Tokyo Dev

Paul McMahon

Founding Your Own Company in Japan

Since coming to Japan, I’ve started two companies. Although creating a company isn’t a walk in the park, I think it is easier than the general perception is. Part of the problem is the lack of English-language information about it. I hope by sharing my experiences I can help other people get started. This article is aimed at individuals already living in Japan, who want to create their own business, as opposed to companies looking to establish a Japanese subsidiary.

Do you need a company?

If you’re considering creating a company, you probably have something you want to sell, be it your time in the form of services, or a product. However, that doesn’t mean you need a company. Japan has the legal concept of sole proprietorship, under which you and your business are the same entity (though it is possible to use a different name for your business).

For people looking to run a business by themselves, sole proprietorship can be an attractive option. Because you’re the same entity as your business, taxation is simpler, and can be advantageous over having a company. Other benefits include being able to expense a portion of your apartment rent (if you work out of it) and not needing to hire an accountant. With a sole proprietorship, you can still hire people, and self-sponsor your visa.

So why wouldn’t you want to use a sole proprietorship? If you want to share ownership of a business, either with other partners or investors, you need a company. Another reason is that a because the business is not a separate entity, you have unlimited liability – so if your business go bankrupt, is litigated, or something else happens, you are personally liable for it.

Choosing a company type

There are two types of companies you can create in Japan: Godo-Kaisha and Kabushiki-Kaisha. The differences between them is something that is already widely covered in English. From a high level perspective, a Godo-Kaisha is a bit easier to establish and manage than a Kabushiki-Kaisha, but is unable to have outside investors. Which one is best really depends on your individual business.

How your company pays you

As a director of a company, Japanese law requires you to set your salary to fixed amount for a given financial year. Once you’ve fixed your salary, you aren’t allowed to change it.

If your company makes profit, you are allowed to issue dividends to the owners of the company (which will just be you if you don’t have any partners or investors). However, profit will be taxed at a rate of about 42%. On top of this, you’ll still need to pay income tax normally on any dividends.

So from a tax perspective, you don’t want your company to be profitable. When you’re starting out, your own salary will probably be the main cost of business, so this leads to a tricky juggling act, where you need to guess how much your company will make in the next year, and set your salary accordingly.

Because your salary needs to stay the same, but especially when you’re starting a business, cash flow isn’t consistent. When you don’t have enough money to pay your salary, you normally record paying yourself the full salary in the books, but instead of giving yourself cash, you’ll record it as a debt from the company to you. Later, when the company has enough money, they’ll repay you.

So why wouldn’t you just set your salary to some amount so high you’re guaranteed not to exceed it? Well, firstly directors are only allowed to be compensated a “reasonable amount”. More importantly though, even though your company isn’t giving you the cash, you still need to pay personal income tax and pension/health insurance, which are based on your salary regardless of this debt. This means if you set your salary too high, you’ll end up paying tax on money you never get (maybe there is someway to claim it as a loss, but I’ve never investigated it).

What visa do you need to create a company in Japan?

Probably the most frequently asked question, and the one that it hardest to answer. Perhaps an easier way of looking at it is with a given visa, what kind of company can you create (and run).

Spouse Visa / Permanent Residency

Anything goes. Nothing special to worry about here.

Investor Visa

With this visa, you are allowed to run any kind of business, and is the most commonly recommended option. The downside of this visa are its requirements: a permanent office (not a coworking space or virtual office) and a ¥5,000,000 investment in the company. Anecdotally, I’ve heard immigration is stricter on investor visa than other visa types.

Engineer Visa

This is the visa I had when creating my company, and renewed after creating it. My understanding is if the primary thing you do for the company is engineering related activities, such as developing software like I do, you’re allowed to run a company using it. Right now, my company is just myself and my partner. I suppose the situation would be different if I had dozens of employees, but at that point, getting an investor visa wouldn’t be an issue.

The most important thing when renewing your visa is that you can demonstrate your company can pay you a salary sufficient for you to support yourself. This is considered to be around ¥250,000 to ¥300,000 per month. The easiest way to do this is if you can actually show that your company has paid you a salary. This means that if you’re already in Japan, it’s probably easiest to start a company when you have at least a year or so left on your visa. Failing that, contracts with customers are the next option, and theoretically even if you just have a business plan, you can still get it renewed.

