William Saito – Thoughts of Starting a Start-Up during Financial Turmoil

During the annual St. Gallen Symposium, William Saito was interviewed regarding his thoughts about starting a Start-up company during financial turmoil. St. Gallen Symposium is organized by the International Students’ Committee (IST). The conference was formed in 1970 held annually at the University of St. Gallen in St. Gallen, Switzerland. Their goal is nurturing pertinent discussions between today’s entrepreneurs, students, and businessmen and of tomorrow on politics, civil society, and management subject matter.


The interview was videotaped and was posted on St. Gallen Symposium’s Youtube channel on May 6, 2010. William Saito was introduced as an Advisor for Start-ups, Innovation Center for Start-ups (INCS), National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) based in Tokyo, Japan.


When asked about his views on the last economic turmoil and how it has affected people starting a start-up company, Mr. Saito remains optimistic. He said the turmoil has not affected the start-up struggles that are unique to Japan. In Japanese culture, becoming an entrepreneur is not widely applauded as to having a “secure” job or career. From an optimistic perspective, Mr. Saito said that the famous start-up companies attending the Symposium were all formed during these times of financial turmoil. From an opportunity perspective, during financial turmoil is also a good time to create a sustainable company.



The interviewer asked William Saito what his thoughts are regarding this counter-cyclical time of Start-up companies in term of their success rate. According to Mr. Saito, although the barrier is a lot lower to getting funding, the bubble era is when the Start-ups are often created. The reason being is when start-up form during these times, they are more likely to be diligent and focused on their budget. This budget focused discipline is a prelude to when companies usually experience financial success and growth.


William Saito was asked what his perspective on the effects of entrepreneurship between the Asian and Western world. The biggest difference from his observation is how each culture perceives Risk factors of being an entrepreneur. Asian culture as a whole does not accept failures while the Western culture views failures as a stepping stone for an eminent success.


Lastly, William Saito was asked how he likes the Symposium. Mr. Saito continued his optimistic perspective and said he was really impressed by the fair ratio of entrepreneurs, students, and businessmen providing a different perspective and the freedom for dialogue on various ideas and the symposium was run well.



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