STORES.jp Operator Bracket Announces MBO (Part 2)

It only takes two short minutes for users to create an online store with STORES.jp. Operator of STORES.jp,Bracket, was founded in October of 2008 and became a subsidiary of Start Today, who also manages ZOZOTOWN, in 2013. After experiencing steady growth, Bracket entered a new phase as of September 30th, 2016, announcing a buy back of Bracket’s stock. stores1In addition to the MBO which will separate them from the group, the company also announced a change in leadership with Ayana Tsukahara stepping in to the role of director.

We sat down with Representative Director and CEO, Yusuke Mitsumoto, to talk about the circumstances from which this was carried out and about his visions for the future.

Read Part 1 Here.Why change representatives during an MBO?Yusuke Mitsumoto (a.k.a Mitsumoto): It has been 4 years since we started STORES.jp, and we are exiting the phase of developing the service from 0 to 1, and entering the phase of furthering the service from 1 to 100. I believe that Tsukahara is more appropriately qualified to further grow this business. I’ve known her since before she founded Bracket, and not only do I have complete trust in her abilities, but the success of Bracket is thanks to the contributions that she has made. Although I have not been involved for the past 8 years, I am extremely happy that I have been able to delegate it to my trusted friend, and see the business grow successfully.Will you be focusing on 0 to 1 development?Mitsumoto: That’s right. Although I am 35 right now, by 40 I would like to have built up a service that not only has large scale influence but that has also made life a little easier for society. Working closely with Mr.Maezawa has instilled these values in me. We are working towards ZOZOTOWN to become the leading Online Shopping Platform of Japan.Of course I want my business to have a large impact, but more so I want to be able to say that I created that myself and be proud of the service I’ve made. With 40 only being 5 years away, now is the time I have to buckle down and put in the work to make that a reality. So with that being said, really my most valuable asset right now is “time”. My strong suit is bringing something to a 1 from a 0, and so giving the reigns of Bracket to a trusted partner will give me the time to indulge in the challenge of creating a new service from scratch that will be beneficial for society. This is what I truly find exciting. Specifically, what does your vision look like?Mitsumoto: Currently I am at the stage of looking for a suitable business field from the perspective of creating a service for the people. While many Startups and unrelated services for business options are popping up, there are still many consumers who find it inconvenienent. STORES.jp was created as a byproduct of moments that I came across something “interesting”, however having worked for Bracket for 8 years now I have gained more insight, and believe that business options and timing are extremely important. Therefore, when I develop a new business, I want to focus less on my personal sense and have more of an objective viewpoint on things such as “is there really potential for this to grow”, “are there enough users who would pay to use this service”, and “is it cost-effective to maintain this service on a large scale”. In order to have a service that will grow and have a large impact, first and foremost it has to be in a market with high potential. A successful service depends on a combination of being able to reassess calculations, being able to adapt to ever-changing trends, and invest during a time when there is a high demand for the service.I think that you have a very keen eye for understanding the needs of the time. When you’re looking for a business that has growth potential, are you looking for anything in particular?Mitsumoto: I guess to be attuned to the shifts in society. Also, when I come across the same information twice, what this information means is very different depending on if I’m looking at it from the perspective of the user or the creator. Most people look at things from the perspective of a user; for example, “Airbnb is popular and seemed interesting so I tried it”. Whereas a creator is operating on the idea of creating something new, and would look at it as “what can I create that is missing from this service that would make it more fulfilling”.I love to create new things, and so even when I am idling or chatting with an employee, my mind is always looking for new business ideas from what is in front of me. For example, if a service was developed that provided free lunches to workers, don’t you think that the “lunch culture” would drastically change? Thinking about how to make a world where everyone is happy, and looking for pieces to make that a reality, is perhaps what contributes to bringing an idea into fruition.I see, you look for new business opportunities every day from a “creator’s” point of view. Lastly, can you say a few words to any readers who aspire to be an Entrepreneur?Mitsumoto: Our MBO is an extremely rare case. Our venture has matured and the number of M&A has also increased. However most of these people are known as M&A exits, which means that currently we are limited to either listing the stock or selling. On the other hand, I believe an amicable MBO is a new action. I would be happy for fellow Entrepreneurs to see that Bracket’s decision brought about the possibility of new exits, and that you can take these kinds of actions as well. Moreover, I hope that this goes down as a new success story and that it encourages Entrepreneurs to take on new challenges. I am very hopeful that this will be the case.I am excited to see what the future has in store for Bracket. Thank you for sharing your story with me!