Incubators set the stage for big things

January 12th, 2012 by Felicity Hughes

As the job market continue to prove unstable, or simply elusive to many of Japan’s disenfranchised young, it’s heartening to see that more opportunities for startups. Offering up a chance for entrepreneurs in the tech industry to get their businesses up and running, venture capital firms, such as CyberAgent Ventures, Samurai Incubate Inc. and Open Network Lab, offer advice, funding, and sometimes even office space, in return for a stake in these new businesses.

While it’s taken time for the model of startup incubators to catch on in Japan, it would appear to be truly thriving these days. CyberAgent Ventures, for example, will be opening up Start-ups Base Camp, Japan’s largerst ever startup office space, on Feb. 22 this year. A subsidiary of Cyber Agent, the company plans to house up to 100 new businesses in over 1,200 sq. meters of office space centrally located in Aoyama,Tokyo.

Having got in on the ground floor of Snapeee, which saw 500,000 downloads of their photosharing app in the space of just two months last year, Cyber Ventures seems to have a canny eye for spotting potential successes. Another notable startup successes nurtured with this model last year by a different startup incubator was Giftee, a creative service used to send gifts in the post to friends by utilizing Facebook and Twitter. The service has been picked up by Muji, and, as we mentioned last year, used as part of a campaign for Creap creamer.

Giftee was fostered by Open Lab Network, a startup incubator that, according to TechCrunch, is in the vanguard of the movement. In TechCrunch’s story, Hironori Maeda, the man in charge of overseeing Open Lab Network’s facility outlined some of the reasons why startup incubation was slow to get going in Japan: “Launching a startup, where there is a lot of uncertainty and unsuitability, does not fit a culture where harmony and stability are strongly emphasized.”

Maeda went on to say that the current unstable job market and the uncertainties surrounding the recent disaster has encouraged young people to throw caution to the wind and take a gamble. The news that KLab Ventures and SBI Investment have joined forces to found Startup Laboratory in December last year seems to offer further proof that venture capitalists are willing to throw their lot in with these budding entrepreneurs.

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