The paperwork itself for obtaining/renewing a visa isn’t so complicated, so if you’re doing something standard, you can do it yourself (such as renewing a spouse visa). However, because what I wanted to do fell a bit outside the normal area (renewing a engineering visa sponsored by a company I was director of), I decided to go through an immigration lawyer, which ended up costing about ¥80,000.

Addendum: Since I’ve had several people asking me if it is really possible to self sponsor an Engineering visa while running a company, I’ll elaborate further.

When I started my first company, Mobalean, I had two other partners. When we created the company, I was on an engineering visa, along with one of my other partners, Michael. The other partner, Henri, had a spouse visa. The company was a godo-kaisha, and Michael and I were partners, whereas Henri was a “managing partner”. On paper he was above us.

When we initially talked to immigration about visas, the person at the help desk said Michael and I needed investor visas. However, we talked to an immigration lawyer, and he said differently. After about a year of operations, we renewed my visa through the immigration lawyer, and I received a three year visa, so I guess it was fine. After the three year visa expired, I renewed it again, and I received a five-year engineering visa.

Since then, I’ve left Mobalean and started Doorkeeper, a kabushiki-kaisha where I’m a representative director (as is Michael, another fun fact, yes, a company can have two of them!). I started the company without any issue, and filed our change of position by mail with immigration, so if anything was wrong with this, I would have expected them to tell me that.

So I have never actually renewed my own engineering visa as a representative director, but am 95% sure there is no issue with doing so. If someone has done this, I’d love to hear about it.

On the other hand, I am 100% sure you can self-sponsor a sole-proprietorship as an Engineer. I know several people who have done this, and here is an article about it.

If you are looking to do your own company, and are wanting to go the Engineering visa route, I’d again suggest talking to an immigration lawyer.

Find an accountant

Before you file any paperwork, I’d suggest finding an accountant. As a company, you’ll need to find one eventually anyways, but by finding one earlier, you can get advice on how to file the proper paperwork, or even have them do it for you (for a fee).

I initially looked for a bilingual accountant. However, I was not able to find a responsive, reasonably priced, bi-lingual accountant. So despite my poor Japanese skills, I ended up going with a Japanese speaking one who is affordable, responsive, and can explain things in a simple enough way that I understand his Japanese.

Filing paperwork to create a company

As an individual, you can file the paperwork necessary to create a company yourself. When I created my first company, one of my partners did this. In total, he probably ended up spending several days over a one month period getting all the paperwork in order.

When we created are second company, we went through Kazue Matsutomo, who we knew through Startup Weekend, and who specializes in incorporating companies. Through her, we were able to do everything in a couple of meetings, and benefited from the extra advice of someone experienced in creating companies.

Getting a bank account

To do business in Japan, you’ll need a Japanese bank account. Unfortunately, since April 2013, it has become a lot harder for a new business to get a bank account – this isn’t a problem just for international founders, Japanese have this problem as well. Apparently, Yakuza were getting people in debt to them to create a company, use the company to create a bank account, and then use the bank account for nefarious means. The solution to the problem: make it difficult for new businesses to create bank accounts.

After I had registered Doorkeeper Inc, the first thing I did was go to my local MUFJ (as I already have a bank account there, I thought it would be easiest), and try to open an account. It turned out to be one of the few times I’ve experience hostility from staff as a customer in Japan.

I already had the paperwork proving I had created the company, but in addition to that, she wanted a lease between my company and our office. I explained we were sharing an office with another company. Then she wanted a brochure describing my business. Well, we’re a web service that doesn’t have any of those, so I told her our website. When she went to our her site using her IE6 browser on Windows 2000, the CSS didn’t render properly (I think her network was blocking CloudFront…). At that point, she seemed really suspicious of me, and told me I could apply, but I’d probably be rejected, and I should apply at other banks as well.

