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How to Build a Market in Japan Without Localization – Derek Sorkin – GitHub

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

GitHub entered the Japanese market under enviable conditions. They already had a strong corporate user base, solid brand awareness and product evangelists throughout Japan. They did not so much push their way into the Japanese market, so much as they were pulled into it. Even under the best conditions, however, Japan market entry is not easy and Derek Sorkin explains some of the challenges they faced with their distribution plans and the original go-to-market strategies. Managing to salvage a great ongoing relationship from what could have been a very ugly incident. Derek also explains why even in this age of Skype and go-to-meeting it’s absolutely essential to spend the time and money on airfare in managing international offices and to maintain trust and credibility. It's a great conversation, and I think you'll enjoy it. [shareaholic app="share_buttons" id="7994466"] Leave a comment Links & Resources The GitHub homepage Connect with Derek on GitHub @dsorkin Follow him on twitter @thesorkin Connect with him on LinkedIn Partial Transcript   Disrupting Japan, episode 62. Welcome to Disrupting Japan - straight talk from Japan's most successful entrepreneurs. I'm Tim Romero and thanks for listening. GitHub entered the Japanese market under enviable conditions. They already had a strong corporate user base, solid brand awareness, and product evangelists throughout Japan. They did not so much push their way into the Japanese market so much as they were pulled into it. Even under the best conditions, however, Japan market entry is not easy, and Derek Sorkin explains some of the challenges they faced with their distribution plans and their original go-to-market strategies. And how they managed to salvage a great ongoing relationship from what could have been a very ugly incident. Derek also explains, even in this age of Skype and GoToMeeting, it’s absolutely essential to spend the time and money in airfare in managing international offices and to maintain trust and credibility. But Derek explains all of that much better than I can, so let’s hear from our sponsor and then get right to the interview.   [pro_ad_display_adzone id="1411" info_text="Sponsored by" font_color="grey" ] [Interview] Tim: So I’m sitting here with Derek Sorkin, the Asia Pacific for GitHub, who spearheaded GitHub’s entry into Japan and that’s what we’re going to talk about today, so thanks for sitting down with me. Derek: No problem, Tim. Good to talk to you again. Tim: Excellent. So listen, you guys have been here a while and you’re doing really well. Let’s step it back a couple of years. What did GitHub see in Japan? What was the motivation for coming here? Derek: We had quite an interesting background with Japan. Our co-founders had been coming here for some time for different conferences; working with companies like Digital Garage back in the day, talking to them; and open source has always had a strong foothold in Japan, things like many of the contributors to the Ruby Project, which GitHub is obviously built on to a certain extent. In Japan and Japanese. Tim: Ruby is from Japan. Derek: Right. So we always had a good core base of those Ruby developers that were interested in open source, that were using GitHub since very early days of GitHub, back in 2009 and 2010. So when we started in the B2B space and working with enterprises—and I think we’ll get into this a little more later, around how decisions are made in Japan—but that really helped us here. There were lots of the forward thinking internet companies. I say “internet companies” broadly, but internet gaming companies like that, that immediately took a hold with organizations on GitHub.com Tim: Okay, so even before you guys were here, you had brand awareness and you had users here in Japan. That’s a huge leg up in the market. Derek: Yeah. It makes it very interesting, especially at that time,

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