What is JAFCO's investment?

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  3. Promise to keep with the second start-up "blockchain and DX" from listing [LayerX Yoshinori Fukushima & JAFCO]
Promise to keep with the second start-up "blockchain and DX" from listing [LayerX Yoshinori Fukushima & JAFCO]
Promise to keep with the second start-up "blockchain and DX" from listing [LayerX Yoshinori Fukushima & JAFCO]

The trajectory of a company unraveled from the encounter between an entrepreneur and JAFCO. We will talk about episodes and thoughts that can be told now, and prospects for the future.
This time, we will talk with Yoshinori Fukushima, CEO of LayerX Inc., who promotes DX in various industries centered on blockchain technology, and Keisuke Miyoshi, the capitalist in charge of JAFCO.

Yoshinori Fukushima Fukushima, CEO LayerX Inc.
Graduated from the University of Tokyo Graduate School of Engineering. My majors in college were computer science and machine learning. Founded Gunosy Inc., Ltd. while attending graduate school in 2012, assumed the post of representative director, and listed on TSE Mothers about two and a half years after its founding. Later, the market was changed to the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Appointed CEO of Layer X in 2018. 2012 IPA unexplored super creator certification. Selected as one of Asia's leading "under 30" by Forbes Asia in 2016. Received the Best Paper Award at the 2017 Association for Natural Language Processing (co-authored). In June 2019, he became a director of the Japan Blockchain Association (JBA).

[What's LayerX Inc.]
Founded in August 2018 with the mission of "digitizing all economic activities." Focusing on blockchain technology, we are promoting DX in various industries including the financial field. In October 2019, it will be the first company in Japan to be selected as a target company of the Ethereum Foundation Grants Program. In November 2019, we collaborated with Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc., and in April 2020, we established "Mitsui & Co., Ltd. Digital Asset Management Co., Ltd." with Mitsui & Co., Ltd. Promote commercialization efforts. We aim to change the way credit and evaluation are done, eliminate friction in economic activities, and realize a society in which many companies and individuals can receive the benefits.


Honest and open attitude
does not change even after two entrepreneurs

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Miyoshi Fukushima has been a partner since we invested in Gunosy Inc., Ltd. in 2013. In May 2020, LayerX received a large investment totaling 3 billion yen, and I understand the "meaning of receiving investment" that was not well understood during the Gunosy era. I have grown up too.

Miyoshi No no. The goodness of Mr. Fukushima hasn't changed since I first met him. Honest and open. I have no intention of putting parentheses on it. When asked why he started his business, he said, "I just made it for myself, so I was thinking of quitting the service and getting a job." "Since many people are using it, I just made it a company." To be honest, I thought, "It's these entrepreneurs who want to work with us."

Fukushima Was that so? When I first met, I didn't listen to Miyoshi-san at all (laughs). I'm too busy coding. I would have thought, "I don't listen to you," ... I later regretted.

The first entrepreneur was, when I think about it now, "getting excited". The number of users of the service (news app "Gunosy") that I made when I was in college was steadily increasing, and I had no choice but to start a business because the server fee and labor costs could not be reached. However, like Google and Facebook, I had a longing for an entrepreneurial style in which "what we want to make" is made, "I wish there was such a service", and that grows.

Miyoshi I think that many people do it on a daily basis up to the point of thinking "I wish I had it." There is a big gap before it is actually put into shape and leads to results. Why do you think it was possible?

Fukushima timing and luck. It's a boost to the times. Software and code are "modern magic". The services we usually use on the Internet are all mysterious strings, and they just work.

One of my favorite words is "Software is eating the world." By Marc Andreessen (American software developer and investor). In the sense that "software will be able to implement society," in fact, software is now running everything from cars to factories to medical care.

I was born in an era when software casts magic on society, and I happened to be interested in it and studied there. Of course, I made an effort, but with the spread of smartphones, I was fortunate to have an environment where people all over the world could use it as long as I had a good app.
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Miyoshi It seems that Mr. Fukushima says "luck". Certainly, I think that the service and Mr. Fukushima himself were in tune with the times. By the way, was there any difference in your "ambition" when you started LayerX compared to when you were in Gunosy?

In contrast to Gunosy, which was a service for consumers in Fukushima, LayerX mainly targets companies. The second time I started a business, I had a completely different awareness of issues.

The consumer world has changed in the last decade. Neither LINE nor Mercari was there 10 years ago. But if you look at what we use at work, it's almost the same as it was 10 years ago. I use Excel, email, and in-house approval tools that are difficult to use, wondering "why is there such inefficient work left?" No one is trying to revamp the service for efficiency. I thought there might be a tremendous opportunity here.

