- Acceleration Program in Tokyo for Women
A Story: Team-building Story
ChatBook provides sales promotion support services utilizing chat bots. We asked Maiko Kojima, the company's Founder, CEO, and President, about what she has learned about organizational and career development based on her experience starting a business as a student and her current work leading a multinational team.
Streamlining Tasks to Enable Creative Work
We develop sales support services that utilize chat bots, an automated interaction system. "ChatBook" is a service developed to streamline the process of acquiring potential customers by using social networking services and online tools, thereby allowing people to spend more time on creative work. We have received much positive feedback from companies that have used our service, such as reports that marketing costs dropped significantly as well as reductions in the time it takes them to sell a product.
In developing and operating our services, we always keep the user's perspective in mind. We always try to listen to our customers' opinions and provide products they continue to desire. More than half of our employees have experience starting companies and running IT services, so we collectively have a solid understanding of the importance of attracting customers. We also have plans to roll out customer support services utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) in the future.
I applied to the APT Women program at the recommendation of a friend. In addition to expanding my network of women entrepreneurs, I received extensive support for my company's advertising activities, and in January 2020, I traveled to New York to participate in the program there. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to meet with local advertising agency staff and am currently in the process of negotiating with them.
A Broad and Open-minded Future with our Multinational Team
Our company contains a diverse team of people from 7 different countries and, in fact, we are currently working with a minority of Japanese employees. Since many of our engineers live abroad, all of our core work is done online. Our motto being ""Technology has no boundaries,"" we have always been conscious of building a team that trusts and respects one another. The international talent market is characteristically full of people who are highly motivated to change jobs, many of whom want to work at startup companies.
Due to insufficient questioning on the part of companies, candidates often discover shortly after joining a company that it is a poor match for them, despite screening and interview processes. That is why, when we are hiring, we ask not only what skills and services they want to bring to the company, but also what their long-term vision is for themselves, including what they want to achieve in the future as an individual. We feel that by bringing together people with expertise, practical experience and future goals, they are better able to define their individual roles within the company as well as set goals for the company itself.
Since our establishment we have had a remote working style and worked to create an environment where it is easy to talk and relate to each other, such as by creating channels on our communication platform, Slack, where we can have coffee breaks and talk about things other than work. For this reason, COVID-19 did not have such a great impact on us, but we are nevertheless paying close attention to the mental health of our employees. Even while we emphasize a culture where staff have greater responsibilty and independence, we aim to maintain an atmosphere in which employees feel comfortable talking about any problems they may have.
How I Enjoy My Free Time
Spending time reading and talking with my husband are my favorite ways of relaxing everyday. Reading books written by great historical figures, such as Ryotaro Shiba and Otto von Bismark, help me see and appreciate the big picture of the world and times we live in. I also enjoy loving and encouraging my husband. When I see people close to me enjoying themselves and being happy, I think it helps create a natural, happy cycle.
Honing Skills and Building a Lifelong Career
I started my first business when I was a university student. I planned and developed apps and came up with over 100 ideas in 6 years. I still remember being involved in every step from planning and production to the actual launch, as well as becoming increasingly addicted to the cycle of collecting feedback from users and incorporating it into the product. At the time, we didn't have any in-house engineers, so I took on that role as well. I think the experience I had at that time, in which I had to rely repeatedly on trial and error and think thoroughly about the services users wanted, has become the foundation for everything I do today.
After that, I wanted to be involved in business development on a larger scale, so I joined Recruit, a major Japanese staffing agency. I was in charge of planning and web direction for user acquisition and activation. I was inspired to develop "ChatBook," which is my current project, while I was at Recruit. I wanted to address a problem faced by businesses of all sizes—acquisition of new customers—by developing a tool that supports sales promotion, so I decided to form a startup company again.
Looking back on my career to date, I've had a variety of experiences, from starting a business, to working for a company, to being an engineer and a business owner. The one consistency throughout all these experiences was that I made a conscious effort to develop the skills and experience necessary for any environment. Many people's careers are greatly influenced by life events and external circumstances. However, if you have the skills to deal with any situation, you will be able to live a more fulfilling life. If you continue to work hard at the job in front of you and also feel that you can live with yourself even if you were to quit your current company, you will be able to expand your future career options and possibilities. Speaking for myself, I will make sure that I can continue to be active in the future and continue to make the most of every day.
ChatBook, Inc. CEOMaiko Kojima
Founder, Chief Executive Officer, and President of ChatBook, Inc., Maiko Kojima has been involved in planning and launching new services for over 10 years. Shortly after founding her company she announced that she was looking for investors, speaking at TechCrunch Disrupt and Tech in Asia. She has composed a talented, internationally oriented organization that believes technology has no boundaries and operates everything from inside sales to field sales. Kojima's company has garnered funding from Salesforce, East Ventures, YJCapital, and other organizations, and has also been selected as a Facebook Certified Messenger Partner and AI Accelerator. She has also presented at the Nikkei AI Summit and APT Women held by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.
While Kojima was establishing her first company, she was a student at Waseda University. She then spent 6 years as vice president and CTO of her company, and from scratch planned and developed a service that attracted 5 million users in Japan and abroad. She then worked as a web director at Recruit before starting her latest company, ChatBook, Inc.