Graduate Blog / Graduate Life

Babson Faculty and Students Attend Japan Innovation Night at CIC

Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC)  hosted the first ever Japan Innovation Night at its Venture Cafe. Read about two Babson perspectives, Associate Admissions Director Johanna Beers and current two year MBA student, Naohiro Shimaguchi:

Johanna Beers: I attended the first ever Japan Innovation Night at the Venture Cafe in the Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) for two reasons: a personal interest in budding entrepreneurship in Japan and I was invited by a Japanese Babson alum who flew into Boston partly to attend this event. Once I arrived, I realized how much bigger and more extensive this event was than I imagined. According to a follow-up email from Venture Cafe, over 650 people attended this event gathering together “Japanese entrepreneurs, community leaders, and changemakers in the Greater Boston Area”. They had panel discussions focused on entrepreneurs who are millennials, women interested in social innovation, and insights from leading entrepreneurs.

As a Babson Admission Director with a personal interest in Japanese culture and entrepreneurship, it was exciting to hear different people’s visions for growth and changes within and from Japanese society. Additionally, Babson plays an influential role within this sphere, from offering classes for the Japanese women involved in an incubator for social innovation to offering ideas for business development (see Naohiro’s post below for his experience) and as a moderator for a panel discussion between successful global entrepreneurs. There was a palpable energy throughout the space that gives hope for greater entrepreneurial growth in Japan and collaboration with innovators in Boston and beyond. For me, it was exciting to support Babson students, alumni, and faculty involved in this dynamic event.

Naohiro Shimaguchi: In November, I was a speaker at a special event – Japan Innovation Night at CIC. CIC is one of the most popular and valuable co-working spaces in Boston and the event was held by MBA students and sponsors with the purpose of sharing about Japanese business culture and innovative new projects. The agenda included a variety of topics such as current Japanese business environment discussion, leading companies’ insights, and women entrepreneurs presenting their business pitches.  

Prior to joining Babson’s Two-Year MBA program, I spent six years working for an innovative start-up in the food industry called Nousouken Corporation. As a speaker at this event, I shared some of the challenges we faced when turning our Japanese venture into a successful IPO and provided some tips on how to start a business in Japan. The business model for our company disrupted the traditional agricultural distribution model by allowing farmers to supply fresh products to the supermarket stores in urban areas on a consignment basis. At the time we launched the business, every stakeholder was very skeptical and questioned if the business would be effective or not. So, I invested time communicating with them very often to demonstrate the merits of this new model, holding promotional events at potential customers’ supermarket stores, and analyzing data to show the stakeholders our impact. That night at CIC, I was surprised by the number of attendees and the extent of their interest in Japanese culture and its business models. The attendance was high despite this being the first time that such an event was held. We could definitely feel the energy and the potential of the Japanese market, specifically for start-ups, investors, and social entrepreneurs.

Personally, the experience improved my presentation skills and I gained a deeper understanding of Bostonians’ interest in Japanese culture. I highly recommend CIC to Babson students to connect, expand their network, and to further explore business ideas in such a great co-working space.

Johanna Beers is an Associate Director of Graduate Admissions at Babson College. Throughout her academic and professional career, Johanna has lived, studied, and worked in Japan, Taiwan, China, and Ireland.



Naohiro Shimaguchi is in his second year of the MBA program at Babson College. Originally from Osaka, Naohiro worked in General Management at Nousouken before attending Babson.