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The Global Niche Startup Strategy – Cerevo – Iwasa Takuma

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

Cerevo wants to be a “global niche” player. That makes sense for this Internet of Things company. The IoT has become so pervasive and so successful that the terms ha become almost meaningless. Today we simply except and accept that almost everything should naturally be connected to the internet. Of course, it wasn’t always that way, and today Takuma Iwasa, founder and CEO of Cerevo tells us of how he started his career at one of Japan’s big consumer electronics companies trying to force the internet into devices where it really didn’t belong. And how that experience forced him to find a better way and to found his own company. Takuma also explains Cerevo’s innovative business model. In fact, the company is structured less like a hardware manufacturer and more like a hardware startup accelerator. He and Cerevo are aiming for a series of niche-market successes which will be acquired by large mass-market firms. And his strategy seems to be working. It’s a fascinating discussion, and I think you will really enjoy it. Show Notes for Startups Why Japan's first "smart devices" failed The foundations of the "global-niche" IoT strategy Why startups should build rather than license How to get media attention for cool, new IoT devices How IoT startups really should be using crowdfunding Will Japan ever regain the lead in robotics? Why Japanese companies were afraid of the Roomba Links from the Founder Learn more about Cerevo at their home page [shareaholic app="share_buttons" id="7994466"] Leave a comment Transcript from Japan Disrupting Japan, episode 67. Welcome to Disrupting Japan, straight talk from Japan’s most successful entrepreneurs. I'm Tim Romero and thanks for listening. The internet of things is unstoppable. It’s so broadly defined these days, connectivity is cheap, and they can be added to just about anything. Of course, whether it should be added or not is another matter entirely. That question is near and dear the heart of Takuma, founder and CEO of Cerevo, one of the most innovative and connected device makers in Japan. Takuma started his career at Panasonic and he had high hopes of creating all manner of consumer devices that could take advantage of internet connectivity. What he found, however, was that his job consisted mostly of finding ways of trying to force internet connectivity into existing products. Genuinely new products and innovations were being dismissed out of hand. Well, Takuma did what everyone should do, but very few people actually do in that situation, he quit his job, took some of the best engineers with him, and he started his own company. Now, there are a lot of gadgets and IOT devices being built in Japan, but Cerevo has a genuinely interesting and methodological approach to it. During the interview, you’ll hear Takuma try to downplay that strategy as just gut instinct, but as you listen, you’ll understand the very rational method of what, from the outside, might look like madness. We’ll talk about plenty of cool devices, but I think you’ll find the strategy that underlines Cerevo’s success to be at least as interesting. But, you know, Takuma tells that story much better than I can. So let’s hear from our sponsors and get right to the interview. [Interview] [pro_ad_display_adzone id="1404" info_text="Sponsored by" font_color="grey" ] Tim: So I’m hitting here with Takuma Iwasa of Cerevo. Now, Cerevo, I’m tempted to call it a gadget company, but that’s not really fair because you guys do a lot more than just make little gadgets. So can you tell us a little bit about what Cerevo does? Takuma: Okay, so my company’s name is Cerevo and we say Cerevo is a consumer electronics start up company, not gadget, right. We are really focusing to the connected consumer electronics devices—connected robot, or connected camera, or connected, of course, gadgets. Sometimes we try connected toys, connected sports equipment.

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