Past Experiences Brought him into the Space Industry. Future Steps as a BizDev in its Third Year.
-First of all, please tell us about your responsibility.
Recruitment, sales, PR, and marketing. I am also involved in research for new R&D projects, but right now my main focus is on sales.
-You have a wide range of responsibilities.
-Could you tell us how and why you came to work for WARPSPACE?
From high school through my second year of college, I devoted myself to basketball. I was truly a “musclebrain” at that time. However, in my third year of high school, right before my very last tournament, I tore a ligament in my knee, and I suddenly lost my identity. That is when I started to think about my future outside of basketball. Let me talk a little about my family. My father’s work often took him to developing countries such as Africa. The pictures of local children that my father showed me when I was in elementary and junior high school left a very strong impression on me. Because lots of children who were almost the same age as me were injured or even got killed. That made me decide to study about emerging and developing countries, international relations , and development economics at university. And later, I decided to go to Africa.
During the year I spent in Africa, I did internships, helped out at local NGOs, and went to talk to Japanese people who were active in the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV). I was able to get information about real life in Africa that I could not get in Japan, and I was able to feel the local situation firsthand.
What left a particularly strong impression on me was the economic disparity between urban societies, where new businesses and ecosystems are being created rapidly through technological development, and rural areas, where infrastructure and economics are not well developed and people die from simple illnesses. I had a vague sense of discomfort with the contradictory situation in which technological and economic development was conversely widening the economic disparity, and I began to think that I wanted to be involved in the implementation of new technology to make societies better.
After returning to Japan, I began an internship at a startup company developing solutions utilizing drones during the summer of my fourth year of college. Then, just before graduation, I met WARPSPACE. Until then, I thought that the space industry was a closed place where certain people conduct research and development only for specific purposes. In fact, it is not like that at all. It is a place that is open to many people, and I could feel firsthand that it will become even more open in the future, so I thought it would be interesting and joined two years ago.
The youngest member’s career as a graduate of a startup
-I think it was a bold career choice for a university student who had no experience in space to join a space startup as a graduate. What did you feel when you entered the company?
Well, the first thing I felt was the scale of the business. As a space startup, I was very interested in the process of investing a great deal of time and money to advance the business compared to other industries. When I met with CEO, Satoru Tsunemachi at the time of joining, I said, “I want to see how this business will land and what the end result will be.”
-When you joined the company, there were only a few members, right?
I am the seventh member.
-Did you have a hard time at the time when you were just beginning to draw up the overall business plan?
To be honest, things have never been easy for me. I had no knowledge of the space industry, and I had no idea of the value and potential of the industry as a whole. There were many questions I wanted to ask people, but it was very difficult to catch up because I could not talk to company members remotely due to the pandemic.
-After such a year, how was the second year?
My way of thinking changed a lot in the second year. Of course, it is very important to solve problems that we are facing today. At the same time, however, I also realized the importance of seeking solutions to many social issues that will emerge in the future over a long time scale as well as taking the initiative in creating businesses to address these issues. If you think about it, we can now have access to the convenience of the Internet and many other technologies and systems that have been created to facilitate the smooth operation of society because our predecessors have repeatedly tried and tested them over a period of 30, 50, or even 100 years. Therefore, I believe that we need to work with the same awareness that we will be creating new affluence and a new normal 50 to 100 years from now.
Now that I have a better understanding of why we do this, I am becoming more and more aware of the purpose and meaning of the tasks I am doing now, and the importance of receiving feedback.
-You are currently the youngest member of the company. Is there anything you are conscious of for members of your age group to join?
I think that is indeed a big mission of mine.
From my perspective, one of the challenges that new graduate startups face, which I have experienced myself, is the difficulty caused by the absence of role models. The members around me are all talented, and it is often difficult to imagine what I should be doing in a familiar way.
Furthermore, as a BizDev in the space industry, I realized that there is a very wide range of knowledge that I need to keep in mind. We need to know about technology, business, politics, international relations, and so on. Because of the wide range of stakeholders involved, it is necessary to be exposed to a variety of information across fields, and I want to show them that I am committed to creating an industry, regardless of whether it is a science or humanities field.
I will do the best I can now.
-Do you have any good or learning experiences in your BizDev-related work?
Yes, it was great to understand what the function of BizDev is in the first place.
As a startup, we need to gain the trust of investors, and we also need to make sure that our HR initiatives and business-related stakeholders know who we are, and that we understand the various functions of BizDev and how they are tied to each activity and measures. I have come to believe that we should do whatever is necessary to move the company forward.
On the other hand, I have made lots of mistakes.
Last year, when CSO Mori and I went to an exhibition in Germany, our banners and posters, which were prepared for the exhibition, failed to pass through customs due to insufficient documentation, and our banners and posters were sent back to Japan.
As a result, we had a booth with nothing to display but a small satellite model, and while all the other exhibitors had beautifully decorated their booths, I was confronted by many people, and of course, I was also scolded.
I was really depressed at the time, thinking I couldn’t even do something as simple as that.
-That’s quite an impactful story of failure!
But I thought that what had already happened could not be changed, and did my best to respond to the exhibition.
If there is nothing I can do about the facts that have occurred, I am always aware of doing the best I can at the time.
-This is your third year, what do you want to do?
I would like to focus on producing results in the sales activity, which is now becoming the heaviest area of my responsibility. In addition, I would like to be actively involved in team building as the team continues to expand. I would like to learn from specialists as I have been with the company for a relatively long time, and also make things lively as the youngest member of the team!
Compass of Behavior
-What is the most important “Compass of Behavior” for you?
「Respect your crew」
When I look around me, I see people with various specialties committing their responsibilities in their respective areas of responsibility. I chose to 「Respect your crew」 because I believe that understanding, respecting, and honoring each other is more important than anything else.
Now that each of us has a high level of expertise and everyone is offering different opinions from different perspectives in the decision-making process, I think the quality of the answers we ultimately get is considerably higher.
That is why I, too, would like to learn from the members around me, think as much as possible about what I believe is best now, and improve my level of expertise.