A story from a CEO’s Perspective: Getting the Business Started

Having graduated from Waseda University, Mr. Shiro Sakamoto joined Toray as a chemical engineer. Working for a joint venture between Toray and DuPont US, he participated in the further advancement of a  material called Kevlar. This material had been undergoing development long before Shiro started working in this project. After 14 years, he realized that the development process of materials exceeds a person’s professional career. He then decided to jump into business planning, in which he believed to had much more vitality. And soon started working on a cloud mail type service, similar to the present day Gmail.

ShiroShiro Sakamoto: “The phone which I helped develop, which used Kevlar as a part of the “print-wiring-board” provided an interesting experience, back in 1999. I was amazed that I was able to surf on the internet using a mobile phone. At that time, I was at a bar in Nagoya and tried using my mobile to check for the train schedules heading back to Tokyo; just a simple mobile phone to find out the exact information I needed! Isn’t it a shocking experience? TPO – Time, Place and Occasion transforms the importance of information availability.”

Presumably, that triggered Shiro’s interest to enter in the IT industry, as a start-up. Getting funded was the first challenge. Since the product idea was way ahead of its time, Shiro experienced constant failures in getting funded. Getting sponsored didn’t work out as well as he expected. Shiro then decided to take advantage of Toray’s Start-up business funding program and built a company now known as e-Jan Networks. A prototype of cloud mailing system, which the company thought of was released in 2000. However, it wasn’t widely accepted by the public. Through time, they gradually shifted their system into a solution which caters business enterprises.

Yamakawa: “e-Jan had a lot of setbacks and obstacles. How did e-Jan manage to rise up and become profitable?”

Shiro Sakamoto: “The improved product which we developed for business enterprises back then was not popular among the 200 companies that I visited in a span of six months. However, those same companies shared valuable information. They introduced me to their system structure and server requirements. Thanks to that, I was able picture the initial design of CACHATTO. We made active use of the existing technologies and created a service which could easily be incorporated in their system requirements. A new vision of e-Jan brought the company out from its 5 year struggle since the time it started. The development of CACHATTO, based on companies’ needs, was and still is one of the biggest reasons for its success.

Responding to customers’ needs is an important aspect of e-Jan’s foundation. Shiro sees the growth of his company parallel with the growth of CACHATTO. For instance, the number of employees working at e-Jan is never beyond the need of the company. Shiro expressed his gratefulness towards everyone in a deep way – “I was lucky to meet the right people at the right time; People with enthusiasm whenever e-Jan needed their well appreciated contributions.”

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