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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

The key to new business creation is to find the seeds of exciting businesses and create a bright vision for the future.

Seino Holdings established the Open Innovation Promotion Office in 2016 and has been accelerating its efforts to create new businesses. To date, more than 10 projects have been commercialized, and several companies have become subsidiaries.
One such company is GENie Corporation, which was created through a business alliance with Seven-Eleven Japan to solve the last mile problem. He was a fourth generation member of the founding family, and he is now the president of GENie Corporation, which was born as a result of a partnership with GENie Corporation. We asked Mr. Taguchi, who is also the fourth generation of the founding family, what kind of actions he has taken at Seino Holdings. We interviewed him.

Volunteered to transfer to a newly established department

In 2012, I joined Seven-Eleven Japan, where I was in charge of "cold chain," a logistics method of keeping fresh foods and other products at low temperatures from production to consumption. I thought, "I can make the most of my skills.

The newly established Cold Chain Promotion Office was headed by Kawai, who had created our first in-house venture, and we spent our days working together to come up with a new scheme. From there, the Cold Chain Promotion Office evolved into the Open Innovation Promotion Office (hereinafter referred to as the "Promotion Office"), and I was more excited than anxious about this change.

The idea behind the creation of the Promotion Office was the desire to create a new pillar of business for the Seino Group and to solve problems through new businesses. We set out to bring back to the Seino Group the spirit of its founder, who created truck-based mixed transport in an era when there were no expressways.

At that time, there were seven members in the promotion office, including Kawai. We were all there because we wanted to make good use of the Seino Group's assets to launch a new business, and we each talked to various startups to find the seeds of new business.

However, it is a new culture that has not taken root within the company, so when I asked the group companies if they would like to engage in open innovation initiatives with startups, many were skeptical at first.

What is important is that everyone has a bright vision and wants to do it.

In fact, when we used Creww's accelerator program to launch the "KOTO no HA fresh farm," a vegetable factory business built inside a distribution center in Toki City, Gifu Prefecture, in collaboration with Farm Ship, which has expertise in factory vegetables, we had a difficult time coordinating with the group companies we are currently working with until we talked to them. We had a difficult time coordinating with the group companies we are currently working with until we talked to them.

What I learned from this experience was that in order to create a new business through open innovation, it is important that "everyone wants to do it" and "everyone can create a bright vision. The role of the promotion office is to lead this process, so I realized that I needed a proposal that I myself could truly believe would be interesting to realize and that I could start small and with minimal risk.

In this respect, the vegetable factory was a project that I really wanted to realize as I was involved in the cold chain. This is because I thought that if we could create a vegetable factory that managed everything from production to distribution, we could clear the problem of "not being able to gather shippers," which is the biggest bottleneck in the cold chain, and lead to the realization of a cold chain network as Seino.

If production and logistics can be successfully linked, nationwide expansion as well as overseas expansion is not only a dream, but could be a major strength for Seino.

I then told the president of Tokai Seino, the group company I am currently working with, "This agricultural business is a project that has the potential to greatly develop the Seino Group. When we think about competing with the rest of the world in the future, as a logistics company, an integrated manufacturing cold chain will be a weapon to fight against the world," I expressed my bright vision and excitement.

The president agreed with this idea, which led to the commercialization of "KOTO no HA fresh farm. Currently, "KOTO no HA fresh farm" is growing steadily.

Propose a business that you truly enjoy and are excited about.

One of the difficulties in implementing open innovation is that startups and large companies have different ways of proceeding with projects. Large companies may need to change direction after internal presentations, even if they have made a decision, and it may take time to reach a consensus. So it was difficult to determine how flexible minded we could be with each other.

The most successful projects were those in which both parties had a consensus on a future vision and were able to respond flexibly to each other's needs. If we have the same vision for the future, then no matter what the situation in front of us is, we can coordinate what we can do and what we should do then. However, every project has its own twists and turns.

I think there are many people struggling to launch new businesses in various companies today. The way to get involved may vary depending on the culture of the company, but if I could offer one piece of advice, it would be to "imagine what kind of future you can create, not just the profits, and to truly believe that the business is interesting. If you don't find it truly interesting, you will easily fail when you hit a wall, and if it doesn't excite you in the first place, you shouldn't do it.

Even if they do not accept your proposal now, it may be possible to realize it at a different time, depending on the stage of the company or changes in the mindset of society. It might be a good idea to make a proposal at the right time without giving up.

Open innovation and accelerator programs are only one method. If we could persuade others within the company to create new businesses without using such methods, there would be no need to utilize them. But the Seino Group needed an accelerator program.

At first, the term "open innovation" itself was often met with resistance, but as I continued to make proposals that they would find interesting while considering the benefits to the group companies and departments in charge, little by little, more and more people began to agree that "new businesses are interesting," and some even raised their hand to move into the promotion office. Some of them have even started to move to the promotion office.

So, even if a company does not have a culture of open innovation or new business, I believe that the situation can be changed by not giving up and continuously making proposals while presenting what the other party thinks is beneficial. I believe that the world will become a more enjoyable place if people who "want to take on new challenges" can create many businesses that are valuable to society.

Mr. Yoshinobu Taguchi President and Representative Director, GENie, Inc.
Raised in Ogaki City, Gifu Prefecture, he studied abroad in England from the age of 15 to 19 and entered Gakushuin University. Worked at Seven-Eleven Japan for three years before moving to Seino Transport Co.
He has worked through various departments, including open innovation, up to the present.
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Tomomi Tamura
He joined Snow Brand Milk Industry in 2000. He then worked for an advertising agency and as a sole proprietor before joining BizReach in 2012. Engaged in content creation, he joined NewsPicks in 2016 as an editor on the BrandDesign team, and is now a freelance writer and editor.


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