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TENANT VOICES

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L: Shigeru Harasawa DataRobot

R: Tetsuro Ida Nauto Japan representative

“EGG JAPAN”, the business support facility for fast growing companies both domestic and overseas, located in world-leading business area Marunouchi. Many startup companies have achieved their business growthhere. We asked importance of working environment tothe representatives of EGG JAPAN’s two startup companies that are making remarkableprogress lately.

This content is the revised version of extract from “Nikkei Business Associe” August issue in 2018. All rights are reserved.

*This interveiw was conducted in Japanese,
the article was translated into English.

Competing with uniqueness by leveraging our strength, which is “PEOPLE”

    • Tell us how your current project got started.
    • Shigeru, Harasawa (H)DataRobot is a US company that sets a goal of “Democratization of AI”, and provides tools for automating machine learning. I have been working with data for more than 20 years, and when it comes to utilizing data, it was common to gather data and digitize it or using data with business intelligence tools. However, I was thinking that the goal of using data was not to “see the past” but to “predict the future”. For example, we run businesses bypredictingtarget audience andthe quantity of purchasing or manufacturing the products. Although these predictions have been carried out based on human experience, DataRobot can allow anyone to create prediction models by using AI technology based on big data. I thought this business was what I was looking for, and I took part in establishing a Japan office.
    • Tetsuro, Ida (I)Nauto is a US company whose mission is to “make driving safer and smarter͇by using AI technology and data platforms. Various startups and automobile companies are promoting the development of self-driving cars, but the current cars will still be used for another decades. Therefore, Nauto strives hard for technological development for safety of future autonomous drivingas well as development, production, and selling of AI equipped in cabin device for safety of present-day drivers. Originally, I worked at an automobile company, but I had this feeling that “the automotive industry is going to transform”, so I left the company and went to the US. After working in Silicon Valley while looking for possibilities of͆cars plus technology”, I finally joined Nauto. I founded the Japan office, wanting to contribute something to the automobile industry, one of thekey industryof Japan, by using Silicon Valley technologies.
    • What is the strong point that drives your growth?
    • HThere are a lot! (ha-ha) First, DataRobot brings together global top-class data scientists. In fact, there is a competition called “Kaggle” in which participants compete in data science technology, and at the US headquarters of DataRobot, there are many top winners including several members that are in first place in the composite rankings. By incorporating the knowledge of our data scientists into software, we’ve implemented products thatis easy and accurateand anybody can automatically create “predictive models”. It is truly a “democratization of AI”, and this is our strongest point. In fact, when I first sawthis product, I got goosebumps. Things that I thought “maybe we will be able to do this in five years” were happening in front of my eyes, and it was shocking.
    • IMy company also has a lot (ha-ha) too. The first is͆people͇. The source of our strong point is our top-class engineers gathered from companies such as major tech giants, who could deal with Nauto’s core technologies of deep learning and computer vision. Secondly, there’s the fact that we are developing businesseswith two time axes: keeping pace with technological developments for the future of self-driving cars, and putting those advanced technologies into in-cabin AIdriver safety systemthat we provide to the drivers today. The third is our speed. Big companies tend to spend a lot of time in planning. But we have priority to put out the products that customers can benefit from to the market as fast as we can, and then evolve the products further in accordance with the customers’ changing needs. It is a major advantage in the automobile industry that you can react and move quickly.

New ideas come upby having face-to-face conversation in the office

    • How do you think about team management?
    • H don’t think of my team as something that I need to manage in the first place. In the past year since setting up an office at EGG JAPAN, we have grown to nineteen people, and it was worth spending time and energy to findsuch talented members. Although each member has different background such as people who were involved with production or marketing, or people who were teaching machine learning at US universities. They arecapable of self-managing and they find their own way of working. Our team spirit seems weak at first, but one of our membersput it this way: “We may appear that our team is not functioning well, but we all share same visions and working in the same direction”. And that was the moment when I realized this is my ideal style of team.
    • IMy company also had to work very hard to find right person, but we managed to find eight talented people who we could rely on. In addition to style and experience, we think that “passion” is essential. It’s very important for doing this work, and there is no need to manage people who are passionate. However, there are two key words that I follow when I think of management. One is “respect”. They are all successful people, so if they feel comfortable, it is ok to work wherever they want. I respect their individual work styles. On the otherhand, it is “accountability”. Clear accountability for employees is essential for forcing business forward.
    • You both respect a diversity of work styles, but what do you think is the value of an office?
    • HSince each person has their own work style, we accept remote working when time and circumstances permit, such as when somebody wants to concentrate on work or when their child has a cold and want to work from home. However, offices are definitely necessary. Especially, when you are trying to start something. New ideas and inspirations come up when people gathered in one place and have conversations. Officeis essential for team to share same visions and communicating face to face.
    • IPeople often talk about “work-life balance”, but most of my people tend to think “work is life”. You might work to live, so it must be fun. It’s important to bring up the energy, and who you work with and where you work atare the keys. Members who enjoy working with, and nice place to eat lunch, convenient access to work,are directly linked to quality of life. I think office plays a large role in that.

