a peep into Japanese Entrepreneurs & Business ventures in Singapore
Produced by WASABI Creation
Enable global expansion with the power of
5 different languages, only with EventRegist
Text by Kurumi Takayanagi, Undergraduate Shizuoka University
Translated by Daniel Chiang
What service does your company provide, and what are its advantages?
EventRegist is an online platform for events management, allowing participants to register and make payment, and organizers to manage these aspects in advance of the actual event. Its strengths are ease of use, a wealth of customizable features that business-oriented events require, as well as seamless integration of both online and on-site management of the event in one system, simplifying the task of logging and keeping track of participants' data for organizers.
What is your company's background?
Founded in 2011 by former employees of IT giants such as Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, our company has done work for mega-scale events like the Tokyo Game Show, CEATEC Japan and ad:tech Tokyo. In 2014, we received capital investment from Nikkei Inc. and in the same year set up our Singapore headquarters as a launch pad to service the Asian market. Already, this year we are providing registration services for Oishii Japan, ASEAN's largest dedicated Japanese F&B showcase, to be held at Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre on 22-24 October 2015.
What were your reasons for choosing Singapore as your foreign base of operations?
Against a backdrop of steady economic growth, Asia has the fastest-growing MICE scene in the world; therein, Singapore has positioned itself as the premier venue for MICE events. Despite its small size which limits the amount of physical space available for large expositions, it plays host to the highest number of international meetings among Asian cities, and is renowned for having extraordinarily high rates of international participation in its events. We believe that succeeding in Singapore would gain us a strong advantage for further expansion into the whole of Asia.
How did you come to know about Jublia in Singapore?
We had read about Jublia in reports shared with us by our CEO, Mr. Hirayama. We then arranged an introductory meeting with them and, upon discovering that we could leverage on each other's strengths for mutual benefit, entered into a partnership with them.
Why did you decide to provide your service in 5 different languages?
Even though EventRegist was created in Japan, we had always intended for it to travel overseas, particularly to Asia; thus we released it in English, Japanese, Traditional Chinese, Thai, and Indonesian. The ability for users to switch freely between languages is a unique feature not found in our competitors' offerings. At the moment our users are overwhelmingly Japanese-speaking, followed by English, but utilization of the other 3 languages is growing because of increased usage by foreigners living in Japan, foreign attendees of events in Japan, as well as participants of events we are now doing in Asia.
Are there any difficulties doing business in Singapore compared to in Japan?
The competition here is even greater than in Japan. Because the common language is English, and business infrastructure is well-developed, on top of her openness to foreign investment, many Western companies are entering the market.
Did you take concrete steps to tackle these difficulties? How did you do so?
We are pouring all our energy into making sales. The process of securing an appointment with a potential client and then closing a deal is long and arduous because we as yet have neither a solid track record nor recognition in the industry, so we have a long way to go before others will place their trust in us. To mitigate this we have found that the most effective strategy is partnering up with respected local companies, as they not only give us access to their networks but can also vouch for us to their partners.
Since starting out in Singapore, is there anything in particular you have learnt to take note of?
That would definitely be knowing when to take action. If you don't offer pertinent ideas the moment they are needed, the other party will lose interest in you. And in our industry where events usually take place only once a year, letting that opportunity slip through your fingers means a one-year wait for the next chance to clinch that deal.
What similarities and differences have you noticed between the way business is conducted in Japan and in Singapore?
Over here, I was surprised by the number of women in management positions. You see in Japan, management roles are nearly always occupied by men, but I often encounter female managers here - many of them outstanding and powerful. I was also impressed by how quickly the women here return to work after childbirth. I would say that in Singapore, men and women alike are able to excel at career and family simultaneously.
What are your short-term and long-term goals in Singapore?
In the short-term we aim to see some real results for our business. In the long-term it is our goal for EventRegist to spread to all of Asia. Furthermore, above being merely a vendor for events, we aspire to position ourselves side-by-side with organizers to shape the way events are run, thereby becoming the most well-received events management platform.
About Mr. Akihito Tanekura (Allan)
Please tell us more about your background and experience.
I was born and raised in Tokyo's Edogawa Ward, in the Shitamachi area. After university, I worked as a salesman for a company manufacturing electronic components for the First Section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange. In my third year with the company, at age 25, I was expatriated to Singapore, where I began handling sales for the Southeast Asian region. In 2014 I joined EventRegist and have since founded the Singapore branch office as its managing director. As I am a one-man operation at the moment, I handle everything from sales and marketing to administration.
What was your impression of Singapore before first arriving here?
I had this image of a spotlessly clean, orderly city. Prior to that the only Asian country I had been to outside Japan was India, and Singapore seemed to me a modern city worlds apart from that.
Did you bring anything special with you when you came to Singapore?
My classical guitar which I had been playing since university. However lately I have been more interested in piano, which I learned as a child but have not touched since stopping in elementary school. I recently bought an electric keyboard and am practicing every day.
Compared to life in Japan, is there anything different about life in Singapore?
My relationships with other people have changed. Whereas in Japan I had contact only with predefined groups of acquaintances such as former schoolmates or coworkers, in Singapore now I have many opportunities to meet people from myriad nationalities and backgrounds; this extends to fellow Japanese I meet, who span all age groups, both genders and diverse industries and professions. I think this has contributed to a richer life I now lead, both in business and in private.
Were you caught off-guard by any Singaporean culture or custom?
That would be the hawker culture. I was awestruck by the presence of hawker centres and foodcourts everywhere, offering a smorgasbord of cuisines at relatively affordable prices, which locals also use as places to catch a break in the middle of the day.
Is there anything you want to do, or anyplace you want to visit in Singapore?
I would very much like to stay a night in a suite at MBS.
What personal goals do you have for yourself?
Besides success for EventRegist, I have been learning about stock investing on my own while dabbling in it so as to grow my personal wealth, in the hopes of one day becoming financially independent. After that, I would love to impart these skills to others beginning their investment journey.
In the more distant future I aim to start a company of my own, nurture young talent, and supply products that everyone around the world can enjoy.
Please say a few words in parting to our readers.
Some may say that Singapore is strict, severe and boring - nothing more than the impersonal capital city of Southeast Asia, but I would say that that is an erroneous assessment. Don't stick to confined social circles but associate widely with different kinds of people, and you will find no shortage of fresh experiences and discoveries; events are particularly ripe with opportunities to meet people from all over the globe. Finally, if you would like to explore possible synergies with EventRegist for any event-related project you might have, please do get in touch with me.
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