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Alumni Stories: the entrepreneurs of Le Wagon Tokyo, vol. 1

After a little over 2 years operating in Japan, we are extremely proud to introduce the first crop of entrepreneurs releasing their own products to the world!

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From Day 1 of our bootcamp, we insist on the fact that

code is here for one thing:

Build products that people will use 

Though most of our alumni end up finding jobs as fullstack engineers, UI designers or product managers, we were also eager to see the first Le Wagon Tokyo-made startups (and of course, who would build them).
After a little over 2 years operating in Japan, we are extremely proud to introduce the first crop of entrepreneurs releasing their own products to the world!

What do they have in common? None of them had a definite plan that they would start a business. They enrolled in Le Wagon Tokyo knowing that “learning how to code” would open doors, and they fell into entrepreneurship after 9 weeks with us. They are driven by a passion for education, fashion, or by a mission to turn Japan into a freelancers nation. They discovered through our program that launching a company was an iterative process that could be initiated with just a landing page.

Meet the first entrepreneurs of Le Wagon Tokyo

Adam Boujida, co-founder of aoiShip

Adam’s story is one of networking: within only 3 months in Tokyo, he was probably connected with more people than yours truly. Through his network he managed to land his first job as Web Developer at InfoAthletes.
The aoiShip team (Adam on the right)
During his first months in Japan, Adam deeply fell in love with the country: first as a foodie, treating himself weekly with amazing sushis or kaiseki dinners. But secondly, because of the radical lifestyle change it represented compared to what he knew back in California. Japan proposed a more down-to-earth approach, which led him to appreciate what he was offered every day.

Two encounters gave him the drive to launch aoiShip: Support from Kenshi Shojaku, InfoAthletes’ CEO, who showed trust in Adam’s vision, giving him the time and resources to kick-start his project into a business, and Adam’s co-founder Kazumasa Ito, who together with Adam marveled and shared passion for the world of fashion which befell them in Tokyo, introducing him to Japan’s fashion industry.

aoiShip, an online platform to help Japan fashion brands bring influence to the world through e-commerce and digital marketing, is now up and running and just received their first round of funding from Japan Finance Corporation.

Nozomi Okuma, co-founder of Pool

Before joining Le Wagon Tokyo, Nozomi was already knee-deep in the startup world as a writer for TechCrunch Japan. It’s only natural that one year after graduating and a couple of freelancer stints later, she’s announcing her first venture: Pool.
The Pool experience
Pool is a platform to easily manage a team of freelancers, from assigning work to tracking invoices. And of all the ventures started after Le Wagon Tokyo, you can see it as the closest to the initial definition of a startup: “a temporary organization in search of a scalable and repeatable business model”

We can’t emphasize enough how proud we are of this project: not only because it’s Rails-based and Nozomi coded a lot of it, but also because it is addressing a social issue by democratizing freelance work in Japan, and making it easier to work as — and with — freelancers.

Hidehiro Nagaoka, co-founder of X-Hack

Hidehiro, or マスター Hide as we sometimes like to call him, is one of the first Mercari employees, and an alumnus of our very first batch in Tokyo.

In short, he is a typical multi-intrumentalist, and a great example of the many paths you can take after Le Wagon: working on his own product, studying blockchain and machine learning, launching an education company, and regularly sharing his knowledge through workshops. Oh, and he plays the violin, too.
Hidehiro (right) and his co-founder
With his new venture, X-Hack, he is combining all his past experiences by training a new generation of Japanese engineers on the latest web technologies. In parallel, he is working on his own product, Ringi, with the mission to simplify small hospitals’ monthly tasks of creating public insurance refund documents.

How about you?

Though it’s admittedly much easier for our Japanese alumni to start a new business, the Tokyo government recently announced an initiative to simplify procedures for foreign entrepreneurs.

After an observation period, you will also notice that copycats and me-toos are still an option in Japan, and some entire fields remain almost untapped. With a booming tech event scene, the Olympics coming soon, and easier rules for entry, why not try your chance in Japan?


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