CES 2016 and the challenge of startups in Japan

In Japan — as in many other places around the world — hardware can be even harder, as the island presents a cultural uniqueness that can lead to misconceptions about the future of a product.

CES 2016, the largest consumer electronics & technology event in the world, called the attention to many trends and possible integrated IoT devices for the future, from wearables to connected houses and cars.

From a startup point of view, it was also an inspiring chance to get in touch with different makers from the hardware industry in the world and check how they have been dealing with most common daily decisions.

Kenshin Fujiwara, Makers Boot Camp Co-Founder and Hacarus CEO, who attended the event in Las Vegas, came back to Kyoto with great learnings to share with our community.

As noticed in many parts of the world, user’s insights and target definition are still a huge challenge for all startups, but in Japan things tend to get more specific thanks to the language barrier and also a range of social values that can only be shared with some Asian countries.

Nowadays it is still common to find a Japanese startup looking for fundraising in order to produce in large scale, and realize some basic questions about its product seem to be unsolved, as the segmented target, the potential market outside of Japan/Asia, and also the innovative competitive advantages: how its product can provide a real solution for a customer.

Researching is the key point after coming up with a new idea, including — but not only — benchmarking, so the startup can make sure there is no similar product in the market offering the same advantages a consumer can already have (and sometimes even better or cheaper).

As pointed out by Christine Evans in her article on the blog Fictive, after interviewing Gabrielle Guthrie and Santhi Analytis of Moxxly, a startup developing a high performing breast pump system in US, “The fatal error of so many startups is they begin their user research after the product is too refined. Then they don’t want to admit it because they’ve invested so much time and effort. We put the most time and effort up front into figuring out what users want.”

The role of hardware accelerator support can help providing access to resources, machinery, techniques, and networking that would normally take longer to find out alone. It also includes a senior mentorship about the next steps and when to change a route already taken, which can save a lot of time and money for future efforts.

Depending on the stage of the product development, structure can be another incredibly helpful benefit of an accelerator program, as mentioned in her article ”the key to acceptance into an accelerator is not a fully refined prototype. Rather, it’s a fully fleshed out idea that proves promise for future success, making it worth the investment in further work on the physical prototype.”

If you would like to count on a leading hardware acceleration with a Samurai mentorship in Japan, and one the most recommend in Asia (What seed startup accelerators exist for hardware startup companies?), contact us to find out about our Spring 2016 Batch. Applications will start in February.

Originally published at makersboot.camp.