LayerX's "blockchain" is a technology that leaves digital evidence. You can also prevent data tampering. Things are moving according to various promises in the world, and so far we have written and stamped the contents to obtain evidence. Blockchain can completely digitize all of this. Digitally recording economic activity promises eliminates all the costs of keeping promises. In a society where digital credit means are distributed to small companies and individuals as well as large companies, people will be relieved and will be freed from complicated work.

When launching Miyoshi LayerX, I remember saying, "2018 is the last chance (to enter the blockchain market), so I want to take it here." After asserting that the world will surely change to a world that requires blockchain technology, "But no one can guarantee how fast it will go. Even if you invest, it may take time." I was told from the beginning.
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Even if I make a Fukushima business plan, I can't help but say, "I'm aiming for it, but I don't know if it can be achieved because the changes in the environment in Japan have a big impact." I talked about everything and told him that I would like to do it after understanding it.

Miyoshi: We've had many conversations about what kind of company we want to be and what kind of society we want to create. The mountains and valleys in the process of arriving have already been woven. However, I've been cherishing that the goal I'm heading for isn't blurred.

At Fukushima Layer X, we asked Miyoshi to invest without hesitation because we felt that we would fight together from a medium- to long-term perspective. When doing business, there is a phase in which "the funds are likely to be short-circuited in the short term, but if you invest more and step in, you can grow it." Mr. Miyoshi has a kind of cleanliness that understands the balance and makes investment decisions.

Of course, some companies grow by being given strong pressure in the short term. However, in the case of LayerX, I thought it would be difficult to work with them unless they were capitalists who shared the length of the time axis. From the first investment, I was very confident in the consistency of looking ahead even in a pinch. It was encouraging to say, "I decided to support you," and support me with all my might.

Miyoshi I am very honored to hear that. In addition to investing, I want to support the investees as much as possible as "members who are creating businesses together." Of course, "changing society" requires a long-term perspective.

Fukushima Thank you for your words. Receiving an investment means promising a commitment to the capital markets. I think that entrepreneurs and capitalists are like "accomplices" who work together with "let's make a bigger change in the world" with the foundation to meet expectations.

Respond to the expectations of capitalists with good pressure on yourself. That's the entrepreneur's duty

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Miyoshi What do you think about as an entrepreneur every day because you have started a business twice?

Fukushima: "I can't be a slave to gold." In the phase of starting a business, there are times when you can obtain amazing resources such as human resources and funds. But that is just an expectation for the company. I think I can be a decent entrepreneur as long as I see the strong pressure as a check against myself, saying, "You have to use this money to give this much value to the world."

Being able to invest billions of dollars in a business is a great opportunity to change the world. The idea of "let's make more money and spend money for it" goes in a different direction from the business that I originally wanted to do. Money and human resources will be used as a means to change the world. I think this is the discipline required of entrepreneurs.

Miyoshi In this investment, Mr. Fukushima held discussions with me without taking any phase estimates from other venture capital firms. For those who collect money, I think it is natural that it is better to work with a place that appreciates them. Why didn't you do that?

Fukushima I thought that act was meaningless. While the venture capital that makes large investments is limited, I thought that if Mr. Miyoshi did not ride, no one else would ride. If the most trusted investor denies it, then the value you are thinking of is wrong. I was thinking of accepting that fact.

Even if there are people who invest without understanding the business well, if the expected value is not met, it will be difficult later. I've seen a lot of entrepreneurs collapsing as they start to create unreasonable businesses to live up to their expectations. It was important to be able to work with capitalists who meet their expectations, saying, "This is the highest valuation we can think of."

Miyoshi We can't invest if we're the ones who look down on us. Relationships that maintain mutual trust and tension are very important between entrepreneurs and capitalists.

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Fukushima I think that May 2020 was the last time we had raised enough funds. Of course, when you have an overwhelmingly strong business and aim for a big win, "Next is global!", You may ask for a replacement. We would be very happy if we could discuss each other again and reach an agreement that "this can be done".

Miyoshi I would like to find out what I can do to further enhance the image of an entrepreneur named Mr. Fukushima. I think that Mr. Fukushima will take the lead in running, which will stimulate the next generation and create people who will take on new challenges.

Fukushima It would be great if more people, not just young people, could grow up from Japan. First of all, it is the minimum duty to return as an entrepreneur without disappointing Mr. Miyoshi's expectations. I think that will lead to running ahead of the curve.