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  Eutah Mizushima

Gengo Pulse on Collaboration: Tech in Asia Tokyo 2015

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Earlier this month, Gengo attended the annual Tech in Asia Tokyo 2015 conference at Shibuya Hikarie. More than 1,500 participants from Japan, Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and beyond gathered at the two-day event to discuss Asia’s startup scene and rub shoulders with fellow entrepreneurs and investors.

With some guest speakers flying in from as far away as Silicon Valley, collaborations between Tokyo and the Bay Area was an especially hot topic throughout the event. Dave McClure, founding partner of seed accelerator 500 Startups (and Gengo investor), announced the introduction of a $30M fund under the name 500 Startups Japan, which will be dedicated to helping Japanese startups get on their feet.

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Leading the fund will be former DeNA principal investor James Riney, who believes that there is untapped opportunity in Japan’s startup scene and a lack of financial support, making it the perfect time to invest in the country.

As more investors look to Asia, Japanese startups grow eager to explore new markets and expand on a global scale.

In a panel discussion, Gengo CEO and co-founder Matt Romaine spoke alongside Ginzametrics CEO Ray Grieselhuber and btrax CEO Brandon Hill, where they discussed strategies on how to build strong US–Japan hybrid companies. Romaine explained the advantages of having a diverse team, which he believes can help bring together new ideas and viewpoints that allow businesses to grow.

“When you have different experiences and cultural backgrounds [in a company], the conversation becomes interesting,” he said. The speakers also discussed strategies to build and manage an international team, and highlighted language, commitment, and empathy as key components to success.

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On display at the central-Tokyo venue—host to more than 150 companies—were many innovative platforms and products aiming to help solve cultural and language problems from all over the world.

One such company was the Taiwan-based social translation platform Linqapp, which facilitates users to ask language-related questions through their app via text, image or audio. Native speakers then provide answers in real time to provide a free online language exchange.

Another unique startup was South Korea’s Dot, with their ambitious mission to make communication easier for the visually impaired through their braille smartwatch—the world’s first. The stylish timepiece features a messaging system, navigation functions, Bluetooth 4.0, an alarm and, of course, a watch.

Both startups are working toward the larger goal of helping people collaborate and communicate easily across languages and cultures.

Missed the event but want to know more about expanding your startup overseas? Check out our tips on going global.

Eutah Mizushima
THE AUTHOR
Eutah Mizushima
Eutah is Gengo's Community Intern. Born in Los Angeles, he moved to Tokyo in 2011 to attend university and embrace Japan's unique culture (and food). Eutah is passionate about photography, traveling and brushing up on his Chinese.