“Vision, mission, passion and action.” Interview with Teruhide Sato

Teruhide Sato is a very successful entrepreneur turned VC (Beenext). He has invested in some of the unicorns globally as early stage investor. Before starting his own fund, Teru was the founder of Netprice in Japan. We first got to know each other through a common friend from Austria and I asked him at our first meeting whether he is open to mentor me. He is an impressive personality with a strong drive. So I recommend everyone to work with him if you have the chance to do so.

First of all, thank you very much for the first interview, Teru. What does entrepreneurship mean to you?

Vision, mission, passion and action.

What are you looking for when you meet founders?

Actually the same 🙂 Long-term view, big picture and precise action-plans

What are business models that you like to invest in? and why?

Interview with Teruhide Sato
Anything that fully uses the power of technology and network. Often comes in form of network effect. Plus these days it is also coming from data.

So it is typically streamlining business processes, connecting the dots, facilitating business activities, leveraging on network effects, accumulating network data of platform and using data for customers & partner so that they can fully enjoy the data network effect.

What have been your 3 lessons learned as entrepreneur? What would you differently today?

That‘s a good question. 3 lessons:

No. 1: A founder should be the one who looks ahead the farthest. A little bit of context: someone who has a CEO position will be occupied by daily tasks for today and tomorrow. But the captain of the ship is always looking ahead despite how busy you are in the daily business. When you are too busy you sometimes forget. This is the founder role: to look ahead & farthest distance of the future.

No 2: You have to be persistent. And have to be flexible at the same time. It is not only being persistent: It is persistence and flexibility. It is rather both to manage at the same time.

Last one: When you are running a business there is a moment where you find a window that you can accelerate the business, taking more risks, bold decision but if you miss that window then your business will only grow linear. If you find that window for 10x or 20x and changing the gear, then it is your timing when you have to change the gear. Otherwise you won‘t have the opportunity again.

In addition, hire more top talents from the very beginning. Surround yourself with different type of people: like-minded but different skill set & strengths. Even if it costs a lot.

What have been your 3 lessons learned as investor? What would you do differently today?

I am still learning so I don‘t know 🙂

No 1: What I can say is: we never forget that we are joining the founders journey and it is not as building & running the business. We thankfully and appreciate to join someone’s vision as a duty we try to contribute whatever we can. Because they invited us in their journey.

No 2: Investment is about the timing. It often comes in a form of serendipity but keep seeking for serendipity. As it comes with the right timing.

No 3: Be open – maybe sometimes it is better to unlearn our knowledge or experience because any new company or next big platforms would come from different angle & format and different type of founders. We never try to follow our past success. New success will come with a different formula.

If you would give an entrepreneur one advice – what would it be?

Advise is interesting. It should be different for each person and situation. But if we have to generalise it: go for your own decision. You can & should listen to others but you make your own decisions so that you never regret

THANK YOU.


From Entrepreneurs For Entrepreneurs is a weekly interview session with some of the most influential entrepreneurs, creators and investors. Goal is to share our lessons learned and help to shape the next generation of entrepreneurs.

 

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