JETRO Global Connection -Accelerate Innovation with Japan-

Final Aim’s blockchain smart contracts aim to transform the design process – and more

Apr 24, 2024

Final AimExternal site: a new window will open. is a Japanese startup founded by Masafumi (Masa) Asakura and Yasuhide (Yasu) Yokoi in 2019. They’ve built a unique platform that leverages distributed systems such as blockchain, smart contracts, technology to enable designers and makers to prove the complete ownership and authenticity of their designs and products.

“In a short time, they have formed partnerships with major Japanese companies like Sony design consulting and Panasonic. They were also recently accepted into the AlchemistX startup accelerator, based in Silicon Valley, and have plans to expand in the United States market. They have big ambitions, and were named the startupExternal site: a new window will open.“most likely to become a unicorn” at Berkeley SkyDeck’s Batch 15 IPP Global Innovation Showcase.

We spoke with Masa and Yasu to learn more about Final Aim’s vision, plans, and ambition to not only become a unicorn, but grow into a multi-billion-dollar global business.

Can you tell us about Final Aim, what it does, and what makes it unique?

We established Final Aim to create a world where designers and manufacturers can really focus on design and manufacturing, which is their main focus, and where they’re creating value for the world. Today, there are many hurdles and challenges that limit their creativity. Managing contracts, invoices, and finances, as well as promotion and marketing, are areas that designers and manufacturers typically struggle with, but are still critical to business operations.

In the course of design development, there is a client and a designer, and after some negotiation, you would come up with a projection of what to do, what to make, and when to deliver. Those are all defined in the contract before the project begins.

There are not many solutions, services or technologies out there that focus on the post contract-signing management, helping designers streamline the management of design data linked with those design contracts. Simply put, we'd like to unlock the value of design and manufacturing with smart contract technology.

Final Aim’s Product “Final Design” (Image provided by Final Aim)

Scalability is often a concern with blockchain technology. How do you plan to address the issue of scalability as your business grows, and more participants join your network?

Generally speaking, people are still not aware of what blockchain is and what benefits blockchain can bring. For us, blockchain and smart contracts are tools to solve these big problems. For example, design data is often scattered between designers and design departments, or between subcontractors and contractors.

In terms of public blockchain, strategically, from a technology point of view, we take a lot of intention and try not to be dependent on one single blockchain or one single protocol. If one protocol goes down or one protocol shrinks, and if we are too dependent on it, our customers and our business may also face a very big risk.

We have developed our own unique core API, where we can select and flexibly transfer between protocols and blockchains. So, depending on the situation, customers, blockchain or technical trends, we can easily change between blockchains and keep the customer's value.

What are some of your milestones or main accomplishments as a start-up?

After the foundation in 2019, we conducted a lot of hands-on projects with customers. For example, robotic startups, autonomous mobility startups, or even big clients like Sony. We wanted to make sure about our idea, that blockchain could really solve challenges. I think that strategy was a good decision. Because of our current approach, as a product and the technology that we're building, we are confident that this could be the ultimate solution for designers and manufacturers.

What kind of partnerships or collaborations are you seeking to accelerate the growth and adoption of your technology

Sony Design, quite surprisingly, struggles with managing design contracts, managing design files, and locating them. We are working with Sony Design on managing the design contracts, initially with Blockchain. We are also making standard contracts, not just within Sony, but across the design industry and ultimately managing all those designs by blockchain and smart contracts.

With Panasonic, we ran a Proof-of-Concept project with Panasonic Design Japan and Panasonic Design in New York, two different customers. The project we did with Panasonic Design Tokyo focused on managing design and the production behind the product.

Since we're using public blockchain, those records are not only immutable, but also transparent. So now customers and potential customers of Panasonic can actually see that information as a proof of trust. We made a very small product that was manufactured in China, with numerous craftsmen and numerous factories. That information is all on the blockchain. And it’s also connected with Panasonic's website, so customers can actually see and use that as a strong reference.

We started with design and manufacturing because is that it is a low-hanging fruit. We'd like to expand not just within design, but to engineering and manufacturing and to the supply chain. There are many designers, but there are more engineers and factories, and there is more need for managing traceability in the supply chain world. Ultimately, we hope our platform will have users all around the world, not just in the US and Japan. For that, I think partnering with JETRO, as a long-term partnership or collaboration, is critical.

Can you tell us a bit about the support you have received from JETRO?

There was lots of support! Thanks to JETRO’s endorsement, we participated in Berkeley Skydeck. This participation opened the door to angel investors, and the startup and VC community in Silicon Valley, including our angel investors, Tom MossExternal site: a new window will open., Craig TegelExternal site: a new window will open. and James PrentonExternal site: a new window will open.. Once we were able to put Berkeley Skydeck on our website or on a pitch deck, we were surprised that more people started to meet with us.

Group photo: founders, Masa and Yasu, and their angel investor Tom Moss(provided by Final Aim)

JETRO has introduced us to another program, AlchemistX, and one of the key program managers has a background in design and manufacturing, and he previously worked at Autodesk. He’s now currently advising us. Without the introduction and the information from JETRO, we would not be able to know him. JETRO continues to support us, introducing us to key people in the industry.

How did it feel to be awarded “most likely to become the next unicorn” at Berkeley SkyDeck?

It is a good milestone, but our target is not to become a unicorn. Within ten years, our goal is to become the world's leading startup from Japan..

On a broader perspective, I think we need more entrepreneurs from Japan with a global mindset, serial entrepreneurs with global intentions. We need others who can act towards getting business, getting funding, and hopefully achieving an exit in the US or other parts of the world.

Group photo: founders, Masa and Yasu, and Jun Jiang from Berkeley Sky Deck(provided by Final Aim)

Profile of Msafumi "Masa" Asakura, Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer of Final Aim

Serial entrepreneur with proven track records in Japan & Singapore. Former COO of Kabuku, Inc., an AI and Additive manufacturing startup in Japan, which succeeded in being acquired by a company listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in Sept 2017. After the startup's M&A, he co-founded Final Aim, Inc.
Previously, Masafumi lived in Singapore for three years as a Managing Director, and clients were design firms and the manufacturing industry. His first career was at Mizuho Bank, Ltd., and he was in charge of corporate loans for the manufacturing industry. His next career was in Recruit Co., Ltd (formerly Recruit Career). He was in charge of system project management for the Global Planning Department in Singapore, India, and Vietnam.


Profile of Yasuhide "Yasu" Yokoi,Co-Founder & Chief Design Officer of Final Aim

Raised in Australia, he started his industrial designer career at Nikon Corporation. As an initial founding member, he then joined an additive manufacturing startup, Kabuku, Inc. After the startup's M&A, he co-founded Final Aim, Inc.
15+ yrs of industrial design experience with numerous clients such Toyota, Honda, Sony, Panasonic, Olympus, Softbank, Microsoft, and Autodesk. Received multiple international design awards such as iF Design Award, Red Dot Design Award, Good Design Award, etc.

Report by:
UEDA Momoka, Startup Support Division, JETRO

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