With work “PLACE” reform, both the company and people can grow. What do two startup CEOs who accelerated the growth of their companies at Global Business Hub Tokyo values most in their work style and offices?
- Left : Kazuki Fuse, CEO of Datorama Japan
Right : Takuya Iwabuchi, CEO of Cellspect
The “Global Business Hub Tokyo” (GBHT) opened in 2016 in Otemachi, Tokyo, aiming to support foreign fast-growing companies and leading startup companies from Japan. It is now home to a large number of global companies that were attracted by the possibility of having a comfortable office in a premium downtown location. With this in mind, we asked the CEOs of two fast-growing startup companies about the relation between work environment and success.
What kind of business are you engaged in?
IwabuchiCellspect is a biotech startup specialized in IoT. One of our projects is the development of an analyzer and a drug that provide a precise diagnose in any place or situation. Another is the development of a new indicator (biomarker) that measures and evaluates the condition and level of progress of specific diseases, as well as the efficiency of its treatment. We also develop basic technologies applied to medical equipment.
FuseDatorama is a marketing intelligence company founded in Israel in 2012. Using the world’s only marketing integration engine “Datorama”, we collect and integrate marketing-related big data dispersed inside and outside the company to offer solutions to assess the decision making of businesses. Our main clients are marketers of service companies, advertising agencies, and large media providers.
What is important for you to grow your business?
IwabuchiAs a biotech startup, we know we have a highly advanced technology. But instead of boasting about those (technology) seeds, we want to pride ourselves on our capacity to skillfully respond to requests by “combining” those seeds together. Despite being a startup company, we are constantly conducting joint researches with many universities across the country. In a way, we are like a venture capital with an R&D feature. If we want to know what kind of request the clients – the so-called mega and global pharmaceutical companies – have, we need to be present in a base that works like an information hub. For this reason, we built our manufacturing base in the Morioka City, Iwate Prefecture, and set an office at GBHT, which is close to Tokyo station and easily accessible from the entire country.
FuseAs we develop and offer SaaS (Software as a Service), we value not only people with technical skills to create superior software, but also those who can connect those technologies to solutions.One concrete example of a challenge we solve is how to do marketing with the “diversification of consumers” brought by digitalization. Many of us check Twitter, Facebook, and news on our smartphones first thing in the morning. I believe the TV and newspapers used to serve this purpose, but now we live in an age when the day starts with a contact with the media through personal devices. With the advent of digital devices, the types of media that people get in contact with have become very specific. Since each consumer has a distinct behavior, the companies need to use very finely oriented marketing techniques to deliver their message.This caused an explosive growth in the number of tools of technology related to marketing and advertising business in recent years. In 2011, there were around 150, but there as many as 5000 in 2017. The marketing people of service companies must understand and use these tools to achieve their goals. For example, if they invested a few billions of yen, they must need to analyze how much return there was. But measuring that effect is still quite challenging. The reason is that while the technology to track the data has evolved, the comprehensive analysis after measuring the effect is still done on “Excel”. I have been involved with advertising technology and the marketing industry for 14 years now, and I have been seen highly ambitious people that want to do creative work and spread their creations through the world become more and more exhausted with this“Excel work”.Recently, long work hours in the advertising industry has become a social problem. It touched my heart and made me feel like helping those struggling people with our company’s technology.
You two share the value for the connection between people. When you started your businesses, did you ever feel lonely?
FuseYes, it was extremely lonely (laughs). I built the subsidiary of Datorama in Japan in April 2015 by myself. At that time, GBHT had not been founded yet, so I rented a booth of EGG JAPAN, a business support facility partnered with GBHT located in Shin-Marunouchi building. In my previous job, I used to rent offices from apartment buildings and other rental offices in the bay area, but the access was bad, and as I would spend too much time confined in the office, I could not make new connections. That is why when I was to start Datorama Japan, I decided to move to EGG JAPAN, which had a great location and a vibrant community. Later, as the company grew, we moved to the newly-established GBHT. Through our experience at EGG JAPAN and GBHT, we acquired a lot of clients and intelligence. Both facilities have a space for events, which was very valid support for us to host seminars and develop our business.
IwabuchiSetting an office at GBHT also blew my loneliness away. Because working at a biotech startup is basically conducting experiments, a world of white gowns that everyone thinks about. It is a fight against yourself; in a way, you work like a trainee monk. Meanwhile, at GBHT I feel everyone enjoys working so much… In many occasions, while we are handling living beings, the office beside us is monetizing their business with the use of IT. Being able to communicate with people of other industries and ask them questions like, “What kinds of things do you do?” during coffee breaks in common spaces was very fresh.Some business ideas came up from those kinds of interactions. Initially, we were making an inspection device for health diagnostic, but an idea of trying to do something that could combine living beings and IT led to a brainstorming session. As a result, we are now developing a tool that looks like an ordinary activity meter but can provide a full-scale health diagnostic. An innovation of our “consciousness” occurred at GBHT.
But when all the conditions to work are set, don’t you end up overworking instead?
FuseSomeone told me about “work-life blending”, which I have put into practice. “Work-life balance” is famous words, but it always leads to the idea of time allocation. In startup companies, eight hours of work does not necessarily produce a tangible result. Actually, in terms of hours, I think my working routine is quite long. But once I stopped thinking about it in terms of hours, my life became easier. For instance, I have been able to attend most of the events of my three children. I can leave my work for just two hours to observe their classes, and even miss a day of work during the week to attend a school event. Ever since I started blending work and private life together, I have been able to extend my sleeping hours from seven to eight hours on average, and I no longer have to give up necessities of life because of work.
IwabuchiIn my previous job, before I came to GBHT, I used to be a very hard worker myself. But then I learned that when people stop being managed by time, our lives become more regular instead. A day flows by naturally, according to the physiological rhythm of our body. We wake up in the morning, we get hungry, and we become sleepy at night… I experienced that everything starts being regulated by my own rhythm. Going against it leads to overwork. My rhythm was to leave the company at 10 p.m. at the latest and since I naturally wake up at 5 or 6 a.m., I would come to GBHT. Besides, I enjoy this place. The environment here is like being in a theme park (laughs). I also have three children and a perfect attendance in family events. After all, if I can’t even get the support from my family, how can I expect to have the support of shareholders and stakeholders in a business? (laughs)