JETRO Global Connection -Accelerate Innovation with Japan-

Exporting the hidden gems of Japanese tech to the world

(Japan, US)
February 16,2023

*This article was originally published in Japanese. All information in this article is as of November 30th, 2022

JETRO and partners host first Brave Global startup accelerator inviting top U.S. venture capital firms as mentors

Brave GlobalExternal site: a new window will open. (in Japanese only), a short intensive accelerator for Japanese deep tech startups, took place at Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) from October 22nd to 24th, 2022. JETRO presented the program in partnership with Beyond Next Ventures (BNV) and OIST. With eight startups participating, the program offered keys to successful international marketing and financing from overseas through discussions and mentoring sessions by fourteen overseas mentors, including leading U.S. investors and venture capital (VC) companies such as Insight Partners and HOF Capitals. Participants shared their feedback, “The program encouraged us to start thinking seriously about taking our business to markets abroad” and, “Through the program I learned the crucial importance of making my pitch contents simpler to convince investors.” You can view scenes from the programExternal site: a new window will open. and pitchesExternal site: a new window will open. made by participating startups here.

Tips for improving your pitch - a key to successfully obtaining finance

Topics of panel discussions by overseas investors included the challenges confronting international marketing and the unique difficulties deep techs experience with obtaining finance. Panelists pointed out that in terms of startup pitch quality, Japan was far behind the US—the home of startup investing and a magnet of entrepreneurs from all over the world. They identified four strategies to improve pitches:

  1. State your point first
  2. Film and watch your pitch
  3. Have your pitch reviewed by a person—expert or non-expert—whose first language is English
  4. Present your pitch and obtain feedback from as many investors as possible

Both panelists and non-panelists actively contributed questions and comments, including a mentor with multiple experiences starting businesses. The mentor explained that pitches, unlike presentations, don't need to contain complete information. It is more critical for them to be designed to generate curiosity and interest to stand out in the crowd, making you want to learn more afterward.

Scene from a mentoring session (photo by BNV)

Scene from a mentoring session (photo by BNV)

In addition to panel discussions for knowledge sharing across participants, the program included multiple in-depth mentoring sessions for each startup. On the final day of the program, startups presented their revised pitches incorporating their outlook on business strategy, overseas marketing, and other matters. The overall quality of the pitches showed greater-than-expected improvement, generating praise from mentor participants that the progress made over the relatively short time was excellent.

The mentors said they have high hopes for the potential of Japanese deep tech, which has not yet been fully explored. JETRO will respond via its Global Acceleration Hub (GAH) servicesExternal site: a new window will open. (in Japanese only), including host country mentoring and supporting the overseas expansion of Japanese startups.

Report by:
KATO Yuka, Innovation Promotion Division, JETRO

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