"Path to Becoming an Advanced Entrepreneurial Country"
This year marks our 15th year since ITOCHU Technology Ventures (ITV) started a venture capital business in 2000. Since then, we have invested in 117 businesses and met over 10,000 entrepreneurs. When we talk to them, what comes across is their passion, which has always been a rare source of inspiration and learning for us, for which we feel extremely grateful.
Since last year, Japan has been undergoing long-awaited structural reforms to fire the third arrow of Abenomics. There is no end to structural reform.
I must stress, however, that the structural reform is neither even a quick fix nor a necessary sufficient condition for startups.
Entrepreneurs are, in a way, a type of people who do things different than the mainstream. In order to create an environment to foster such people, it takes commitment and initiative to place ourselves in a heterogeneous environment as opposed to a homogeneous environment where most of us Japanese are familiar with.
Where did the new idea, which Yasuhiro Morita, Epsilon Launch Vehicle Project Manager, came up with when he succeeded in launching a small rocket, come from? His idea to turn rockets into something like the aircraft and make them reusable has led to a great leap forward. That was something the space shuttle could not even achieve. It is said that his successful idea came from the heterogeneous environment that he was in. It is not that the Japanese have low entrepreneurship, but that we may have not had the chance to show it because we have only had a few opportunities to fulfill our potential.
Entrepreneurs themselves must be willing to value their difference, strangeness and maverick-ness. The essence of being a entrepreneur is a challenging spirit, not a calculation of risks.
This year as well, ITV will continue to seek to meet new entrepreneurs, hoping that the year 2014 will be a milestone on the path to becoming an advanced entrepreneurial country for Japan.
Toshihisa Adachi, President and CEO
ITOCHU Technolgy Ventures