Slush Tokyo 2019 was held at Tokyo Big Sight on February 22 and 23, 2019. Game Changer Catapult (GCCatapult) also participated this year at this massive startup and technology event that originated in Finland. In addition to exhibiting new business concepts originating from an internal contest at Panasonic, as well as concepts that were created through collaboration with outside parties, GCCatapult members also delivered presentations in English, the official language of the event, and took part in on-stage discussions. With about 8,000 people from 80 countries attending over two days, the venue was bustling with visitors, and the GCCatapult booth also drew a lot of interest.
Pitch stage with a forest motif
The popular GCCatapult booth
Great satisfaction with the response and results at each of the new business concept booths
GCCatapult aims to help solve the problem of society and daily life with new business concepts that combine new technology and services. Along with the six business ideas selected through an internal Panasonic contest last December, GCCatapult exhibited a total of nine business concepts including two arising from collaboration with Keio University students and one from co-working with Avex Inc.
It was a valuable opportunity for visitors to experience the product prototypes first hand, and all the concept booths drew lines of people. The benefits of talking to the public were many, including the positive reactions and the suggestion of issues that had not been considered before.
DECARTE: Oral Health Self-Check System
Yoshio Ohtsuka talking to a visitor at the DECARTE booth
DECARTE is a business concept that supports healthy oral habits. It allows users to perform self-checkups by enabling easy image capture inside the mouth. The service features an AI image recognition engine and a special smartphone app.
"I think we received very favorable reaction and response. Some people indicated that they know their teeth are not in good shape, and would like to have the service as soon as it is commercialized. Also, by asking for a lot of opinions, I realized that seniors are often not very familiar with smartphones or tablets, and the help of family members and caregivers will be indispensable. I was also grateful for someone's suggestion that DECARTE could be used to check not only teeth and gums, but also the back of the throat and possibly help detect cancer." (Yoshio Ohtsuka, DECARTE Team Leader, Imaging Network Business Division)
DishCanvas: Smart Dish for Superior Expression in Culinary Art
A keen discussion held at the DishCanvas booth
DishCanvas offers possibilities for greater creativity and expression to enhance any dish carefully prepared by a chef. Centrally situated among the GCCatapult booths, DishCanvas had a simple and easy-to-understand prototype, and drew the attention of many individuals. Visitors from outside Japan, seemed particularly interested and asked many questions.
"At first glance, many people mistakenly thought that the moving images were being projected from above. When they found out that the plate itself is a video display, they were amazed by the concept of a plate as a digital canvas. It was a very valuable opportunity to discover the difference in preferences between Japanese and those from other countries." (Yuka Kudo, DishCanvas Team Leader, Imaging Network Business Division)
Hitokoe: Item checker at the door
The Hitokoe team at their booth
Using RFID tag technology, Hitokoe offers a service to let you know when you have forgotten something, before you step out the door in the morning. The entranceway demonstration set up at the Hitokoe booth was popular with visitors. It seems that many people have experienced the frustration of forgetting something important as they rushed out the door.
"A diverse range of people showed interest in Hitokoe and we received many compliments and words of advice. One memorable comment came from someone who was looking for some stimulating technology to generate conversation among family members. The person suggested that more features could be added in order to make the device function as a tool to enhance communication."
(Hiroyoshi Hatae, Hitokoe Team, Communication Products Business Division)
KajiTrainer: Turn housekeeping into health keeping
Memorable KajiTrainer booth featuring a mannequin wearing a KajiTrainer belt
KajiTrainer takes the physical demands of daily housekeeping and uses them to create a healthy fitness routine. It is a business concept that aims to change the way we do housework.
"Although appliance manufacturers have always sought to reduce the burden of housekeeping, I think the resulting decline in physical activity has paradoxically increased the number of people needing care in their old age. Our business idea is to turn the unavoidable chore of housework into an enjoyable activity, while also generating health benefits. It was a pleasure to be able to share this vision with supportive booth visitors."
(Marina Kaji, KajiTrainer Team Leader, Consumer Marketing Division (Japan))
"Many visitors enjoyed the synergistic effects of the music playing at our booth, and reacted positively by saying that we have made housework look fun. At the same time, I felt that we need to put greater emphasis on the importance of music in our business concept." (Sayaka Matsuo, KajiTrainer Team, Refrigerator Business Division)
michor: Self hairstyling solution
Team Leader Nakashima at the michor booth outfitted like a hair salon
Featuring a mirror display monitor and a camera, michor lets you arrange your hair while viewing both the front and back.
