When I founded this company in the year 2000, we were originally aiming to create a service that stores emails online and enables users to search and retrieve them by using devices such as PCs and cellphones. From 1999, cellphones in Japan had just started to be equipped with some Internet capabilities such as email and web.
The idea of being able not only to read but also to search my emails wherever I was, seemed very attractive to me. So I named the new service “Mailpointer,” meaning to point to any email from anywhere. I was quite confident that this would be the way people would use email, where at the time, the majority of people were downloading emails onto their PCs.
Enthusiastically, I shared the idea with many of my friends and colleagues, but contrary to my expectations, none of them showed a keen interest. Many of them asked, “How can I trust a venture company that stores my very personal email and not to misuse it?” and I always said “Eventually we’d be trusted, and as soon as people realize how convenient the service is, they will start using it.”
The technology we had at the time was very limited so we decided to outsource the development to an Indian company in Bangalore. We kept spending money on its development in order to actualize the concept. After two years of time and millions of dollars spent, I realized we were not doing well at all. We also failed badly in controlling the quality of the service. On top of that Mailpointer never took off.
The question was whether to continue Mailpointer or to come up with a different service. After a lot of struggle, I chose to abandon Mailpointer. Due to almost no budget remaining and no luxury to fail again, I decided to focus on customers’ opinions, not our gut feeling. So I started to visit companies by making appointments, carefully listening to their wants, and gradually pictured a potential service we could deliver.
After visiting approximately 200 companies, I became confident that our new concept, to enable cellphones to handle business emails safely, would allow us have actual business with corporations. The service was later named “CACHATTO.” We promptly created the program in India with the knowledge we had accumulated from the previous developments, and then delivered the service to potential customers who showed an interest. It was unexpected, but we still needed another three years until “CACHATTO” really took off.