…on example of our UK-based company Untrite exploring the Japanese market.
As we’re quickly approaching 500 Global x Aichi Accelerator Demo Day here in Nagoya (invite link in the comments), we’re preparing our pitches and angles for panel discussion.
We’re being trained by brilliant mentors and seasoned serial entrepreneurs who gives us glimpse into market preferences to better position our messaging.
So I thought to share with fellow startup founders who are planning to enter a new market, address local needs or who seek international investment.
1. Refer to a current trend.
Everyone is talking about ChatGPT — Japan is no exception. Non-tech people finally see that AI is able to filter through the noise and bring all relevant information to us, instantly. Make us more efficient and let us focus on things that matter — creating relationships and serving others.
There is a huge need for innovation here. Digital Transformation is one of the biggest priorities for most corporations. They have lots of data value and a huge need for automation. This is where we can help the most, so we’re highlighting all these needs in all Untrite messaging.
2. Place your solution in context of local problems
Think outside of your bubble. Don’t assume anything.
Even if a company X or a problem Z may be well known and discussed in your home country, it may mean nothing to the market you’re trying to enter. Personalise your messaging, use industry and market language.
Find angles that relate to the local challenges. E.g. in our case, we understand that due to supply chain disruption (Covid etc.) the Japanese government pushes companies to shift to domestic production, which requires internal data visibility and knowledge transfer. This is further challenged by ageing society and companies facing labour shortage.
This is where technology like ours can help.
3. What’s their biggest fear?
In an ideal world, the best, most innovative solution would always win. Yet, in the reality, companies which manage to (often) exaggerate a problem and provide a story (problem -> your solution as a band aid) attract most attention. Add some FOMO to it and you have a winning mix.
Focus on understanding the biggest local challenges and paint the picture where your solution eases a pain. Again, PERSONALISE.
E.g. in Japan, one of the biggest fears is asking for help and getting feedback. In the past, people would ask other people for feedback or services for data (like Gartner). It all takes a lot of time. Another problem with companies like Gartner is that they base their findings on external data.
With AI platforms like Untrite, you have access to all these spread departments that may have answers to your questions already.
“You come with a solution, not a problem” type of situation.
4. Understand cultural differences and communication style
Understand all cultural nuances, because you if you don’t, you may be thinking that you’ll have a deal, while in reality, the other party is just being polite to you. In countries like Japan, you’ll not hear ‘no’ directly. It’s a matter of honour. You’ may simply be ghosted 🙂
5. Think strategically.
Don’t jump into one market if you haven’t established a strong base in your home one. Once you do, your local clients and partners may be able to introduce you to their suppliers / clients / partners operating in your desirable new market.
Also, think of any potential future geopolitical challenges. Besides ethical reasons, follow the source of money — why is this fund interested in investing in you? What links and reputation does it have? It may be their way into buying out links to a market, that they would otherwise not be able to enter due to competitive regulations. Think long-term, like in chess.