There are not as many stories around that can inspire entrepreneurs globally as a story of Son brothers from Japan, who after proving their mettle in tech and startup industry, are betting big in Indian market.
Coming from a humble back ground as their family migrated from South Korea to Japan and started from zero. Both of them have seen poverty in early age and now wants to eradicate it through tech innovation.
Both Masayoshi Son and Taizo Son, are united and determined in their belief in technology as next changing agent in the world.
While Elder brother Masayoshi, CEO of Japanese Internet conglomerate Soft-Bank, has been pumping in millions of dollars into large startups in India, younger brother Taizu is bullish on food-tech and marketing and delivery platforms in the country.
According to Masa, after investing in many firms around the world, India is where next big thing will take place.
“Fifteen years ago we made a lot of investments in China. Five years before that I made a lot of investments in Japan. Ten years before that I made a lot of investments in United States. All of them were regarding information and technology, regarding Internet related companies. So now I said it is a time machine, very secretly the same kind of technology continued to evolve. Geography-wise I think now India has the best opportunity in front of us. That’s the reason why I came here,” Masayoshi had reasoned at the last HT Leadership Summit last year.
SoftBank has invested heavily in India’s Paytm, e-tailer Flipkart and Snapdeal and hotel aggregator Oyo.
“I would like to contribute to the success of India going forward. I try to invest $10 billion into India in next 10 years,” added Masa, who last year announced $100 billion SoftBank Vision Fund.
Masa’s SoftBank journey to the top has been full of ups and downs. The firm grew to be worth $180 billion at the dotcom boom. He also went through tough times during dotcom crash, when he lost $70 billion personally, reportedly the largest sum ever lost by an individual. SoftBank’s stock price was down 98 percent from its peak in 2004.
But he didn’t give up and made strong come back and helped SoftBank becoming the third-largest mobile internet provider in Japan. He emerged as Japan’s second-richest man after Takemitsu Takizaki with a net worth of $14 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
SoftBank now owns stakes in more than a thousand Internet operations, including Yahoo Japan and Alibaba Group, China’s top e-commerce company.
Younger brother Taizo Son, who on Thursday launched Gastrotope, an accelerator that will invest in agricultural technology startups in India.
“The accelerator aims to invest in startups that can add value to various parts of the value chain, starting with farmers and moving to food transportation, processing, and delivery,” said the Japanese billionaire, who also has invested in InnerChef and Ninjakart.
Gastrotope is a joint venture between Son’s early-stage investment firm Mistletoe Inc and local startup incubator GSF India.
Taizo also feels that his elder brother approach is different than him. “In my perspective, Masa is playing an important role in helping startups grow faster and making it big. My focus is more on going after new technologies that are not very well known, said younger son,” he said.
Talking about Indian startup ecosystem, he thinks entrepreneurs in India are comparatively very good and at world par.
Taizo, became a billionaire as chairman of GungHo, the maker of the world’s best-selling smartphone game Puzzle and Dragons. Masayoshi was one of the first investors in his brother’s firm.
“I have always believed that innovation comes from the connecting of diverse dots, and this time, with the bridge between India and Japan, new and unique solutions to the fundamental questions of food and agriculture will arise,” said the younger Son.
He plans to inject $100 million in Southeast Asia within five years. Among his existing investments in the region is games and e-commerce operator Garena, the most valuable startup in Southeast Asia.
No one knows what future holds in its kitty, in Masa words, half is your effort another half you don’t know. Looking at Son brothers heavy push in the Indian context, one thing for sure new technology is going to happen and this might change the country for better. And when that will happen, we will be in better position to judge why Son brothers are doing what they are doing.