The Dell Women’s Entrepreneurship Network (DWEN) in collaboration with the Acceleration Program in Tokyo for Women (APT Women) hosted an event on Monday, January 11, 2021 to bring together female entrepreneurs from Japan and New York. The two-hour session was spent networking, sharing advice, and hearing from expert panelists on expanding businesses into new markets. 35 representatives from Dell Technologies, Deloitte, APT Women, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, and DWEN Tokyo and New York chapter members met virtually to give Tokyo female business owners the opportunity to hear from New York business owners about expanding their businesses into the US, specifically New York state.
The Tokyo business owners who attended the event are part of APT Women, a program initiated by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government aiming to provide acceleration courses and resources for female entrepreneurs in Tokyo to scale their business domestically and internationally. Launched in 2017 by Tokyo’s first female governor Ms. Yuriko Koike with the goal of improving Tokyo’s WE Cities Index ranking within 5 years. Since the inaugural class, over 120 women have gone through the program and Tokyo has jumped 5 points on the index as of 2019. APT Women is currently supporting their fifth cohort comprised of 40 entrepreneurs who were accepted after a series of interviews and questionnaires. The program has made international waves through global connections with multi-city partners to provide resources and support Tokyo’s female entrepreneurs.
The January 11 event was three months in the making to connect New York-based female business owners with APT Women’s current cohort. Through DWEN, nine New York DWEN chapter members applied to be mentors to nine APT Women participants, sharing insights into one another’s businesses during their time together.
The event welcomed Elizabeth Vazquez of WEConnect International as a featured panelist who shared tips for the Tokyo business owners around finding state-assisted resources and networks to aid in launching a business in the US.
- Don’t go it alone – look for any current clients, partners, suppliers, etc. that are already in the US market and ask them for advice.
- Do your due diligence on business and market research – what sells in Japan may not sell in New York and vice versa, you may have to adjust your product, marketing messaging, sales process, etc. so it translates well to the local market.
- Seek out tax breaks, incentives, laws, and business regulations that can help aid your launch into the new market.
Erin Ennis, head of public policy at Dell, and Kristen Mattern, DWEN panel facilitator, both shared their expertise with the event attendees as panelists. Both echoed Elizabeth on finding networks and navigating differing cultures to make the transition into a new market easier. Erin advised the Tokyo female founders to seek out small business associations, consulates, trade associations, US patent and trade offices, and US-Japan business councils. Kristen recommended the business owners take the time to learn the local culture and business market, understand the differences of conducting business between Japan and the US, and to never be afraid to ask for help—especially for lawyers and financial experts to review every business document or agreement before signing it.
The event has launched new and memorable relationships between DWEN and APT Women, particularly for the Tokyo business owners and New York mentors. DWEN partnered again with APT Women where they co-hosted a webinar featuring thought leaders from the startup ecosystem on January 22. Both DWEN facilitators and APT Women know the value of investing in female founders and how connecting to one another globally can change the world.