About a year and a half after the launch of this website and the xTECH website, we have been covering and disseminating examples of various startups, demonstration tests, and open innovation. While still on the way, the results of activities are gradually beginning to appear.
Now, let us ask the founder, Mr. Ishimori Mitsubishi, once again, about the impetus for the launch of this media. Mr. Ishimori, who was transferred to a different department this April, told us how he would look back on the past year and a half and what he expected from the members left behind.
・Clear purpose. xTECH website launched to raise awareness of Mitsubishi Estate’s support for startups and increase the number of “fans” in the city
・Timing is also important. Now that the future of existing businesses is not visible, there is an opportunity to focus on startup support
・“We have learned a lot from operating media” in a year and a half
General Manager, Housing Business Planning Department, Mitsubishi Estate Co., Ltd.
He joined Mitsubishi Estate Co., Ltd. in 2006. After being in charge of office building-related corporate solutions sales, he was involved in various operations related to building leasing management at the Building Sales Department (quantitative compilation, legal affairs, loan screening, sales strategy planning, public relations and investor relations, general affairs, etc.). In 2014, he was transferred to the Tokyo Business Development Support Office of the Urban Brand Promotion Department, the predecessor of xTECH Management Department, and worked at Marunouchi as a base to attract and support domestic and overseas startup companies. He was transferred to Housing Operations Planning Department in April 2021.
Clear purpose: xTECH website launched to raise awareness of Mitsubishi Estate’s support for startups and increase the number of “fans” in the city
In 2007, Mitsubishi Estate launched EGG JAPAN, a collaborative platform for startups and other domestic and overseas growing companies. From 2015 to 2016, xTECH Sales Department (currently xTECH Management Department) was established to accelerate the trend toward attracting further domestic and overseas growing companies in Marunouchi, including the opening of facilities in Global Business Hub Tokyo, FINOLAB. Ishimori says the challenges that xTECH Sales Department had at the time of its launch were the trigger for the launch of owned media.
Ishimori: “Mitsubishi Estate was even earlier than the opening of EGG JAPAN, and in 2000 we formed the Marunouchi Frontier, a venture-support organization. We focused on support activities to attract startups. Nevertheless, even in 2018, when this department was established, we felt that startup support activities were a “Knowledge of People to Know” initiative and were not very well known. When the department was established, it had already operated three facilities, but since each facility operated its own website, the dissemination of information was uneven. I was wondering if I was not able to deliver information well to people who wanted to know or convey it.
First, we envisioned creating a website to unify and disseminate information. However, simple aggregation of information is not sufficient. ‘We want big companies that want to work with more startups and startups to come to Marunouchi. Therefore, we have come to wonder if there is a way to send out information that people think will be more effective and beneficial.’”
Behind the company’s desire to create a website with a media function that also serves as a marketing role, Mr. Ishimori says, there were customer opinions that he picked up during his involvement in sales to attract startups.
Ishimori: “We were proud that our operating facilities were satisfactory for both domestic and overseas startup companies. While we actually received many compliments from tenant companies, we also received quite a few comments such as ‘I did not know Mitsubishi Jidosho operates a startup facility’ and ‘I would have entered this facility from the beginning if I knew it.’ How can we better communicate the attractiveness of the facility? Further, is there an initiative that tenant companies would like to introduce to other people? We were looking for ways to do so?
The idea was ‘owned media.’ For some time, we knew that various companies were developing owned media, but never thought of the purpose of their operations. However, as I looked into the matter, I saw and heard that many startups were actively using the old media for their recruitment activities and that it was effective in terms of referral. In the sense of gathering colleagues who wanted to be active in Marunouchi with us, I think there are many things in common. Is this not the best way to realize what I wanted to do?”
However, Mr. Ishimori, who worked on the creation of owned media, has no know-how, because of his first experience. That is why you rely on the media editor’s chief.
Ishimori: “I have known Ms. Azaue since she was a student, and I knew she had experience operating Ound Media. First of all, I went to listen to the story because I wanted to know about the Ound media.
If you talk about what I want to make happen, say, ‘Then the method of owned media makes sense’. Then, we began full-fledged media creation.”
