It was 15 years ago to the day (August 1, 1992) that GLOBIS was officially launched. That means I left Sumitomo Corporation 15 years ago yesterday (July 31, 1992), when I was 30 years old. That evening, my friends all got together at a disco in Ginza to celebrate my setting out into the world of start-up enterprises. My wife, to whom I was then engaged, also came along. We popped the champagne and raised our glasses to the future. That moment was at the tail-end of the economic bubble.
The next day, August 1, GLOBIS launched without even an office. We were using one of the rooms in my apartment as a base, so I didn’t have to commute to work. I woke up, walked into the room next door, and was in my office.
After leaving Sumitomo Corporation, I had an unwavering resolve to commit myself to a start-up business. Since then, I have always acted quickly. In one stroke, I increased our capital stock of 800,000 yen into 20,000,000 yen. On August 20, we moved into our one-floor, 65m² office in Kojimachi. We were able to rent it for the knock-down price of 15,000 yen per tsubo (3.3 m2), without any deposit or key money. I invited a number of friends and supporters to a humble office opening and clearly remember looking out of the window, saying, “From here I can see the world. Today marks the first step forward of the GLOBIS advance.”
We recruited employees, gathered students, invited faculty, and scored a huge client: NTT. Sometime after that, we were able to move the classroom from the rented space in Dogenzaka to the upper floor of our Kojimachi office. Then, somewhat recklessly, one year after the company’s founding, we started our Osaka campus. It was crazy. The office was the very picture of a start-up enterprise, with part-time workers constantly coming and going and the radio always blaring.
Since then, we’ve been at it non-stop for 15 years. Here are just a few of the images that stick out in my memory:
August 1, 1992
Large-scale training job for NTT
In order to fulfill this job, I bought a sleeping bag and spent 3–4 days a week in the office, working all night in between short naps.
Upon setting up the Osaka Campus, there wasn’t even enough money to stay in a hotel, so I crashed on the floor of a friend’s office. There was no shower, so I had to wipe myself down with a wet towel. That seems unthinkable now!
I returned from my honeymoon only to hear we were falling short of funds, so we made a bold move to take out a 1/3 page advertisement in The Nikkei Shimbun. Somehow, this helped us navigate this turbulent patch. We still advertise in The Nikkei to this day.
Publication of The MBA Management Book
With this, the GLOBIS name became well known. Quite honestly, I never expected it to sell so well, let alone generate an entire series of books!
Moved to our newly built, 250m² office
With a whole floor to ourselves, I felt that I had moved up a little in the world.
Formulated GLOBIS Fund No. 1
It was a small sum of 540 million yen, but this was the beginning of GLOBIS Capital Partners (GCP).
Initiated a joint MBA Program with the University of Leicester in England
GLOBIS courses became recognized for credit at a British university.
Flew to the U.S. to do a presentation for Apax
Met Alan Patricof for the first time. I had a hunch that we would become lifetime partners.
Headed for New York from London to sign a deal with Apax
This capital tie-up paved the way for forming the venture capital Fund No. 2, at a scale of 20 billion yen.
Around this same time, GLOBIS Management Bank (GMB) was launched, and the GLOBIS infrastructure of people, capital, and knowledge was complete.
Graduate Diploma in Business Administration (GDBA), a society-recognized business school, opened in Tokyo, forming the foundation of the GLOBIS MBA curriculum.
Opened the Nagoya Campus
This brought our passionate leaders of change and creativity together in the three major Japanese urban centers: Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya.
GDBA commenced courses at the Osaka Campus, and the Osaka Office moved to Mido-suji Avenue, in front of the Nanba Shrine. Things were going very well.
The first Asuka Conference
Students, faculty, staff, and guest speakers all got together for an overnight Japanese version of the Davos forum.
The Graduate School of Management, GLOBIS University launched
We officially became able to issue MBAs, and I was inaugurated as dean.
GLOBIS Group Fund No. 3 independently launched
Now it stands at an impressive 18 billion yen.
August 1, 2007
Today, our 15th anniversary.
GLOBIS is now operating as the No. 3 business/graduate school in Japan. Under our umbrella, we have venture capital funds of some 40 billion yen. GLOBIS has also grown into a substantial group that delivers training programs to more than 250 major Japanese corporations, runs an executive search firm, and has published over a million books in the MBA series.
Throughout all these activities and accomplishments, I have gotten married, brought five children into the world, and steadily aged 15 years.
At GLOBIS, we don’t celebrate on the actual day of establishment. The first Sunday and Monday of August each year are set aside for a company trip to celebrate our establishment. When we first started this tradition, it occurred to me that the anniversary of establishment merited a day off from work. I even left an answering machine message saying, “Today we are on holiday to celebrate the day of our establishment.”
I decided to coin this year’s trip as “15th Anniversary: Expression of Gratitude to Staff Families @ Karuizawa” and invite all family members of the GLOBIS staff on an all-expense-paid trip this weekend. Classes finish on Saturday, so the following Sunday, we’ll all head to Karuizawa, where I will hold a BBQ lunch at my mountain lodge, followed by a party in the evening, with a Japanese dress code. Everyone will have time on Monday to enjoy tennis or golf. I was initially thinking of going overseas on this occasion, but eventually decided that I should express my gratitude to my dearest stakeholders, the family members of GLOBIS staff, by playing the role of host.
Crossing the 15-year milestone means the first half of my 30-year plan is complete. When I first launched GLOBIS, I planned ahead 30 years. Half of this plan has now been done. For the remaining half, I intend to go forward with a more global scope and focus on becoming the No. 1 Business School in Asia and the No.1 Venture Capital Firm in Asia. If we’ve managed to come this far in 15 years, I think it is not at all out of the question to set off on the path toward becoming No.1 in Asia.