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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.

Yoshi Takahashi

After traveling to nearly 20 countries and living in Canada, Yoshi has gained a vast amount of knowledge to share with international startups. Using this global perspective as a guide, he is confident that Fukuoka has the support system in place to help startups succeed. He knows that the city is capable of growing geographically without sacrificing the tight-knit community that creates such a supportive environment for founders and startups alike. While working for the Global Startup Center, Yoshi is looking forward to helping Fukuoka become more international while simultaneously keeping traditional Japanese culture alive for future generations to learn from and appreciate.

Previously, Yoshi built a business from scratch while living abroad, so he knows what founders visiting the Global Startup Center are going through. He can call on this experience to give startups practical advice that will allow them to see steady growth while always focusing on the bigger picture. Yoshi is particularly knowledgeable in the field of accommodations, as he currently helps to run Tokyo Share House, a web portal for shared accommodations in Japan. This expertise also makes him the perfect person to help foreign startup founders find places to live and work in Fukuoka.

Advice from Yoshi: The Global Startup Center is a great service – and it’s FREE! If you have an idea for a business, you must come to Fukuoka! Every idea has the ability to transform into a successful business, so let’s develop your idea and make your dreams come true.

Akiko Nakagawa

Akiko was born and raised in Fukuoka and is very excited to be working in a city where she feels such a strong connection. In addition to her love for Fukuoka, she realized early on that she also enjoyed traveling. After studying abroad in high school, Akiko’s eyes were opened to the opportunities the world has to offer. This new international understanding motivated her to travel to many developing countries including India, South America, and southern Africa. 

She even lived in Malawi, Africa for two years before taking a position at the Global Startup Center. In Malawi, Akiko worked with a small women’s sewing group where she assisted the group with pricing, quality management, and marketing plans. The group even created products that were sold in Japan.

This experience taught Akiko the importance of working as a part of a team instead of being a supervisor or a consultant. Once she returned from Africa, she decided to establish her own LLC and trading company in Fukuoka. 

Advice from Akiko: Welcome to Fukuoka City, I am sure that it will become your second home. Once you get to know us, we’ll be a part of your team! Let’s work together to make both your future and Fukuoka’s brighter.

Mumu Makinose

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.

Ryoko Wada

Ryoko is actually from Fukuoka, and is excited to join the Global Startup Center as one of our startup concierges. After graduating from university in Tokyo, Ryoko came back to Fukuoka and began a career in commercial real estate management. In that role, she learned how fulfilling it can be to build something from scratch and how important it is for companies to cooperate with each other in order to make progress.

She became interested in startups after visiting China, where her husband is from, and noticing how fast IT and mobile devices were being adopted. These digital conveniences sprang up from companies that were wildly popular in China yet hadn’t existed 20 years ago. They were all startups, and that piqued her interest.

Later, after moving to the United States and visiting San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, and Los Angeles, Ryoko saw even more startups. These experiences reinforced her desire to return to Japan and help cultivate a strong startup community.

After coming back to Fukuoka and visiting Startup Café, she realized this was something she wanted to be a part of so that she could help founders from outside of Japan do business in Fukuoka as well as help Japanese companies to go abroad. Ryoko is also considering creating her own startup someday.

Ryoko’s Advice: Fukuoka is a great place to make a change and create something new. I’m looking forward to seeing you at the Global Startup Café!