Tokyo Startup Stories: BONX, Takahiro Miyasaka

In 2015, Wahl & Case CEO Casey Wahl published his first book of interviews with the visionary founders behind Japan’s most successful startups, The Quiet Comeback.  Now he’s back with a second volume, featuring in-depth interviews with 21 more innovators of the Japanese startup scene.  This second book, published in March 2018, is so far available only in Japanese. We are excited to offer exclusive highlights of the interviews in English, outlining the concept behind each enterprise, the founder’s brush with the “valley of despair”, and points they consider key to their success--a rare peek into how tech founders on the other side of the Pacific differ and align with their Silicon Valley counterparts.

BONX   Takahiro Miyasaka


How Bonx came to be

Takahiro Miyasaka had been a “casual snowboarder” for years before deciding to study abroad in New Zealand. Once there, he became a true snowboard junkie, enthralled by the sport as well as the community-driven lifestyle surrounding it.After losing track of a compatriot during an especially frustrating back country snowboarding run, he developed the concept behind BONX, a hands-free communication device that allows up to 10 people to communicate in real time, on the slopes, in the river, wherever adventure takes you.

From the "valley of despair"

Takahiro Miyasaka Attuned

Takahiro Miyasaka Attuned

A major crowd-funding fail.“In the push to make the deadline, the product wasn’t up to snuff. There’s this attitude among lean startups that it's better to ship out an imperfect product than nothing at all. Instead of taking the time to reason it out and then shipping, in the midst of the chaos of having new problems pop up every night, we just thought we finally were “ok”. It was only after shipping 2700 sets, did we actually try it out for ourselves, discovering that we really weren’t there yet. I still feel really bad for doing that to those first customers.”

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Key insight 

“It’s really tough to succeed overseas.  There are almost no [Japanese] startups that are truly successful. That’s precisely why I thought, if we’re really going be successful, I have to go over there and do it myself.  I have the confidence in my ability to make it work .”

Parting shot

“Of course, I want to build a top-tier product.  The thing is, when you are building the product you’re building the company at the same time. So I also want to build the best company”.