How Micro-Retail Shops Are Changing Japan – Nokisaki
By Tim Romero: Serial startup founder in Japan and indomitable innovator
Japan has a long history of small shopping streets and tiny markets. In fact, despite the population density, American-style mall culture never took off here. The back streets of even the most crowded downtown office districts are filled with little specialty stores and vegetable stands. Akiko Nishiura, the CEO and founder of Nokisaki, wants to see that culture spread even further in Japan, and her company is helping small merchants find physical spaces for pop-up shops, vegetable stands and food trucks. Nokisaki is connecting these small merchants, who need just a little bit of space, with commercial landlords who have a little bit of free space and are looking for some additional foot-traffic. It’s an interesting business model, and Akiko and I discuss how it will work outside of Japan or even outside of Japan's big cities. She also explains how Nokisaki survived a crisis that would have bankrupted almost any other startup — at least any other startup outside Japan. It’s a great discussion, and I think you’ll enjoy it. Show Notes Why parking is different (and difficult) in Japan How a new alliance is developing between big-brand stores and tiny retailers Why it's so difficult for Japanese moms to return to work after having kids How the Japanese market reacts to new challenges How a security risk shut down her company How Japanese retail culture differs from the West How Nokisaki will out-maneuver her much better-funded competitors Links from the Founder The Nokisaki Homepage Nokisaki Parking Nokisaki Business Nokisaki Parking on Facebook Nokisaki Business on Facebook Friend Akiko on Facebook [shareaholic app="share_buttons" id="7994466"] Leave a comment Transcript Disrupting Japan, episode 94. Welcome to Disrupting Japan, straight talk from Japan’s most successful entrepreneurs. I’m Tim Romero and thanks for joining me. Napoleon supposedly once called England a nation of shop keepers. And while the comment was undoubtedly meant as an insult in the context it was offered, there’s something to be said in favor of being a nation of shop keepers particularly in this age of e-commerce, Rakuten, Amazon stores, and drop shipping. In fact, Japan, more so than the U.S. has a culture of tiny little neighborhood shops that have never been pushed out completely by big box stores, shopping malls, and chain stores even in the big cities. Well, today we’re going to sit down and talk with someone who’s accelerating that trend by making it easier for small shop keepers to pop up all over Tokyo. Akiko Nishiura, CEO of Nokisaki, connects commercial landlords with just a little extra space to small merchants who are looking for, well, just a little space. And in their spare time, the company is also trying to solve Japan’s horrible parking problems. The discussion of the company in the market alone would make this episode worth listening to. Akiko also shares a story of something that would have forced almost any Western startup into bankruptcy but due to the unique and frankly somewhat extreme notion of Japanese customer loyalty, it resulted in only a minor interruption of Nokisaki’s rapid growth. But you know, Akiko tells that story much better than I can. So let’s hear from our sponsor and get right to the interview. [pro_ad_display_adzone id="1411" info_text="Sponsored by" font_color="grey" ] [Interview] Tim: I’m sitting here with Akiko Nishiura, the founder and CEO of Nokisaki. Akiko: Yes. Tim: Thanks for sitting down with us. Akiko: Thank you, Tim. Tim: Now, Nokisaki is a parking space sharing and space sharing startup but I think you can explain it much better than I can. So tell me a bit about what Nokisaki is. Akiko: Okay. Tim, have you ever heard the word “nokisaki” and do you know the exact meaning of nokisaki? Tim: I have to admit I didn’t know it until I looked it up. Akiko: Right.