Creating a world where women can shine through. This global team of four energetic women will innovate society in Japan Startup Lady Moekoさん、Ameeさん、Steffieさん、Kokoさん

Startup Lady has become an even more active organization; now a company of four energetic women

About half a year since their last interview,   Startup Lady is still striving to create a society where women can shine.

Kananyan
Interviewer for TACHIAGE. Has a passion for food and loves to cook, talk about, look at and study food.

 

Moeko
A Japanese entrepreneur aiming for a society where women can succeed.Her motto is “Be the Game Changer”.

 

Amee
Having a foreigner’s business perspective, she starts up a company to support women entrepreneurs as well as foreigners who struggle with the Japanese culture and language, along with Moeko.

 

Steffie
Joined the organization as a creative director. A very passionate woman in charge of branding and design for Startup Lady.

 

Koko
With many past experiences in hosting large events, Koko is in charge of event management for Startup Lady. An optimist with a very bright energy that lightens up the room.
Hey Y’all. I’ve already met you all at your previous event. It’s nice to see you all again. Call me Kananyan, OK?
OK!

I can’t believe it’s been over six months since our last interview! Any changes in the past six months? Tell us more about your new members too.

Click here to check out their last interview

Startup Lady helps women shine through

The last time I interviewed you, you were interviewing female entrepreneurs and creating videos. Has anything changed since?

We basically managed to complete four different types of interviews, and along this journey, we’ve met many interesting women entrepreneurs.

Among them, there are people who have just started, or they haven’t started their company yet but they’re running projects to people who have been running their business for three to four years and have multiple employees.

We’ve completed four video interviews, and we are very inspired. So far, we have published two of them. It can be found on our website.

Startup Lady’s corporate site

After interviewing and talking to these women, we felt that just interviewing and showcasing their story is not enough, and we wanted to do more for the entrepreneur community. So, we started doing events and we have held our first event not long ago.

We are very excited to see that there is actually a community of women who really want to start their own thing or women who have already started their business but they couldn’t find a community like us.

We eventually got a lot of positive feedback from our event.

I feel like your main focus has shifted from creating interview videos to hosting events. What helped you expand your business?

We were struggling. Amee and I discussed, over and over, about how we felt that just interviewing these women is not enough.

We discussed further how we can support these women even more.

After several discussions, we eventually decided to host events where we can create a community for women, where women can actually meet other inspiring and successful role models.

That’s what we’ve been discussing mainly.

More members, more energy

So, I see you have two new members who joined you, Steffie and Koko. Hi!
Hi!
Could you introduce yourself, and tell us how you ended up here at Startup Lady.
First off, we’re going to explain to you how we met.

When we first started the video interviews, Moeko and I were both business planning people so we didn’t have any experience editing videos.

After our first video shoot, we tried our best. But,  it’s a really long learning process, you know. At that point, we felt that we really needed someone to help us with all of our creatives.

Around that time we met Steffie, and that’s how she came into helping us.

We’re very lucky to have her on board.

After she joined us, we were able to finish up all the video edits and able to start having our own creatives.

As I mentioned before, Moeko and I are both very driven people, and when we have a good idea we just want to do it, regardless of whether we have experience or not. When we ran our first event, it was a fairly successful event, but we also realized that we are lacking a lot of event organization skills.

At that time we were also very lucky to meet Koko. Koko came from a background with many years of non-profit experience, she has a lot of experience in hosting large-scale events so we are lucky to have her come on board.

So you started hosting events, they were successful, but you felt you lack event management skills. That’s when you met Koko?
Amee knew her from before.
I used to work with Koko, and as for Steffie we knew each other from a mutual friend in San Francisco.
I’d like to ask the both of you, what is your role at Startup Lady, and what are your goals?

I’m Steffie and I’m a creator, always have been driven by passion. I’m really passionate about social impact.

When Amee reached out to me and told me that she wanted to make an impact on female entrepreneurs and build this community, or showcase these people, I instantly agreed.

