Our Surprising Business Trip to Japan
We've been to Japan numerous times, but this visit was definitely one to remember.
During the month of April (Sakura season – how lucky are we?) we had the opportunity of arranging (more than) several business meetings in Japan. We were excited to visit new places and meet new and old corporates in order to learn about them, and present our company and activity opportunities. This was such a learning experience that we felt like we had to share it – even though we get to travel to Japan a lot, the intensity and variety we experienced this time would be a shame not to share.
Here’s the thing. It’s not a secret that Japan has great interest in Israel – we’re the “Startup Nation”, that tiny area in the Middle East that has the most startups-per-capita in the world.
To our great surprise, the easiest part was scheduling meetings. Once we had a list of potential clients down (reminder: Samurai’s clients are Japanese corporates looking to work with Israeli startups) it was a breeze; corporates were so eager to meet us that we actually had a hard time scheduling with all of them (sorry - see you next time!). If there’s one thing we learned from preparing for this trip and will definitely recommend: location, location, location. Japan – and more specifically, Tokyo – is huge, and, if possible, you should try to arrange your meeting locations close to one another, as travel time may be long and tiring (even when the public transportation systems are perfect).
Next up: it’s meeting time! Our company deck was new and improved, we’ve studied the companies, and the chocolate from Max Brenner was neatly wrapped (remember to always prepare small gifts for your meetings: it’s called “Omiyage (おみやげ)” and the recipient will be delighted to get it). Once passed several security guards and receptionists who were very confused to see the both of us – smiling, foreign ladies who are definitely not from around there – we were lucky enough to meet teams of experts who were just as excited to meet us as we were them.
Here’s the thing. It’s not a secret that Japan has great interest in Israel – we’re the “Startup Nation”, that tiny area in the Middle East that has the most startups-per-capita in the world. But arranging a meeting is not enough; our intended meeting participants knew we’re bringing more to the table than an introduction (we made sure they did), and so they arrived ready, with the most suitable representatives for the task at hand. We felt that the people we were meeting had great interest in what we had to say, asked all the right questions and were very willing to discuss an optional collaborative future together. This week made us realize, now more than ever, that the “Japan-Israel bridge” we keep talking about is truly taking form.
Squeezing 13 meetings into 5 days is hard – making sure they all grow into pursuable actions is a bit harder. Now that we’re back from our business trip (and over the jetlag), we’re currently working together with our new colleagues to create follow-up meetings and further action items that will lead us all into valuable, long-lasting business relationships. At the end of the day we all come with the mutual goal of connecting between strong Japanese corporates, to just-as-strong Israeli startups. Even though the differences are there, we believe the time is right and both sides are ready; with some help from yours truly, it can happen (based on some true stories!).
Last, but not least, have fun! We always recommend taking some hours/a day or two off to enjoy the wonders Japan has to offer. Getting to know the culture and people will most likely help you in your business quest; and if you need advice on which Disney park to visit – we can also help with that ;)
Until next time!
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