Hokkaido, JAPAN Dairy Farming Training
After graduating from high school, I started my agricultural training as a live-in worker in Kushiro, Hokkaido. Mr. Uchida-san, a year my senior, was there from Kumamoto, also in Kumamoto, and I had memories of Michael Jackson's Thriller being played on MTV at the time. When I was in high school, the only Western music I heard was The Beatles, but here in Hokkaido, I became very fond of the Western music that Mr. Uchida liked.
At first, it was hard to get up at 5:00 a.m., and after two months, this time I woke up in the morning and couldn't open my hands. I remember this one time, I played the role of digging a hole while the owner shot a deer and Uchida-san cleaned it. They say, "Deer in the fall come to the whistle," and by the end of October, it was too cold.
It was a day when the temperature was minus 30 degrees Celsius, and my nose hurt when I went outside.
Mr. Uchida, a senior colleague of mine, had a great influence on me. I saved my salary for about six months to buy a Nikon SLR camera, and he was managing cattle nutrition using an NEC PC-88 computer with a cassette tape storage device.
To Ontario, CANADA
Canada is the world's dairy farming region. I was offered a job as a live-in worker again, I departed from Narita on December 14, 1985.
It was a continuous culture shock...
First of all, I realized that what I thought was normal in Japan was not "normal. I had the concept of a "holiday" on a dairy farm.
He was a demanding boss, but I learned from him a business style that anticipates the future and from his wife to keep an eye on things.
This is Roy&Eve from the beef farm neighbor who gave me the nickname Massey, and they were really nice to me.
Toward the end of the day, business became more of a topic. It wasn't until I saw Steve Jobs on a TV show that I decided I wanted to start my own company. I only understood about half of what he said, but he said something like, "It's better to try and fail than to never try and end up failing! I vaguely thought that I would like to run a company myself, and the name I came up with at that time was SUNDAY FARM LTD.
Introduction of NEC PCs
In June 1988, fax machines were introduced.
In December 1988, when the economy was still in a bubble and a calf was about a month old and costing about 500,000 yen, I sold the calf I was sharing with myself in my father's ranch and bought a computer that I was interested in. The purpose was because I wanted to do the accounting myself.
Japanese Holstei Contest
In November 1991, the All-Japan Holstein Contest was held in Kumamoto, and Lee, out of a cow named Rhoda that I brought back from Canada, won the first seven places. We made a bet with the bosses when we were returning from Canada, and we just barely managed to fulfill our promise. We would like to express our sincere thanks to all the people and organizations that helped us in exhibiting.
I received a newcomer's award at an agricultural competition in Kumamoto Prefecture. It was an American style, but strangely, the person who was doing it felt dilemma about not being able to catch up with the U.S./Canada style.
In this year, he started a computer communication service called Nifty for the first time. The telephone bill reached 70,000 yen per month.
I first saw the Internet via CompuServe in the US in 1990. It was exciting to cross borders so easily.
The bursting of the bubble economy and the challenge of business
A veterinarian who took care of me when I went to Canada asked me if I would like to buy a company. I bought a company called Kong Japan Ltd. for 250,000 yen.
On October 8, the company name was changed to Sunday Farm and registered. Six years after watching the Steve Jobs show in Canada, I had my own company. However, it was the very year that the bubble burst, and I used the word processor on the computer I bought in 1988 to do the paperwork for the registration of the change. I felt like the computer was my first profitable venture outside of accounting.
And computer communications, which had begun the previous year, changed dramatically. Reduced costs from 70,000 yen to 2,000 yen for phone calls. Started using Nifterm, an autopilot software I learned about at an agricultural forum.
Moved to the U.S. in November to Seattle, Washington. Impressed by Starbucks' business style.
Started building Linux servers.
At that time, the word "Internet" was still rarely heard of, and documents were created with Lotus 123 and Ichitaro. Microsoft Excel and Word appeared in the latter half of the period.
Our company was trying to steer toward computer-related business, with Massey doing subsystem ops for Nifty-Serve's Agricultural Forum.
In October, NHK launched its Electronic Nation series, introducing the forefront of the personal computer business.
The communication protocol TCP/IP came standard with Windows 98, creating an environment in which all you needed was a modem to connect to the Internet.
At Sunday Farm, the fact that Internet access was common due to PC communications led to requests from NTT to connect to the Internet.
Although he was working on a dairy farm, he had a strange business going home during the day, setting up software for the Internet with referrals from NTT.
Typhoon No. 18 toppled a barn
In Kumamoto, a typhoon caused storm surge damage in the Matsuai district of Shiranui Town, and the Sunday Farm cowshed collapsed. Half of the cows died. After the cleanup, the fathers wanted to do dairy farming, so after adjusting funds and other arrangements, Sunday Farm was completely steered to the Internet.
I decided to try anything that might make money.
Data recovery operations generate profits
What seemed to be a money-making project was unexpectedly expensive and did not generate any revenue.
