Interesting bit of history about some Japanese companies that originated during stressful times. Offers some hope for the future of Japanese entrepreneurship:
The hope of venture capitalists is that the quake that shook Fukushima will jolt attitudes enough to nurture a new generation of entrepreneurs.
“I am always saying the next Sony is going to come out of Fukushima. It’s why I am trying so hard to find that next company,” says William Saito, a start-up investor who moved to Tokyo after selling his biometric technology company in California to Microsoft.
Five months after the quake, a few green shoots are appearing, but mostly in niche areas.
One company is making air-conditioned jackets and ventilated shoes to deal with a power squeeze in the sweltering summer. Another is selling steel ‘arks’ designed to float occupants out of harm’s way should a monster tsunami strike again.
But adding to expectation that business activity will expand beyond quirky products is an example from Japan’s last big deadly earthquake in 1995 centered on the western Japan city of Kobe that killed more than 6,000 people.
It spurred Hiroshi Mikitani, who after loss of two family members in the disaster, set up Rakuten, convinced that if he didn’t act on his business idea, fate may rob him of his chance. Today it is Japan’s largest online shopping mall with a value of $14 billion.