That’s just something that I gravitate towards. That’s something I’m passionate about, so of course, if I can help in any way, I’ll do it!

I have seven years of experience working with bay area Silicone Valley startups on creative content marketing and social media strategy. You know, as time goes by, social media is becoming more of a platform and powerful tool to reach different audiences that we couldn’t before.

Taking advantage of that is very important for our organization and important for what we’re trying to do for women here and Japanese society in general.

What I do here at StartUp Lady, is a creative director just trying to envision what we are going to do to capture these audiences and help them learn about our initiative.

I truly believe that StartUp Lady as an organization can really empower young Japanese women to become leaders and create a future they deserve, not having to decide whether they should be a career woman OR a housewife and mother.

We as an organization believe they can have both, they can be leaders and have the resources to give back to society but also have children and have a family of their own.

Thank you.
And you, Koko?
I’ve known Amee for some time, then one afternoon we caught up over lunch. I was telling Amee how I miss a lot of my NPO and volunteer work that I used to do before I moved to Japan.

We started talking about how it would be to be here as an entrepreneur but there are so many struggles with the culture, the language barrier, so that conversation led to another. I told her about how I’ve been working on non-profits and doing a lot of events, and she asked me to meet her team. Currently, I’m focusing on events and PR for StartUp Lady.

I handle the overall operations to implement our vision while trying to prioritize our audience. We continue to strive to add value after each event and see how we can make things better.

Right now our main focus is putting on our events. It’s our main connection to the community with female leaders that we’re trying to reach.

Are you planning on expanding your business even more? If so, what are you planning to do?

For now, we are really working hard to host events so we can create a community where women can gather and get help from others.

Our main focus is to provide education and knowledge for people who really want to learn, so that’s what we will continue doing in our events. We are eventually going to expand our education field to be able to help more and more people.

As Koko said, we want to add more value to people who join us, and who become our members. As we go along, our events are going to have more and more content that is focused on education. On top of the casual events that we do, we want to do a series of workshops that could really teach future or current entrepreneurs the skills that they need.

We wanted to inspire, we wanted to educate, and we want to be the game changer.

We’re stepping up the game for the education part for the next year.

Behind the scenes

What kind of women participate in your events?

The women who participate in our events are mostly women who already have their own businesses or women who are studying very hard to start their own businesses. Many aspirational and ambitious women.

Each event has a theme.

At the stage of planning these events, we discuss the theme of our events. We make sure all of our roles are clear and that we can proceed properly.

I was wondering how you can come up with these creative events with various themes every time. How do you come up with these ideas?

Events tend to become similar and become boring after a while. How do you keep each event so interesting? It’s impressive.

We strive to get feedback from the audience and we try to engage the response from the audience throughout the events, so I’m usually in the back and I’m watching how people are responding and how engaged they are.

There are times when you struggle because we want to make sure that we always keep it interesting and exciting, but the problem is we try to reach too wide of an audience,  which can be problematic.

So we try to focus our attention on the people that have been attending, and the feedback they give us.

When we come up with ideas, we get together as a team and brainstorm on topics of interests for female women, as well as female entrepreneurs and how they might perceive the topic.

We try and make it a little bit more general so that it would be interesting for anyone; for people who have already started their own business, as well as people who haven’t.

Adding to that, having a theme is very important too, so we can approach people who are interested in that theme.

By providing this opportunity where people can gather and discuss this specific theme, it really helps participants to get a clear image of what they want to do.

Do you speak with your attendees often during these events?
Generally, I speak with some of the attendees during the event,  then we discuss as a team about the overall impression. We ask our attendees to fill out a survey, and sometimes I would reach out to them personally and start a conversation with them. That is a lot more authentic because I can ask them about some of the questions and some of the responses they wrote.

So by getting feedbacks from your attendees, you gather information on what you should provide.
Yes, of course. Consistency is important though, so there are things that we don’t change. We keep our consistency and add a bit more things that we get from the feedbacks.

Being able to open up to each other

I’d like to ask you some questions about the team. I know the four of you each have your individual roles, but there are times where you disagree on certain things, right?

