We launched our first AsiaBerlin Fireside Chat – Investor edition! Attendees tuned in from 5 different countries to join the discussion. We broadcasted live from our brand new video studio at our #enpactBerlin office. It was an informative fireside chat between Naoyoshi Yoneyama, Managing Director, SBI Holdings, Berlin GmbH and Chika Yamamoto, Founder & Managing Director, Crossbie, #AsiaBerlin Ambassador.
The chat shed light on investment opportunities for Berlin Startups, the Japan-Berlin startup collaboration dynamics, and the future plans of Future Industry Venture Fund.
Naoyoshi is a former diplomat who came to Berlin through an investment of the Japanese Softbank spin-off SBI Holdings in Berlin based Solarisbank AG where he is still active as a supervisory board member. He loved Berlin so much that he is now running a VC Fund that will invest 200 Million Euros in European startups.
“SBI is a quite unique Japanese company that puts great value on the importance of entrepreneurship in each employee. At the moment, we have roughly more than 8,000 employees, and each one of them has their own individual entrepreneurial approach. This is why we are called company builders in the financial industry.”
What sectors does the “Future Industry Venture Fund” focus on?
According to Naoyoshi, the fund plans to invest in sectors that are expected to reshape the companies into a new type of industry. For instance, they are interested in companies that focus on sustainable, secure and more decentralized business operations, which is what makes Industry 4.0, especially IoT, Artificial Intelligence, and Blockchain, particularly attractive. The group is keen on investing in companies that are contributing to changing the existing means of manufacturing and producing services.
“We think that public interest leads to the private interest. Let’s say, if we started a new kind of business, we think about: what is the challenge to society? What kind of problem does this business confront? So, unless the real challenge we’re addressing is clear, we won’t pursue the idea.”
On investing in Berlin, Naoyoshi remarked:
“From the SBI perspective, and my personal perspective, Germany is an interesting environment in terms of decentralization. We chose Berlin because: 1) innovation is happening here, and 2) policy-making is also happening here. We are diversifying into new areas in the financial industry and so it makes sense to settle in Berlin. I am personally very happy to see the development of Berlin as a new hub for startups in Europe.”
Throughout the fireside chat, we highlighted the value of the Berlin startup ecosystem from the perspective of the Asian investor. We’re proud that Asian companies such as Tencent, Horizons Ventures, PING AN, SoftBank Group, Temasek are already investing in Berlin.