Building Startup Community and Startup Accelerator in Kyoto


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Inspired by Brad Feld's book "Startup Communities" and General Assembly's model.

I'm sharing the document to encourage anyone who might be interested participate in this project.

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Building Startup Community and Startup Accelerator in Kyoto

  1. 1. Building Startup Community & Startup Accelerator in Kyoto Kenshin Fujiwara
  2. 2. Background •  More than 45 million people visit Kyoto annually. It’s almost same size as NYC that hosts 48 million visitors annually. •  1/50 of above visitors are foreigners. This results in roughly 1 million international visitors per year. •  Yet, there is no startup community & accelerator in Kyoto that is open to international entrepreneurs and even to locals. Why? •  Osaka is a bit ahead of Kyoto trying to attract international entrepreneurs through its institutions and venture funds. e.g. Knowledge Capital at Grand Front Osaka. e.g. Hack Ventures closely working with 500 Startups.
  3. 3. What we have and what we don’t have •  Haves –  Great venues where likeminded people can hangout and collaborate. All venues are super Kyoto-ish. e.g. Cowaki, Machiya Studio, HUB Kyoto, 47 Ronin. –  Events for entrepreneurial people. Some of them are imported from US. e.g. Startup Weekend, Machiya Bar. –  Top class universities and students. •  Don’t haves –  Startup community being recognized nationally and internationally. –  Startup accelerator. We only have incubators. –  Serial entrepreneurs who are Kyoto residents.
  4. 4. Read this book before you proceed
  5. 5. Community first, everything else later •  Community is a core part of startup ecosystem. •  Everything else will be built on top of healthy, well-recognized, self- growing community. •  Community must be built with bottom-up approach, not top-down. •  Community must be built by people within community. This is the only way as bottom-up approach. •  Government, state, city, university, VC cannot build community since this is considered as top-down approach. Many attempts in the past, but none succeeded. •  Leaders in community must be entrepreneurs, not government officials, university professors, venture capitalists.
  6. 6. Phase 1: Building Foundation for Community Without Spending Money
  7. 7. Random lecture by startup people •  People at startup give lecture about any topic they are good at. •  It could be anything from web design, programming to social media marketing, legal work. •  Every lecture is held at one of venues in Kyoto, and preferably scheduled after work hour. For example, 7pm to 9pm. •  Lecture is provided at no cost so everyone can participate as long as he/she has time. •  Participants can interact with a person who is giving lecture during Q&A session or after lecture is finished. •  Consider this activity as “give before you get.” No expectation from anyone.
  8. 8. Key points •  Lectures must be provided for free. •  Venue owners are expected to provide their space for free at least for a couple of hours. •  A person who gives lecture doesn’t have to be A-class talent. •  Organize those lectures once a week or once every two weeks to keep awareness amongst people. This awareness creates foundation for community. •  Have a central location where people can look for upcoming lectures and events. e.g. StartupDigest e.g. Google Calendar, Facebook page
  9. 9. What is going to happen •  People start seeing each other at various lectures on regular basis. This creates healthy relationship between members in community. •  Students can learn the latest skills used at actual startups. •  Startups can connect to students who might want to work as intern or full-time employee in the future. •  Students may decide to stay in Kyoto by joining local startup rather than relocating themselves to Tokyo after graduation. •  People begin to feel existence of community by belonging to same group of people. •  Word-of-mouth starts spreading nationally and internationally, which attracts potential members of community from inside and outside Japan.
  10. 10. Case Study: General Assembly General Assembly is a collaborative workspace and startup incubator. Startups incubated by GA are not required to pay for their rent. Instead, they are required to give workshop for members in community. GA makes money by selling those workshops that in return cover the entire rent fee for startups.  
  11. 11. Phase 2: Turn Community into Foundation for Accelerator
  12. 12. What works and what does not work Hey, I’m an startup accelerator and I have money. Want to join me? THIS DOES NOT WORK   THIS WORKS   Startup Accelerator as a place where community member gathers Community Member Community Member Community Member Community Member
  13. 13. Desired form of accelerator •  Coworking space + incubation office. •  Coworking space is a place where any community member can stop by, work and collaborate. •  Incubation office is a place where select group of startups work. •  The startups are not required to pay for their rent, but required to give lecture on regular basis. Same model as General Assembly. •  Lecture is held at coworking space and it is given by the startups in incubation office. •  Coworking space and incubation office must be in walking distance. Preferably within same building.
  14. 14. Relationship Coworking Space Community Member Incubation Office Startup Startup Startup Startup Lecture Community Member Community Member Community Member participate   engage / intern / part-time / full-time  
  15. 15. Thank you.
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