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Takayuki Miyauchi, Co-founder of Sassor

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With interaction design, service design as his area of speciality, Takayuki has always approached product, software and hardware development from a design perspective. Takayuki co-founded a company, Sassor, which actively develops mobile services along with other products, that caters a user’s characteristic traits or behavior record.

The Asian Entrepreneur is joined by Takayuki today, as we talk about his experiences as an entrepreneur and what he hopes to achieve with Sassor.

What exactly is Sassor?

We are a service design company working in the Internet of Things.From design to hardware engineering we design services for attractive and new user experience.

How did you come up with the idea of Sassor?

Originally, I had been interested in creating the lifelog at home in line of my researches. I had been living with other persons in the form of room sharing, but the power consumption was considerably high although we were either at the laboratory or the office for almost whole day. This was the reason that we created the prototype for analyzing what was caused to make the power consumption very high. Finally, we found out that the server installed at home was the root cause of the high power consumption.

Could you walk us through the process of starting up Sassor?

My co-founder, Shiuchi Ishibashi, was my high school classmate and and we went to the same graduate school and at that time we thought to create a startup. But at the beginning we were just talking that we hoped to do something after the graduation. About few years ago, we applied to the E-idea competition (British Council) for a trial to explore some possibilities, and that resulted in the prototype of Energy Literacy Platform. After that, we brushed it up to become our present service by joining with another program (Open Network Lab) and taking advice from them.

How has it been like managing the business since?

At first, we were planning to release a product for consumer. But we had a big earthquake in Japan, we faced serious shortage of electric power. At that time, our product’s prototype were brought up in media, we were going to product them small-scale and sale it for a limited time by advancing the schedule of development. There were many contacts from restaurants after marketing, we got to know that visualization system of electricity for store takes many costs for implementation and operating, to make matters worse, it has poor usability. So we observed the operation of the staffs at the stores which had given us inquiries, performed hearings among them, made prototypes for the stores for testing and verifying, and repeated several times such processes to finally produce the current shape of service.

Did you find anything particularly difficult during the startup?

We had to develop a prototype of our service without any income, but we were very much supported by our friends around us.

How was the initial reaction from the consumers?

The reaction of the market was very positive. Actually they got a system of visualization less expensive and easier to use which had been conceived to be very expensive. Those who inquired in th early stage promptly introduced it.

 Do you face a lot of competition in this industry?

There have been competitors, however, the existing system is expensive and inconvenient to use. What we will do is to enhance the quality of daily services and to achieve the reduction in operating cost for the customer satisfaction.

What can you tell us about the industry?

We have been providing the market of IoT with the services but are still in the early stage. Hardware and net gadget are getting increased, however, there have probably been a few which are absolutely necessary services for daily life.

How have you managed to stay relevant in this industry?

The prospects of IoT are still young and can be expanded in the future. We see making things will get closer to your life, and you’ll be surrounded more and more by various loT devices. Because it is simply exiting for us to put ourselves in such an environment.

If you could, would you change anything about your approach?

If so, what?We actually began to learn manufacture after we started, so we had hard times before we successfully made a product. I wish I would have learned more about the manufacturing methods much earlier.

What do you think about startups in Asia?

Recently, We feel start-up venturing abroad aggressively and the team also has become international, so we perceive that nationality of the founding of the company has been unrelated.

What are some personal principles or personal values that guide you and your career?

We do every work from stylize to hardware design by ourselves, carry out service development with taking care about usage of the entire service design.

Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?

Originally, we were studying into the loT field. But if you stay within the laboratory and just keep on studying, you seldom have a chance to have somebody use the stuff you’ve made up.We started to think we should make the stuff into products that can be used by many people; the products we made as we thought them fun and useful, that is why we decided to startup a business.

What do you think are the most important things entrepreneurs should keep in mind?

To believe my own vision no matter what the others may say about it.

In your opinion, what are the keys to entrepreneurial success?

