Business & Pleasure in Japan

In Tokyo, one of the founders of the Teamlab design studios took us on a private tour of their HQ office and flagship museum. Every room in that museum was unique and left us in awe. At each stage of the tour, the co-founder explained to us his philosophy behind integrating technology with art as well as the company’s plans going forward. It was interesting for us to meet such an eccentric business person. He was homeless for most of his life and was working across the Middle-East to make ends meet. His views on life and his journey to-date took us off-guard but inspired us.

The CEO of SEGA greeted us at their HQ and involved a thoughtful discussion on the trends in the gaming industry as well as the challenges associated with launching the SONIC movie in partnership with Paramount. Following the event, we got to visit and try out the company’s Virtual Reality games alongside Berkeley Haas MBA students.

That evening, we gathered on a boat to have dinner and sing some karaoke. The captain had grown up in Hawaii and had an amazing voice. He kicked off the karaoke until we eventually decided to join him and, of course, take over the stage.

The next day in Tokyo, the CFO of the SoftBank group greeted us at their HQ offices. The discussion mostly focused on the group’s $100 Billion Vision Fund; which is larger than all of the VC funds in the U.S. combined. The CFO went over the most interesting and impactful startups in their fund portfolio, across a variety of industries, such as Uber and OYO.

The CBS alumni event took place at Japan’s most prestigious business school and one of our organizers’ alma mater. The event involved a presentation on Japanese culture and norms. This was followed by an alumni panel moderated by a Mckinsey & Co. partner and involving several CBS alumni who founded their own startups and VC funds. To finish off the evening on a high note, the CBS Japan alumni kindly took some time out of their busy schedules to get to know each and every one of us.

Georges Bassous is a 2020 MBA Candidate at Columbia Business School

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