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Tuning In | Innovation necessary for global competitiveness, says Mariko Nishimura, founder of HEART CATCH

Written by Taro Ishida Published on   2 mins read

Nishimura emphasizes the need for more investment, better language skills, adaptation, and innovation in the Japanese startup ecosystem.

Mariko Nishimura, founder of management consulting firm HEART CATCH, started her career as an IT engineer at IBM Japan after graduating from International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan. Before launching Heart Catch in 2014, she also worked as a field marketing manager at Adobe Systems and as a producer at Bascule Inc. In 2020, Heart Catch expanded to Los Angeles, USA.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. 

KrASIA (Kr): What does HEART CATCH do? 

Mariko Nishimura (MN): HEART CATCH is a company that cross-pollinates. It connects established Japanese companies with startups, artists, and creators. Japanese culture is very focused on the legacy of a company. I want to change that perception. Cross-pollination is when you have companies and startups engaging in collaboration projects. Through this, bigger companies like IBM and Microsoft could look into collaborating with smaller businesses or artists, bringing a fresh perspective to them and giving a boost to startups.

I started this company because I thought that we could not stick to this rigidly capitalist economy. Pure financial growth should not be the key performance indicator (KPI) for the future. In 2014, I realized that we need to care about people and humanity, even in the business domain. It is about taking into account what a business is or can be passionate about.

Kr: How do you create business plans that balance both passion and revenue? 

MN: The most important thing is to have a budget. Then, I work with the client to see what their passion is. To do this, I engage them in an art-thinking workshop so that they are able to brainstorm and think of ideas they’re passionate about. For our service to work, clients have to gain a new perspective. I get a better idea of their direction, and am then able to engage an appropriate startup or independent artists that suits their needs. I understand that passion is critical, but it is also crucial to survive in this business domain.

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