To materialise your own vision, to believe your own instinct and to have a trustful partner.

Any parting words of wisdom for entrepreneurs out there?

When you have a vision that you want to materialise, you can even enjoy difficulties. When you have a trustful partner, your agonies would be halved. smarter than you are. However if you keep an open mind, listen to as many smart people, and then act on it, then you will succeed.

One common trait of very successful and smart pioneers is that if you can get timeshare with them, they will impart invaluable advice freely. Accept the advice with humility. Note they are most likely smarter than you are. If they affirm what you sense then you are on the right track. If they do not, then something needs to be re-callibarated. Do this soon. And succeed.

 

Connect
Website: http://www.sassor.co.jp
Personal Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/takayuki.miyauchi
Twitter: www.twitter.com/t_38
Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/takayuki-miyauchi/1b/586/b4b

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Denise Morris Kipnis, Founder & Principal of ChangeFlow Consulting

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Denise Mossis Kipnis’ curiosity in people and the world, lead her to set up ChangeFlow Consulting.

What’s your story?
I’m driven by curiosity. Having been the only one in a room who looks like me for most of my life, I developed a curiosity about who stays, who leaves and who thrives in minority/majority situations including when and how connection and collaboration happen. I was a systems thinker long before I knew what that was, always asking why and so what; and seeing the pieces, the whole, and the places in between. So helping people and organisations move through the complexity of transformation feels natural to me.

What excites you most about your industry?
I see change and inclusion as two sides of the same thing; I don’t practice one without the other. Some people see change as death, as loss, as exhausting. And it can be. But I see in the work I do as an opportunity for something new or hidden to emerge. When an organisation understands that it is first a group of people, who themselves represent and belong to groups of people, and it begins to tackle what it would mean to understand and learn from all that talent, all that diversity, to have them all working for and not against the organisation, to truly unleash all that their people have to offer; that’s magic.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Change and inclusion are personal values as well as professional strengths. For me, living and working outside of the States was a bold experiment to see whether any of the stuff I’d learned about change and inclusion would work outside of the US. My husband and I targeted Asia specifically: it would be the greatest contrast, culturally speaking, for me; and a unique career springboard for him.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Although I’ve practiced in other cities, I am biased towards Singapore. In some ways it’s what Los Angeles is to the rest of the United States, a microcosm of sorts. The regional/global nature of it means that so many different nationalities and cultures are represented. As a result of this mix, you never know what you might get. In some situations, cultural dynamics are obvious, sometimes subdued. The variability is compelling.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Never ask anyone to do anything you wouldn’t do yourself.” Michael Rouan.

Who inspires you?
Often it’s a “what” not a “who.” I can get inspiration from a passage in a book or a situation in a movie, as well as a turn of a phrase or watching people interact. I often make the biggest connections between the various threads I’m working on when I’m sitting in someone else’s event.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I’m honestly not blown away by much. Instead, I’m struck how circular things can be: ideas often come back around with a slightly different twist and I watch the way it shakes things loose for people. I recently sat through a workshop on Self as Instrument, and despite being thoroughly versed already, I learned something. In preparing for a panel on design thinking, I unearthed a new language to describe things.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
You’ve caught me at a good time. I’m sitting in appreciation and gratitude for all my experiences, because I wouldn’t be who I was today if all that has happened, didn’t. And yet one thing comes to mind: It wasn’t until I redesigned my website two years ago (shout out to Brew Creative!) that I realised I hadn’t made explicit agreements with my past clients as to what I could share publicly about our engagement, or whether I could use their logos in my promotional materials. In my business, confidentiality is so important, and yet I need to be able to talk about the work as reputation and experience leads to the next success, and so on. It turned out a lot of the contacts I had known had left the organisations where the work was done, so they couldn’t help at that point. So the practice I’m carrying forward is to get those agreements up front, and to make sure my relationships in client systems are broad as well as deep.

