Four Czech start-ups – NaviRider, Skychatters, Oscar senior and 60SCNDS – presented their projects at Slush Tokyo, a world-famous conference for start-ups and talented entrepreneurs, at the Tokyo Big Site exhibition centre on 28-29 March 2018. Thanks to the CzechDemo programme, the start-ups received financial support and had a unique opportunity to stand out with their projects, gain valuable contacts and address investors and possible business partners on the Asian market. They were also assisted by the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Tokyo, which prepared for them an additional programme on other days.
Vojta Knězů of the start-up NaviRider explains why the Japanese market is interesting for him: “We came to Japan with a riding assistant for motorcyclists because Japan is a motorcycle superpower and four major manufacturers are based here.” Tomáš Posker of the Czech start-up Oscar Senior, which provides senior citizens with an easy way to stay in touch with family and friends and to access useful online services, stated: “Japan is aging much faster than any other nation in the world. Together with a partner that we managed to engage here some time ago, we would like to approach not only Japanese end-users, but also companies that understand the future potential of the aging population. Slush Tokyo confirmed to us that the Japanese are aware of this issue.”
Together with the Czech embassy in Tokyo, Jiří Fusek, the head of CzechInvest’s Tokyo office, spent weeks preparing an accompanying programme featuring a series of inspirational meetings with emphasis on familiarising Czech companies with the characteristics of the Japanese market and the possibility to engage in discussion with Czech entrepreneurs who are active on the Japanese market. As Fusek told us, the Japanese market is not for everyone: “Japan is still a distant destination for us with a distinctive business culture and numerous barriers to entry. Besides its level of advancement, however, the country is undergoing an ‘entrepreneurial crisis’, where not quite 4% of the population is engaged in business – that figure is double in the Czech Republic, which can serve as an inspiration. The latest development with respect to the conclusion of the Economic Partnership Agreement and the obvious development of the start-up scene with the recent entry of major international players offer us an interesting opportunity.”
Another Czech start-up, Skychatters, is working on a web application that connects subjects in a licensed global flight database, came to Slush Tokyo with the objective of learning about technological possibilities in the world’s most technologically advances country and their subsequent implementation in its own project. Vít Musílek, CEO of Skychatters, adds: “We have something to learn from Japan in a lot of areas. Where technologies are concerned, those in Japan are at the highest level and that is exactly what our project needs. Our system processes more than a hundred thousand flights a day and we need to be at least two steps ahead. Our visit gave us a lot of different ways to go and to thus improve our product.”
The start-up 60SCNDS has a completely different approach. The firm is coming out with a revolutionary video-production method that tells your company’s story in sixty seconds. David Spáčil, head of 60SNDS, shared his impressions with us in Tokyo: “Tokyo is basically Blade Runner come to life; the cyberpunk aesthetic still persists, which is due in large part to the massive use of video at every step. The Japanese really liked the 60seconds.cz concept, which combines the transparency of video production with outstanding video quality, so I hope that we’ll take off like the Shinkansen here ;-).”
The world-famous Slush Tokyo conference was attended by several thousand people, investors, start-ups and renowned firms and, as the organisers mentioned, Slush Tokyo is back to break down barriers.