Shono participated in the Silicon Valley Workshop hosted by Osaka Innovation Hub when he was a student at Kyoto University in March 2013. His life philosophy totally changed during the five days in Silicon Valley, and made him cancel a job at a listed IT consulting firm that he was going to start in April.
He originally had the idea of managing warranties using IT, which would lead to his current business. However, he wasn’t desperate to create his own business at any cost. He went to Silicon Valley because he wanted to see the “tech mecca,” as he was going to work at an IT firm. However, encouraged by a mentor he encountered there with the advice to start his own business with his great idea, he immediately decided to move forward toward creating his own business. He thought that even if he suggested a new project at the company where he was going to work, it was highly likely that his suggestion would be brushed off. Then, it was the right time to take on a challenge. He acted very quickly after he made a decision.
He researched needs for six months before registering his company in October, and thoroughly prepared agendas and solutions for managing warranties using IT. Looking back, Shono says that he was lucky to have encountered investors, but it is obvious that his thorough preparation brought results. The month after completion of company registration, he successfully raised a 10 million yen investment from Nippon Venture Capital (https://www.nvcc.co.jp/) for the first time. He overcame at once two great challenges, the so-called “Devil River” and “Valley of Death.”
In the company’s fourth year, with seven employees, Shono is mainly working on negotiation of business partnerships in Tokyo, though his headquarters are located in Osaka. “This is because there is enthusiastic and strong support in Osaka. It is true that we may obtain more funds and business partnerships in Tokyo, but if we are a venture company from the local area, we can draw more attention from media than we do in Tokyo where so many venture companies compete. In addition, we can use the acceleration program in Osaka (OSAP http://www.innovation-osaka.jp/acceleration/), unlike in Tokyo. I think people value personal networks in Osaka, and this is a wonderful aspect of Osaka culture. I feel that the relationships with people and mentors I encountered in OSAP motivate me in doing my job, though I realize that business owners tend to be busy and lonely.”
Finally, here is his next vision. “My goal is to have people across Japan use Warrentee. Hearing that people use it and think it convenient makes me even happier than if we go public.” Shono will keep on working so that Warrantee, produced from his idea encouraged in Silicon Valley, becomes ubiquitous across Japan.