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How Japanese Startups are Breaking into Silicon Valley – Ramen Hero

By Tim Romero: Serial startup founder in Japan and indomitable innovator

More and more Japanese founders are moving their startups to San Francisco. It’s easy to see why. There is more venture capital, more startup know-how, and more startup energy in that city than anywhere else in the world. In fact, there is a small, close knit Japanese startup community in San Francisco, with Japanese startups, mentors and investors all supporting each other and trying to grow their business there. On my last trip to San Francisco, I had a chance to sit down with one of these startup founders, Keisuke Kajitani, co-founder of Ramen Hero. He moved to Silicon Valley from Japan to start his company because he thought the US market was a better fit. Ramen Hero sells home delivered ramen meal kits. Interestingly, the popularity and ubiquity or ramen in Japan works against them, while the novelty and price of ramen in the US has enabled them to get attention from both VCs and customers there. It’s a fascinating discussion, and I think you’ll enjoy it. Show Notes for Startups Why ramen gives them a competitive advantage in the US Previous failures in the ramen business and why it's different this time Why Ramen Hero had to pivot from B2B to home delivery What's great about the Japanese startup scene in San Francisco How many companies can the market sustain? When Japanese companies should move to Japan   Links from the Founder Learn more about Ramen Hero at their home page Follow Ramen Hero on Instagram [shareaholic app="share_buttons" id="7994466"] Leave a comment Transcript from Japan Disrupting Japan, episode 69. Welcome to Disrupting Japan, straight talk from the Japan’s most successful entrepreneurs. I'm Tim Romero and thanks for joining me. More and more, Japanese startup founders are looking at, or even moving to Silicon Valley. It’s easy to see the appeal. San Francisco is home to the largest and most competitive startup ecosystem in the world. In fact, there’s a small Japanese startup community in San Francisco, with Japanese startups, mentors, and investors all supporting each other and trying to make it work. Of course, the founders that come from Japan—well, it’s a mixed group. Some successful companies view San Francisco as their logical first step towards global expansion; some are new founders that have an idea they feel is more suited to the American market than the Japanese market; and some, well, some are kind of startup tourists, visiting the offices of famous startups and going through the motions, as if they were in some sort of startup role playing game. On my last trip to San Francisco, I had a chance to sit down and talk with Keisuke Kajitani, co-founder of Ramen Hero. He and his co-founder moved to San Francisco from Japan because they thought the US would be a better market for their product, oddly, because ramen is already too popular in Japan. Now, Ramen Hero sells home delivery ramen meal kits and it’s a business that makes much more sense to launch in the US than it does in Japan. But, you know, Keisuke explains all that much better than I can. So let’s hear from our sponsor and get right to the interview. [pro_ad_display_adzone id="1404" info_text="Sponsored by" font_color="grey" ] [Interview] Tim: I’m sitting here with Keisuke Kajitani of Ramen Hero and we’re sitting here in beautiful San Francisco. So thanks for sitting down with us. Keisuke: Thanks for having me. Tim: I’ve got to say, San Francisco is not so beautiful today. Keisuke: Yeah, it’s raining hard. Tim: I don’t think I’ve ever seen this much rain in San Francisco. Keisuke: Yeah, it’s unfortunate. Tim: But we’re inside and dry, so that’s good. Listen, to get things started, why don’t you tell me a bit about Ramen Hero? Keisuke: Sure. So Ramen Hero is a meal kit service specifically focused on delivering authentic ramen to your house. So what we deliver inside of the meal kit is fresh noodles, and soup, and toppings,

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