Time sure flies by fast! I still remember clearly, it was about two months ago when David and I worked on the 500 Founder Academy application. Since David is in Tokyo, Japan, and I am in Toronto, Canada, we both made some sacrifices due to time zone differences. We stayed up late to ensure our application was presented in the best way possible. A month after applying on August 25th, we received an email from Wakana-san stating that we have been accepted to participate in the 500 Founder Academy by 500 Global in Partnership with the City of Kobe.
Knowing that 500 Global is one of the world’s top accelerators, we were both excited and nervous. We were excited because we knew we would be receiving top-tier support from the best instructors and industry experts and nervous because we were afraid that we would not be able to keep up with other experienced entrepreneurs and later-stage businesses.
We all know startups are complicated, and there is no such thing as a straightforward path to success. This statement is not a complaint but rather an appreciation. It is an appreciation to work tirelessly on an issue that truly concerns us. Spending time planning experiments, testing hypotheses, understanding the market are all mandatory tasks to a startup. The hustle and work put into it do not automatically lead to success. But having an organization like 500 Global helping along the way could drastically increase the chances of success.
Overview of the 500 Founder Academy
500 Founder Academy is a four-week program to help startups accelerate their business. The program covers topics such as growth experiments and metrics, sales and marketing strategies, and investment management and funding. The support one could get from the program includes (1) weekly asynchronous videos that one could work at their own pace, (2) weekly AMA sessions with industry experts, and (3) access to the connections with the City of Kobe and the 500 Global community.
Since the program is relatively condensed and intensive, the expectation is to complete the weekly videos before the AMA (ask me anything) session. This format encourages the entrepreneurs to spend time over the week to process information presented in the videos; understand the information; and reflect and submit clarification and/or application questions for the upcoming AMA session. Since the contents are more informational, the questions most entrepreneurs ask are usually more practical such as how to use the information presented to accelerate our startup.
We are truly grateful for the program; the videos and the AMA sessions have helped us learn new concepts. We will be testing many new ideas for our startup. Aside from the videos and AMA session, the connections built from the Slack community have also been remarkable. Since everyone in the cohort is a startup founder, we understand the struggles and challenges of running a startup. Setting up a time to meet and greet each other, forming connections, discussing future collaborations are just as valuable as the educational content. Not only do most of the connections we have made are startups based in Japan, but the benefits the city provides also has given me more reasons to move to Kobe, Japan one day!
Kobe, Japan – the next big startup ecosystem in Japan
As a heads up for the readers and a reminder for self, the city of Kobe is one of the municipalities that offer startup visa support. It is a great city to move to launch a startup. The city of Kobe is a city with a friendly startup ecosystem. There are multiple programs and funds available to help startups grow including:
– the 500 Kobe Accelerator,
– Urban Innovation KOBE,
– S3i Innovation Centre of the UNOPS,
– the Hyogo Kobe Startup Fund,
Moreover, the max financial assistance the City of Kobe could offer to startups over a three-year period would be 13 million yen (150k dollars). Initiatives such as the Global Mentorship Program and the Kobe Startup Hub also support startups that seek to move to Japan. With all the benefits and my eager to see Tenatch succeed, I have already contacted the city to learn more about the process and details of a startup visa application.
Today, as the program wraps, we at Tenatch want to say thank you to everyone in making the 500 Founder Academy possible, including Carrie and Wakana-san from 500 Global, Nishikawa-san and Iwashita-san in the City of Kobe, Joshua from Kobe Startup Hub, and all the knowledgeful industry experts. You all have made this 4-week program so exciting and fulfilling. Thank you for believing in our startup when you barely know what we do. Thank you for supporting us while we continue to build a better product. We wish all the entrepreneurs and everyone in the first batch of the 500 Founder Academy all the best moving forward. Remember, this is not the end but a beginning to a new chapter for our startup. I look forward to the day where our paths cross again.
Thank you 500 Founder Academy,
Thank you 500 Global,
Thank you the City of Kobe
For those who are interested in the 500 Founder Academy program, I will encourage you to apply to the program! I hope you will benefit from the program as much as we did. With application closing in less than two weeks, plan your time well and apply.