Tokyo Dev

by Paul McMahon

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Venture Cafe

Venture Cafe had its first event, はたらくモチベーション (Motivation to Work), last night. The event consisted of a panel discussion followed by a World Cafe style discussion.

The panel consisted of Yasuo Higa, the “chief-commiter” of the Seasar project, Masanori Hashimoto, the president of nulab, and Hiroyuki Yamaoka, an engineer at Zynga Japan.

Hashimoto’s introduction was the most interesting. His company, who makes Cacoo, is one of the few examples I know of where a Japanese web service is succeeding abroad. In his introduction, he talked about how his motivation has fluctuated over the years. Starting with his first job as a bartender at 18 (even though the legal drinking age is 20 in Japan), he had relatively high motivation. When he joined his family’s company at age 20, he found his motivation dropping. Since then it has fluctuated up and down, but it wasn’t until his company was successfully selling its own products that he found his motivation exceeded that of his original bartending job.

After the panel, for the “World Cafe” style discussion, my table was hosted by a university student. The other members were another university student and the director of an incubation company. I found this to be a great opportunity to practice Japanese, and I’m really thankful to everyone who had patience with me and encouraged me to participate.

One thing I liked about the event was that their were many University students participating. I guess I’ve gotten used to being the young one in the room, so it was pretty refreshing for me. One student had come all the way from Kyoto for the event, and said she was spending the night at a net cafe in Tokyo. I was impressed by the students that came to the event, and hope start seeing more students at other events.

The nijikai was held at Ginza lion. I enjoyed continuing chatting with the participants over a couple beers, but when the bill was ¥4000 (in addition to the ¥3000 for the event), it came out to being a rather expensive outing. Nevertheless, I found this to be one of the best events I’ve been to here in Tokyo, so I’m looking forward to the next one.