I tried a couple of the other major banks as well, and was rejected from them. Around that time, I heard about Japan Net Bank, who apparently only judges your business by your website, applied, and got accepted. They are an internet only bank, which for the most part doesn’t cause any issues. The only problem I’ve had is it doesn’t seem possible to set up automatic bill payments with them (mobile phones, pension payments, etc), so I need to go to the post office once a month to pay bills.

In addition, I heard some other tips to get a bank account. If you apply with one of the major banks where you have a personal account, create it at the branch where you created the account (apparently, they “know” you better). Another tip is to try using one of the non-major local banks.

National Pension / National Health Insurance

If you’re a resident of Japan, law requires you to be enrolled in the National Pension and National Health Insurance programs. There are two ways of being registered: directly as an individual or through your company. In both cases, the amount you pay is based on your income, and as an individual, you pay about the same amount. However, by being registered through your company, your company does a co-payment of the same amount as you do as an individual.

So if you’re company that only employs the directors, by going through the company, you have a significant cost increase over paying it as an individual, and thus can afford to pay yourself less salary. Technically, this is what you are supposed to do, but apparently if your company only employs the directors, it is a grey area, and you can get away with not going through the company. However, we’re doing it through the company, as we assumed that was the only way to do it.

Get advice from others

Talking to other entrepreneurs is a great way to figure out how you should go about creating your company. Events are a great place to meet these people, and in particular I’d recommend the Hacker News Tokyo Meetup if you’re looking to meet other international founders. Another good upcomming event is Startup Weekend Tokyo International, where you can experience what it is like to do a startup in a weekend. We also have a list of startup events on Doorkeeper.


Thanks to Lars Cosh-Ishii, Peter Jacobs, Hiroki Kudo, Timothy Langley, Mark McFarlane, Tim Romero, Alex Williams, and Jason Winder for providing advice about starting up a business here in Japan.

The Best Resources for Entrepreneurial Developers

My background is as a developer, but I’ve been running my own business since 2008. For advice about business, I’ve always found other entrepreneurial developers are the best source, as they tend to have faced similar challenges to my own. If you’re a developer starting your own business, the follow are some great resources for you.

Hacker News

Hacker News is an aggregator for startup / tech related news. It’s been my gateway to most of the rest of the resources on this list.

Jason Cohen

Jason Cohen is an entrepreneur that has the combination of a developer background, and great writing and speaking skills. His blog is great, but his presentations are always what blow me a way. If you’re getting started, I highly recommend “From geek to entrepreneur: Sifting through the Bull5h1t” and “Designing the Ideal Bootstrapped Business”.

Patrick McKenzie

Patrick’s heavy presence on Hacker News led me to his blog pretty early on. Being a fellow resident of Japan, and an occassional attendee of the Hacker News Tokyo Meetups makes him the only person on this list I’ve had the chance to talk to on a semi-regular basis.

Rob Walling

I read Rob’s book Start Small, Stay Small pretty early on, which although it is a bit dated, is a good into to the idea of Bootsrapping a software business. His weekly podcast he cohosts with Mike Taber, Startups for the Rest of Us is something that I regularily look forward too, and he also organizes Microconf, which although I haven’t attended yet, has some great videos in the archives.

Brennan Dunn

As opposed to the other resources, Brennan Dunn tends to write more about freelancing than building your own product. In addition to the material on his personal site, there is also some good advice on his product’s blog.

Business of Software Conference

Along with MicroConf, the Business of Software is the best conference for developers interested in entrepreneurship (well, I’ve never actually attended, but enjoy watching their videos).

[Job Post] Degica Is Looking for Passionate Ruby on Rails Developers

At the end of last year, I was introduced to Degica, a Tokyo-based eCommerce startup that was looking for a Ruby developer. The thing that stood out to me about this startup is that they were already profitable and hadn’t taking venture funding, which seems is a rarity here and something I personally admire. Around the same time, I heard Chris Salzberg, who I had volunteered alongside with at Ruby Kaigi 2013, was looking for a new job. I introduced them, they hit things off, and now he’s leading their Tokyo development team.

Since then, I’ve started working more formally with Degica to build up their development team. If you’re a passionate Rubyist looking for a new opportunity, read on for the posting. 日本語もあります!

