a peep into Japanese Entrepreneurs & Business ventures in Singapore
Produced by WASABI Creation
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Text by Lim Shi Hui, Undergraduate, NUS School of Business
Sekai-lab provides international customized web application software development and services including crowdsourcing to connect freelance software development contractors and businesses. Sekai-lab was created to facilitate business to business communication. Freelancers may encounter difficulties starting out, and handling big development projects. To accomplish these big projects, Seki-lab is dedicated to web development to facilitate the linkage between application and development of enterprises and the needs of customers.
Currently, Sekai-lab has established branch offices in Japan, Singapore, Shanghai China. The main purpose of these offices is to expand their business, and are now underway to establish the American branch. Development centres will soon be set up in Japan, China Chengdu, Vietnam, Bangladesh and the Philippines. There are a total of 400 developers.
Business in Singapore was established in May, and is managed by manager Mr. Tamura. Singapore's office’s main objective is to develop the need for applications and customers systems in Singapore and neighbouring countries, to link these customers and businesses.
Originally Sekai-lab is a Singapore company, and Japan was a branch company. Sekai-lab wanted to expand their overseas business and create more international goods and services, hence they selected the company headquarters in Singapore. But today, the company's main business is in Japan, because more staff in the development center in Vietnam speak Japanese, and can maintain business links with Japan more easily. From a business point of view, Shanghai, Singapore, followed by the US are important target markets.
In terms of business, Singapore will focus more on e-commerce and procedural aspects, while Japan will focus more on advertising.
Mr. Tamura expressed that currently, there are no other companies competing with them in Singapore in terms of platform development, but there any many other companies engaged in development work. For example, these companies, like Sekai-lab, have their own product development units for various aspects of development work.
Different areas of product development are carried out in China, Vietnam and Bangladesh. There are many different competitors in each market, such as the numerous companies in India and Vietnam.
Sekai-lab stands out from other companies with the parent company Monster-lab, a company with ten years of experience.
Sekai-lab has the advantage of having more than a decade of substantial developmental experience in Singapore. Sekai-lab is able to carry out multilingual communication in Japanese, English and other languages, to provide customers with faster service. Aside from bridging communication gaps, Sekai-lab can adapt to the budgetary needs of customers when providing solutions for them.
From the customers’ point of view, development centers in Vietnam and Bangladesh may not be able to accommodate the higher product demand. Hence, Sekai-lab will send project managers from Japan to strictly manage product quality so that customers will be more assured of cooperation when working with them. In Vietnam, Bangladesh, and China, development centers have adopted the dispatch style Japanese managers had taught the local developers. As these local developers are able to use Japanese to interact, there is an improvement in work efficiency in communication.
Manager Tamura from the Singapore branch feels that Singapore lacks a vast network of relationships, resulting in difficulty when trying to expand the customer base. In Japan, because of Sekai-lab's reputation, it is easy to attract customers. However in Singapore, as Sekai-lab is still relatively unknown, the number of clients is growing slowly. Hence, a major part of Sekai-lab operations in Singapore is to expand the network of relationships through a number of activites. The company's website is currently being produced, and the company's online campaigns will also become the focus of future endeavours.
The short-term goals of Sekai-lab Singapore is to carry out localized business development, but their long-term goal focuses on Indonesia, Malaysia and the neighbouring countries as well. When Japanese customers want to conduct business in Southeast Asia through Sekai-lab, the company can provide insights as they understand local needs better, and can integrate more quickly into the local market. Sekai-lab has branches in various places, now is now setting up all kinds of new business. In the process establishing new business in Southeast Asia, the situation of insufficient IT engineers might arise. Sekai-lab has hired more than 400 developers, and have more than a million developers (?) on the staff development platform. Sekai-lab wants to provide a steady stream of talent for the society.
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Tamura graduated from Osaka University. During his studies in Canada and Belgium, he started to think that he wants to develop himself internationally in the future. After graduation, he worked at Rakuten e-commerce sector, and thought of using the Internet to change society. He then came to work in Singapore, at Recruit Company after developing an interest in training and development. Ultimately, he realised that he stills prefer working in the IT sector. He decided to work for Seki-Lab as it is based globally, and feels that it is a very meaningful job.