ABC Dream Ventures: Corporate venture capital started by a Japanese broadcasting company
Asahi Broadcasting Corp., a broadcasting company in Japan located in Osaka city (about 320 miles west of Tokyo), started ABC Dream Ventures in 2015. Since then, they have invested in startups in both Japan and abroad, focusing on helping various startups to boost or create new businesses.
We asked Ryohei Shirai, the venture partner at ABC Dream Ventures, about their activities.
What kind of events do you participate in, and how do you search for startups?
I travel to Tokyo every week and sometimes abroad as well to attend the meetups, pitch events, and other startup events like Tech In Asia to meet with many startups. I meet with at least 5 or 6 startups in each trip.
How many people do you have in your team?
Currently, we have two that are mainly in charge.
You’re part of the Asahi Shimbun accelerator program. What is your role in the program?
We’re assisting them with the promotion of the program. We’re also mentoring at Osaka City’s seed accelerator program, providing advice on promoting method and media exposure. During this seed accelerator program, we met one startup and made a decision to invest in them.
Is there any difference between startups in Japan and overseas?
Due to their cultural difference, they might deliver their pitch or plan their business in a slight different style. But as far as their ability or creativity is concerned, I think they’re both capable. Japanese startups used to be unfamiliar with how to deliver their pitch, but nowadays their pitch skill is improving. There is one huge difference in the startup scene between Japan and overseas. It’s the investment amount put into the startups. Silicon Valley invests a lot more than Japan does.
You mentioned about your trip abroad to meet the startups. Do you travel abroad often?
I travel to various locations abroad, including USA, Israel, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai to meet the startups and listen to their pitch.
What is your approach when you invest in a startup?
We try to come up with the best offer plan we can that is attractive to a startup.
How much investment do you put in per company?
We invest around $300,000 to $500,000 per company.
What stage of startup do you look for?
We look into startups in various stages from early to late stage.
What aspect do you focus on when you invest in a startup?
It depends on the stage of a startup. If it’s a seed stage startup that’s still working on an idea and doesn’t have any prototype yet, I focus on what their team looks like. If it’s a series A startup, I look at they’re doing with sales. Because we’re a corporate venture capital, and it’s easier for us to invest in a startup that has a revenue.
Please tell us about your background.
I’ve been working at Asahi Broadcasting Corporation as a TV director for sports shows and then in web development business. I was assigned at ABC Dream Ventures in June 2015 and have been working there since.
Please tell us about your future business plan.
I would love to invest in a startup and work as a team to create a new business.