How do you unwind?
Science fiction, puzzles, wine.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Home. I don’t travel to relax, I travel to learn and explore.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Built to Change, by Ed Lawler and Chris Worley. To my knowledge, it’s the first pivot from advising organisations away from stability and toward dynamism, from strategic planning to strategizing as an action verb; to blow up the traditions and rigidity that impede organisations from developing change capability.

Shameless plug for your business:
We’re taught that there are two kinds of people: those who see forests, and those who see trees. There is a third type, my type, and we see the ecosystem. Worms, climate, birds, the spaces in between. This is the perspective organisations need to be successful in solving complex problems and thriving in change.
ChangeFlow uniquely blends four disciplines (two of which are multi-disciplinary in themselves): organisation development, culture and inclusion, change management and project management.

How can people connect with you?
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChangeFlowConsulting/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dmorriskipnis/
LinkedIn Company page: https://www.linkedin.com/company/4862954/
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://www.changeflowconsulting.com

Twitter handle?
@ChangeFlow

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

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Agnes Yee, Legal & Compliance Recruiter of Space Executive

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Agnes Yee started Space Executive in Singapore, which is a hub for businesses in some of the world’s fastest growing economies.

What’s your story?
After graduation, I joined a design media company as a Business Development Executive, during the era when ‘reading a magazine online’ was unheard of. I believe that laid the foundation for being unfazed by rejections.

I fell into recruitment pre-GFC and rode the highs and lows in the early years. A decade later, I decided to set up my own recruitment company, partly because I could. I’m acutely aware of the face that being an Asian female in Singapore is sometimes a privilege, and that many women in the world are living a very different existence.
Thereafter, we joined Space Executive as part of a merger. I am currently the Partner of Space Executive, a recruitment company focused specialist disciplines, including Legal, Finance, Digital, Sales and Marketing and Change. We also run Space Ventures, a venture capital business, which invests in seed and pre-series A businesses.

What excites you most about your industry?
On a daily basis, we’re influencing how one spends a third of their day. It is interesting how the Internet has transformed the industry, and I’m excited to see how we can harness technology to bring us to the next phase of this business.

The VC is an extension of applying our skills and experience in reading people. We very much invest in the people as much as the idea. Being a native Singaporean, it’s been exhilarating watching Southeast Asia becoming a hotbed of ideas; and young entrepreneurs simply daring to dream.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I’m a born and bred Singaporean. I love that I speak both English and Mandarin, grew up playing with Indian friends and eating Malay food.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore for the low barriers of entry to set up a business, but has to be China (and Hong Kong) for their hunger and constant innovation.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
青春不要留白 which translates to ‘Don’t waste your youth.’

Who inspires you?
Anyone who has gone against the grain.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
It wasn’t recent but reading the article on https://waitbutwhy.com/2015/12/the-tail-end.html never fails to blow my mind how little time we have left. Charting our lives in weeks, and realising I only have enough time left to enjoy 60 Christmas turkeys, read 300 books (all if I’m lucky); and mostly, I’m left with the last 5% of the time that I spend in-person with my parents.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I’m cognisant that every decision I made in life has brought me to where I am today, and I wouldn’t change one thing. But I’d really like to have had more time to travel.

How do you unwind?
Exercise and wine.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Trekking any mountain in Asia. It brings us back to the most basic. To overcome elements of nature and our own mind.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Start with Why, Simon Sinek

Shameless plug for your business:
Space Executive started in Singapore, a hub for businesses in some of the world’s fastest growing economies. We assist organisations in accessing a targeted and specialised, and often times transient talent pool.

Out of Singapore, we have recruited across 14 countries; and have embarked on our global expansion plans with offices in Hong Kong and London this year, and US, Japan and Europe in the following years.

Space Ventures provides funding, management and financial guidance to young businesses with original ideas. We have invested in peer to peer lending platforms, credit scoring, social media education, and other start-ups spanning diverse industries. We are always interested in hearing more about new ideas.

How can people connect with you?
https://www.linkedin.com/in/agnesyee/

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

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