The Mobile World Congress (MWC) - the worlds largest exhibition for the mobile industry held in Barcelona where manufacturers, carriers, tech providers, content producers and investors gather from all corners of the world to check out the latest and greatest in the industry and seek new business opportunities.
As part of the WMC, an event called 4 Years From Now hosted by startup accelerator Wayra took place where euntreprenuers from all over the world attend to network with investors, mentors and folks in the industry.
Last year they had guest speakers such as Dennis Crowley, founder and CEO of Foursquare - this year they invited me along with entrepreneurs such as Razmig Hovaghimian who founded Viki.
I was invited to talk about Smart Doll and how I bootstrapped my company - will talk about that further down the post but first will show you around the Mobile World Congress that took place at the end of February 2014.
I wasn't too familiar with the WMC but did hear about it on tech blogs. When I was invited, I thought it was a business and consumer event but it turns out that its only for industry folks - and even so over 80,000 people attended this year @.@
Passes all have NFC chips inside and each entry to the venue is verified with a passport - they made an exception for Mirai-chan ^^
WMC is held at Fira Gran Via - its huuuuge! Up until now I've mostly attended anime events which I thought were big but this is something on such a grander scale - this is going to be another stage for Mirai Suenaga in the very near future ^o^
Met a load of folk at MWC who were all interested in the mobile communication aspect of Smart Doll Automatic Version.
Having not seen anything like it, Mirai seemed to be a popular girl throughout the event. Looks like the world had been waiting for something new and different.
The ironic thing is that 60cm tall class dolls have been around for ages - its just that they have always been isolated to a small niche market.
Together with wifey and photobomb-san outside the venue. Hopefully be back again soon with a booth to pitch Smart Doll as a communications device to more telcos - already have telco's in 3 different countries interested ><
Now its off to the 4 Years From Now (4YFN) venue just around the corner.
I've just notices that Mirai's beanie ends up looking like this when I take her our of the bag - it should be placed on her head with more fringe showing ><
Where do you want to be 4 years from now? Goals heh? As for me by 2018...
Arrival at the main stage - audience here is made up of entrepreneurs, investors and press folks.
Was surprised to see myself being picked up on a web tech blog that I frequent - The Next Web ^o^
Gary Stewart - Director of Wayra UK and previously Director of Wayra Spain who transferred to UK right after MWC.
This is Jeffrey Char - a Serial Entrepreneur who resides in Tokyo. In addition to his entrepreneuring, he is also a lecturer and mentor for those who are looking to follow in his successful steps.
In the previous A Week in Tokyo, I mentioned that I gave a talk at Jeff's venture incubator. After listening to my talk, Jeff invited me to Barcelona to give a similar talk.
Moderated by Jeff, I talk alongside entrepreneur and founder of Viki - Razmig Hovaghimian.
We both talk about how we bootstrapped our companies. Razmig did make a point of how bootstrapping can take us to critical mass but investment is usually needed to take the business further and beyond.
I had to cover everything I do in 5 mins which was a good challenge as it forced me to focus on what matters and I think I managed to get the message across.
As part of my talk I cover Smart Doll and what plans I have in store for the line.
There is a recording of the event on YouTube but does not show my slides - I'm on at the 28min-ish mark.
While I've given talks to non-anime crowds such as at Cannes to advertising folks, Hamburg to Marketing folks and in Tokyo to government folks, I still do get butterflies in the stomach when speaking away from familiar turf ><
The mobile and startup crowd in Barcelona however were really warm and were great to network with.
Just some of the points about Culture Japan that I shared are:-
I'm prepping a post on how I bootstrapped a company in Japan but you can read some of it in the How Discovering Japan Change My Life post.
Even though I didn't have any intention to take investment any time soon, Razmig and many other folks who I met at the event made me realize that I can only go so far on my own capital.
While I do believe that I can continue to bootstrap, I feel that as I will soon reach critical mass with Mirai Suenaga, I would be ready to take investment with a condition that I maintain autonomy and control of operations.
I feel that the lack of funds up until now has forced us to innovate with the resources and the technology that we have at hand - rather than try to solve everything with cash and rent flash offices right out from the beginning as many startups do for some reason.
Through projects like the Wonder Festival where I literally moved the whole office to Makuhari just for a one day event to save on exhibition costs, we continue to demonstrate that we use cash wisely and always make use of resources at hand.
I feel that investors can rest assured that the sensible decisions are being made so that the company can grow as fast as possible while I ensure that they benefit from their support of my vision.
A load of startups gave a pitch for investment. Here are folks from La Mas Mona talking about their online dress rental service.
My Twin Place has an interesting service a bit like Airbnb and Home Away - the difference is where you swap homes for the duration of your vacation.
Later on that evening its time to network with executives and CEO's from the mobile and telco industry, investors and so on.
The gentleman to my right is Gonzalo Martín-Villa who is the current CEO of Wayra - the startup accelerator owned by Telefónica. Jeff is also a mentor at Wayra who has helped me broaden my global vision.
I'm going to stop here and leave you with the rest of the networking photos as I go and catch up on writing a load of other posts. As you go through these photos however, you will notice something about them.
My belief has always been that there is a much bigger market for the 60cm tall class doll - The Rest Of The World which is a market tens of thousands of times (if not millions) bigger than the anime market that other doll manufacturers currently target.
While I acknowledge that many Mirai-chan fans want to have a Mirai Suenaga Smart Doll - the target market is actually folks who have not seen this class of doll before.
This is the reason why Mirai-chan does not come in default with her Summer Uniform.
Mirai-chan comes in her casual wear which is more accepted by folks who don't know what anime is - they just know that they like what they see and that is my observation - they don't know that they want it until they see it.
While I have no plans to develop anime licensed dolls, MiraiFrame and MiraiShell is open to individuals and manufacturers to develop their own products.
Diego Molano Vega the 2nd and current Minister of Information Technologies and Communications of Colombia serving in the Administration of President Juan Manuel Santos since 2010. He also likes Mirai-chan ^o^