Tag Archives: innovation

NEST2017 – part 1


A few weeks ago, as a co-director of Descartes Search, LLC, I, Pascal Hideki Hamonic got the opportunity to attend NEST2017.

It was the second time for me to attend NEST, the first time being NEST2016.

As last year, it was a very fulfilling experience.

Below are mentioned some notes that I took during the first day.


Button Inc founder:

  • First mover advantage is not crucial

  • What is crucial is to be passionate about what you do

  • The competitors do not know what they are doing

  • The best way to be successful is to really solve a problem for the market and prove your model with customers, users and revenues

  • Good entrepreneurship is having a mission

  • About Japan:

    • Design

    • Innovation

    • Very high level services


Chat between Mikitani and Horowitz:

  • Recent AI breakthroughs: AI can compute efficiently very precise approximations

  • Autonomous driving: edge cases are tricky to handle

  • You don’t know why machine learning goes wrong: this is the real danger

  • Bushido spirit: keep death in mind all the time

  • You cannot be prepared for every scenario:  the role of the CEO is to make high quality quick decisions

  • Horowitz invests in people that have figured out something about the world

  • Evolution of technology: hardware —> software —> data (maths)

  • How to solve Japan’s aging population problem: immigration, making babies


Panel discussion between the Takashi Inoue, Son Masayoshi and Chikatomo Hada:

  • New concept: circular economy

  • Michelin: tyre as a service

  • Rice work, life work, like work

  • Mention of hydrogen-based energy system….


Drew Houston’s session:

  • Dropbox: 500m users

  • Cloud data storage products to help teams work together

  • Work about work: 60% of work is wasted

  • Dropbox paper: to work together remotely

  • Dropbox is great for sharing documents

  • the new admin:

  • He reads a lot

  • Even strengths can be weaknesses

  • Coaching is very a good industry

  • Constantly learn new skills, by giving up one’s own strengthens

  • AI is very good at doing the work for work


Kathy Matsui’s session:

  • In Japan interest rates and cost of capital are low

  • 2.8% unemployment rate

  • 43% more jobs than jobseekers

  • There is a need to raise wages—> That is why japanese inflation rate needs to go up

  • Japanese exports are 15 % of GDP, consumption is 50%

  • Make Japan more self sufficient with a bigger domestic economy

  • Japan needs more deregulation

  • Japanese economy is shrinking, there is no growth but Japan has a massive stash of savings

  • A need for new trade policies + structural reform policy

  • 2 duties of citizens:

    • vote

    • stay informed

  • There is a lot of competition for mindshare

  • Questions from the audience

  • WSJ’s business model is to make pay for subscriptions

  • Labor-intensive industries need the society to invest more in IT

  • Construction and nursing are examples of labor-intensive industries: Japan needs more immigration

  • 2020: tighter job market, higher interest rates

There will be a huge demand for AI engineers very soon

Andy rubin

I attended NEST 2016, the New Economy Summit 2016, last week on the 7th and 8th of April, 2016.

The list of speakers can be found here.

NEST stands for Next Economy Summit Tokyo/Technology .

It was a very fruitful, instructive and entertaining summit.

Here, I would like to quote the statements from the speakers that left an impression on me.

Disclaimer: it is not the exact quote but I hope I got the right meaning of each statement.


Katsujin David Chao of DCM:

  • “The combination of AI and IoT is going to be very interesting.”

  • “Japan has been the biggest investor to India.”

  • On startups: “The window of opportunity for success has been shortened. That is why you need to raise much more quickly and a lot.“


Peter Bell of Highland Capital Partners:

  • On the sharing economy 1: “Incredible experience for the consumer.

  • On the sharing economy 2: “Ownership is not that important for teenagers.”


Sumant Mandal of March Capital Partners/Clearstone Venture Partners:

  • “The VC industry needs to be disrupted.”

  • Recommendation for entrepreneurs: “Do not listen to anybody.”


Taavi Rõivas, Prime Minister of Estonia:

  • On his own government: “We have zero bureaucracy.”

  • “People are the big brothers of the government.”

  • “The key for the future: to enable it”


Chris Anderson of 3D Robotics :

  • “Drones are the Internet of Things.”

  • “Drones are connected to the cloud.”

  • “Drones are the best way to manage the planet.”

  • “Japan’ strengths are cars, sensors, mechatronics.”


Shigenobu Kobayashi of Rakuten SmartPay:

  • On the credit card use: “Japan 18% compared to USA 50%.”


