btrax is 15!
We have grown so much since our humble beginning in 2004, from providing design services for small businesses to now helping companies bridge the gap between Japan and America through design.
Maybe you know btrax from a business standpoint, but btrax is so much more than just that. Here are 15 fun facts about our history, culture, and people. Let’s go!
1. The first website design of btrax
Here’s what our very first website looked like! It was completely designed by Brandon, the CEO himself! And, guess what? It was a full flash website.
btrax’s First Website
2. The second oldest btrax team member
Wondering who has been at btrax just as long as Brandon? It’s none other than…COOPER HILL!
Cooper is Brandon’s Cockapoo. He was known as btrax’s Happiness Officer. Although he now prefers the comforts of home over hanging out at the office, his spirit and dog bed still remain in the office.
Become a friend of Cooper via Facebook!
3. btrax Japan
In July 2013, btrax Japan officially opened in Tokyo! The year prior, Brandon and Aki Tada, who would become the general manager of btrax Japan, met at a networking barbecue. It was there that they discussed the idea of bringing btrax to Japan. After a few months of planning, btrax Japan became a reality. You can read about the launch here.
The team enjoying a nice meal together in Tokyo, Japan.
4. The origin of “btrax”
Have you ever wondered where the name “btrax” comes from? To give you a bit of context, Brandon has a deep appreciation for music and studied music before focusing on design in college. With his passion for music, he wanted his company to have a music theme.
btrax is split into two parts: “b” and “trax”. “trax” comes from the word “tracks”, like music tracks. The “b” comes from the b-side of records. Just like a record having two sides, btrax does also with the a-side representing btrax’s clients while the b-side representing btrax’s team members.
Now that you know where btrax comes from, can you see the vinyl record inspiration in btrax’s logo?
5. From internship to startup
Before btrax Japan opened, a few eager Japanese entrepreneurs and students joined btrax in San Francisco to gain experience working for a startup in Silicon Valley. The first among these was Masa Iguchi. Currently, he is the owner of one of the top brand design companies in Japan called IN FOCUS INC.
Masa wasn’t the only one to start a new business after his time at btrax. Three other btrax interns went on to start their own companies. Those btrax alumni include Naofumi Tuchiya who started Goodpatch, Ryoryun Nuto who started Karen, and Hide Matsumura who started Empower For.
Masa Iguchi, Brandon, and Naofumi Tsuchiya.
6. Fostering entrepreneurs
btrax has organized multiple startup events since 2010 including Japan Night and Asian Night to foster entrepreneurs from overseas. There has been seven Japan Night and two Asian Night events hosted by btrax.
The second Japan Night event in 2011.
In 2016, btrax partnered with Fukuoka City to bring entrepreneurs from Japan to San Francisco! With training in both Japan and the U.S., btrax was able to host over 100 entrepreneurs. We have continued to work with Fukuoka City and are proud to have hosted over 300 entrepreneurs from Fukuoka over the past three years.
Learn more about Startup Fukuoka here.
freshtrax is btrax’s blog where readers can find articles on the latest marketing, business, and design trends in Japan and America. The articles differ on freshtrax Japan and English though, so don’t think you’ll simply find translated articles.
freshtrax published its first article in 2008. Since then, there have been 1,263 articles written (as of July 2, 2019), 865 written in Japanese and 398 in English.
8. Post-it sticky notes
Can you guess how many sticky notes btrax uses in a year?
Our team and clients use approximately 42,270 Post-its.
These sticky notes are used for writing quick notes (of course), sharing ideas and feedback during retro meetings, sketching, and sending silly, motivational comments to one another!
9. Meeting rooms
The current btrax office has 7 meeting rooms, each named after a typeface. Since typography is such a crucial factor in design, it’s only fitting that each room is named after one.
We have Meta, Times, Garamond, Futura, Helvetica, Bauhaus, and Hiragino!
The names also serve as a reminder that everyone in the office is a designer (whether they can draw well or not!)
btrax takes Halloween very seriously. Along with the tricks and treats, there is a costume contest every year and everyone always brings their A-game.
Everyone dressed up for btrax’s 2018 Halloween Party!
At the end of the day, it’s a good time connecting with one another and enjoying each person’s creativity through their costumes!
11. Culture Leader
Each week the team member who truly exemplified at least one of btrax’s four core values the previous week is chosen to be the “Culture Leader.” btrax’s values include:
1. Empower by Creativity
2. Communicate and Collaborate
3. Take Ownership
4. Be Playful
Though only one person is typically chosen, all of the btrax team members are rockstars.
12. Major shifts in the company
btrax initially focused on design and development in the beginning by helping companies create websites for local businesses. As we saw a need to provide services that complemented our design expertise, we also started offering marketing and branding services in 2008. In 2014, we began to also focus on UX Design.
At its core, btrax still focuses on design, creating incorporating design thinking practices in our work and fostering a creative environment in the office for clients and customers.
13. Innovation Booster
The Innovation Booster (IB) service was created in 2014 by IB Facilitator, Mark Wake. The service was created not only to teach Japanese participants and clients about design thinking, but also, to show them how to incorporate design thinking into their business models. Since 2014, the IB team has helped over 200 participants.
14. Design Sprints
btrax introduced Design Sprints as a service in 2018 as a way to help clients quickly solve problems through design, prototyping, and testing ideas with users. Both btrax members and clients would meet together every day for five days to share ideas, set goals, observe user tests, create storyboards, design prototypes, and review the progress. From ideation to creation to user testing, the group brought ideas to life and made finding solutions more clear.
【Related article】7 Helpful Tips for Designers—Reflection on My First Design Sprint
15. The CEO’s Vision for the Future
For btrax’s 15 year anniversary, Brandon created a new vision statement.
The btrax mission will be “Inspiring innovation through the power of design” with a vision to “Provide inspiring experiences.” The btrax team goal will be to “Design to Inspire”.
We look forward to what’s in store for the future of btrax!
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