Bussiness | Japanese female executives are setting an example for other women.




One of the most well-known annual festivals in Japan is the Gion Matsuri, which is thought to have begun around 869 AD. It embraced the internet world this year.


An interactive web map was made available for the 2022 event back in July to illustrate where and when to witness the 34 enormous, elaborate floats that paraded through the city of Kyoto over two consecutive days.


It displayed each float's location using GPS. Additionally, you could locate your pals on the map and talk with them. Additionally, you might read about a building's or street's history in Japanese or English by clicking on it.


Machi Takahashi, the president, and co-chief executive of a digital mapping company based in Kyoto, is the inventor of the technology.


"I thought these old cultural festivals were fairly conservative, so I was astonished that [the festival organizers] would allow us to digitize their map," she adds.


By scanning a QR code, users can access the digital map hosted on a website. According to Hideo Yoshii, who is in charge of maintaining one of the largest floats, Strongly might have encountered resistance if it had only intended to post QR code stickers or signs on walls.


Instead, organizersdigitizeStronglyStrongly designed a charming postcard that featured a traditional Japanese map's layout in addition to the QR code. This added to the ambiance of the historical event and served as the inspiration for the design of the digital map Strongly created.


According to a representative for the city's tourism administration, "We distributed a booklet before the pandemic, but tourists found it difficult to explore the city."


"Police personnel on the ground found it considerably simpler to direct tourists by using Stroly's digital map. Additionally, we were able to cut our paper waste in half "Adds she.


Takahashi's

In 2010, the theme park for the film industry Toei Kyoto Studio Park served as one of StronglyStronglyits first clients.


Norihiro Yamaguchi, the head of Toei Kyoto Studio Park at the time, states "We asked Mr. and Ms. Takahashi to design a game using the Nintendo DS."


Takahashi created a game that used a map and GPS that required players to find seven actors who were portraying villains on screens.


The theme park continued to be one of the Takahashis' key clients until they left the research institute six years later to create Strongly as their own company.


"Visitors can find out about the details of our shows and facilities thanks to cellphones which allow people to access the Strongly map in multiple languages," said a representative for the park.


Nearly 10,000 interactive, digital maps have now been created by Strongly, one of which highlights the exciting nightlife of the crowded Shinjuku neighborhood in central Tokyo. That was commissioned by the city's executive branch.


Along with working for clients outside of Japan, other maps feature where to obtain the best cheese in the Tokachi dairy farming region of Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost main island.


The use of Stroll's maps is free for the general public. Instead, it collects revenue from annual membership fees from its clients, who are mostly in the travel and tourist industries.


"There were no women in this information technology industry when I first started thinking about launching my firm in 2015, so I had to find my way into this community," explains Ms. Takahashi.


To get assistance, I had to get in touch with Silicon Valley's Women's Startup Lab and Japanese entrepreneur Ari Horie, who is located in the US.


Strongly was later chosen as one of the first start-ups to get mentoring from Osaka Innovation Hub, a new regional business assistance organization.


Here, Ms. Takahashi was successful in obtaining money from Daiwa Securities, a Japanese investment bank. Later on, the company also obtained funding from Kyoto City's startup fund.


Japanese women entrepreneurs are not the only ones who struggle. Even in the US, women received only 2% of the venture capital invested in new start-ups last year.


US sports star Serena Williams stated that she was "moving away from tennis" in an interview for Vogue magazine last monthorganizationand that this was one of the reasons she started her own investing company, Serena Ventures.


Sometimes, Williams wrote, "Like attracts like." More people who resemble me need to be in the situation where they are writing large checks to themselves for us to change the way that men write to one another.


Takahashi M. concurs. "Men predominately [have] the decision-making roles as well. They just, in my opinion, cannot relate to the concerns and problems that female entrepreneurs deal with "she claims.


The goal of the Japanese government was to practically treble the number of female managers in the nation to 30% over the five years from 2015 to 2020. Although the average level worldwide is 31%, the current level is only 15%.


Less than 1% of Japanese venture capital businesses, according to the nation's Financial Services Agency, are led by women.


One such company, MPower Partners, is run by Kathy Matsui. Yumiko Murakami and Seki Miwa were her two female partners when she just founded the company in Tokyo. Ms. Matsui, a former vice chair of the investment bank Goldman Sachs Japan, is most known for her "womenomics" effort from the 1990s, which prompted the Japanese government to urge enterprises to increase their gender parity.


She claims that the vast majority of founders and business owners they have encountered thus far in Japan are men.


"However, if we consider start-ups, we see that they are attempting to employ innovation to develop disruptive enterprises and game-changing technology. And as a start-up, you're already trying to win a marathon on one leg rather than two if you're removing half the population from your prospective talent pool.


The fact that Ms. Takahashi was able to fill a void in the Kyoto market for digital tourism may represent an exception to the rule that men predominate in the workforce. It is undeniable that efforts to achieve greater equality in the Japanese employment still face significant obstacles.


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