Funny thing about dreams, we all have them but when do dreams become reality and not just random ideas. I sat down and interviewed, Brandon Hill, president and CEO of btrax, Inc. and Myles Weissleder, the head guy at SFNewTech and Mylermedia, who are the brains behind this event and discussed the origins, planning, presenters of this dream for SFNewTech Japan Night. We found Myles at his dreamspot, the pier behind Paradise Bay Restaurant in Sausalito, CA.
What gave you guys the inspiration for SF Japan Night? It is a much different business model for btrax, Inc.
Brandon: Many people from nikkei(Japanese) companies came to SFNewTech and other venues without a clear plan or strategy for market research. They contact me to ask about how the Silicon Valley/San Francisco start-up communities operate.
Many companies continue to help Japanese companies within the Japanese community only so their audience is limited and it is not helping these start-up companies. I realized that there needs to be a forum here in the US that integrates these Japanese companies with the market more.
Myles: I think Brandon talked about it last year during the winter and it was just an idea, in July, he came to me with very serious intentions about the idea. I said why not? Brandon, were your inspired by what other countries were doing by SFNewTech?
Brandon: Yes, I was inspired by 2 Belgium events, one last year and one this year and a French presentation and I said “why can’t Japan be represented as well.” I talked internally within my company to check my thoughts with Japanese nationals in our company and they understand the frustrations that companies that want to come here face.
Myles, did you theme these country events for SFNewTech?
Myles: Quite the opposite. These countries come to me through various channels like people who represent several companies to countries that want to develop their exports. In fact, several countries like Spain, Singapore, UK will be on the upcoming SFNewTech agenda for the next year.
This makes total sense for companies who want to market outside of their countries and be a part of the mix, the conversation, the energy here(San Francisco and Silicon Valley). So does the Japanese government have ways of collaborating with companies like ours?
Brandon: There are multiple agencies like that with a business development agenda but because of constraints they really can’t collaborate with companies like ours directly. They have a bureaucratic process that has to make it fair for similar companies.
How was the selection process and what do you think about the tech mix for SFNewTech Japan Night?
Myles: Well, Brandon did that end of the job, I personally like to take a cursory view of what they offer and quite frankly like to be “surprised” by the participants for all of SFNewTech events.
Brandon: I contacted several companies that I knew already and then we networked and promoted it with a website that we set-up in two weeks. Eventually with help of friends in my network, we had 40 companies bid for the six slots by the end of August which was our deadline.
We interviewed and talked with each candidate and selected a mix of six we felt was a good variety for the SFNewTech community. In fact, we knew several big companies and they declined at this time since no one has tried this approach yet. It is part of the conservative Japanese nature.
Myles: So you couldn’t point to another case study like the French at SFNewTech to convince them?
Brandon: Well, I think this will be successful and we will get them for the next event. I would like to hold this at least twice a year. The expenses are covered by each participant and the promotional costs are handled by btrax, Inc.
Myles: But, you are trying to get sponsorships to cover some of the costs right?
Brandon: Well, we are getting sponsors but really want to pass their contribution to the presenters to cover their costs. It is an expensive endeavor for these Japanese start-ups to come to US. I really want to help these Japanese companies expand their market.
So, that is Brandon’s and Myles’ dream for SFNewTech Japan night. As a Japanese proverb says “Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.”
Please come out and support the rising sun of Japan IT tech to help them expand their reach on October 13.