This article was developed as a part of the Young Rising Stars Series, promoted to
highlight high-performing Japanese entrepreneurs and businesspeople.
Five minutes on foot from the University of Tokyo, the top university in Japan, there is a blockchain studio called HashHub. Their mission to “make the world a better place by redefining trust and building choice” challenges the traditional financial system and aims to shape the future of finance.
Cofounder Yoriko Beal is not unlike HashHub itself—she too has challenged tradition in her quest to find her place in the world. Before HashHub, she really bucked the Japanese idea that retention is a measure of employee fitness. Not only did she have three different jobs, but she also freelanced and was even a Youtuber.
A Series of Small Disasters
When Beal was starting her career after graduating from Sophia University, she didn’t have a career in mind. “I wasn’t seriously job hunting, so I started my career at small non-Japanese software company. My internship advisor told me it was good to get sales experience at your first job,” she explained.
At first, she was assigned to do sales, but “nothing went well.” In her second year, she was appointed as the assistant to a new department head that had just entered the company. “I was panicking. It was the second year of my corporate life, and I didn’t even know basic things like how to organize client events or how to communicate effectively with clients.” But her boss surprised her. He was very calm and always guided her. After some time with him, Beal began to realize something very important:
Great steps are made from the accumulation of small steps.
Having some sense of achievement and witnessing the limitations of a singular branch in a global company, she took her first small step and quit.
Her boss, ironically, quit too.
The Bite of Bitcoin
Beal didn’t have a next step in mind, but kept her options open. In the end, she decided to work for a company translating news about Bitcoin. It was a small step into the unknown for her, but she had interned at an investing website, so there had to be some similarities… right?
But this very typical company led to an atypical discovery: she was more than just enthusiastic about Bitcoin. She was almost obsessive. It was “a shocking experience,” she says. “For the first time, I found myself devoting all my time to thinking about one specific thing: Bitcoin.”
At the time, the cryptocurrency industry was still sluggish. There weren’t many active players in Japan. As a result, she alone was responsible for researching and expanding her network. Though this was difficult, she managed to meet numerous crypto superstars, and it fed her enthusiasm. “It was like meeting Bill Gates,” she explained of her encounter with Roger Ver, colloquially known as “Bitcoin Jesus.”
Even when her employer was dissolved by its parent company, she found she couldn’t put down Bitcoin—or her goal of creating a cryptocurrency media outlet.
Her first career goal.
“I was very frustrated about having to stop in the middle, so I decided to look for a company where I could start from the scratch.”
And she found one. Thus she launched the cryptocurrency media hub, Coin Choice. It shortly after achieved one million monthly pageviews.
Then, perhaps surprisingly, she took another step and left the company. Having achieved her goal, she thought, there was no reason to stay.
The Great Escape
Beal may have left Coin Choice, but she hadn’t left Bitcoin. She continued reporting freelance and expanded to video format via YouTube, seeking to better engage Bitcoin users. But after publishing her thoughts on various mediums for a few years, she thought building a service would be a better use of her talents.
So when she was asked to help start a new blockchain studio, she jumped at the chance. Enter HashHub, her greatest step yet. In addition to a studio space, HashHub provides cryptocurrency information and consulting services to major Japanese companies. As the cofounder and COO, every day is a challenge, from building a good team to thinking about the future of an industry that doesn’t yet have a good business expansion model.
But as she did with CoinChoice, she has a guiding mission: To expose the shortcomings of the finance industry and use blockchain technology to fix them.
“For instance, let’s say I want to establish my own company. Obviously, I need a bank account. But isn’t it strange that the fate my company is in the hands of a bank, just because I need a bank account?
“We can solve these problems using blockchain technology, and by doing that, I hope to see a society where everyone can choose what they want to do without any obstacles.”
HashHub is still small, but Beal isn’t discouraged. Even though she has to draw on the sales skills that made her so miserable at her first job, she’s happy to do it. This time she has a purpose, and clearly feels the difference between being forced to do something versus actively choosing it.
You need to believe in your gut instinct. Just dive in, otherwise you won’t know whether you made the right choice or not. Doing is important. That’s all I can say.Yoriko Beal
“My favorite part of my job is my ownership. I decide and act upon my decisions with my own responsibility. And although I sometimes feel tired, I don’t have any moments when I want to escape.”
The happiness and success Beal achieved at HashHub shows that not all steps have to be planned. They can be accidental, impulsive, unattached, or even daring. Sometimes you’ve just gotta buck tradition.
“You need to believe in your gut instinct,” she says. “Just dive in, otherwise you won’t know whether you made the right choice or not. Doing is important. That’s all I can say.”