Keiichiro Tomimatsu explains why he would recommend ‘0 to 1 experience as a Country Manager’ to aspiring entrepreneurs

In December 2019, an event with the theme “Country Manager as a Way of Life” was held. This is the report of the event. In the second article, Keiichiro Tomimatsu of MediaMath, who has been involved in many foreign startups, talks about the best part of being a country manager.


Takahashi: Thank you for introducing yourself and participating in this discussion about Anker, Mr. Ido . One of the goals of this gathering was to try to lower the hurdle in becoming a country manager as much as possible but judging from your story it seems you don’t want country managers to have an environment where they are not paid. (Laughs)

(Audience laughs)

Next is Mr. Tomimatsu. We would all be grateful if you could share with us an episode when you were a country manager in a way that does not raise the hurdle as much as possible.

Keiichiro Tomimatsu: Thank you very much. My name is Keiichiro Tomimatsu.

[Profile]
Keiichiro Tomimatsu
MediaMath Japan Corporation
Representative

Joined P&G Marketing Department as a new graduate, then worked at Reuters News Agency (Sydney), Citibank, GE Capital, 20th Century Fox Movie (now Walt Disney Studios), Google, etc. Established two Japanese companies, most recently DAZN Media Japan, UK representative. Received numerous awards, including the Japan Academy Awards, Tokyo Interactive Awards, and Dentsu Advertising Awards. Advisory board member of the first Ad Tech Tokyo 2009. Completed the MBA from the # 1 Macquarie School of Management in Australia.

My career started with marketing at P&G and I worked consistently in the marketing and strategic planning area even after moving to a financial institution.

Within that time, I worked in GE capital, a consumer credit and internet credit card company, and also in 20th Century Fox Movie in a VOD company planning for spinouts.

I realized that it was really very difficult to start a new business from a global and historical company. I felt the difference with a venture. This was the situation around year 2000. The times are different now.

Left: Keiichiro Tomimatsu (MediaMath Japan Corporation)

I did feel stability when I was in a large company, but there were a lot of talks about internal politics and corporate policies, so instead I ventured out and joined Google.

There weren’t big changes in my life since then, but I’ve changed my mind into a business venture. Since joining Google, I have been a Country Manager for four companies.

All of these country managers are said to have gained direct scouts via LinkedIn email or via telephone. Before that, I was interviewed by executive headhunters such as Korn Ferry and Egon Zehnder. After that, including Google, everything came down to the main point “Would you like to join our company? “

Takahashi: Why did these people know your contact information? 

Tomimatsu: They knew my contact information from people whom I have worked with before because they introduced me or just via LinkedIn. 

All the negotiations that are commonly done by headhunting companies, I had to do myself. So it was a little harder.

Similar to what Mr. Ido mentioned earlier, we had to negotiate all the small details, such as money, capital, stocks, and the intention of the company to enter Japan.

For example, there is no retirement allowance system overseas, so you have to create all of these systems if you need them, with the help of a tax accountant or lawyer.

There are many people here, including those who have already experienced, who want to start a business by themselves.

In that case, being a country manager is a lot of fun if you think you can study for free. For those who want to start a business on their own, they (country managers) should be able to learn various things related to it while receiving money. And with that, they will have an idea how to proceed to the next step.

I have been a country manager for four companies, and I would like to tell you that it is more fun to start a company in Japan from scratch.

The company I belong to, MediaMath, and the latest DAZN media (some years after the establishment of the Japanese branch) where I joined halfway through, turned out to be not performing well.

Stopping that bad situation is twice as tough. If you don’t do it right, you will need three times more effort. Furthermore, if the company goes down, the office itself will be closed.

I’ve experienced it once, and actually closing a company is much harder than starting one. I had to explain the current situation to everyone, and decide a timeline for the future. This might be a Japanese way, but I also took care of the employee’s next place of employment too and decided to leave last.

In the U.S.A., half of the employees are let go, inorder for the company to continue. But if you do that in Japan, you will get negative feedback. This in itself is a positive Japanese culture.

In many cases, for those who became a country manager midway to companies that are not performing well, a V-shaped recovery takes about 2 to 3 times more effort. So I think it’s better to be prepared.

Left: Keiichiro Tomimatsu (MediaMath Japan Corporation)

Well, once you’ve been a country manager, and even if the company doesn’t go well, as long as you have a good reputation, you will definitely find another job. You also do not have to worry career-wise.

With that experience in mind as a next step, it would be interesting to start a business whether by yourself or with a partner or have a joint venture with a Japanese company. 

Takahashi: Thank you very much.

(To be continued)


Speaker Information

Country Manager Year End Party 2019

-Speaker-
Yoshitsune Ido
Anker Japan Co., Ltd.
CEO

He graduated from the University of Tokyo, Faculty of Economics, Department of Management in 2002. In the same year, he joined Goldman Sachs Japan Co., Ltd., and engaged in M&A transactions for client companies and advisory services in capital markets in the investment banking division. In 2006, he joined TPG Capital, a private equity investment firm where the focus was investing in Japanese companies and increasing corporate value. In 2013, he established a Japan subsidiary of the Anker group and became CEO. He grew this business with sales exceeding 10 billion yen within 6 years. Fifth ‘Dan’ (grade) in Kendo.

Keiichiro Tomimatsu
MediaMath Japan Corporation
Representative

Joined P&G Marketing Department as a new graduate, then worked at Reuters News Agency (Sydney), Citibank, GE Capital, 20th Century Fox Movie (now Walt Disney Studios), Google, etc. Established two Japanese companies, most recently DAZN Media Japan, UK representative. Received numerous awards, including the Japan Academy Awards, Tokyo Interactive Awards, and Dentsu Advertising Awards. Advisory board member of the first Ad Tech Tokyo 2009. Completed the MBA from the # 1 Macquarie School of Management in Australia.

Akira Shintaku
Wolt Japan
Marketing Manager (First employee in Japan Branch)

After leading the strategy of direct response advertising on Twitter, engaged in marketing at UNIQLO and Apple. In November 2019,  joined Wolt (Japanese branch), which develops food delivery based in Helsinki, Finland, as its first Japanese employee.

-Moderator-
Kiminari Takahashi
RTB House Japan K.K.
Sales Director of Japan

After graduating from Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, joined Recruit as a fresh graduate. After entering the ad tech industry, joined Criteo, Appier. In January 2018, joined the retargeting advertising company RTB House from Poland as its first employee in Japan. Within just two years of joining, led Japan to become “RTB House’s fastest growing global market”.