"Many visitors looked at our prototype, and said they had never thought it possible! By helping to solve a daily challenge that many people face, I think we received a lot of support for our business concept. However, there were also numerous concerns about the space needed to install the camera, and whether people could actually achieve their own ideal hairstyles. There was also unexpected interest from men, who saw it as a useful way to cut their own hair. I think it was a satisfying experience, both in terms of the reaction and issues identified." (Yukiko Nakashima, michor Team Leader, Communication Products Business Division)
Howling Box: Interactive communication service through music
Booth staff explaining Howling Box in a bar-like setting
Howling Box is a music enjoyment service that encourages face-to-face communication between people based on a shared love of music. Many relatively young visitors showed an interest in the booth, and were grouping near the entrance. The exhibit was set up like a bar. This mimicked the actual usage situation, offering a more realistic experience. The team enthusiastically shared their vision with each visitor.
Aromation 2.0: A service that provides new experiences using fragrance and music
The cradle-like demonstration chair created presence for the Aromation booth
The Aromation business concept, which attracted much attention after being exhibited at SXSW and NEXT100 last year, has been reborn as Aromation 2.0 through collaboration with Avex Inc. There was a never-ending line of visitors who wanted to enjoy a demonstration of fragrance and music based on the individual's vital sign data, and many people were able to experience it.
Palbum / Letwork: Collaborations with Keio University
Between September 2018 and February 2019, students from Keio University Shonan Fujisawa Campus (SFC) collaborated with the GCCatapult members to create the future home tech. The students are under the guidance of Masahiro Kotosaka, Associate Professor in the Faculty of Policy Management. The resulting Palbum and Letwork business concepts were selected to be exhibited at Slush Tokyo 2019, and the students responsible presented their concepts to the visitors.
Palbum is a service that expresses a person's mood and physical state in the form of scents and a colored flower hologram. These expressions can then be saved like an album. The Palbum team set up a mockup device and promoted their concept. Many who stopped by the booth and tried it out were filled with amazement.
This photo shows the Palbum team members from Keio University, and the mockup device is visible on the right.
The Letwork business concept aims to create new value and opportunities by matching up business professionals for networking during the lunch hour. While enjoying a lot of positive feedback and reactions, the team engaged in active discussions with visitors on how to best turn the concept into a business.
Letwork team from Keio University
Passion on the Stage: Day 1
One of the features of Slush Tokyo is that participants can actively pitch their ideas. Three stages were set up in the venue, allowing a continual succession of entrepreneurs to talk about their concepts and visions. The GCCatapult members also took to the stage and delivered presentations to audiences from all over the world. Each presenter explained their basic business concept and product-related thoughts, and put a lot of heart into their pitches. Despite the large audiences, they made their speeches with confidence, and received a lot of positive reaction and feedbacks.
On the first day of the event, Panasonic: Game Changer Catapult Entrepreneur Open Pitch & Talk Session was held by at the Dialogue Stage.
Yukiko Nakashima, michor Team Leader, on the Dialogue Stage
Hitokoe Team Leader Hatae talking about his vision of a world without leaving anything at home
michor Team Leader Yukiko Nakashima took to the stage first, followed by Hiroyoshi Hatae, Team Leader for the Hitokoe Ready-to-go assistant. Both of them presented in English, and attracted a lot of interest for their concepts closely tied to daily life.
Yoshio Ohtsuka, DECARTE Team Leader, talking about oral health
The presentations continued with Mizoguchi of Howling Box and Kudo of DishCanvas. Then came Ohtsuka who did a pitch in English for his Oral Self-checkup System DECARTE. Oral health is a matter of growing concern, and many audience members listened intently. Some expressed the opinion that they wanted an oral health innovation that can be used on a daily basis. The final GCCatapult presentation was made by Kaji and Matsuo for KajiTrainer. The stage presentations ended with as much enthusiasm as when they started.
Panel discussion (from left): Ms. Kusano, Mr. Bartholo, Ms. Nakashima, and Mr. Mizoguchi
Lastly, a panel discussion was carried out in English featuring guests Mr. Alexandre Bartholo (CEO of Assemblage) and Ms. Emi Kusano (artist / influencer) as well as Nakashima and Mizoguchi from GCCatapult. The stimulating discussion provided the GCCatapult members with a lot of objective opinions.
