Dec 26, 2017
Joined a listed company affiliated with a major communications carrier in 2003 at the age of 19. Directly assigned by the president to take charge of opening mobile phone shops. Appointed the youngest corporate officer in 2010. Became independent in 2013 and established UUUM.
UUUM Co., Ltd.
YouTuber/ creator support services; influencer marketing; game and media services
Established ON SALE (UUUM’s predecessor)
Company name changed to UUUM Co., Ltd.
Started a management agency service for creators
Issued new shares through the third party allotment to JAFCO
Started sales of creator goods
Relocated office to Roppongi Hills complex
Launched UUUM Network (a multi-channel network）
Organized “U-FES” (a fan event)
Listed on the Mothers section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange
In short, we are a YouTuber management agency, but I’ve never intended to run a management agency. This is one of many things I happen to do. Being an agency, our business is largely attributable to the existence of talented people, but we define ourselves as a “contents company”, the greatest characteristic of which is monthly production of about 30,000 video contents. We want these contents to be fun and exciting to watch. Therefore, our corporate philosophy is “Sekai ni kodomogorokoro wo “, which means that we desire to create unprecedented enjoyment through ideas that embrace a childlike spirit and bring new experiences to people.
Currently, our main income sources are advertising and tie-up articles. However, unlike other production companies, which mainly produce contents based on clients’ requests, we incorporate clients’ demand into video contents that have been created, filmed, and edited by YouTubers themselves. We make sure that our clients understand the difference in style and the advantage of our service. For our creators, we hold compliance and other training sessions. Holding these sessions also reduces our risks, but above all, these sessions boost the chances for creators to get sustainable jobs.
The number of creators who wish to sign with our company keeps increasing. To start with, there has been too few advertising media compared to a growing number of online advertisements. Also, expectations for YouTubers are growing in Japan as a method of influencer marketing, which is more advanced overseas. These trends ensure steady expansion of our business.
I worked for about 10 years at my previous job. I started out at the general affairs division and was transferred to the sales division, where I was in charge of opening new mobile phone shops and had an opportunity to work with Mr. Taizo Son. When I became 28, I lost my motivation to continue opening new shops and consulted Mr. Son. His suggestion was “Why not start your own business?” I spent one year after leaving my previous job preparing vaguely for my own business. That was when I reunited with Hikakin. I had worked with him before and knew him well, but when I saw him in March 2013 after a long interval, I was stunned to hear him say that he sung on stage with Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, and that YouTubers would hit the big time. That was when I thought of starting a business utilizing YouTube.
I launched the business in June 2013 with plans to have YouTubers introduce recommended products as in online shopping channels. Besides Hikakin, I talked with several top creators who were happy to cooperate with us as their desire for “doing something new” matched our demand. Following the launch, however, it became clear that types of videos that can sell and that get a high number of views were different. While we were struggling to receive orders from companies, we became busy managing the increasing workload of YouTubers. After recognizing a high demand for a YouTuber agency business, we changed the company name to UUUM and switched our business model in November 2013.
In early 2014, following a commercial we shot with Hikakin, orders from Dentsu and Hokuhodo began to increase. Around the same time, we acquired an MCA (multi-channel network) license from Google, which made it possible for us to manage YouTube channels. In the summer of 2014, we started selling YouTuber character goods, and in the winter of the same year, we launched the UUUM network to sharply boost the number of creators, which stood at just over 30 at the time. As a result, over 1,000 channels newly joined our network. In the summer of 2015, we launched a media channel under a tie-up with Kodansha (a major publisher). In November 2015, we organized “U-FES,” an event for our YouTuber fans. Having also released games, our business has expanded steadily.
We launched our business with a paid-in capital of \10 million, invested by me and a few angel investors. When expansion plans were under discussion, we wanted to form alliances with various companies while maintaining our perspective as a media service. However, if we receive an investment from a business firm, our business will inevitably be placed under the firm’s influence. That was when we decided to meet JAFCO, which was introduced by one of our angel investors.
Instead of making an investment and watching us thrive, we wanted an investor with whom we could work together. So we asked, “How much do you plan to get involved in our management?” “Will you support us in expanding our sales?” “Are you willing to work hard for us?,” etc. We told JAFCO that we wanted them to respect what we plan to do and believe in us if they were to make an investment. They kindly agreed to our request, so I felt no pressure when accepting their investment.
We will do our best in return for JAFCO’s wholehearted support; JAFCO accepted our word and made an investment in the full requested amount. JAFCO‘s staff have contributed as much as our top sales staff in developing orders. Also with regard to IPO preparations, JAFCO’s support covered procedures for establishing the board of directors, referral to auditors, and preparation and checking of documents needed for the intermediate due diligence for IPO. One of the issues was how to ensure that videos produced by our YouTubers would not infringe any copyrights, licenses and other rights held by third parties. The logic-making process took time, but JAFCO’s support and business network allowed us to solve this problem. We would have made an IPO even without JAFCO, but their timely and appropriate support and referrals to specialists in various fields were of great advantage to us. Discussions from various perspectives that are different from ours have definitely contributed to diversified management. There may be no other company than our own that makes more use of a venture capital firm; we feel as if we have all access to JAFCO’s internal resources.
It all comes down to how you regard funding from a VC firm. It’s not a bank loan, so you don’t have to repay it, but it is, in a way, same as giving a part of your soul called equity. You should think carefully what you expect from it. Is it money? Know-how? Or, joint business management? People tend to think that VCs pay money and just watch the business grow, but JAFCO offers hands-on support and invests a large amount under its highly selective, intensive investment policy. It is a great company. Of course JAFCO is not the only one, but it should be considered a leading option if you’re looking for an investor.
Launching a business is not that easy. Before going public, everything, including your personal life, will be collateral for loans. It’s an enormous risk. You will be a corporate manager because you want to do something, but in the end, there is no goal. You’ll find something new, and it just keeps on expanding. Therefore, it is hard if you are a perfectionist, and you’ll probably end up working until you die. What matters is if you’re ready to make such commitments.
I still have many things I’d like to do, but I’m waiting for the right time and the right person to come along, instead of doing them by myself. After all, I’d rather launch a new business with high potential to succeed. This process involves waiting for such opportunities to arrive, while laying the groundwork to boost chances for success. For this reason, I’m expecting our relationship with JAFCO to last for a long time.