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Slush Tokyo 2018 : Choosing a Cooler World
Slush Tokyo 2018 was an amazing experience.
Sensory stimulation to the max. What really blew our minds was the incredible amount of excitement that spread contagiously like this year’s springtime kafun (perhaps that wasn’t quite the right comparison). Although we had the agenda of the two-day event at our disposal we couldn’t help but wander off when someone or something looked too irresistible to miss. Imagine a kid’s first time at an amusement park and dragging their parents to the next big ride–it was something like that.
One of those instances was catching a glimpse of Anders H. Lier, an international impact investor and co-founder of Katapult Future Fest. He was giving a talk while styling a pink hoodie campaign ‘chooose a coooler world’.
Those four words really sum up why 6,000 people, including 600 startups and 200 investors gathered at Slush Tokyo. So, what do these investors want to invest in?
Anders states, “I think it’s important that we remember to take responsibility [in making sure] that the technology is best for the humankind. Although I’m a big big optimist, there are some negative aspects of strong technology like AI (go to our Twitter video to watch our full-length footage).” He says, “My most important task as an investor is to ask the difficult questions, if I am here giving you answers, nobody is learning anything.” Anders goes on in describing the mission of the Katapult foundation–creating a better future by spreading the news of impact investing on a global level.
Just imagine if we could have 7 billion Musks in the world…I think we’d create a totally different planet.
His speech was an inspiration as many young individuals in the audience approached him with questions afterwards, as well as investors.
2018 Slush Tokyo Startup Pitch Contest
With 80 early-stage startups who competed in the Slush Tokyo Startup Pitch Contest, here are a few that represent team ‘chooose a coooler world’!
Historie is a questions and opinion forum founded by Takashi Onishi. The forum allows its users to ask and answer questions about controversial historical events which trigger quite heated responses such as “What do you think of atomic bombs?” Rather than finding the ‘right’ answers however, Takashi hopes to provide a space where people from around the globe can gather and learn that there are multiple viewpoints to a story. Takashi shares why he created the service. He states that as a child he grew up in Kobe, Japan, where he lived with Chinese and Korean people. He shared that despite being friends with Chinese and Koreans, hate speech still persisted–he wanted to change this with the power of 21st-century technology.
Tokyo Hearth is a housing platform specifically created to help internationals in Japan. CEO Tomonari Kino founded the startup as a means to eliminate the prominently used word “gaijin” or “outside person.” Most foreigners in Japan face tremendous difficulty with finding housing as Japanese natives tend to decline due to the fact that there is a cultural or racial barrier. Tomonari studied abroad in the United States and talks about how he experienced ‘reverse culture shock.’ This reverse culture shock had to do with a lack of diversity. He says that he complained about this lack of diversity and wanted to leave. Later on, he realized instead of complaining, maybe he could do something about it himself. That is where he began his project.
The Future of Japan
The Japanese founders of Tokyo Hearth and Historie are immense beams of innovation and can bring a lot of young Japanese people to the startup community.
We met a group of Japanese high school students at the event and asked them about their passions. Several were interested in studying abroad and learning English while others were interested in fields such as early education and psychology/neurology. We asked, “Why are you interested in neurology?” The girl answered, “I am interested in knowing about how our brain works and why and how physical and neural responses happen…like when a boy you like passes by.”
There is certainly a rise in entrepreneurial spirit in Japan and we hope it continues to rise even more!