Report on the Third Ideathon: Yu Aoki, President & CEO, MATCHA Inc.
The third Ideathon was held on June 13. Organized as brainstorming sessions, the third and fourth sessions are based on dialogue with startup manager guest speakers. This session welcomed back from last year Yu Aoki, President and CEO of MATCHA Inc. and an active entrepreneur in the tourism industry.
Led by Mr. Aoki, MATCHA Inc. handles media targeting foreign visitors to Japan and communicates information in 10 languages: Japanese, English, Chinese (simplified), Chinese (traditional), Korean, Indonesian, Thai, Vietnamese, Spanish, and easy Japanese. Some 10% of all foreign visitors to Japan already use MATCHA, which is drawing attention as the leading media source for visitors to Japan.
In October 2018, MATCHA launched the "Stay Safe in JAPAN" page. This site provides information on where visitors from overseas can obtain care while in Japan in the event of illness or injury. It’s also a guide to evacuation centers and a source of useful information in the event of disasters. Expectations are high that this new site will serve as a source of lifeline information for visitors to Japan.
Mr. Aoki began his presentation with an overview of MATCHA's business, describing how the company seeks to launch new initiatives to communicate information to visitors inclined to stay for a certain period of time, and what he has in mind for such communications.
A Q&A session was followed by a roughly one-hour brainstorming session, featuring Mr. Aoki in the second half of the session, on the topic of Japan’s unique appeal. Mr. Aoki had asked participating students in advance to consider the appeal of Japan, after which each student gave a presentation on what they saw as Japan's appeal. The results encompassed a wide range of ideas, including ones that already attract inbound tourists and some as yet unrecognized.
Among the ideas presented, the notion of Japan Quality led to discussions about how to inspire an even wider range of people overseas to learn more about Japanese snack foods, known to be inexpensive, delicious, and high quality.
Participating students proposed various ideas, including promotional activities linked to traditional Japanese festivals and manga. Mr. Aoki commented on each idea, and further ideas followed his comments. The brainstorming session featured lively discussion from beginning to end.