Mentoring at The Innovation Dojo (Part 1)

Robert Millar in a suitI’m now a startup mentor at the University Of New South Wales’ Innovation Dojo, a program in Sydney that prepares Australians to start up a business in Japan.

One of the founders of the program, Joshua Flannery, saw my recent Starting Your Own Business in Japan interview on the popular 2.5 Oyaji’s YouTube show here, and then followed up with me about potential collaboration.

I was thrilled to hear that my business skills and experience might be able to increase the success and reduce the risk for young Australians coming to Japan to launch a startup, just as I did decades ago.

Innovation Dojo is the nickname for the Japan Australia Entrepreneurship Initiative and, as shown on their website, is a new initiative that aims to connect Australian entrepreneurs with opportunities, potential partners and collaborators, investors and customers in Japan (and vice-versa.) They run events, seminars and training camps, provide a community platform and language support, and incubate startups that solve real world problems, while using lean startup methodology which I’ve been a big fan of for many years.

The result is something that I believe is very special, and I’m honored to be a part of the Innovation Dojo family. You can see my smiling mug in amongst the program’s 6 international mentors on the JAEI web page.

My role will be quite varied.

I’ll participate remotely in information nights at the university where I’ll introduce myself and explain why I’m part of the program.

During the actual program, I’ll dial in via Skype or similar to give short talks and conduct Q&A sessions on important topics for foreign entrepreneurs that are within my area of expertise.

There’ll be some sessions where the mentors who are physically in Sydney will roam around the lecture hall giving thoughts, opinions and insights and asking questions of the teams as those teams focus on the most urgent needs at the time. Teams will then be able to Skype call or live chat with me for advice on particular questions.

The plan is to fly the winning team from each program to Japan to meet potential partners, customers and possibly investors. As their “man on the ground” I’ll of course be able to create a significant advantage for any young startup who wishes to to avail my services here in Tokyo, from providing them a desk at my co-working space to assisting them to incorporate their businesses.

I also intend to fly to Sydney once a year to participate in events and give guest talks.

Again, I’m stoked to be an even stronger member of the startup community, and to extend my reach all the way back to my home country. After all, my main mission here in Tokyo is to help entrepreneurs to get started in Japan and then help them grow and develop, and so far I’ve been quite successful in doing that.