With interaction design, service design as his area of speciality, Takayuki has always approached product, software and hardware development from a design perspective. Takayuki co-founded a company, Sassor, which actively develops mobile services along with other products, that caters a user’s characteristic traits or behavior record.
The Asian Entrepreneur is joined by Takayuki today, as we talk about his experiences as an entrepreneur and what he hopes to achieve with Sassor.
What exactly is Sassor?
We are a service design company working in the Internet of Things.From design to hardware engineering we design services for attractive and new user experience.
How did you come up with the idea of Sassor?
Originally, I had been interested in creating the lifelog at home in line of my researches. I had been living with other persons in the form of room sharing, but the power consumption was considerably high although we were either at the laboratory or the office for almost whole day. This was the reason that we created the prototype for analyzing what was caused to make the power consumption very high. Finally, we found out that the server installed at home was the root cause of the high power consumption.
Could you walk us through the process of starting up Sassor?
My co-founder, Shiuchi Ishibashi, was my high school classmate and and we went to the same graduate school and at that time we thought to create a startup. But at the beginning we were just talking that we hoped to do something after the graduation. About few years ago, we applied to the E-idea competition (British Council) for a trial to explore some possibilities, and that resulted in the prototype of Energy Literacy Platform. After that, we brushed it up to become our present service by joining with another program (Open Network Lab) and taking advice from them.
How has it been like managing the business since?
At first, we were planning to release a product for consumer. But we had a big earthquake in Japan, we faced serious shortage of electric power. At that time, our product’s prototype were brought up in media, we were going to product them small-scale and sale it for a limited time by advancing the schedule of development. There were many contacts from restaurants after marketing, we got to know that visualization system of electricity for store takes many costs for implementation and operating, to make matters worse, it has poor usability. So we observed the operation of the staffs at the stores which had given us inquiries, performed hearings among them, made prototypes for the stores for testing and verifying, and repeated several times such processes to finally produce the current shape of service.
Did you find anything particularly difficult during the startup?
We had to develop a prototype of our service without any income, but we were very much supported by our friends around us.
How was the initial reaction from the consumers?
The reaction of the market was very positive. Actually they got a system of visualization less expensive and easier to use which had been conceived to be very expensive. Those who inquired in th early stage promptly introduced it.
Do you face a lot of competition in this industry?
There have been competitors, however, the existing system is expensive and inconvenient to use. What we will do is to enhance the quality of daily services and to achieve the reduction in operating cost for the customer satisfaction.
What can you tell us about the industry?
We have been providing the market of IoT with the services but are still in the early stage. Hardware and net gadget are getting increased, however, there have probably been a few which are absolutely necessary services for daily life.
How have you managed to stay relevant in this industry?
The prospects of IoT are still young and can be expanded in the future. We see making things will get closer to your life, and you’ll be surrounded more and more by various loT devices. Because it is simply exiting for us to put ourselves in such an environment.
If you could, would you change anything about your approach?
If so, what?We actually began to learn manufacture after we started, so we had hard times before we successfully made a product. I wish I would have learned more about the manufacturing methods much earlier.
What do you think about startups in Asia?
Recently, We feel start-up venturing abroad aggressively and the team also has become international, so we perceive that nationality of the founding of the company has been unrelated.
What are some personal principles or personal values that guide you and your career?
We do every work from stylize to hardware design by ourselves, carry out service development with taking care about usage of the entire service design.
Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?
Originally, we were studying into the loT field. But if you stay within the laboratory and just keep on studying, you seldom have a chance to have somebody use the stuff you’ve made up.We started to think we should make the stuff into products that can be used by many people; the products we made as we thought them fun and useful, that is why we decided to startup a business.
What do you think are the most important things entrepreneurs should keep in mind?
To believe my own vision no matter what the others may say about it.
In your opinion, what are the keys to entrepreneurial success?
To materialise your own vision, to believe your own instinct and to have a trustful partner.
Any parting words of wisdom for entrepreneurs out there?
When you have a vision that you want to materialise, you can even enjoy difficulties. When you have a trustful partner, your agonies would be halved. smarter than you are. However if you keep an open mind, listen to as many smart people, and then act on it, then you will succeed.
One common trait of very successful and smart pioneers is that if you can get timeshare with them, they will impart invaluable advice freely. Accept the advice with humility. Note they are most likely smarter than you are. If they affirm what you sense then you are on the right track. If they do not, then something needs to be re-callibarated. Do this soon. And succeed.
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