Sony's "Seed Acceleration Program (SAP) " is tackling new challenges in the name of "open innovation." "The things we desire can only come about subjectively. I want to create what I love," says one entrepreneur whose dreams are at the origin of everything he does. We talk to successful in-house entrepreneur Teppei Tsushima and to Shinji Odashima who oversees the SAP project.
The start of one entrepreneur's dream:
neither age nor career are required.
"As a first step for creating an idea from scratch, you need to have many different people come together and exchange opinions; ideas are born out of such meetings of the minds. And when you want to put that idea to practical use, many different people will once again have to be involved. But you need one entrepreneur to bring all these people together. It all starts with one entrepreneur's dream."
These are the words of Sony's Mr. Odashima. The"Seed Acceleration Program" which he oversees, is a platform whereby employees who have a "desire to create a business and to give a shape to their ideas" are selected through an audition process and given full support throughout all business creation stages up to product commercialization. Thanks to SAP, one employee has fulfilled his dream of corporate entrepreneurship within just one year of joining the company.
"The moment the product proposed by this first-year employee was given the green light and production was approved, not only was I impressed, but the entire venue was moved to tears; it was one of those moments. And once this person we had selected put his product on our crowdfunding website, he raised about 100 million yen in funds. I got to witness his contribution to the world, and this never fails to impress and inspire me, even now."
"The things we desire can only come about subjectively. I want to create what I love"
Sony's Teppei Tsushima, whose dream of becoming an entrepreneur came true thanks to SAP on his first year at Sony, when he successfully produced his “wena wrist” (a smart watch whose head and band are completely independent of each other), shares his thoughts on the creative process.
"I believe that special products, the ones that, when shown to customers for the first time, make them go, "Wow! This is exactly what I wanted," can only come about subjectively. The wena wrist was born when I thought to myself, "I wish something like this existed," and set about making it. I began working on it on my first year at Sony; everyone in this company loves new things and when I told them what I wanted to make, nobody gave me strange looks but they all intently listened to me. That made me very happy."
"We also faced some difficulties, of course. For example, we realized that the band of the watch could not be made entirely out of metal, as no signal can pass through an all-metal surface and this would make communication with a smartphone impossible. The break-through for this particular problem came thanks to Sony's antenna technology: a tiny slit was made in the antenna, making it possible for the signal to pass. When the circuit started up for the first time and the LED came on, there was a general uproar. That was when I once again realized how lucky I was to have joined Sony."
"To be perfectly honest, I wanted to start this kind of project after properly studying the mass-production process and so on. But I realized that if I didn't do it while I was young, I may lose touch with the world's sensibilities. Understanding that If I didn't do it soon, I may not have the strength or the power to do it later in life, I came to the conclusion that it had to be done now. And that's why I set about it immediately upon joining the company."
Everyone stands on the pitcher's mound.
Shinji Odashima tells us how he achieved his vision of a world where everyone is involved in business-creation and innovation thanks to the" Seed Acceleration Program (SAP) ".
"I truly admire people who relentlessly and wholeheartedly work towards their objectives and goals with singular focus. I admire people who, instead of carrying the whole burden upon themselves, are able to delegate to others and to transmit their passion to others: this is what I call open innovation. I want to create an environment where, in one project, a first-year employee takes charge while, in another, a senior employee takes the lead, and where everyone gets to stand on the pitcher's mound."
Sony and SAP have created a system where you don't need to have experience in order to start a business.
"When I joined Sony, I immediately realized that this was a company made up of people who wanted to create innovation on a global scale. It doesn't stop those who are enthusiastic about something, it doesn't hammer in the nail that sticks out, it encourages young shoots to grow: this is what Sony is about."