10 August, 2020

“Reset and Reinvent” – My Journey with BEENEXT

On our fifth anniversary, I look back at the genesis of BEENEXT and am so thankful to our friends and partners who supported our launch of BEENEXT. It has been an incredible journey, full of learnings and the opportunity to work with some of the best minds in the world.

The Beginning

When we decided to launch BEENEXT back in 2015, I had already garnered entrepreneurial experience from different parts of the world. Back when my decision to take the entrepreneurial path didn’t fit into the traditional Japanese norm. However, I was lucky to find great mentors and investors who trusted me when I started off 20 years ago. This was one of my inspirations to set up BEENEXT, to support the next generation from an entrepreneurial point of view. The luck extended to finding the right partners as well. Hiro Maeda, my long time partner from my previous company has been together since day one, laying the foundation for BEENEXT from zero. In a few months, we were fortunate to collaborate with Dirk Van Quaquebeke and have him onboard as well. All of us have similar entrepreneurial backgrounds as well as the zeal to start from zero and build something significant. And more importantly, the common empathy towards the entrepreneurs who are literally betting their lives.

We believe innovation happens by connecting dots. With that in mind, we try to connect different kinds of people with different ideas from all over the world. The name BEENEXT is inspired by the humble bees – hard workers, team collaborators and cross pollinators. Bees are small in size but have a big impact on our environment. This also represents our vision for BEENEXT.

The BEE-Universe

Over the years, as BEENEXT continued to grow, we have had tremendous support from LPs, the entrepreneurship community and of course our inhouse BEENEXT team as well. They have been both our visible and sometimes invisible supporters giving us great networks, insights and encouragement. This is truly reflective of our slogan -“A partnership of the founders, by the founders, for the founders.”

A key part of my entrepreneurial journey has been the inspiration I draw from my personal motto of ‘Reset and Reinvent’. Resetting is going back to starting from scratch if need be. This allows you to regain ground, confidence and come back bigger. This leaves no room for ego and comparison. As an entrepreneur, every day can have surprises both good and bad. Being open to change and resetting has been my formula for growth, that has worked. I believe that both set-backs and triumphs have something to teach you. One needs to learn to recalibrate from mistakes and gain momentum from victories.

Throughout my career, I have forged some great business relationships that have taught me the importance of trust and respect. This has been at the core of everything BEENEXT. Our long term relationships with our founders are built on mutual trust and respect; it is a learning journey for both. We want our founders to know we have their back. The BEENEXT team is happy to help behind the scenes, and let our founders take centre stage.

Coming Together

A highlight we look forward to every year is the BEE Global Camp, our annual founder community event. The experience of being in a room with the world’s best talent and knowing BEENEXT is backing them from their early days is a moment of pride. Just as we have our highs, we also have challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic was a huge setback for global businesses. However, I am incredibly proud of our founders who have found ways to bounce back during this adversity. This made us sit up and grab the opportunity to create impactful products that can contribute to society.

The Road Ahead

Looking at the future, especially at these uncertain times, we firmly believe that being open to change is critical. BEENEXT as an organisation is always open and takes on new ideas. In fact, we are eager to unlearn and learn in order to evolve. Also much like our inspiration, the bees, we believe in cross-pollinating by collaborating and not competing. That’s the beauty of the startup ecosystem, you can grow through collaborations and mutual learnings. This is how we continue to grow as a global community and remain a connected start-up family.

We at BEENEXT truly believe if we have a unique idea, we can positively impact society. We take pride that our purpose is not the ‘next big deal’ but much higher. Now and always we will keep learning and keep opening doors.