Thinking that this was a turning point, I applied to register my data recovery business, for which I had received several requests, in the Yahoo category. At the time, Yahoo auctions were thriving and had the world's largest monthly previews, and by looking at the ads on Yahoo's top page, I could tell which companies were doing well.
At the end of July, Sunday Farm was registered in the Yahoo data recovery category, and the business quickly turned profitable.
Yahoo Auction Store Opening/Closing
Around 2005, Google and other services that allow users to receive and send e-mail on the cloud emerged, and he became convinced that the direction was toward the elimination of storing e-mail on computer storage devices, and he began a trial and error process in search of a new business form.
Applied for Google's corporate account agency (now GoogleWorkSpace).
Purchasing melons from clients at the Tasaki market and selling them at auction.
At that time, I started using a Fujifilm S2Pro digital camera instead of the Nikon film camera I bought in Hokkaido, and its image expression was outstanding. However, the business model was not suitable for our company and we gave it up after half a year.
However, it is immensely effective for industries where thin profit margins are the main focus, and he is a software advisor for several companies, including Yahoo Auctions.
Oracle Database Development
A company we were advising on software for auctions approached us about a membership management system, and we went to Tokyo to take a look at it. I went to Tokyo to take a look at the system, but what I wondered was, "If the people in Tokyo can't do it, what can we do? What I wondered, however, was a simple question: What can we do if the Tokyo people can't do it? We thought that there must be various reasons, so we proposed a system that uses an Oracle database, which is often used by banks and other financial institutions.
We started development in May and delivered the product at the end of July. After that, we started receiving consignment work such as shipping, etc., and became very busy. We were so busy that we often stayed overnight in the office and found ourselves in the morning and socializing with employees on the weekends.
I was always in this state at karaoke.
It was quite enjoyable to have unique people in our company.
Lehman Brothers bankruptcy in 2008
In August, I handed over all of the outsourcing work I had been doing since 2007, including maintenance of the membership management system, to a company in Tokyo. I had to lay them off.
After devoting almost all of my time to system development and maintenance over the past year, I thought I'd take a break. I decided to take a break and join a few others on a trip I had wanted to make 20 years ago, across the United States from New York to San Francisco.
Then, after returning to Japan, Lehman Brothers collapsed. It was truly a Lehman shock.
Clients on Ishigaki Island
A dairy-related business partner introduced us to a customer on Ishigaki Island.
The mission was a videoconferencing system for four locations (Okinawa, Ishigaki, Yonaguni, and Kumamoto) and an accounts receivable system for six locations (four plus Tokyo and Hokkaido). We used a PS3 camera for videoconferencing and PCA Cloud for accounts receivable. We were able to teach the client's staff everything they needed to know, so there were no problems even in remote locations, and the client was very happy with the results.
The president introduced me to a book on fortune-telling called Arithmetic and Seimei, and I found the calculation method troublesome, so I released an iPad app on the AppStore to quickly obtain the calculations on my iPad.
In October of that year, Apple founder Steve Jobs passed away, and I missed the U.S. very much.
In the future, I set up a company near Dallas to be able to eat from the application. Writing the program alone, it was always in the morning after all. After six months, I hated my lack of talent.
Recklessly, I ventured into the U.S. alone, but of course it wasn't that easy, and I was just desperate to somehow bring out the advantages of developing in the U.S.
My next thought was whether it would be possible to create a company that I could imagine as if I were in Japan but commuting to an office in San Francisco.
Could you come to Japan from abroad?
In 2014, Apple's WWDC developer conference became 100% viewable online, and Google has gone in the same direction, so even if you are in Japan, you can now receive the latest information at all times.
2015 was the year of cleaning up after our expansion into the United States. The final closing of accounts, the closing of the company, the closing of accounts. It was easy enough to do it while I was there, but it was a pain to do it while I was in Japan.
The business of private accommodations was slowly gaining ground. The one that caught my attention was a company called Airbnb, headquartered in San Francisco.
Kumamoto earthquake occurs
In March, there was an Airbnb information meeting in Fukuoka, so I went to listen to it. The meeting was held at Ohori Park just in time for cherry blossom season. It was a strange meeting. Instead of an explanation from the company, a host talked about the current situation and Airbnb's attitude.
I found it very strange that this Airbnb business is expanding by making good use of people who are not Airbnb employees. It is a ride like the PC communication forum that I used to do just 20 years ago. And yet there is money being made there. It was amazing to see someone who has created this system on a web platform and who is not an employee of Airbnb talk passionately about Airbnb. And each of them is an independent business person.
However, I thought it was possible because of Fukuoka. Geographically, there are many international flights that are easier for Koreans and Chinese to come here, and it is possible to travel to and from Korea by boat at a lower cost.
