We are welcoming Yuma Tanaka as an Investment VP for the Japan team.
Yuma was DNX Ventures’ first associate back in 2016, and he subsequently started an HR tech startup which was acquired in 2020. He started his career at Mitsubishi Corporation where he worked on alternative asset fund formation and fund management in the real estate and renewable energy sectors.
For the past few months, Yuma has been leveraging his experience as an ex entrepreneur to support members of our new incubation program, SPROUND, as a community manager in charge of planning workshops among other things. He will be acting as Investment VP of the Tokyo office starting January 2021.
We asked him to tell us about his journey and why he joined DNX at this time.
First off, I am very excited to be back at DNX Ventures after a couple of years of running a startup. During my last run at DNX from 2016 to 2018, I was more focused on getting to know the startup ecosystem, but this time around, I am looking forward to making a clear contribution to our early-stage portfolio companies based on my experience as a startup founder.
Last year, I left the company that I co-founded in 2018. It was a journey ridden with obstacles that ultimately culminated in an acquisition by a publicly listed company earlier in 2020. We were successful in creating a working product and we had customers who were excited with us, but in all, we were still in the middle of market validation.
Looking back it was an extremely rewarding experience. The bliss of getting customers to believe in what we were doing and getting our employees to believe in our mission to build our team was something that anyone who is passionate about bringing change to the status quo should be looking forward to, despite whatever bumps you may encounter down the road.
For us, an opportunity arose to join a large corporation and we decided it was the best choice to grow the product with a company that had the best sales network in our industry. Through the process, the management team struggled to balance the heft of launching a new product and integrating into a large corporation and I became ill to the point that I was unable to continue my role as CEO. Ultimately, I had failed to meet the expectations of the people who supported my endeavor.
What was most difficult was the transition from being a product team to an organization. Creating a working organization is as important as creating a viable product, but of course a totally different game. For me, this was an after-the-fact realization. The transition from project to the company is something that all successful startups must achieve, and I hope that my experience will help other founders avoid reinventing the wheel.
When Tetsu offered me a position as one of the new community managers at SPROUND, I knew instantly that it would be the perfect opportunity for me to take a step back and objectively analyze everything that I had learned through this experience and to crystalize it into something that would be of benefit to future entrepreneurs.
At DNX my responsibilities will lie with Japan’s seed-stage investment program. I hope I can contribute to the growth of countless startups to come that will catalyze change in Japan and Asia’s business landscape and be a compassionate hand in creating growth-oriented but sustainable organizations.