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Global Startup Center

Fukuoka Startup Journal

Global Startup Center

10 min read

Alexa Huth

Writer/Editor for Fukuoka City

Alexa is a communications specialist currently living and working in Fukuoka, Japan.

Click here to find out more about Alexa.

Are you an entrepreneur who wants to found their company in Fukuoka? First of all, may we say you’ve made a great choice! Fukuoka City has everything you need to establish your startup and begin on to the path to success. One critical piece of this puzzle is our Global Startup Center (GSC), which is staffed by fluent English speakers who are ready to help you in every step of establishing your startup. Read on to learn more about how the GSC can help you with everything from opening a local bank account to getting advice from seasoned startup founders.

Excited to found your company in Fukuoka but don’t know where to start? At this stage, you probably already have a great idea, and have likely heard about Fukuoka’s special designation as a startup hub. Now, you need to take the necessary steps to establish your business and get to work! If you are coming to the city from abroad, this process probably leaves you with a lot of questions. Never fear, Fukuoka City understands your concerns and has established a simple way for you to get the answers you need. Fukuoka’s newly launched Global Startup Center is here to make your transition into founding a company in Japan as easy as possible. 

What is the Global Startup Center?

Fukuoka City established the popular Startup Cafe to help local entrepreneurs get their companies up and running. This space acts as a hub for entrepreneurs to meet and exchange ideas while getting advice from the Cafe’s expert staff. The Startup Cafe has always been a great way for both local and foreign entrepreneurs to get the help they need, but the city thought that the growing community could use more tailored resources. This initiative was sparked when Fukuoka City officials began to notice the increasing need for fluent English support, and they saw that the requests for consultations by startup founders from abroad were growing. To accommodate these foreign founders, the city developed the Global Startup Center (GSC). The GSC is a place that provides English speakers full access to the resources and information they need. It’s about a lot more than just translating relevant documents into a language founders will understand. At the GSC, you’ll get comprehensive support and make the connections you need to establish your business.

GSC Concierges Are Here to Help!

At the GSC you can get advice from people who don’t just speak your language, but also understand your concerns. Each member of the knowledgeable GSC staff is fluent in English and has had extensive experience living or traveling abroad. This global perspective ensures that you will get the help you need from someone who can really see things from your point of view. One or more GSC concierges will be available during opening hours to adeptly help you navigate the process of founding your business. The staff understands how critical it is for you to receive seamless and comprehensive support when founding your business. They also get that sometimes the process can be a bit confusing. That’s why the GSC also has current foreign founders in Fukuoka that act as mentors. If a GSC concierge wants to make sure you get perspective from a founder who has been there, all they have to do is reach out to a mentoring founder and ask. Fukuoka City has worked hard to cultivate a strong startup community that is made up of local founders as well as entrepreneurs from abroad. These startups have paved the way for your success, and they are more than happy to help you get the answers that you need through the GSC.

The GSC Offers Unparalleled Business Support

Get everything right the first time by consulting the GSC. They’re here to help you with everything you need from answering questions to assisting with tougher tasks that require more dedicated support. For example, if you think you qualify for the Startup Visa, they can help to guide you through the application process. Staff members at the GSC can also assist you in some of the daily concerns you might have when living in Japan like renting a home or office space or opening a Japanese bank account. Fukuoka city even has a Memorandum of Understanding with various countries and regions around the world, including Finland (Helsinki), Estonia (Tallinn), Taiwan (Taipei), and the USA (San Francisco). These connections allow you to gain insight into the bigger picture and help to link you with new areas within the global startup community. Basically, the GSC and its expert staff will allow you to do more than you ever thought possible. Don’t hesitate to stop by and see just how important they can be to founding your business. Working with the GSC will give you more time to focus on the work you enjoy and give you the peace of mind knowing that you have correctly completed each step within the founding process.

Kie Tsukamoto

An experienced professional who melds practical business advice with an international perspective.

Kie Tsukamoto has a global viewpoint that allows her to help startups see the big picture. Born in Spain, Kie let her adventurous spirit lead her to learning English in Canada when she was just 17. While attending Simon Fraser University, she discovered her passion for nonprofit work and served on the board of the Beauty Night Society, an NPO that helps to empower marginalized women. Since earning her degree in the sciences, she has been able to experience everything from translating patents to doing R&D for a dental equipment maker. After deciding to settle in Japan, she worked as a consultant in Tokyo. Fukuoka City noticed her incredible skillset and brought her onto the Fukuoka Directive Council which led to her being appointed a concierge for the Global Startup Center. Kie’s experiences help her to merge a global perspective with a strong understanding of the nuances that are critical to founding a business.

Advice from Kie: If you want to be successful in business, you need to expand your horizons and shed outdated thinking. Being flexible and accepting other points of view will give you fresh perspective and allow you to find new ways to achieve your goals.

Yuta Hirayama

Your go-to source for effective product marketing and advice on how to tap into the Japanese market.

Yuta is passionate about helping startups to grow and establish connections within the business community. A graduate of both Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU), and the Department of Business Management Technology Graduate School of Economics in Kyushu University, he has a profound understanding of how to conduct business in Japan. Yuta is keenly aware of the process behind developing strong business plans and implementing effective business strategies. In addition, his experience in the realm of product development gives him a competitive edge when it comes to marketing products to a Japanese audience. Inspired by his time in France watching their open innovation and the cooperation among startups and big business, Yuta wants to help businesses to grow from the ground up. He is also interested in assisting local businesses in gaining insight into international markets. From his time working in Japanese business, Yuta is confident that the combination of Fukuoka’s Startup Visa and the access that local startups have to big businesses give startups in the city a huge advantage.

Advice from Yuta: Never hesitate to ask questions! Even though a lot of international entrepreneurs are interested in Japanese markets, they don’t always know how to tap into them. Getting firsthand advice and insight into Japanese markets can help you to make the connections you need to found your business here.

Mumu Makinose

A local startup founder who has lived abroad - he gets it.

Over the course of his career, “mumu” has lived in multiple countries in Asia, Europe, and even Latin America. As a result, he can absolutely relate to your thoughts and concerns when moving to another country and making a life there. This knowledge helps him to give you practical advice about living in Japan, but his expertise doesn’t stop there. As the founder of Fukuoka startup lainen LLC, he also has experience working with international companies in countries like Estonia, Switzerland, Tunisia, and China. These business connections give him the ability to view startup development from both a Japanese and international perspective. He understands the local and global markets, and has been in your shoes when it comes to founding a startup in Fukuoka. Mumu is a great resource for the details you need to consider when moving to a new country and the tough decisions you need to make when founding a startup.

Advice from “mumu”: Be brave and be flexible. If your product is successful in the Japanese market, then you can be confident that it will succeed in foreign markets as well.