Degica is looking for passionate Ruby on Rails developers

Degica is a small, profitable startup that helps international companies sell software in Japan, and Japanese companies sell to the world. Along the way, we’ve built an ecommerce platform using great technologies: Ruby on Rails, Spree, and Coffeescript to name a few.

When developing, we strive for the balance between beautiful and pragmatic. We deliver high quality code through best practices such as test driven development, continuous integration, and code reviews.

Our original development team is based in Canada, but our main office is in Japan. Now we’re building a team here in Tokyo. English is the primary language of the development team, but we as we aim to be bilingual, we welcome anyone with fluent English or Japanese, and motivation to learn the other.

We hire potential over experience, as we understand that a good developer can pick up new technologies. That being said, as the Tokyo development team is still in its infancy, we’re currently looking for someone with a solid understanding of Ruby on Rails who can help us build a solid team here.

Does this sound like a good match? We should talk.


Our office is located in Kichijoji, consistently voted one of the most desirable places to live in Tokyo. Being a bit outside the city center, you can avoid Tokyo’s infamously crowded subways, while living in a hip neighborhood with a great selection of local restaurants and shops, and is a short train ride to the urban centers of Shinjuku and Shibuya.

One of the reasons we love Ruby on Rails is the vibrant open source community and all the great plugins available. In our day-to-day work we’ve created our own open source libraries, and contributed to others. As a developer, you’ll be free to contribute to open source as you see appropriate – no need to get approval to make a pull request.

We value sharing knowledge with our peers, and think developer conferences are a great place to do them. Because of this, if you speak at a conference anywhere in the world, and we’ll cover the cost (transportation, accommodation, etc). Just want to attend a conference? If it’s in Japan, we’ll also cover the cost. Outside Japan? Let’s talk.

デジカでは、仕事とオープンソース活動をバランス良くこなしたい Rails プログラマー 募集中 !

デジカはまだ小さいですが、将来性を秘めたスタートアップです。デジカは、日本のソフトウェアを海外展開したいお客様や海外のソフトウェアを日本展開をしたいお客様を様々な形で、サポートしています。 そのためのひとつとして、私たちは、Eコマースプラットフォームを作っています。使用している技術は主に、Rails と Spree (Eコマースプラットフォーム用Gem)です。Spreeをベースに様々なプラグインを作成しています。



あなたに求めるのは経験よりポテンシャルです。常に新しい情報や技術にアンテナをはり、貪欲に学び、吸収する姿勢を求めています。 東京の開発チームは、まだ始まったばかりです。私たちは、強いチーム作りの手助けをしてくれる Railsに精通 (知識、経験ともに)したプログラマーを求めています。








お互いの知識を共有するのに、デベロッパーカンファレンスはすばらしい場所です。 自身やチームの知見を外に発信したいなら、デジカはそのコストを負担します(カンファレンスの参加費、交通費、宿泊費等。日本だけなく海外も!)。カンファレンスに参加するだけの場合は?もちろん、国内ならデジカが負担します。海外は?相談にのります。

Salaries for International Developers Working in Japan

One of the questions I’ve been asked several times by readers of this blog are what are salaries of developers in Japan. There is a fair amount of data available about salaries for Japanese developers, but I wasn’t aware of anything for international developers.

I’m active in the developer community here, so I created a survey which I sent out to my network. I got fifteen replies – not enough to come to any statistically valid conclusions, but got some interesting responses nevertheless.

In this article, I’ll give the average yearly salary of developers based on several criteria.

First off, which is better, working for a company headquartered in Japan, or working for a foreign owned subsidiary?

Company TypeAverage Salary
Japanese Company¥8 million
Foreign Subsidiary¥11 million

Perhaps not surprisingly, international companies pay better than Japanese ones. Part of this could be that companies having subsidiaries in Japan are going to be established companies.

Related to this, how does the size of the company change compensation?

Number of EmployeesAverage Salary
150 or less employees¥6 million
150 to 1500 employees¥11 million
Over 1500 employees¥9 million

Mid-sized companies seem to pay the best. This could be because they are established enough that they aren’t trying to penny-pinch, while still not so big that an individual developer becomes a cog in the machine.