Timing is also important. Now that the future of existing businesses is not visible, there is an opportunity to focus on startup support
Mr. Ishimori, who has embarked on the launch of owned media, naturally costs money and effort. Until now, Mitsubishi Estate had web media targeting ordinary consumers, such as sales promotions for commercial stores, events in the district, and information on housing, but there was no web media targeting B2B field and a limited target base of startups and new businesses at large enterprises. How did you reach an internal agreement on owned media?
Ishimori:”The biggest factor is the internal atmosphere that favorably accepts the new challenge, and the presence of department heads and executives who have supported usIto (General Manager of xTECH Management Department [*at the time of the interview]) had a sense of challenge in providing a variety of information as soon as he arrived at the department. Against this backdrop, we have established a broad framework for creating a website that enables us to distribute information in a unified manner. I was grateful that you entrusted me with the specific site content within the framework. In addition, when the department was established, the director in charge undertook a major renewal of the Otemachi Building, which was over 60 years old, and was vigorously promoting measures to gather innovation-related facilities, including ’FINOLAB’’Inspiredlab.’This department itself encouraged the accumulation of startups in the Marunouchi area, and acknowledged our challenge in part because it was created to support the challenge.”
In addition to the support of department managers and executives, timing was also a major factor, Mr. Ishimori continued.
Ishimori:”However, not everyone in the company was positive. In the mid-2000s, when I was looking for a job, I wanted to see Mitsubishi Jisho inviting and supporting ventures in Marunouchi. While I was a real estate developer, I sympathized with the fact that “the future of town development is not just hardware, but software. However, when I joined the company, it was not necessarily favorable, and it was also true that there was a time when I felt a strong sense of pride. In particular, during the period of severe business conditions following the Lehman crisis, there was a debate about the significance of venture support activities, which were inferior to office leasing, but the managers involved in venture support activities tenaciously explained the significance of these activities. ‘Our activities have survived because we appealed to the real estate industry for their survival. It is a huge advantage that we are now able to support startups as a long-established company in the real estate industry.’”
It was a big challenge for Mitsubishi Jisho to embark on support for startups. The company was able to do this because it realized the limitations of its traditional business model and was in a huge crisis, he said.
Ishimori: “The building leasing business in Marunouchi is our mainstay business, but with social issues emerging in Japan, such as a declining population and an aging society with a declining birthrate, the management and each employee, including myself, seem to have noticed that a bright future cannot be envisioned simply by continuing with the conventional business model. This is why we need to take the following steps, such as increasing the value of our facilities and areas from a long-term perspective from now that we still have leeway.
In the building leasing business, major corporations are major customers, and it is of course important that we continue to expand our business with major corporations as the main targets in the future. However, from a medium-to long-term perspective, it is also essential to face the needs of startups, which are expected to grow rapidly in the future, with a customer-in stance and provide services. We must provide the Marunouchi with a place that is needed by such fast-growing startups and can be chosen aggressively.”
“We have learned a lot from operating media” in a year and a half
It is an owned media that we started looking for, but in the past year and a half, there has been a change and we have gained something.
Ishimori says that the greatest change that occurred is in-house evaluation. In the first place, not only the efforts of the department but also those from other departments with few points of contact have not communicated “What do we do as a whole?” However, when I continued media management, I began interviewing the department and gradually shared my understanding of the efforts; I began to see the article. Thanks to this, it has become easier to obtain the cooperation of various types of coverage than it was when the media was launched. We would also like to extend our antennas to the trends of other departments in search of coverage so that in some cases we became more familiar with what new developments the Mitsubishi Estate Group was making, which led to business support.
In addition, articles interviewed by tenant companies have a value that cannot be expressed by PV or UU alone. For example, when we match tenant companies with each other as part of our business support, we can easily understand the outline of their services by reading our coverage articles. I am honestly glad that more and more tenant companies are able to use the articles for their own business activities. “In fact, I also accompanied the interview and listened sideways to deepen my understanding; as a result, it has become easier to introduce myself to other companies than before.”
There has been a change, not just in the surrounding reaction. They continue to learn a lot from running owned media.
Ishimori: “We also learned a lot by running our own web media. For example, why is it important for UX, UI to increase the site visitation rate? I knew about the importance and difficulty of using SNS to attract customers and increase conversion rates, and the importance of analyzing data in considering and executing these measures with speed. However, as we got involved in the operation of the site, I was able to experience firsthand how convenient the services of the startup companies that provide services related to website management are.
