A success story beyond Japan
MASANORI HASHIMOTO HELPS
teams collaborate. He is the chief executive of Nulab, a company behind three webbased tools: Typetalk, a work chat app; Backlog, which helps teams track projects; and Cacoo, a diagramming tool that has more than 2.6 million users worldwide. ‘Even better, 89 percent of our users are based outside of Japan, making it a truly international product,’ says Hashimoto. ‘It is rare to find this kind of international success for companies based in Japan.’
Nulab’s success has been hailed not only in Fukuoka but across the country. It was founded in 2004 after a chance meeting between Hashimoto and programmer Toshitaka Agata. The two developed an online bulletin board system together and founded Mobster, a community for learning the Java programming language. A year later, the duo teamed up with Shinsuke Tabata, whose talent was marketing. The newly formed trio collaborated on everything from books to a podcast.
Hashimoto says the key to their success has been thinking beyond their country’s borders from the outset. He advises founders to ‘think of global problems that you can solve. Because of Japan’s declining population, it is important to find business from the global landscape. Don’t limit yourself to Japanese business opportunities. Think globally, act locally.’
Being in Fukuoka, Hashimoto’s hometown, has allowed the team to do exactly that. ‘From our location it is very easy to travel to Taiwan, Korea, Tokyo, and so on.’
He adds that the city has great nightlife, which is ideal for all the socialising required of tech entrepreneurs. ‘It allowed me to meet great people and make great projects as a result, while blowing off steam from the work of the day,’ he says.