Definitely. We are four completely different people, so we do have different opinions. That’s when we set up a discussion and talk it out.

We talk to each other face to face and keep discussing until we both agree. We feel that’s really important.

I feel like overcoming our differences could actually help our clients and that we could be a model case for people with different cultures.

What we’ve experienced is something we’d like to share.

Just as Moeko said, whenever we have different opinions, it is definitely important to talk it out with the understanding that we are mutually trying to make this organization better.

Of course, we have times when we don’t agree on the same topic and we have different ways of doing things.

Some of us are wanting to get things done really fast, and some of us want to slow down or look at the picture as a whole or look at the branding, and how we’re going.

Internally we do discuss a lot of things, but the most important thing is that we keep an open mind of communication and always talk to each other.

That’s amazing!

 I’m just echoing what everyone’s saying. We all come from different cultures and all have different opinions, so sometimes we do disagree. What really keeps us together is the fact that we’re all passionate about the mission. That just reminds us that we’re all trying to work and make this thing work.

We’ll figure it out and be open to each other’s ideas because we know that we all have good intentions.

Last thing I’d like to add to that,

I think it’s an advantage for us that we’re so different, and that we have different opinions. This way we’re so diverse and we can always have a different way to look at things.

Sometimes our communication has issues, but without it, we couldn’t learn and grow every time.

It’s really amazing how you take your differences and use it as your strength to move forward.
Your theme is, “Be the game changer”. What exactly are you going to do to be the game changer, and what kind of impact is that going to have on society?

It’s really hard to explain “Be the Game Changer” in Japanese.

So in Japanese, I say “Creating a society where women can shine through”.

Not just helping women to shine through, though. We want to do more. We want to help people with different cultures and languages who are struggling in Japan.

We want women to become more than just a “strong” woman, we want women to become strong and successful, and kind to others. Personally, I think that’s what an ideal woman would be.

Now I think I completely understand what you meant by, “Be the Game Changer”.

From my point of view, we wanted the younger generation to see role models, like people who are extremely different from people they see every day.

We wanted younger generations of women to grow up to be independent, who can think independently think for themselves and can make decisions that have a positive impact on their life.

What we want to do is to cause the paradigm shift in society, on how women perceive themselves and how men perceive women.

That’s exactly why we say, “Be the Game Changer”.

What Startup Lady will become

As a member of Startup Lady, what would each of you like to achieve?

I’d like to create a global network where several cultures can come together. Another thing is,

“Empowering women”

That’s what I want to do for society.

My ideal community is somewhere people can come together and find friends, teams, and somebody they can look up to. Somebody they can trust and learn from.

In terms of societal impact, I want to be able to see the people who we have influenced, who came to our meeting, to our workshop, come back to us and tell us that they’ve done something. Because they have been inspired, or they had guidance, they were able to achieve what they wanted to achieve.

I wanted to see StartUp Lady’s grow to a sense that the impact is not only within Japan, but is able to reach internationally and connect ladies and entrepreneurs abroad to Japan.

I think it’s true that the community is very important.

But, let’s not forget the online community and online impact that we can have as well.

For people all over the world, and for people who don’t have access coming to our events.

I think showcasing women entrepreneurs who can be role models for younger girls is very important, especially Japanese women.

If we can put a video out there with our Startup Lady brand and tell their story, and inspire just one girl, it makes a difference. Social media is a powerful platform for us.

In terms of my growth, this is my first real effort in starting a business from the ground up, so I’m learning a lot. Working with these other girls, it’s really empowering, just the nature of the work we’re doing.

We’re basically trying to practice what we preach, but also learning along the way, which is important as long as we have a goal in mind and we’re growing and running towards that goal.

One of the things I’ve already mentioned before is that since moving to Japan, I felt the cultural and language barrier. I am ethnically Japanese, but I know that I’m never really going to be Japanese.

