William H. Saito: A Role Model to young Entrepreneurial Start-ups

Mr. William Saito is a celebrated advisor for advanced industrial science and technology in Tokyo Japan. He was born on March 23, 1971, in Los Angeles, California, United States. He is a Japanese American whose parents moved to the US two years before he was born. Saito attended Damien High School before joining the University of California, Riverside in 1988.


At a tender age of 14, he launched his first computer software business that landed him contracts with some powerful companies like Sony, Toshiba, and NEC among others. A fingerprint recognition system used by Sony is one of his early software developments. In the year 2000, Microsoft began a partnership with his I/O software and he later sold the business to them in 2004.


Being entrepreneurial savvy, he relocated back to his parents’ motherland in a quest to embark on bringing the Japanese entrepreneurial spirit to life. His enthusiasm led to the creation of a technology consultancy firm a year after he had moved back to Japan. Saito moved on in investing in several start-ups in his country as a give back to those who had helped him.


In March 2011, Mr. Saito was appointed to give IT and technical support to the National Diet Committee that was investigating the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Two years later he was appointed as a special advisor to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on matters pertaining cybersecurity. His advisory responsibilities did not end there, in the period between 2013 and 2017, he was a cyber-security advisor to the Cabinet Office and to the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry.


As a venture capitalist and a businessman, Saito has pointed out some of the things that he thinks affects Japanese start-ups. One major setback is the financial turmoil that Mr. Saito feels has had a huge impact on start-ups. He says that the negative mindset and people being risk averse has led to stagnation. The attitude of people being afraid of failure prevents sprouting of new entrepreneurial ventures. He also feels that companies have become too conservative and inward-looking. Communication barrier or limited communication is on the rise. Risks are no longer being considered a catalyst to stir up real competition in industries. Mr. Saito observes that for many years there has not been any change in leadership in Japan, which is very worrying.


The banking industries have also played a significant role in pulling down start-ups. Mr. Saito says that the bankers are doing very little and at the same time act very cowardly by being conservative. If only they could figure out on how to collateralize any form of bad debts and encourage people to get into entrepreneurial activities, then there could be a friendly environment for start-ups.


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