On April 14 and 16, the Kumamoto earthquake occurred. We managed to escape the disaster, but my uncle's place in Kiyama, Mashiki Town was directly hit. We went there on the 15th for emergency treatment and covered it with blue sheets, but it collapsed completely on the 16th. I came back to the office to see if there was anything we could do to help the people of Mashiki, even though it was a natural disaster. I checked the Airbnb website and found that they were trying to connect disaster victims with owners who were willing to offer free accommodation for disaster victims.
At the time, we did not receive any permission to accommodate people, but we immediately registered a room in our office and offered it for rent free of charge. An hour after registering, I immediately received a reservation. "Really?" Who would want to stay here? I contacted them and found out that a young lady in Yokohama wanted to rent a room to her parents who lived in Mashiki Town. I thought, "Oh, this is possible," and stayed with the parents, who were in their 70s and had brought their dog for a week.
Since the earthquake seemed to have reduced the number of computer-related orders and software adjustments, I decided to try running a private apartment in Fukuoka for a while and started in June.
If I had to travel to Fukuoka, I would have to have about six properties to cover expenses such as high-speed travel, so I finally decided to operate with seven properties. I initially considered outsourcing the cleaning, but outsourcing would drastically reduce profits and break even, so I decided to do everything myself for now.
With the boom in private accommodations, why are so many people coming to the area? It was so constant that I wondered why so many people were coming. It was only possible because we are in Fukuoka.
Ruby on Rails
The private accommodation business in Fukuoka managed to get back on track, and the economy in Kumamoto was gradually recovering. Airbnb information sessions were also held in Kumamoto.
Our main focus was the robustness of the Airbnb system as seen as a web app. The Airbnb program runs on a system called Ruby on Rails, and it was a wonderful achievement to be able to integrate a website with a smartphone app in such a real-time manner. It was a wonderful achievement to be able to integrate the app so well in real time.
The more the private accommodation business in Fukuoka took off, the less time we had for program development.
Withdrawal from Fukuoka minpaku business
The "Residential Accommodation Business Law," which went into effect on June 15, 2018, made it illegal to stay at a rental property without a permit, and Sunday Farm's private accommodation business in Fukuoka ended after two years.
Originally, I thought it would be until the local demand, which was depressed by the Kumamoto earthquake, returned, but I never thought it would be two years. In August of that year, we resumed software development for PCs and application development for Apple. iPad and iPhone fortune-telling applications we released in 2011 were surprisingly popular and had about 10,000 users worldwide, so we decided to take this opportunity to focus on iPhone and android application development We decided to take this opportunity to focus on iPhone and android app development.
However, we thought that the hotel license genre could coexist with the app, so we applied to the Kikuchi Public Health Center in February and received permission for hotel license on July 9, 2018.
At the end of the year, the "UN4Tune" fortune-telling application, which had been undergoing renewal since August, was released.
Only Code Project
Until last year, I had been using a visual layout system when laying out screens, etc. But around the time of New Year's, I suddenly saw a college student's blog that casually mentioned coding to create screens using only code. What he wrote was very simple, and it was the kind of article that made a lot of sense to me when I wrote it while watching it on YouTube.
The idea was to create it as written, actually watching YouTube and typing everything from Hello World. I understand English, so it took me a day to get to a few thousand lines. It was my first experience to see what kind of processing was done and what kind of screen was displayed just by looking at the code, and I already felt like I could write anything. I gained speed dozens of times faster than I had ever gained by reading books. Above all, I gained the ability to read code at once, and I am truly and sincerely grateful to the creator of YouTube.
We have adopted this technique for our recruiting, and since we are in the mood for it, we put the code on GitHub and changed the style to one that allows coding from either the U.S. or Japan. This was the first time I had used version control since I had failed once 20 years ago with open source on a server on Linux.
In March, we included subscriptions and released the first app with a paid option. Since then, it has been developed with updates added approximately once a week.
March COVID-19 stops social movement.
The fortune-telling application UN4Tune is the leader in the genre of “Sanmeigaku."
Tokyo Olympic Year
COVID-19 has changed the world. In terms of the company, the Only Code project of the previous year continued this year.
Our development style over the past few years has been a simple one of brainstorming ideas and worst-case scenarios for apps, and the Only Code project has allowed us to spread out the nationalities of our developers, which has made us feel more comfortable with the clash of values in each language area. The project became a very pleasant experience for me.
Android Development Start
We have started an android project after the iPhone application development has settled down a bit and the Android Studio version has been upgraded.
New developers from Germany and Serbia will be added to the Code base. Kotlin is used as the development language, and Compose is used as the development style.
A version in development will be released on Google Play at the end of the year.
Consider strategies after COVID-19 converges
While developing apps, he sought a new style of revenue generation.
Resumed accepting Farm Stay on Airbnb in anticipation of the lifting of immigration restrictions on June 30. Plans to list on Booking.com in the Netherlands.
Create a new business model that mixes Farm Stay business and app development.