We’re delighted to welcome Masa Minato to DNX Ventures. Masa is joining as an Investment VP from London (!) and he is going to be the first remote employee at DNX where he will be responsible for supporting our portfolio companies and helping execute new investments. He brings a broad background as a VC, a management consultant, and an operator.
Masa joined us from Salesforce Ventures, where he led 20 plus investments including Agatha, Caulis, and Resily. He also runs a popular blog page in Japanese where he shares his learnings about SaaS startups with 5,000+ followers among Japanese entrepreneurs and VCs.
We asked Masa why he joined DNX Ventures.
From enterprise to the startup world
I grew up seeing engineers-turned Japanese leaders like the founders of Honda and Sony as heroes. They created new industries based on technology and changed the world. So I have always wanted to become an engineer, and during my undergrad and postgraduate studies, I dedicated myself to the study of biomaterial science with the ambition to innovate the world with new technology.
I began my career at BASF, the world’s largest chemical company where I worked in technical sales. After four years there, I attended the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon, then joined Boston Consulting Group as a management consultant, with hopes of empowering major Japanese manufacturing enterprises. At BCG, I engaged in many mid-term strategies building and turn-around projects.
In my third year at BCG, my desire to want to support B2B startups that would change the world made me take on a mid-career change, becoming a venture capitalist so that I could be instrumental in empowering B2B startups in Japan. Since 2016, I have taken on investment and business support for over 20 Japanese startups at Salesforce Ventures and STRIVE.
There are three reasons why I wanted to join DNX.
First is that DNX is a top-tier VC firm in Japan that focuses on B2B with a global perspective. Without a doubt, the need for B2B digital transformation led by tech startups has become increasingly high in the past couple of years in Japan. However, the environment surrounding tech startups and the VC industry is lagging behind when compared to the West. As I pondered about what I could do to bring about the kind of revolutionary transformation in Japan that I envisioned, I knew I wanted to create an international network of funding and knowledge, through which Japanese tech startups can catch up to the global level. I knew DNX would be the place for me to make this happen.
Second is the outstanding diversity, talent, spirit of solidarity and open-mindedness of “Team DNX,” which I knew well from many co-investment opportunities with DNX from my Salesforce Ventures and STRIVE days. Needless to say, the best and the brightest individuals with in-depth, diverse expertise are of utmost importance for professional service companies like VC firms. In addition, their culture of open communication and mutual respect make for a synergy that propels the individual expertise to multifold. This makes DNX stand out from others.
Finally, DNX provided great opportunities to work with the top Japanese B2B entrepreneurs even remotely from London, where we moved from Tokyo to support my wife’s professional career. Since I left my job in Tokyo, I toyed with the idea of being a househusband and work for a company in London. However, the more I thought about it, I found there was nothing else that truly struck a chord in my heart than supporting the kind of Japanese B2B entrepreneurs who would bring about the next tech revolution, so when DNX reached out to me, I jumped at the chance. I am sure it was a challenging decision to hire someone who lives so far away, and I am very thankful to DNX for giving me this great opportunity.
Masa focuses on investing in B2B tech startups primarily on SaaS and enterprise software. Before joining DNX, Masa was principal at Salesforce Ventures and the investment manager at STRIVE. Over the past four years, he completed over twenty investments and business support for Japanese B2B startups. Prior to his VC career, he worked for Boston Consulting Group as a management consultant. He led several mid-term strategies building and turnaround projects for major Japanese manufacturers. He started his career at BASF, the world’s largest chemical company, and led a B2B sales and SCM unit as the youngest manager at the engineering plastics division. Masa holds an MEng in advanced material science from Tokyo Institute of Technology and an MBA from Carnegie Mellon University.
Original article in Japanese: https://note.com/dnx_vc/n/n344c934c6eed