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Tech in Asia Tokyo 2018 Day 1 Wrap-Up

Tech in Asia Tokyo 2018 fell on the same week of Tokyo Game Show, which would probably explain the surprisingly low turnout compared to TIA Tokyo 2017. Nonetheless, we were able to gain some insights from influential leaders about the future of fintech in Japan. 

We attended both days of the event and to be frank were left disappointed with the overall lack of enthusiasm you would expect from the startup community. The venue also played a part in failing to enthuse attendees as well as exhibited startups. The layout only offered booths table to table space in what was essentially a hallway on the 9th floor of Hikarie. The space hindered real interactions to take place between attendees and company representatives.

If you decided to attend TIA over Tokyo Game Show, you would probably agree that you didn’t get the impression that the main stage area was ever packed. This observation speaks to how Japan still has a long way to go in terms of dedicating the right resources and time to such an event that deserves more attention. 

On the bright side, we didn’t have to fight for a front row center seat at the main stage and had more personalized interactions with some of the bootstrappers.  


Day 1  Bootstrap Alley Discovery

Empath Inc. at TIA Tokyo 2018

We got a cool demo from Hazumu Yamazaki, CSO of Empath Inc. , demonstrating their emotion AI product which identifies emotions from speech. At first glance, we were thinking to ourselves “This is cool, but what can we use it for?” Sure enough Hazumu san impressed us with how versatile the product is, showcasing the number of use cases.

Empath’s service of detecting emotions of anger, joy, sorrow, calmness as well as energy spikes in real time is revolutionizing the way we connect and communicate with customers, teammates and even robots.

Check out these industries who are embracing Empath’s emotion AI:

  • Mental Healthcare (Jibun Yohou an EAP app analyzes the correlation between weather and employee mood, an app that helps improve your individual and team division’s motivation levels)
  • Car Infotainment (NTT Docomo Car Agent Project aiming to help drivers maintain emotions and safety while driving)
  • Call Center (TMJ call center service implementing Empath to visualize customer & agent real-time mood, improving success of outbound calls & reducing employee turnover)
  • Robotics (Unibo Fujitsu Robot AI Platform – enabling robots to understand human emotions)
  • Entertainment (Utakata Mood Light & Philips – this emotive lighting app activates warm colors when you are feeling good and cold colors when you are feeling bad (a blessing for those who prefer the silent treatment route when it comes to communicating with your partner)
  • Virtual Reality (Future Virtual Interview Project – Oculus Rift VR links headsets with Empath while players are able to interview Ryoma Sakamoto, legendary 19th century samurai and politician, as he judges your skill based on your speech)

Main Stage  “The Revolution is Now: How to Scale a Fintech Company”

This panel discussion was held in Japanese, so you’re in for an exclusive take on what leaders in Japan have to say about scaling a fintech company.

Key Quotes

“Fintech needs marketing, sales and engineers.” – Tatsuto Fujii, Head of MUFG Digital Accelerator, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc. (MUFG)

“You have to bring in talent that want to scale” – Tatsuto Fujii

“[In terms of talent at FOLIO], half are foreigners including art director, designers and engineers. Cyber security is a separate group of talent. UI/UX is 「命」(life) ” – Shinichiro Kai, CEO of FOLIO

“Half are engineers and we want to keep growing.” – Kazuma Ochi, Country Manager of TransferWise Japan

“There’s a lack of engineers in bank systems. Can we make a workspace for these incoming talent? That’s the big and first question we need to think about.”  – Tatsuto Fujii

“Big changes need to be made in order for incoming talent to work in Japan, this even includes things like non-smoking work spaces.” – Shinichiro Kai

(Continue to Day 2 wrap up here)