Katsuaki Sato of Metaps:

  • “We want to be the world’s brain.”


Yosuke Tsuji of Money Forward:

  • On virtual currencies: “The means for exchanging goods and services will be diversified.”


Daisuke Sasaki of Freee:

  • “Small businesses will become strong.”


James Gutierrez of Insikt:

  • On being an entrepreneur: “Every day you get bad news and you step back and you improve things and you pivot.”

  • “Brands are going to become the new banks.”


Ernestine Fu of Alsop Louie Partners:

  • On the opportunities of a messaging platform: “Food delivery, messaging, financial transactions, transportation can be offered by a messaging platform.”

  • Advice for being an entrepreneur:”Find your passion, get a good mentor, go for it, do not be afraid of failing.”


Peter Vesterbacka of Rovio Entertainment:

  • About Angry Birds’ original goal of getting 100 million downloads: “It was impossible but in fact it is easy.”

  • Advice for being an entrepreneur:”You do not think it is impossible. You have to believe in what you do.”


Andy Rubin of Playground Global:

  • About Playground Global: “Ideo + VC”

  • About the next computing platform over the next 10~15 years: AI

  • “In the future, engineers will learn how to program and how to train neural networks.”

  • “We no longer have linear programming. We have neural networks.”

  • “In 20 years, everyone will be a teacher.” (of neural networks)


Susumu Fujita of Cyber Agent:

  • “There is a surplus of money in Tokyo.”

  • “You need experience and know-how about how to move people in order to build a startup.

  • “What prevents the increase of startups in Japan is the low number of M&A. IPOs should not be the only possible exits.”


Yasukane Matsumoto of Raksul:

  • “There are only 1000 startups in Japan per year with 100 VCs. It is 100 times easier to raise funds in Japan than in India.”

  • “Innovation should not be an operations related problem solved by big corporations but it should be a technology issue only.”


Yoshikazu Tanaka of Gree:

  • “In Japan, the body of regulations prevents things like Uber for example.”

  • “In the US, first you do and then we tell you that you cannot do certain things. In Japan, first we tell you not to do things. If it is allowed, then you can start doing.”


Logan Green of Lyft:

  • “Our mission: to connect people with better transportation.”

  • “Transportation as a service.”

  • “A lot of jobs face automation.”

  • “Taxi sharing has created 100,000 jobs in the US.”

  • “Car sharing will cause a massive reshaping of cities.”

  • “General Motors provide the cars and the AI software. We provide the network.”

  • On the upcoming Tokyo Olympics: “There is gonna be a big surge for taxi needs.”

  • “Happy drivers → happy passengers.”

  • “Future is gonna be awesome.”


Juan de Antonia of Cabify:

  • “We need to be very collaborative with the regulators.”


Hiroshi Mikitani of Rakuten:

  • “There is the first mover advantage but I think there is also what I call the developed countries disadvantage.”

  • “Engineers are lacking in Japan.”

  • “There are only 20k Computer Science graduates per year in Japan.”

  • “Japan needs to get human resources from overseas.”

  • “Japan needs to reform regulations.”

  • “Japan has money and technology.”


From these quotes that made an impression on me, the following thoughts occurred to me:

  • Recruiting is as important as raising funds for a startup.

  • A startup needs to recruit the engineers that will be creating the next standards.

  • A startup needs to recruit engineers that can write bug-free code.

  • AI engineers, machine learning engineers and data scientists will be more and more crucial in the near future.

  • Combining smartphone, cloud and AI in a secure way is going to generate a lot of innovation and productivity gain for Humanity.


Overall, I think that Descartes Search, LLC, has a big role to play in this context and will definitively contribute to the creation of the next platform, the AI platform, by basically providing high class AI engineers, data scientists, machine learning engineers, data mining engineer or any engineer that can learn fast about how to train neural networks.

Especially not only we can help bring the high class engineers that can innovate and produce value for startups in Japan because we can communicate well with the engineers and assess their level based on our background in engineering and computer science, we can also bring the foreigners to Japanese startups, the ones that will be working more cost-effectively when Japanese engineers are lacking.

Japan has money and technology.

Descartes Search, LLC brings the right engineers to the right companies to Japanese startups.Finally, Descartes Search, LLC deals already with data scientist positions or machine learning/data mining engineering related positions.

For example:


Please do not hesitate to visit our home page and our list of hot job opportunities that are centered around Tokyo and software engineering jobs if you happen to be looking for a job right now.