The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan


MARCH 2015

Startup Success in Japan’s Heartland

By Chris Zarodkiewicz

Entrepreneurialism is alive and well in the Chubu region, thanks to the area’s proximity to thriving industrial and manufacturing companies, its low cost of doing business, and the support provided by business organizations such as the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) Chubu chapter.

The Chubu region is known as the heartland of the country due to its central location and landscape. It is also home to many successful startups that have grown into multinational businesses, many of them ACCJ members, including Oak Lawn Marketing, Inc., NSR Japan Co., Ltd., and H&R Consultants K.K.

The Independent Business Committee (IBC) of the ACCJ Chubu chapter is the premier forum for entrepreneurs and independent business owners in the region. With help from the IBC, which is chaired by Sean Gallagher, new startups and existing businesses can learn about current market trends and best practices, as well as network with other entrepreneurially minded professionals.

The Chubu IBC holds bimonthly meetings featuring speakers comprising entrepreneurs from various fields. This month we would like to highlight some ACCJ members who have utilized the Chubu chapter to help launch successful international companies.

Anthony Gilmore, CEO of Nameless K.K.
Number of staff: 10
Year of incorporation: 2010
Industry: Digital media

“Working out of the Chubu region has really given us the space to grow our business. Although the digital media market has expanded rapidly in the last few years, our international approach has given us a strong foothold. We are now in our fifth year, and the ACCJ has been instrumental in helping us get through that difficult startup period. Getting started as a foreign company in a very competitive market was a huge challenge, but the support, advice, and networking opportunities that the ACCJ has provided have helped immensely.”

Nameless K.K. is a digital media agency with a tightly knit, international team of multilingual creatives from diverse backgrounds. In just a few years the company has grown from a video production specialist to one that can offer solutions in multiple formats.

Dr. Joseph Haldane, president of IAFOR
Number of staff: 14
Year of incorporation: 2009
Industry: Education/Publishing/Events

“Nagoya provides a positive environment for nurturing a young business, and is a good place to get noticed. There are many entrepreneurs in the region, and while the Tokyo ACCJ chapter has more corporate and government representation, the Chubu chapter has a great mix of backgrounds, which makes for a rich experience. The IBC and other members with extensive experience in the region have been especially helpful in providing my company with resources and information specific to doing business in Japan.”

The International Academic Forum (IAFOR) has been dubbed “Asia’s think tank.” It is an international research organization that runs about 40 academic conferences around the world each year, in addition to providing academic publishing, event management, and other media services.

Nao Geisler, principal of Kakuozan International Preschool
Number of staff: 25
Year of incorporation: 2007
Industry: Education

“Since its founding in Nagoya, our school has grown into a large educational facility. ACCJ has created an atmosphere that has allowed our institution to thrive in today’s competitive market. There have been several instances where members and member companies have provided advice in addition to introducing potential new students to our school. Members are very supportive of other members, which is crucial when starting and running your own business.”

Kakuozan International Preschool accepts students of all backgrounds aged 18 months to 12 years. Since opening, the student body has grown from a modest 10 in 2007 to 200 in 2015.

Michael S. Bagley, president of MBprints
Number of staff: 4
Year of incorporation: 2009
Industry: Textile printing

“Nagoya, with all its diversity and charm, is one of the best places to run a business. From the moment I started mingling with like-minded entrepreneurs and members of the ACCJ Chubu chapter, I’ve felt instantly accepted. The support I’ve received has been invaluable. When I first came up with the idea to start my own business, I heard many discouraging comments, but not one negative remark came from an ACCJ member. They saw my vision and passion and related to that entrepreneurial spirit. Now in my sixth year as a member, I have the confidence to continue growing MBprints with the support of the ACCJ. The future is bright.”

MBprints is a T-shirt print shop specializing in creating custom garments using the highest quality inks and supplies. Offering door-to-door delivery, the company accepts orders of all sizes.


Chris Zarodkiewicz is the vice president of ACCJ Chubu and president of Interlink K.K.


[Chubu is] home to many successful startups that have grown into multinational businesses.