Telepathy One Creator Takahito Iguchi: Technologically & Linguistically Inspiring (VIDEO)
Telepathy, a small tech firm currently developing the Telepathy One augmented reality headset, Japan's only real Google Glass competitor, has a very interesting man in charge.
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When we perchanced across CEO Takahito Iguchi's thoughtful TEDx Kyoto presentation, we were struck by three rather intriguing points: 1. He barely plugs his product at all; 2. he has a clearly conceived and effectively articulated vision for a near-future yet still very high-tech form of communication (particularly as it relates to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics); and 3. though his English isn't awesome, he shows little sign of nervousness or hesitation in his speech.
Now why is that intriguing? See, it's because your average tech entrepreneur is overly eager to push their development and/or sales efforts, guess at potential use venues and markets that may or may not exist (the 2020 Olympics seems pretty real), and finally, simply because Mr. Iguchi is Japanese. This shunning or bucking of the norms gives a strong impression that he genuinely believes in his product's ability to augment human communication - not only in a practical utilitarian sense, but also on a genuinely emotional level. And since it's rhetoric, his peculiarly charismatic delivery renders moot any doubt of his sincerity.
Oh, and why does being Japanese matter? Well, think about it: in international business circles, how often do you hear the phrase "Japanese entrepreneur?" Exactly. That it's not so often has a not so mysterious causality: a woeful (albeit growing) lack of startup & VC culture in Japan combined with the omnipresent, looming, oppressive background radiation of the particularly problematic Japanese-to-English language barrier.
And of language, on the surface it's easy to dismiss this product's name as the Japanese equivalent of a Westerner getting a kanji tattoo, i.e., with zero context, latching onto a word because the dictionary definition sounds cool. But it's not that, and Mr. Iguchi comes across as truly wanting for technologically enabled telecommunication to be enjoyable, helpful, and to feel like - perhaps you guessed it - telepathy.
That he shrugs off a good deal of the standard entrepreneurs' accouterment while effectively inspiring and cultivating interest in his product, all with a clear and palpable confidence despite imperfect English, well - it's actually kind of awesome. No wonder Telepathy got all that cash...
Telepathy: a Successful Japanese Startup*
Having recently secured a $5 million capital infusion, Telepathy is an early J-startup success and a great example of a project with real momentum and market potential. Yes, Japan's startup movement is gaining steam, and we're confident that international business will gradually see more of the "Japanese Entrepreneur."
That being said, however, for those concerned with homegrown and home-funded Japanese tech innovation, Telepathy's case is also a harbinger. After several years of Mr. Iguchi and team developing Telepathy One here in Japan, *that $5 million ultimately came from American investors.
International funding is all fine and good, but in Japan's tech-fueled economy where the giants seem largely incapable of true innovation, it's gotta sting a bit that everyone here at home missed the Telepathy boat.
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