Next up, are you paid better at a company where you speak mostly in Japanese or English?

Primary Spoken LanguageAverage Salary
Spoke mostly English¥5 million
Spoke English / Japanese equally¥10 million
Spoke mostly Japanese¥9 million

Well it turns out developers who mostly spoke English didn’t get compensated nearly as well as those who used Japanese. There are probably a couple of reasons for this. First, if you are fluent in Japanese, there are a lot more opportunities available. Second, people who are using both English and Japanese are likely in a position where they are acting as a bridge between Japanese / International teams, which makes them more valuable.

Finally, what programming language should you use if you want to get paid well?

Programming LanguageAverage Salary
Javascript¥8 million
Ruby¥8 million
PHP¥5 million
Python¥7 million

PHP loses out here, so if you’re still programming in it, maybe its time to pick up a new language.

I hope this data helps people get a rough idea of what salaries are like here, but remember to take it with a grain of salt.

Getting a Job at a Japanese Startup

At the last Hacker News Tokyo Meetup, I met Paulo, who is the lead software developer at Crowdcast, a Japanese startup with a product, bizNote that makes small business accounting easier. As it turns out, Paulo had earlier found this blog, and we had talked about how to find a job in Japan. Paulo was looking to find a job at a Japanese startup, and he accomplished that objective, so I thought talking a bit about his experiences might help other readers.

Why did you decide to work in Japan?

I have always been interested in Asian culture in general, with both interests specifically in China and Japan. Having visited Hong Kong five years ago, I had decided that I would leave London once I had some work experience that made me worthwhile for a company to sponsor a visa.

Last year I finally visited Tokyo twice, and both my girlfriend and I decided that we would like to live here. The job market for expats is currently in demand and finding a position at a good startup isn’t as difficult as other countries. The general start up market right now is also starting to grow, so its a good opportunity to join at the start of the boom and make a name for yourself.

When you were searching for jobs, were you still abroad?

I was searching from London. Everyday I looked at different job boards to see if any new positions had been advertised. It’s pretty difficult to hunt down jobs as most companies do not use job boards so actively searching for startups in town is a good bet. Sometimes they have their own careers page and you get lucky, or others you just have to get in touch with them and ask if they have any positions available.

Then it comes the difficult task of interviewing via Skype! Mostly at a fairly awkward hour for anyone in London at a full time job. Its difficult and can take a while. It took me six months, but in the end I had maybe fifteen interviews with different companies including Cookpad and Rakuten at the larger end, and companies with two people at the smaller end!

Why was Crowd Cast a good match? What did you like about them and why do you think they hired you?

Crowd Cast was a good match for me in terms of the size. I had previously worked on the agency side (advertising) and for the last three years I had been at a conversion agency that was a start up. We went from three people to twelve, and no clients to some of the biggest names, not only in the UK but internationally. I felt that my experience in conversion, startup culture, and want for moving from the agency side made a good match with Crowd Cast. I also liked the fact that we currently had no in-house development team, and I would be able to shape the development of the company and department.

I guess they hired me for the same reasons I wanted to work with them. I had pretty good startup experience, big connections and ties to Japan (my girlfriend had moved here in April, though I was in London until October, and I had many friends in Tokyo) meant that I was less risky than other overseas candidates. This along with my experience in conversion and the overall business side of running a startup made me fairly compatible with their needs.

Can you tell me a bit more about Crowd Cast?

Crowd Cast is a small startup that has been around for a few years. However in the last six months we have started to bring development and project management in house. I am the first international team member, however everyone in the company speaks English and have worked at multinationals such as Microsoft and LINE. We have some really talented members already and are looking to expand. We are looking to expand with international members because this give us a better opportunity to find more talented individuals with good industry experience.

The working conditions are very welcoming here and can be even more welcoming than western companies. We typically work 9-6, though flextime is welcome as long as you are around from 11am to 3pm. We are working from a really great shared office in Shibuya, so we are really centrally located and you get to see and talk to new people everyday.