Supporting business growth from both hardware and software

    • Why did you choose EGG JAPAN?
    • HThe decision was based on the analysis of Akira Shibata, the data scientist whom I had started a business with. When he was looking for a Japan office, he had plotted on a map where prospects or possible clientswere located. As a result, we chose EGG JAPAN because we had known therebefore and the analysis showed that “a large number of highly receptive clients are in Marunouchi area”
    • IAfter I visited several offices, I felt that the people in charge of EGG JAPAN sincerely trying to takecare of us and support our businesses. That was the reason I moved in.
    • What have been the practical advantages to moving here?
    • HWhen you start a new business, the hardest thing is that nobody knows your company’s name. You may have confidence in your own products, but your reputation and credibility are zero, so how are you going to get business? The brand power of Shin-Marunouchi Building really helped with that. When I was exchanging business cards with people, they would say “oh, you’re in Shin-Marunouchi Building!” and that made it easy to gain trust. Also, EGG JAPAN’s event space is appealing.We have some kind of event just about every week for users, partners, or prospects. Since event space adjoining a kitchen, we can also have cocktail parties after events. It is so helpful that facility staff would do all the preparations of events and parties depending on number of guests and budget. A lot of our customersvisit from Osaka and Nagoya, and since Tokyo Station is right in front, they can join in without worrying. We promote our company through these events, and it helps activating our businesses. I am sure that part of the reasons of our business growth are due to the location of “Marunouchi” as a center of business, and especially having office in Shin-Marunouchi building itself.
    • I EGG JAPAN has great location, environment, access and facilities, and in addition, Mitsubishi Estate runs the facility and has a good reputation. I think it’s one of a high-class office. In the aspect of the business support, they also have helped us with networking. They also introduced us to the people who have knowledge that we need, as well as potential customers, and some cases progressed in actual business opportunities. It is encouraging that people here value startups, and sincerely supporting us. I would like to communicate and cooperate with other tenants in EGG JAPAN too.

Tetsuro IDA

Tetsuro IDA

After graduating from Osaka University, he Joined Toyota Motor Corporation in 2006. He was responsible for sales strategy in the Central and South America region. After acquiring an MBA at University of California, Berkeley in 2016, as the only Japanese at startup ”Beepi” in Silicon Valley, he took part in planning the launch of an online used car marketplace. Then he took part in planning in Nauto US main office in 2017. In the same year, he returned to Japan in June to establish a Japan branch office, and assumed the role of Japan representative.

Nauto

Established in Palo Alto, California in 2015, Nautodevelops real-time learning systems of driver’s driving condition by using artificial intelligence (AI). Nauto aims to increase the safety of autonomous mobility by using data and analysis gathered from the system. In June2017, they incorporated in Japan and opened an office at EGG JAPAN.

Shigeru HARASAWA

Shigeru HARASAWA

Since graduating from University of California, Berkeley and after working at Oracle Corporation Japan, he has been responsible for market development of Japanat companies such as Experian Japan, Japan Netezza Corporation, and DataStax. Accompanying IBM’s acquisition of Netezza, he transferred to IBM Japan, where he led the Big Data Analytics division. He has been in charge of business development at DataRobot since 2016, focused on business development in the Japan market.

DataRobot

Established by data scientistsfrom US in 2012. DataRobot provides a machine learning platform that allows anyone to create accurate predictive models that can implement to their businesses without needing any skill level or experience of machine learning. In December 2012 DataRobot opened an office in Japan, andmoved into EGG JAPAN.

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Supporting business development, with the Marunouchi business district of Tokyo as the base. Supporting business development, with the Marunouchi business district of Tokyo as the base.

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