There are a lot of foreigners that are here for whatever reason, and it would be nice to provide a safe community where they can share the struggle. We can prove to them that you don’t have to have been born and raised here, you don’t have to have perfect Japanese to make it out here if you really want to.

That’s one of the main things I would like to achieve for the society here.

For myself, it’s also one of my first projects that I’m starting from the ground up, and I have been learning so much every day, not just from our team but also from the people that attend.

By hearing from the supporters why they are so interested in supporting us even though they’re not female, it shows us that there are opportunities for women here, regardless of society. I hope that I can learn and grow from this, for my own businesses in the future.

Thank you. Next question I’d like to ask is, are you considering any partnership or alliances with male entrepreneurs?

What we really need right now is media and branding.

Not only alliances, but we do really need male supporters as well.

We need different opinions from different people, and we really feel that it is important.

We’re always looking for supporters and alliances, female or not, doesn’t matter. We also want supporters and alliances from around the world. That’s what we are mainly looking for right now.

In terms of partners, honestly, we don’t really discriminate men or women, so we don’t have such preferences. What we look at really, is the core of the partners’ business and how we can provide synergy to each other.

We have made quite a few alliances already, and among them are various people from various nationalities,

but the point is that through our partners we need to able to support these communities in the right direction.

A message from the four

Any advice you can give to people in Japan who want to start their own businesses or foreigners who are trying to start their own businesses in Japan?

When I first started my business, I felt really alone and worried.

But, I want to tell you that you can do this, and you aren’t alone.

Find the people with the same interests, find people who care, find people who will help you. If you feel like you’re stuck, or can’t move on, go out there and find your team who will help you find other ways. It’s not that hard.

You’re the only one that can make your choices, so you gotta make a move to make a difference for yourself. Make your life your own.

For people out there who are currently in a job that they don’t like,  feeling stuck in life, feel they’re not going anywhere, or they want to start something but people around them are saying “No, you can’t do it”.

I would say, surround yourself with people who support you, who think that your idea is good, who are more unconditional in their support.

Also, surround yourself with people who are successful, people who inspire you, who are moving forward.

Who you surround yourself with really makes or breaks who you are, so make sure that you’re in a community where people really believe what you believe in.

It’s very tough in this society sometimes, when women want to do something, it’s usually the people who are closest to you, the people that you love who say “No, I don’t think it’s a good idea” “I don’t think you can do it”.

Really think critically if this is something that you can or cannot do. It’s part of the negotiation with your loved one how your life is going to change and how this person should be on your side and be supportive.

If you have an idea but you feel alone, and no one believes in you but you think it’s a good idea, then you’re actually not alone.

You just need to find the people who believe in you and believe in the same things you do, and I hope that StartUp Lady can be that resource or at least the platform that can let girls know, reach out to them and say,

“Hey, there ARE other women here that have crazy ideas and they are here to inspire you and support you”.

Being an entrepreneur, you can’t do it all by yourself. You have the idea but you have to go out and find people that will help you, that’s what a company is.

It’s not one man, one woman. You find people that believe in the same mission as you with different skill sets, and you build your ground up from there. It’s all about believing in yourself, and also finding other people that believe in you, and they are out there!

If you want to do something, you have to try.

It’s okay to fail. Nobody’s perfect. If you come up with an idea, you do need to take the first step though. Make it happen. Repeat try and error, you’ll eventually get there.

Wonderful, thank you all so much! By the way…this is totally irrelevant, but what’s your favorite kind of Japanese food?
Okonomi-yaki…
Oh…?!
…not.
Whaaat.
Shirako.
Shirako! Have you tried Shirako Tempura before? It’s the best.
Koko, what kind of food do you like?
Hmm…I love meat. The really fatty kind of meat. Like Kobe beef Suki-yaki.
I like hitsumabushi (Eel).
Famous traditional Nagoya food. What about you, Moeko?
I LOVE Japanese food. When I lived in the US,  I bought a car just so I can drive and get Japanese food whenever I want!
Really?! Yeah, I think I would do the same if it was for food.
Thank you all for your interview today. See you soon!

44 Views 0
応援する