The Downside of Thanking Security Contributors

My startup is an popular event management platform within the Japan tech community. We’ve occasionally gotten reports about security issues, and although we’re a two-person company, we still take security seriously, so we decided to create security and responsible disclosure pages. As part of this, we created a section thanking people who had reported security issues to us.

The day after putting up the page, I got a mail “Reporting Stored XSS Vulnerability”. We’re using Ruby on Rails, which has built in functionality to mitigate these kind of attacks, so I was surprised to see such an issue being reported. However, I was able to verify it and fix the problem in the library that was causing it.

There was one thing that irked me at the end of his email:

P.S: If you would like to thank me, this is my paypal address:

We hadn’t done anything to actively solicit people to find vulnerabilities in our site, so I found it a bit strange to have someone seeking compensation for it. I responded saying we don’t have any bounty program, but we would add him to the list of contributors. As I was curious why he decided to investigate our site, I asked him, but I didn’t hear anything back.

About a week later, I woke up to find six mails regarding security issues. Looking at our referrers, it seems someone added us to a list of bug bounties, where we were listed next to companies like eBay, Evernote, Fog Creek, and Foursquare. Generally speaking, I’d be happy to be in the same list as them, but in this case we simply don’t have the same resources to designate to bug hunters as them.

Most of those initial mails were regarding the X-Frame-Options header, that helps to combat clickjacking. At this stage, the likelihood that someone is going to target us with this kind of attack is pretty low, but nevertheless, I set it.

Two more people pointed out that we weren’t doing anything to prevent brute forcing of account login. Indeed we weren’t, and this was probably the most serious reported vulnerability. We implemented locking for accounts after many consecutive login attempts.

The last was that our nginx version had a security vulnerability in it. Indeed it did, although I don’t think we were using it in such a way that we would have been susceptible to it. Of course, we still did the upgrade.

Rather than by the issues themselves, I felt overwhelmed by the reporters. What’s the etiquette in this case? If multiple people report the same vulnerability, am I supposed to add them all to our list of security contributors? How about if they report something like the nginx issue, where it is a potential issue, but there is no reason to believe we would actually be subject to it?

Since that initial burst, we’ve continued to receive at least a couple of mails a day. After we asked them to, the bug bounty site removed us, but the reports continue. Furthermore, all the reports are about non issues. For instance,

  • A user could create a link to another site that has malicious content. We are intentionally allowing a subset of HTML.
  • A cookie is not marked as HTTP Only. We only use the cookie to store the users preferred locale.
  • Our site can be DOSed by automating the submission of a form.

Not only are they reporting trivial issues, but they also aren’t testing our site in a respectful fashion, by doing stuff like signing up to real events with fake profiles.

At this point, I regret adding the contributors page. What was meant as a way to thank the people who helped us is now being treated as an open invitation to try to hack our site. If they were reporting serious issues it would be one thing, but I don’t want to spend time confirming every issue is actually a non issue. If I remove the list of contributors, will they stop? Or is the genie out the bottle now and I’m doomed to keep having to deal with these people?


IT飲み会名古屋で初めての招待講演をしました。発表は「Developer /Entrepreneur」と言いまして、社員の開発者から、スタートアップの創業者への話でした。



Patrick McKenzie

欧米で人気Hacker Newsというスタートアップや開発記事をまとめるサイトでpatio11のハンドルで2番目のポイントがある人です。




Jason Cohen

ベンチャー投資をもらわなくて、利益数億円のコードレビューソフトの会社を作って売却しました。現在、WP EngineとWordpressホスティング会社をやっています。

ブログもよいですが、発表するのは非常にうまいと思います。自営業にやりたい方は最初に「From geek to entrepreneur: Sifting through the Bull5h1t」を見るのはおすすめです。

Rob Walling


Startups For The Rest of UsというPodcastや、MicroConf、スタートアップのコミュニティのため、色んな活動しています。

スタートアップやりたい開発者むけの本、Start Small, Stay Small: A Developer’s Guide to Launching a Startupもおすすめです。



Getting a Japanese Visa for a Programming Job With an English Major

I occasionally get questions about being a developer in Japan from readers of this blog, and recently got an interesting one:

I’m looking for a web development job in Tokyo. I majored in English, and currently teach English in Tokyo (with a humanities visa). But during college and after, I’ve always been doing freelance web development on the side.

