While European startups flock to Asia, Japanese consumer electronics company Cerevo is looking to Europe with a focus on Germany
Besides being a hotbed for Germany’s creative class, Berlin is also home to a lively startup scene. This might be thanks to its large digital creative community, relaxed visa application process, and low cost of living compared to other global startup hubs. According to CB Insights, venture capital tech funding in Germany has doubled from $578 million in 2013 to $1.28 billion last year, the first quarter of 2014 taking in $1.15 billion.
With tech startups from across the EU and beyond gathering this week in Germany’s hip haven for Tech Open Air Berlin, how can Asian entrepreneurs learn from Europe? We had a chat with Takuma Iwasa, the CEO of Tokyo-based consumer electronics company Cerevo (and the sole speaker from Asia at the conference), who told e27 about their interest in the European market, with an added focus on Germany.
“We look at the whole European market, not only Germany. Cerevo now has customers in 37 countries who have niche needs. Europe has various countries in terms of culture which is hard to summarize. We expect Germany to be our main country as it leads us to the big business in the EU. That’s why we wanted to have this opportunity at TOA, we’re speeding up our business in the EU.” Cerevo’s LiveShell, a device that allows for stable WiFi-based video streaming, already launched in Europe back in 2012.
Another reason for the trip, said Iwasa, is to learn how to build a high-end, globally recognizable brand, which is something Iwasa believes Asian startups can learn from European companies. “We have to learn how to build a high value brand. Asian companies are bad at branding in general. We aim for a high value brand like Ferrari and TAG Heuer.”
Since 80 percent of Cerevo’s 65-person team is made up of engineers who have had training in the Japanese electronics and automotive space at Sony, Panasonic, Toyota and Honda, they may be well-equipped to adapt quickly.
According to Iwasa, Cerevo has raised $3.5 million to date from Japanese VCs and angels and is now zeroing in on small batch, global niche IoT products. Their strategy, said Iwasa, is to diversify their product offering to ward off the competition.
“This is because if we focus on one product and get successful, it will be easy for competitors and big companies to come into the same field. After they come, the market will be tough for startup companies,” he said. “But if we don’t focus on one product nor one market, each product quantity will be much smaller — and we deliver so many different types of products.”
Cerevo’s website currently shows seven products up for sale, including wireless video streamers that allow for PC-free broadcasting to smart bindings for snowboarders to collect analytics from their ride. Instead of cloning existing products and competing in a crowded space, Cerevo’s strategy, which Iwasa calls a “schoolbook approach,” is to create a new category for niche products so they can keep prices high and competitors at bay.
Takuma Iwasa is speaking at ToA Berlin about his years at Panasonic before becoming an entrepreneur, and will also discuss the topic ‘Designed in Japan, Assembled in China.’ If you’re Berlin-bound next week, get your tickets here.
This post was originally published on e27.