Decorated with lush foliage, the Pitch Stage provided a forest-like atmosphere for a steady stream of pitches by entrepreneurs. Hitonari Mizoguchi of Howling Box, as well as Sayaka Matsuo and Marina Kaji of KajiTrainer delivered impressive presentations in English, and held their own amongst presenters from specially chosen startup companies from all over the world. All three responded calmly and clearly to incisive questions from the special guests, and the passion and confidence they have for their business concepts were clear.
Hitonari Mizoguchi talking about Howling Box on the Pitch Stage
Marina Kaji and Sayaka Matsuo delivering their presentation on KajiTrainer using a mop
Passion on the Stage: Day 2
On the second day of the event, the Panasonic: Game Changer Catapult Business Creation Open Dialogue Session was held to talk with guests about its strategic open innovation projects.
Part 1: Strategic open innovation
Ms. Yuka Tanimoto of Forbes Japan and Masa Fukata, GCCatapult Director, had a discussion about what big companies need to do to promote open innovation.
Ms. Tanimoto (right) and Mr. Fukata engaging in discussion on the Dialogue Stage
- Guest: Yuka Tanimoto (Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Forbes Japan)
- Host: Masa Fukata (Director, Game Changer Catapult, Appliances Company)
Part 2: Business concepts generated through collaboration with Avex Inc. and Keio University
Mr. Naoki Osada from Avex USA gave the presentation of creating a new business in the entertainment industry. Mr. Eric Conveyers talked about the personalized music experience service provided by the German venture company Endel, an investee by Avex Inc.
Mr. Naoki Osada (left) of Avex USA and Mr. Eric Conyers of Endel talking about an initiative with Avex USA
The second half of the Dialogue Session featured a panel discussion involving four people. It included Masaki Ohno who is showcasing a fragrance business concept called Palbum. He is part of a student group led by Mr. Masahiro Kotosaka, Associate Professor at Keio University SFC, who carried out a collaboration project with GCCatapult.
From left: Mr. Osada, Mr. Ohno, Ms. Yokota, and Mr. Conyers
- Naoki Osada (President, Avex USA / Representative, Future of Music),
- Eric Conyers (Strategic Partnerships and Business Development, Endel),
- Masaki Ohno (Student, Faculty of Environment and Information Studies, SFC Keio University)
- Host: Masami Yokota (Aromation Project, Game Changer Catapult, Appliances Company)
Part 3: Housework fitness demonstration and dialogue session
Mami Seita, the Bisoji (beautiful cleaning ) Consultant, and the Bisoji Ladies, presented the KajiTrainer Dance that aims to transform housework into a fitness routine. The group filled the venue with fun and excitement, and were full of determination as they demonstrated how KajiTrainer could become a social phenomenon.
Ms. Mami Seita (center) and the KajiTrainer team presenting the KajiTrainer Dance
- Mami Seita (the Bisoji Consultant)
- Bisoji Ladies
* Each of these discussions will be posted separately. Don't miss them!
After two days of Slush Tokyo 2019: Pride in the energetic concept pitches
Satoru Sugiyama (left) and Ryuta Hamamoto from the GCCatapult standing in front of GCCatapult's customary board for visitors to leave individual messages of support
"Although I worried if we have enough visitors to our booth, I was relieved to see a crowd of people at our booth before long. In the end, the reaction was even better than expected, and we received a lot of comments from companies that wanted to collaborate or partner with us. The response was satisfying. Although there were some points for us to improve on as the Working Office, the presenters made remarkable progress with their English proficiency, through concentrated efforts right up until the day before the event. However, I think that the pitches could have conveyed even more information if they had promoted more in-depth discussion. I would like to put more effort into that going forward." (Satoru Sugiyama, Game Changer Catapult)
"When I asked visitors for their impressions of our booth, many responded that it was very impressive compared to the others in terms of content and visitor response. Each team member was actively engaged in delivering pitches and staffing the booth, and we are very proud of that. Like South by Southwest, where we regularly exhibited until last year, there were many kinds of visitors including investors, entrepreneurs, and students, and it was a good opportunity to talk with them directly. I think we did a good job of verifying our new business concepts and accelerating investigation for collaboration in the global market." (Ryuta Hamamoto, Game Changer Catapult)
By building on the rewarding experience of Slush Tokyo 2019, we will accelerate our projects toward commercialization. We look forward to your continued support.