BreakThrough Study Idea

Utilizing crowdfunding can be said to be effective marketing.Emi Tamaki

<Series 3 / complete>


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Ms. Emi Tamaki, while working as a researcher (currently an associate professor at the Faculty of Science and Engineering, Waseda University), has a background of being involved in entrepreneurship (H2L Co., Ltd.), and is involved in many projects as the founder of the same company. What does Ms. Tamaki think about entrepreneurship? What does entrepreneurship signify for a researcher? In part 3, the writer will interview Ms. Tamaki about her perspective as a researcher and entrepreneur including the founding and prospects of the company.

Thoughts about Entrepreneurship

The difficult part of entrepreneurship is to popularize the research device and incorporating the services that we consider as necessary. I became a researcher from a sense of purpose, “I should create a research device”. In the same way, I established the company because I felt that “The research device had to be disseminated to society”. I always wanted a company that says, “We will do it by all means” about the projects that I want to work on, “Well, I guess not... (Laughs)”.
Since it is challenging work for companies, few companies in Japan want to develop and sell a new interface today. Japanese companies, in particular, are good at brushing up, and I do not feel that there is a culture of “Developing or accepting something that has never existed before”. This made me realize that “The product cannot be released to the world unless I do it myself", so I prepared myself by studying business methods, patents, marketing methods, attending public lectures in between my master's and doctor's degree in graduate school to start my own business.
I think the researchers that I imagine pursue “What they love” and “What they want to study”, but I think I am a completely different person. While entrepreneurs and business owners will acquire the technology by thinking, “I want to engage in this kind of business development”. I think that I am closer to such people. However, in my case, since I had to invent new research results as a researcher, the part where the research is “Incorporated into business” is being handled by our representative Iwasaki and other staff who are working hard.

Studying at the university and starting her company was a process for Ms. Tamaki to promote her research and development. Though her research and development attracted attention at conferences, she had no idea of the extent of actual needs. To find out if there was a global need, she decided on a plan to market the device with crowdfunding. With this method, it is possible to raise funds while conducting market research.

Find Out if there is a Need for Our Development

We developed “UnlimitedHand” in 2015. This was a highly versatile device for targeting the PossessedHand to general developers and researchers. We decided to use crowdfunding for marketing the product “Unlimitedhand” and explore global needs. Kickstarter is one of America’s most famous crowdfunding site. The crowdfunding period was set for two months, which we achieved in about 22 hours. Using this site will help you find out which areas of the world have needs. We established a plan to create and disseminate products targeting the needs of the area, which might be liked by people living in that area.

We announced “Unlimited Hand” on the crowdfunding Website

I think this is a great marketing approach that is efficient. This is because a small company that has just been established will not have a marketing budget. I think it will be advantageous for small and medium-sized enterprises to participate in such crowdfunding sites and explore the global needs without spending too much money on marketing like big companies. We also received a request “Create only the input sensor of UnlimitedHand as a product” from the market through Kickstarter. We can get feedback when using such marketing strategies for the devices we develop that will lead to new product development.

“FirstVR” developed based on market feedback.

The potential of crowdfunding to raise money for technology development has further increased. Even without the brand power of big companies, it is possible to raise the required funds if sufficient empathy can be generated for core ideas. The company marketed the product on a crowdfunding site and collected funds quickly. The progress appears to be smooth sailing, but was there any difficulty in running the business? In the last part, while touching upon this topic, the writer will interview about ideas and concepts that are required for manufacturing in the future.

Interview Date: March 14, 2019



Development of a new interface to realize “Stepping outdoors while being confined indoors”

PossessedHand as an interface that can be used in various fields, including medical and welfare fields

Utilizing crowdfunding can be said to be effective marketing.

It would be ideal for SMEs and universities to cooperate and work for a win-win relationship.

Emi Tamaki

Ms. Tamaki was born in 1984 in Okinawa Prefecture. She graduated in 2006 from Department of Information Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, University of the Ryukyus. She completed the master’s course in 2008 from the Graduate School of Systems and Information Engineering, University of Tsukuba. Worked as a seeds search intern at the University of Tokyo Edge Capital (UTEC), in 2009. She was engaged in research at Disney Research, Pittsburgh 2010.
In 2011, announced “PossessedHand”, a device in which human hand movements are controlled by a computer, which attracted attention in several conferences. “PossessedHand” was reported by CNN and ABC of the United States and was selected as one of the 50 Best Inventions by the “TIME” magazine. In the same year, received a doctorate from the University of Tokyo. Awarded “University of Tokyo President’s Award” and served as a valedictorian at the same time.
She founded H2L Co., Ltd. in 2012 to provide research equipment to researchers and share it with consumers. Moved to Waseda University in 2013, and continued research activities. Announced the world's first tactile-type game controller “UnlimitedHand” through the Kickstarter Website in 2015, which achieved its target in 22 hours. Awarded the runner-up prize for the “Woman of the Year Award by Nikkei Woman”. In 2016, received “WIRED Audi Innovation Award 2016”, “Nikkei Business One hundred people creating the next generation”, and “National Institute of Science and Technology Policy (NISTEP) Researcher (Noteworthy work in science and technology) Award”. From the same year, she served as a member of the Council for Science, Technology and Innovation of the Cabinet Office and Expert Panel on Basic Policy for Science, Technology and Innovation, for the comprehensive strategy for the 5th Science and Technology Basic Plan. Appointed as an ambassador of WINDS initiative (Women's Initiative in Developing STEM Career) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2017. As of 2019, she is working as an associate professor at the Faculty of Science and Engineering, Waseda University.

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