Booster in 2017. He manages multiple accelerator programs, invests in ventures, and promotes collaboration with overseas accelerators. To promote cross-border investment and expansion, he founded the Across Asia Alliance, a community of Asian VCs and accelerators, in 2018.
After graduating from high school in Japan, he went on to college in the United States.
In 2013, he joined Creww K.K., which operates a startup community, and in 2017, he became a director of Creww K.K., overseeing the entire business division, including open innovation business, coworking business, and new businesses. He is also in charge of the administrative affairs of the Cabinet Office and the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. He also works with government agencies such as the Cabinet Office and the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, and has given numerous lectures at local governments and universities throughout Japan.
Value Co-Creation Task Force Committee, Intellectual Property Strategy Secretariat, Cabinet Office, Government of Japan
Advisor, IoT Design Girl, Regional IoT Public-Private Net, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications
Contributed to the Venture White Paper 2018, Venture Enterprise Center, Japan.
Lectures at local governments, industry associations, and universities
He has consistently gained experience in sales positions in both BtoC and BtoB domains, and joined Creww in early 2018 after working for a partially listed SaaS IT venture in his previous position.
Currently, he is mainly engaged in proposing startup co-creation programs such as accelerator programs to major companies from the viewpoint of new business creation.
After working for a student venture, he joined a publicly listed company, where he worked as an account manager for the HR business before launching a new marketing and research business. He then joined Creww in 2017. He is responsible for overall sales and marketing operations, with a focus on educating major companies about the implementation of the accelerator program.
He has been engaged in designing and promoting new business projects based on digital technology for companies in an electronics manufacturer group, as well as designing workshops such as idea sessions and in-house training programs. He has participated in 01Booster since 2020.