Official APU Startup Program Launches


Aug 2, 2018

In support of students serious about starting their own businesses, President Deguchi is personally overseeing the APU Startup Program, also known as the Deguchi School. President Deguchi is himself an entrepreneur, having cofounded Lifenet Insurance, the first independent insurance company in Japan created in 74 years. The APU Startup Program is an extracurricular initiative that aims to develop APU students to succeed both in Japan and overseas.

A screening process of student business plans resulted in a selection of 32 groups composed of 46 total members.1 On July 16, the inaugural applicants met with President Deguchi at a kickoff event.

At the event, President Deguchi gave an address to mark the occasion, noting the day’s significance: “Today is Marine Day. APU campus overlooks Beppu Bay. I chose today for the kickoff event because when I look out at the sea, I am struck with the feeling of going out into the world. There’s a book I love called Quattro Ragazzi. It tells the story of Ito Mancio, a man who grew up 400 years ago here in Oita. He met all sorts of challenges and made it all the way to Rome before coming home. On the day I first came to APU, I looked out at the sea, thinking of all those people who went out 400 years ago and faced the challenges of globalization. I want the Startup Program to send you out into the world, and that is why I chose today of all days to launch the program.”

He continued by saying “APU, apart from all other universities in Japan, is defined by its overwhelming diversity. It is clear that throughout history, when people from all kinds of different backgrounds gather together, it creates a chemical reaction that leads to innovation. I believe a part of APU’s mission is to make use of that diversity and create businesspeople and social entrepreneurs.” As for his expectations, President Deguchi remarked, “I also believe that the bigger the dream, the better. I’m not one to set small goals, so I think I’ll be bold and say that I would like to see 5 businesses or social enterprises established within the next year.”

When going into the details of the program, President Deguchi commented that “Every one of your business plans is unique. Fortunately, we have six professors2 who have enthusiastically come forward to help. Each group will have a professor who will provide advice to bring the enterprise to fruition. Not only that, this program will use the network of APU alumni to connect you with those who have started their own businesses.

He also described some of the key qualities necessary to start a business, saying, “There are a lot of important factors to keep in mind when starting a business or social enterprise, but I think the two most important things are willpower and acumen. Willpower is the importance of looking at today’s society or your studies, and finding something you truly want to do. But you cannot move forward just because you want to do something. You will need to plan. That’s what I mean by acumen. Another way of saying it is business planning. Those two things, willpower and acumen, are important. They are the basics, but you should not forget to have goals, partners, passion, and a sense of humor. Those are key to starting a business.

Though the students are facing the challenges of a fast and ever changing global economy, President Deguchi encouraged students to take the chance: “Throughout history, 99% of people challenging the status quo fail. They simply can’t succeed. But there are people who, knowing the fact that people fail 99% of the time, still want to change the world. That is precisely why the world changes. I hope you members of the Deguchi School and other APU students continue to try. The APU Startup Program is here to give you the utmost support.” After his opening remarks, President Deguchi shared his own experiences founding a business.

The next APU Startup Program is scheduled to take place October 2.

1Out of the 46 inaugural participants, there are 21 domestic students and 25 international students. The countries/regions represented are Afghanistan, India, Indonesia, Uzbekistan, South Korea, Cambodia, Syria, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Vietnam for a total of 11 countries and regions. 45 members are undergraduate students with 1 graduate student.

The selected business plans include: the food industry (restaurant management, food resource recycling), tourism (hospitality, relaxation, tours, fair trade), business solution support, elder and youth care, product development and sales (clothing, leather goods), education (online instruction of English and Japanese, summer camp), regional revitalization, e-commerce (e-receipt transactions, product development and sales).

2APU Startup Program – The Deguchi School List of Mentors

Name Research Field Message
President DEGUCHI Haruaki Constitutional Law, History Realize your dreams with your passion and acumen!
Software Systems, Computer Networks, Database Management and Applications, Human Computing Systems, Web-Services, Crowdsourcing, Social Networking Systems, Usability design, Big-Data Mining, IoT Applications Let's start small and grow bigger, slowly and joyfully!
Associate Professor
Accounting, Auditing, Social Entrepreneur, Social Finance You can pave a new way by high aim and goal. Continue to challenge!
Associate Professor
QIAN Xuepeng
Urban and Regional Management, Social System Engineering, Sustainability Science, Behavior Science, Transition Management Challenge social problems with systems approach.
Associate Professor
SUDO Tomonori
Environmental Policy, Environmental and Resource Economics, Development Economics, Development Policy I will support you using my experiences in starting business and operating projects!
Associate Professor
Innovation Management, Strategies of Global Standardization & Intellectual Property, Strategies of IoT Platform and Business Model, Strategic ”Monozukuri" Management Be a Risk-Taker at a right time
Assistant Professor
Business Ethics, Business and Society To be smart!

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