How would you describe your work with founders?
I start by trying to put myself in the founders’ shoes. I want to understand their vision for the future, in terms of both growth and mission. I think the most important thing is to learn what the founders really want for their businesses. Once we understand that, we can focus on the best ways to help them achieve their vision.
How do you support them?
We take a very holistic approach to our work. Instead of looking narrowly at each individual company, we think about how they might be able to help each other. For example, if a company in our portfolio is looking at geographic expansion, we would look at other companies in our ecosystem and see if it makes sense for the companies to explore a joint venture. And of course, we do this in close conversation with the founders. It's about creating the opportunities that they're interested in.
I'm very interested in how artificial intelligence can disrupt traditional industries to improve quality of life for a big segment of the population.
What are your focus areas?
I'm very interested in how artificial intelligence can disrupt traditional industries to improve quality of life for a big segment of the population. Take AI-powered medical advice, for example. High medical costs have made it difficult for many people to get access to reliable care. Now there are businesses that are using AI to provide low-cost medical consultations over the Internet. This is still very early stage technology, but the possibilities are huge and exciting.
What does it take to bring that kind of disruptive technology to underserved markets?
I think it takes boldness and flexibility. Those are two qualities that our founders have in abundance. Our ecosystem can also help. Imagine you have one company that is bringing transportation to a large population through mobile phones. Then maybe another founder has a medical or financial offering that would really benefit that same demographic. You combine the boldness of being willing to try something new with the shared experience of our ecosystem, and you can do some incredible things.
You're based in Tokyo. How does your knowledge of the Japanese market shape your work with founders in other regions?
In one way, it doesn't really matter where I'm based, because there are no borders when you're talking about technology. But it's also true that each market has its own set of cultural expectations. As a global organization we're all able to support and challenge each other to look critically at whatever passes for “business as usual” in each market. So it's not so much a question of how being Japanese shapes the way I see businesses in other countries; it's that we all bring a mix of insider and outsider insights to our work, and that strengthens our shared effort.
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