The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

CONTEST | MARKET ENTRY

JULY 2014
Next-generation Leaders
JMEC 20 draws participants from 15 nations

The 2014 Japan Market Expansion Competition (JMEC) marked its 20th anniversary with a record number of teams and participants, with the comprehensive business plan devised by a team calling itself “Don’t Give Up” emerging as the eventual winner.

No fewer than 66 businesspeople took part in the event, which was initiated by the Australian and New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Japan in 1993 and is supported by 17 chambers of commerce.

The concept behind the competition is for teams to sharpen their executive skills while simultaneously assisting foreign firms, by developing a high-quality business plan tailored for the Japanese market.

The six-month process requires a major commitment of time and effort, said Debbie Howard, one of the three judges of this year’s entries and chair of CarterJMRN K.K., but the results make it very worthwhile.

“The quality of the plans that the teams have devised has been very high,” Howard told the ACCJ Journal at the June 11 awards.

“I feel that JMEC is important because it gives everyone who takes part a far wider view of the business world. There are not many other ways in which those lessons can be learned.

“The highlight of the entire process for me was to see all that youthful energy at work,” she added. “I’ve been a business professional for 40 years now, and I know that my own experience has been enriched by the youthful enthusiasm and out-of-the-box thinking that these young people displayed,” she added.

The 20th annual contest attracted potential captains of industry from 15 countries, although 53 percent of the entrants were Japanese nationals.

Prizes included tablet computers from Hewlett-Packard for first-place winners, British Airways return air tickets to London for the runners-up, and domestic air tickets from Jetstar Japan for third-place winners.

All teams also received a one-year membership of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan.

“There were times when I thought our team name—Don’t Give Up—wasn’t going to come true, but today we’re very happy to have stuck with it and to have created this project,” said Imai Jen-La Plante, a member of the winning team.

The toughest part of the team’s project, completed for Tektronix Communications, proved to be compiling accurate financial details, she said, adding that she hopes the experience gained from taking part in JMEC might help her find a career in management.

Second place went to Sixth Sense, which drew up a market plan for Fusion Systems, with Team 5S taking third thanks to their proposals for McGill MBA Japan.

To date, there have been 1,020 graduates from the scheme, with business plans written for JMEC project clients such as Dyson, Hewlett-Packard, United Airlines and Nina Ricci designs.

The 21st JMEC program is scheduled to begin in September, with information seminars held in advance for potential participants to find out more about the scheme.

The schedule for the upcoming contest will again be broken down into four phases, with the first period of training and development followed by lectures and workshops that focus on entry into the Japanese market and business planning.

The final three months will be used by the teams to prepare their business plans.

With guidance from a mentor and a business consultant, each of the teams will be required to develop an effective plan for a firm operating in the Japanese market.

The proposal should include a business strategy covering marketing, distribution, finance, organization, human resources, and legal issues.
The plans will be judged after April on the basis of both written and oral presentations before the winners are announced in June 2015. •