Teshima Hiroki graduated from Hitotsubashi University’s Faculty of Commerce and Management, and joined Hakuhodo Inc. in 1999. Teshima worked as a marketing planner and brand consultant before leaving the company in 2005. He was appointed executive vice president of Interspire, Inc. in 2006, where he was largely responsible for advertising businesses focused on mobile phones, and the startup and running of media businesses.
In 2009, he was appointed a director of SPiRE, Inc., and in 2012 took on the roles of director and executive officer of UNITED, Inc., as well as media company head. He was crucial in the founding and development of CocoPpa and he speaks to The Asian Entrepreneur today about their startup.
What exactly is Cocoppa ?
“CocoPPa” is an app in which people can freely customize their Smartphones’ home screens using items such as icons and wallpapers that have been posted by users. It was selected as one of 100 apps in the “Top Free” category of “App Store Best of 2013,” an App Store-chosen listing of the year’s best apps in the United States. Also it had topped 18 million downloads after the 17th month following of the release.
How did you come up with the idea of Cocoppa?
CocoPPa was born under the three combined factors; firstly, the female team has planned and designed the app for the young women from the initial stages.
Secondly, it was ensured the needs of home screen theme customazation. At the stage of planning, the ideas of using sociality and device location were the majority and provided from the team but all of these seemed to be deviated from the fundamental needs of the user. The team and I were still confident the certain needs for the home screen customazation from the user voices of feature phone periods.
And thirdly, it had no competition in this area at this time. Since iPhone had many of the restrictions, it was not possible to change the design of app icons.
Although the shortcut icons gave the users free to customize their home screen, there were no other competitors trying to make use of it for this at that time. Then the project of CocoPPa has began.
Could you walk us through the process of starting up Cocoppa?
First of all, it came up with the ideas of using the mechanism of the shortcut icons and then it became the services of the apps icons customization. After of it, by adding the social community and user posting features, the concept of service was totally renewed as the new one.
Also the management team was intended to exploit the creativity and sensitivity by combining of the twenties female producers and the engineers in the planning and development team.
Did you find anything particularly difficult during the startup?
As it was spreading globally all at once, there were some difficulties in stabilizing the server and building up of the multi-lingual operations. But since these were the things can be solved, we have settled them one by one.
Did consumers buy into the product?
When the app was released, there was no other services for the home screen customization and it was really an enthusiastic welcoming voices of the teen female in which we targeted. On the other hand, since we received the negative voice from the users who did not target, it was a good opportunity to intend our service to be supported deep and narrow, not broad but shallow.
What is your strategy against your competition?
It can be said that the various services would be the potential competitors, but what is important is to keep creating something new with speed and quickness.
What can you tell us about the industry?
As the situation changes rapidly, the business opportunity might come out by chance. What is important are the business structure to catch it and the immediate actions when the opportunities come out.
How have you managed to stay relevant in this industry?
To be conscious of the received information and thorough thinking to make use of them in own services. Also to be sensitive to the news and ranking trends such as the market of the AppStore and Google Play.
What are your future plans for Cocoppa?
Our highest priority is the user retention. As the number of new users is still increasing, we keep focusing on the improvement of the user’s activities of staying and enjoying in the app.
If you could start all over again, would you change anything about your approach?
No. I would not want to change the past. I believe, the possibility of changing the future is the great benefit of IT industry.
Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?
I wish to create and leave the business or the service even after my death. Also hoping to give something positive and significant to the world.