Crowdfunding for promoting local manufacturing

A new way to promote local manufacturing

Event to promote crowdfunding was held in Katsushika, Tokyo, organized by “Katsushika Kaigi” on October 9th, 2017. Crowdfunding is becoming a popular way to bring new and creative products to the market in Japan. It’s also recognized as a new way to promote local manufacturing and cultural & economic activities.

A success story: East Tokyo Made

The event was centered on a success story from two founders of East Tokyo Made, a new company established to bring new products to improve the lifestyle of young family generation, working with local factories in the east side of Tokyo Metropolitan Area, mainly Katsushika and Adachi.

Last month, they had completed their campaign on a new backpack through Makuake, a leading Japanese crowdfunding platform, and successfully received a number of pledges totaling almost 22 million yen (US$200,000) from 1,675 backers. This is the current record for Makuake in the category.

Founders of East Tokyo Made.
Photo: Founders of East Tokyo Made. Takayuki Takagi at right and Hirofumi Omura at left.

They made the story around the local manufacturing. The backpack was designed and produced by local factories in east Tokyo using their unique skills and technologies. The feature of the products, as well as the concept of locally made, was supported by young families. The word spread around the community through the supporters.

Crowdfunding to promote the local manufacturing

Crowdfunding is still a new concept for most of the Japanese. Although the market size of Reward-based crowdfunding has grown to 6 billion yen in 2016, it is quite small, I would say tiny, considering the size of Japanese consumer market.

However, there are growing interests among the creators and entrepreneurs to utilize crowdfunding to promote new ideas and products for business. As in any country, it is hard to get funding through banks for individuals and SMEs. Unlike the US, angel investment is not so popular here in Japan. So creators and entrepreneurs who have an innovative idea but lacking money see crowdfunding as a new alternative to start their venture.

And the local communities are also looking at crowdfunding as a source to promote local manufacturing and cultural & economic activities. Various types of the campaign held around the world have stimulated their imagination. They are realizing now that crowdfunding can be another effective alternative to start a project instead of just relying on banks or local government for funding. Groups of people such as Katsushika Kaigi believes that they have the power to do so.

Participants of the event
Photo: Participants of the event asking questions about crowdfunding.

Untapped opportunities

Living in Tokyo is a huge advantage. People in Katsushika and Adachi are seeing a great opportunity. They have abundant contents and numerous factories in an area with a population of more than 1 million people combined. They are a part of Tokyo Metro Politan Area with 9.1 million people living in 618 square km. Almost 15,000 people living in every 1 square km. The market is huge and condensed.

It is not just about manufacturing. Tokyo has a lot of artists and creators. such as a famous manga writer, Shinji Hiramatsu, a resident of Shibamata, Katsushika. He participated the event as a panelist and he told the audience that he is willing to work with his local community to promote creative products and young entrepreneurs.

These movements are still a small and early in its stage. But it shows many untapped opportunities are there. Why don’t you look into it?

Shinji Hiramatsu
Photo: Shinji Hiramatsu, a famous manga writer

You may also be interested in this article: Crowdfunding: New opportunities for Business in Japan

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