It might seem odd that a guy who dropped out of high school in New Zealand at 16 has wound up a pre-eminent booster for entrepreneurship in Japan. But according to Terrie Loyd, there's not a lot of native-born competition for the role.
on business in Japan
By Stephanie Kendrick
The Japanese are raised in a very systematic fashion, which produces a common mindset, Loyd said. And that leaves a lot of unexplored business opportunities in the country.
He cited two examples.
In 1987, Loyd started importing non-IBM personal computers to Japan and selling them to individuals and foreign corporations. Japanese companies were all still using mainframes. In 1990, he started outsourcing PC services to companies. In both cases, no one else was doing such things in Japan at the time, though the trends were evident around the globe.
"My position is looking at global trends and figuring out how long it's going to take Japan to adopt them. Usually I'm about three years ahead," he said.
Loyd is chief executive of Linc Media, the founder/publisher of Japan Inc. Magazine and the producer of Japan's first business plan competition and entrepreneurs' forum.
He'll be in town this week to talk about his entrepreneurial experiences in Asia and how to negotiate venture deals in Japan.
Loyd, 43, arrived in Japan for a holiday at age 25 and has been running one business or another there ever since. He is a citizen of both Japan and New Zealand.
"Japan is very, very different," said Loyd. "It is the kind of place that requires a whole lifetime to get to know and explore."
Loyd shares some of what he has learned in nearly two decades there through Japan Inc., an 8-year-old Japanese business-technology monthly published in English. "I've lost track of how many CEOs I've met who say 'We can't get any information out of Japan, we don't know what's going on there.' So there was obviously a big hole and I decided to fill it."
He also writes for Japanese business newspaper Nikkei Shimbun. He said he spends most of his time trying to get the Japanese business community to wake up to Western trends.
"I'm paid to be negative about Japan," he said. "That's really counter to me because basically I believe Japan is a great place to do business."
And there is ample opportunity there for anyone with an entrepreneurial mindset, said Loyd, a fact he plans to elaborate on while in Honolulu.
"I'll be helping people understand how to get into the market," he said. He'll cover buyout opportunities and trends in technology, his main area of expertise.
"I'm particularly interested in talking to anyone, entrepreneurs, who are interested in coming to Japan," said Loyd. "There is money to be raised (in Japan).
"I've raised about $25 million in VC money here," he said.
Loyd was not so optimistic about the return of Japanese visitors to Hawaii.
"The whole thing's pretty ugly, isn't it?" Loyd said. He supports the notion that the Japanese traveler has gotten permanently more frugal.
The recent strengthening in the yen is almost sure to be short-lived, he said. So while there might be a small pickup in spending in the near term, the yen is widely expected to hit 150 within a year.
But he wasn't all gloom and doom for Hawaii's future as a visitor market, or as a place to do business for Japanese executives. "The opportunity is for Hawaii to promote itself as being halfway to the states and by inference a little safer," he said, adding he doesn't expect the fear of travel will last.
And he said events like the ones Hawaii Pacific University and Pacific Business Forums have invited him to attend are a help.
"If (Hawaii) wants to become a business destination, one of the best things is these forums," he said. It gets business people in Japan to have a look at what is going on in the state.
Lloyd will speak at two events Friday as part of a monthly seminar series. The afternoon session takes a more in-depth look at the issues.
Terrie Lloyd speaks Friday
Breakfast forumTopics: "Japan's Venture Climate" and "A Trail Blazing Entrepreneur's Perspective in 'dealing' with Asia"
Time: 7 to 9 a.m.
Where: Pacific Club
Power seminarTopic: "Negotiating Venture Deals in Japan"
Time: 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Where: Harbor Court, 25th Floor
Information and registration: www.pacificforums.com or 536-8911.
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