I don’t have a Computer Science degree. Is it possible for me to get the appropriate visa should I find a programming job in Tokyo?

When I had to renew my visa after founding mobalean, I received a lot of conflicting information about what visa I should be on. To ensure my renewal went smoothly, we engaged Nakai Immigration Services, who were kind enough to also respond to the reader’s situation:

A suitable solution provided he finds the new job may to remain under “Specialist” type and pursue engineering related work by mainly using English language skills. The emphasis should not be too much on technical development, as for this he would need suitable educational and/or professional background for a certain amount of years.

As you can see, there is a lot of ambiguity with regards to immigration law. If the reader was to have explained his situation to Japan’s Immigration Bureau, they would have told him that, no, he can not get a programming job without having an engineering background. But this doesn’t mean he cannot get a job that involves development.

If you have an unusual visa situation, I’d recommend getting help from a professional with handling the renewal, as their job is to look for possibilities for you to get the proper visa, whereas the Immigration Bureau’s is to look for a reason to deny you one.

Pair Programming Event a Success

The first pair programming event of Tokyo Rubyist Meetup went event better than I expected it to. The event was hosted at HatchUp’s TechBuzz space, and started with an introduction to pair programming by Johnny Mukai, where he talked about how Pivotal Labs does pair programming, and answered questions about how pair programming works.

After Johnny’s introduction, I assigned teams and then revealed the first programming challenge. Immediately, people began working together to solve the problem, and as the video below shows, the atmosphere was very lively.

Tokyo Rubyist Meetup originally set out to bridge the gap between the international and Japanese Ruby communities. From this perspective, the event was the most successful one yet, as by pairing Japanese and international people, it gave people who would not normally communicate with each other an opportunity to do so.

Based on the success of this event, I plan to hold another one. Join Tokyo Rubyist Meetup to get a notification about the next one.

A Horrifying User Experience

After years of living in a cramped Tokyo apartment, I’m going to move to a slightly more spacious one. Finding an apartment went smoother than I could have imagined, and in half-a-day, I had found a new apartment. The following day I set out to take care of the tasks surrounding the move.

First up is finding a mover. After some searching, I come across 価格.com’s moving company estimate site.

価格.com is a price comparison site, which I’ve used in the past to find deals on electronics. I decide to try them out, and fill out their form with the details of my current place and the place I’m moving to.

Within a minute of submitting my information, my phone rings. I answer, and it is a moving company calling to confirm my details. I spend about ten minutes going through my details, and receive a quote.

When I hang up the phone, I notice that I have four missed calls. It hits me: all the estimate service does is submit my information to all the companies that have registered to it.

The companies are like sharks that have just smelled fresh blood, and are swarming on me. The moving companies must have people ready to pounce on any lead that comes in, racing to make the call before their peers. I wonder if these ferocious companies will really give me a good deal, or will try to fleece me.

I realize I don’t want to deal with these companies. But it is too late, as they have my phone number already. Ignoring email is a lot easier than ignoring a ringing phone. By the end of the day, I’ve received fifteen calls from different moving companies.

The moving company estimate site provided me with a horrible experience. With the internet, we are used to it being a passive experience. We can browse at our own pace, stopping at any time. This service broke that paradigm, making me fend off different moving companies. The only thing that they automated was the submission of my information to more companies than I would have ever wanted.

The user experience here is broken for everyone. The potential customers get overwhelmed by the companies calling them. The companies waste time calling people who don’t want to talk to them. 価格.com’s service shouldn’t exist as it stands.

If you are someone wanting to do a startup in Japan, there’s a great opportunity here for you. The experience of finding a moving company could be made infinitely better. There is already a market, and a clear path to monetization. It might not be the sexiest startup, but it has a real chance of success. Let me know if you want to talk more about it.

Oh yeah, and while I was writing this post, I got yet another call from a moving company.