How This Startup Makes Money from Children’s Old Notebooks – Arcterus
By Tim Romero: Serial startup founder in Japan and indomitable innovator
Education is one of the hardest sectors to disrupt -- or even improve upon -- and most EdTech startups struggle. Today we sit down with Go Arai and we talk about how his company, Arcterus, is taking a bottom-up approach to improving education. Arcterus has developed a service called Clear, which profits by helping students help each other study. Clear is basically a study-notebook sharing platform, and now Go and his team are building it out into something much more than that. We talk about Arcterus’ recent Asian expansion and why some seemingly small cultural differences made their product unviable in certain countries. We also explore why it's sometimes hard for Japanese startups to pivot and the effects of the company and the team when a radical change in direction is needed. It’s a fascinating discussion, and I think you’ll enjoy it. Show Notes for Startups Why notebook sharing works in Japan but not in America How lessons from a corporate turnaround were applied to a startup How a terrible skiing accident ended up launching a startup Why it took the team five pivots to find product-market fit What makes pivoting hard in Japan How to use Twitter to drive business Why other Asian countries are ahead of Japan in EdTech What today's textbooks will evolve into Links from the Founder Arcterus Homepage Everything you ever wanted to know about Clear Friend Go on Facebook [shareaholic app="share_buttons" id="7994466"] Leave a comment Transcript from Japan Disrupting Japan, episode 87. Welcome to Disrupting Japan. Straight talk from Japan’s most successful entrepreneurs. I’m Tim Romero and thanks for joining me. You know, for a few very good reasons and many very bad reasons, education is particularly hard to disrupt. I think a big part of this is that the goal of public education is far more than imparting a set of skills onto the students. Although my libertarian friends might disagree, public schooling provides not only the hard skills that students need to function in the society, but universal education provides us with a shared experience and shared frame of reference that helps us define society. It’s something that binds us together. Now, different countries have different approaches to creating this shared experience. In Japan, the Ministry of Education defines precisely what every child in the countries learning, in any given week. In America, there are no national requirements at all, and tremendous latitude is given to the states and to the individual school boards. One approach is not necessarily better than the other but startups that try to disrupt the way we impart skills to our children at the expense of that shared experience, are likely to fail. Or worse, succeed and do long term harm to our society. Well today, we’re going to sit down and talk with Go Arai, CEO of Arcterus, a EdTech startup that is trying to help students learn more effectively but also contribute, just a little bit, to that shared experience. Arcterus is a platform that allows students that share their study notebooks with other students and then profit from that sharing. We also talk about Arcterus’ recent Asian expansion. You know, we in the west often make the mistake of thinking about "Asian" culture. But there really is no such thing as Asian culture. Asian countries have an incredible diversity of cultures and Arcterus ran straight into that as they discovered that very specific cultural traits determine whether they will succeed or fail in a specific country. But you know Go tells that story better much I can. So, let’s hear from our sponsor and then get right into the interview. [pro_ad_display_adzone id="1404" info_text="Sponsored by" font_color="grey" ] (Interview) Tim: So we’re sitting here with Go Arai of Arcterus it’s a social learning app based on notebook sharing, but you can probably explain it much better th...