Women's Startup Lab: Japan Comes to Menlo Park
Having lived in Asia for seven years and traveled extensively in the region I was lucky to experience first hand the different cultural and business perspectives that have helped power so many successful economies in the region. So it was inspiring for me to speak to someone bringing their insights and energy from Asia to the startup scene here in the US.
I had the pleasure of meeting Ari Horie, Founder and CEO of Women's Startup Lab (WSLab) on her most recent visit to New York. In Ari's case her refreshing take on the operations and objectives of the startup accelerator she founded and runs is born of her upbringing in Japan generally and succeeding as a woman there specifically. (Ari fist came to the US as an exchange student at age 18 - speaking no English.)
WSLab is a conventional accelerator in the sense that it is a three month long on site program in Menlo Park taking cohorts of about 12 startup teams per class through a program designed to increase their odds of success as businesses - so putting them together with technical, marketing and other experiences coaches and mentors, developing pitch skills and making introductions to investors etc.
Needless to say per it's name this accelerator prizes diversity and supports women entrepreneurs specifically - each team must have at least one female founder. But more than that Ari brings her own passion to bear when it comes to the power of teamwork and specifically group learning. She calls this her: Magic Happens “Hito” rule. In addition Ari wants WSLab to send graduates on their way who are better entrepreneurs, yes, but also better leaders. So leadership development training is a an important of the accelerator's activities.
You can learn more about WSLab HERE. Note that applications for the Winter 2015 Class (starting in early 2015) are now open.
Also Ari was named one of the "CNN 10" Visionary Women earlier this year - you can reach more about that (and hito) HERE
And you can follow WSLab at: @wslab and Ari at: @arihorie
Finally ... nothing to do with WSLab but I love this picture of traditional Japanese cherry tree blossom ... with a big city twist!