Japanese women entrepreneurs bring fresh new ideas to SCET

On Friday, the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology hosted a pitch event for 5 participants with the Acceleration Program of Tokyo for Women Entrepreneurs (APT). Each participant was given 5 minutes to pitch their startup to a panel of four judges — all business veterans in Silicon Valley — and then take 10 additional minutes to answer any questions from the judges.

Pitches ranged from luxury goods to finding sustainable food waste solutions, with each pitch focusing on bringing people together and giving back to the community. Scroll through to see each entrepreneur and their pitch.

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Gigi Wang introduces the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, highlighting the Berkeley Method of Entrepreneurship (BMoE) and briefly discussing growth mindset.

"A big part of entrepreneurship is going somewhere new," Wang said. "The APT program is perfect, because it recognizes that it’s not just about learning, it’s about meeting the people."

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Guest judges (from left to right) Gwen Edwards, Kal Deutsch, Hilary Weber and Jay Onda visited to listen to each pitch, ask questions and offer advice to each entrepreneur. All four have extensive backgrounds in business, especially in the tech field.

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Osami Ogai, CEO of AGLOBE, presents her company to the panel. Ogai said that her love of backpacking led to her wanting to create a "no border" world. AGLOBE provides an online platform for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to connect with buyers overseas, and also helps those SMEs with marketing and promotional material.

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Former fashion designer Hiroko Samejima introduces the judges to andu amet, a luxury goods company dedicated to ethical production and social responsibility. The company features high-end purses made out of Ethiopian sheepskin, which is light yet very strong.

"When you're buying one of these products, you're investing in someone's life," said Gwen Edwards, one of the judges. "Prada, you better figure it out, or you're going to lose!"

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Determined to bring her own solution to food waste, Mitsuki Bun created the Loss Zero program under her company, Beautiful Smile. Loss Zero connects manufacturers who have "nonstandard food" to consumers who want to buy food at a reasonable price. During her presentation, Bun clarified that part of the solution to food waste is taking excess food and creating new foods out of the would-be waste.

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Kae Kusonoki drew upon her mother-in-law's love for knitting and excess free time as inspiration for Beyond the Reef, a company that enlists senior citizens to hand-knit luxury products. The company not only provides a great place for seniors to interact and form a community, but also gives each knitter 20% of the proceeds from a sale of their product.

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Self-proclaimed arts and crafts fan Yonggum Kang developed Craftie, an online workshop platform, to connect fellow crafters with workshops courtesy of favorite retail stores. Communities are built around sharing, and Craftie hopes to bring people together in a fun and interactive way.

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