The website has been renovated several times in the year and a half after its launch. There are many aspects of how to proceed with this kind of light footwork that are based on how to proceed with startups. Using chat tools, task management tools, and other tools commonly used by startups to work as startups was a great opportunity to understand the culture of such working styles with a skin sense.”
Left: right at launch: current
Mr. Ishimori has experienced significant results over the past year and a half, but he says there are some issues that remain unresolved.
Ishimori: “As I told you earlier, we originally started to want people outside the company to know about our startup support activities through startups and demonstration experiments that are more active in Marunouchi, and examples of open innovation. However, it is a challenge that the awareness of the site to people outside the company has not increased sufficiently yet. In addition to creating high-quality content, there is still room for innovation, such as SEO measures and the dissemination of information through SNS.
Nevertheless, there are some examples like Biomass Resin that have been taken up in TV programs as a result of the publication of articles. How we can expand from owned media to other media is the key to the future, and I feel great potential.
The most heartfelt thing is linkage between the Web and brick-and-mortar. In 2019, shortly after the site’s launch, we produced and distributed original articles in conjunction with CEATEC exhibitions (*), but we were unable to hold real events in 2020 due to the impact of COVID-19. I wanted to take more offline events and initiatives in conjunction with the department’s operating facilities.”
※Reference Related articles in conjunction with CEATEC 2019 exhibitions
Ishimori:”What I particularly wanted to do was a fan meeting. When I go back to ‘increasing the number of fans and expanding the word of mouth,’ I would like to meet with ‘core fans’ who had never imagined this. It is difficult in this modern age, but if we are able to hold a fan meeting in a calm and realistic place during COVID-19, I hope the members left behind will realize it.”
Finally, I got advice for those who wanted to start the owned media and their thoughts on the members left behind.
Ishimori:”To begin with, are the issues that need to be resolved clearly identified? I think it would be a good idea to search for people who are familiar with owned Media and experienced operators and listen directly to them, while keeping in mind whether owned Media is really effective as an effort to realize it.” I was investigating, but by listening to Mr. Aza, who was experienced in the operation of owned media, in a light footwork, I was able to create a more specific image.
To this end, it would be nice to increase the number of people who can easily communicate through networking and other means. Even if you do not reach the light person directly, how can you connect with someone who is cheerful in this field or who is likely to be able to consult with you? I think that is the key. I have been acquainted with Mr. Azaue since his university days, but I never thought that we would have to work together in such a way. In my mid-30s, my original acquaintances, such as my colleagues at the company and friends when I was a student, sometimes play an active role in many fields, and I feel that such relationships are important.
As an advice to those who have decided to start owned media, it is not an immediate measure to take, and it is necessary for them to explain in-house the cost and operational discretion in advance, assuming that renovations will be conducted in small increments even after the site is established, and to gain understanding.
When you enter the management phase, it is important to create timely nets and create articles with an awareness of the content that affects the target audience of the site on a daily basis. However, it is important not to neglect information updates, such as various event information and release information. I think it is important to accumulate steady efforts on a daily basis.
For the members who will be in charge of media management in the future, I hope that you will use the knowledge gained through interviews and columns to run your operations on your own. For example, referring to of the column posted by Mr. FoundX Umada, would you like to repeat the pipod for the contents site in a hypothetical thinking, while checking against the “objectives” at the time of the launch of the owned media? As an individual, I have a feeling for the current content, but I do not think this is the optimal solution. I would be happy if each member could think and manage better measures with “thoughtfulness.” I expect the xTECH website to grow further in the future.”
・xTECH Sales Department, which provides startup support, faced the problem of “not being able to successfully deliver information to those who want to know.”
・Choose owned media with the aim of gathering colleagues who want to work together in the Marunouchi area”
・Timing is also important when taking the next steps. Mitsubishi Estate needed to increase the value of its facilities and areas from a long-term perspective from among its leeway
・The media article has a value that cannot be expressed by PV or UU alone
・Using tools used in startups to understand the culture with a skin feel when working in a start-up
・As an example of an article being taken up on a TV program as a result of its publication
・Cooperation between the Web and brick-and-mortar businesses that we want to tackle in the future
・When starting owned media, is the issue clear? Is it appropriate to take steps to resolve?
・Since the start-up has no immediate effect, we will take decisions on expenses and operation with a view to renovation. Daily accumulation is important for management.