Disrupting Japan: Startups and Innovation in Japan

Disrupting Japan: Startups and Innovation in Japan

The secret edge of Japan’s best SaaS startups

April 18, 2022

There is a very good reason B2B SaaS is huge in Japan right now.

Today we sit down with Chiemi Kamakura, co-founder and CEO of Agatha, and she explains why.

Agatha is a Japanese SaaS company that has been global from Day 1, but is leveraging some unique strengths developed in Japan. 

We talk about how Japanese SIs have responded to SaaS, why Japan is likely to see a lot more female founders soon, and  the fact that Japanese managers and regulators actually hate paper just as much as the rest of us, but there is one thing that keeps them from going digital.

It's a great conversation, and I think you'll enjoy it.

Show Notes

The real reason Japanese hospitals can't get away from paper
Why it's hard to innovate from inside a company
Can Japanese SIs survive in the SaaS era

Agatha's commitment to being global from Day 1
How global and Japan SaaS markets are different (and how they're not)
How SaaS can thrive in highly regulated industries.
The importance of a personal network in high-trust products
How to develop more female founders in Japan
Some good advice on going global with a SaaS product


Links from the Founder

Everything you evert wanted to know about Agatha
Connect with Chiemi on LinkedIn
Friend her on Facebook
A good Forbes article about Agatha

Welcome to Disrupting Japan, straight talk from Japan’s most successful entrepreneurs. 
I’m Tim Romero and thanks for listening.
Today, I'd like to introduce you to Chiemi and to Agatha. Actually, Agatha is the startup created by Chiemi Kamakura and her co-founders to solve a global problem in the record-keeping required for clinical trials that are run by pharmaceutical companies. 
Chiemi tells a great story, and one that illustrates why SaaS is slowly taking over the business world. We talk about the challenges of launching a SaaS startup in a highly regulated industry, the advantages of thinking global from day one, and selling to Japanese customers who always seem to want customization. 
And Chiemi also explains that contrary to the stereotype, most Japanese workers and regulators don't really like having to rely on mountains of paper. For the most part, they hate it just as much as the rest of us. And today, we'll explain the two things that are actually keeping them from going digital. 
But you know, Chiemi tells this story much better than I can. So let's get right to the interview. 
Tim: So we're sitting here with Chiemi Kamakura of Agatha, who makes clinical and regulatory document management for small early stage clinics and life sciences companies. And Chiemi, thank you so much for sitting down with us today.
Chiemi: Of course, thank you for inviting me to this opportunity, that's a great honor for me.
Tim: The honor is all ours. So I gave just like a really brief explanation of what Agatha does, but can you flesh that out a little bit? Can you explain in more detail, what is it Agatha does?
Chiemi: We are offering Document Management Cloud Service for clinical trial for hospitals and pharmaceutical companies.
Tim: So is it just for the research stage, just for the trials themselves, or is it more for operational support as well?
Tim: Yeah. So main target is clinical trial business, but not only that, it's from research and also marketing and manufacturing. So we are covering all stages. What we do, especially in clinical trial, for clinical trial is operated between pharmaceutical company and hospitals. There are many, many communications on trial, those communication still paper is used.
Tim: Okay. Well, let's get into some specifics. So maybe tell me about your customers. If you're improving the communication between the hospitals and the laboratories doing the trials, walk me through an example. How does that work?
Chiemi: Yeah. In hospitals, that people who are managing clinical trials, so that's our user, and in pharmaceutical company side,