Chika is the Founder and Managing Director at CROSSBIE, and is an active ecosystem builder and entrepreneur. She began her entrepreneurial track first as CPO for an Edutech company in NYC, which was acquired by a Hong kong-based media company. After moving to Berlin, she began program management of the UX design team at HERE and later left to co-found a parenting product startup. In 2018, Chika began shifting her focus towards cross-border open innovations between Japan and Europe in Berlin. Chika has been supporting market entries of both German and Japanese startups with JETRO, an agency of the Ministry of Economy Japan since 2018. We had a conversation with her about her motivation to contribute to the AsiaBerlin Community, the potential of the Japanese startup ecosystem, and more.
What has been your motivation to contribute to the AsiaBerlin community
I was inspired by AsiaBerlin’s vision and its welcoming community immediately. In this exponentially growing decentralized world, becoming a global key node/hub is imperative. AsiaBerlin is the strategic platform to make it possible, and the community is filled with inspiring, open-minded, engaging people! I am really grateful to be a key part of the community and be able to contribute to building the ecosystem between Japan and Berlin as an AsiaBerlin Ambassador.
Please share something about your experience as an AsiaBerlin Ambassador and how has it helped you or vice versa?
Being an AsiaBerlin Ambassador is an honor and a fantastic opportunity. Together with passionate fellow Ambassadors, we make positive changes. We are empowered to connect with inspiring leaders, bring innovative decision-makers together, and encourage everyone to collaborate across Asia and Berlin.
Most recently, I organized a satellite event for AsiaBerlinSummit 2021 with the goal to deepen the relationship between Japan and Berlin under the overarching theme, Smart City. I think, to create a cross-border ecosystem, one of the key success factors is strong personal relationships.
During AsiaBerlinSummit 2021, key ecosystem leaders of both German and Japanese were present in person. For example, Mr.Imafuku, the minister of the Japanese Embassy in Germany, Mr.Wagner, the president of Mitsubishi Electric in Germany, Dr. Julia Münch, the Secretary-General of Deutsches Japanisches Zentrum Berlin joined as keynote speakers. In addition, Ms.Anne Pomsel, Secretary-General from Deutsches Japanisches Wirtschaftskreis, and several representatives from Japanese municipalities, e.g. Tokyo, Yokohama, Kobe, Shibuya, participated physically at the venue.
Being an AsiaBerlin Ambassador is a trust with a clear purpose. People understand immediately, it opens the doors, helps connect people and vice versa, and clearly contributes to creating a strong multi-directional cross-border ecosystem.
Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur in Berlin and what is the problem you are trying to solve with your startup? How did you come up with this idea?
After living in a few cities in Japan, then Helsinki, London, New York, I came to Berlin. Berlin is special, especially the attitude towards diversity and inclusion is outstanding. It’s very human and democratic. It’s bottom-up at the same time there is political commitment.
Businesswise, Berlin is clearly the top startup ecosystem in Germany attracting by far the most investments in Germany with €10.5 billion in 2021 and 60% of VC investment according to EY’s Startup Barometer. And it is increasing sustainability focus.
I see one of the next big problems for human-being is sustainability and equality, both economically and culturally, Berlin is the front-running thought leader, a great role model. There is so much we can learn and share with the other side of the world. That’s what I wanted with Japan.
With CROSSBIE, we offer cross-border market entry support by providing mentoring through acceleration programs, connecting companies and startups, helping to get fundings. Hoping our client to achieve business sustainable goals through innovations and to be more aware of the responsibility as world citizen.
Do you think startups have the potential to go truly international from Berlin?
Yes, of course! The startups in Berlin are already in an international environment. First, more than half of the startups taking part in some acceleration programs in Berlin aren’t even from Germany. Second, the Berlin startup ecosystem has many VCs and mentors from abroad to pulse check your international potential. Third, our very AsiaBerlin community is the bridge to connect Berlin startups directly to the world. Berlin startups have unparalleled advantages as one can learn about different cultures, get assessed international advantages, access to talents connected networks for internationalization all in Berlin.
What are the areas/questions for which the community should reach out to you?
For Berlin and the European ecosystem community, not only startups but also Mittelstand and corporates, please reach out to me for connecting business innovation opportunities in Japan. We support market research, delegation, technology, and partner search, possibly for funding partners.
For Japanese community members, vice versa.
I’m always up for casual networking meetups and virtual coffees 🙂
What is most attractive about Japan’s startup ecosystem and what synergies do you see with Berlin?
The Japanese startup ecosystem is growing. A few years ago the Japanese cabinet initiated a program to create global startup ecosystems out of Japan. Several municipalities have implemented programs to make the market entry of foreign startups into Japan easier. Japan has been known that it’s relatively closed to international talents but I see changes over the last couple of years. There are large corporations that search for strategic partnerships with top startups from all over the world. VC and CVC investments are available for many areas, for example, fintech, mobility, SaaS for many areas, entertainment, materials, recycling, digital health, other deep tech areas, you name it. Japan thinks Germany is ahead in achieving sustainable goals and many startups in Berlin especially those who have such technologies and solutions would have strong synergies with Japan.