Nowadays big companies seek people who can create a culture of innovation within the company and have the ability to realize their own ideas. However places that allow the nurturing of such talent are rare. So in order to gather these populations, we hold a business competition for the nourishment of talent. “Tech Plan Grand Prix” is one of the events from our nurturing programme for hardware makers called “Tech Planter”.
What is Tech Plan Grand Prix?
Tech Plan Grand Prix (TPGP) is a business contest precisely for hardware makers which also focuses on incubation of people or teams that are interested in energizing the maker’s culture. The TPGP has around 30 to 40 entries each time. After screening of the application forms, only 10 teams will be able to proceed to the final round where they have the chance to present their passion in front of their audience and the judges. The presentation will be 5 minutes long and there will be 9 minutes of Q&A from the judges. The winner will be chosen from the voting by the audience and the judges. The winner will receive three hundred thousand yen as a winning prize and also have the right to receive a 5 million yen investment. TPGP is not just a business contest but also a nurturing scheme for the entrepreneurs and we call this whole nurturing scheme “Tech Planter”
What is Tech Planter?
One of the important things for hardware venture start up is development of the prototype. However it is difficult to receive an investment from personal investor or VC just through ideas and plans. On the other hand, the development of the prototype is costly yet you have to think about the material selection, mass production in the future and the business model. In order to solve these problems you would need specific knowledge on each section and people who can solve these things. As a result many of the teams do not end up starting their own business. That is why Tech Planter aims to solve these issues by supporting the development fee for the prototype and forming a community of the start-ups and its supporters. Tech planter scheme is for people who have sent the application form to TPGP. Whether or not they have the wish to receive the investment to form their own company, everyone who has the passion for hardware making and has proceeded one step towards that goal are eligible for this programme. After the screening process of the application form, 10 teams in the final round will be the subject for 5 million yen investment. We will be supporting the teams as a mentors and will help them to commercialize their idea. The timing for investment will be after the development of prototype with its business plan and registration of the company. When this target is fulfilled, we will invest five million yen in return of 10% of the company shares. Also for those who wish to release their products to the world but are not intending to start a business can sell their own product through Tech Planter platform or supporting partners. As for the teams who did not manage to make it to the final round but supported by our nurturing programme may reform the team and receive mentoring to enter the next TPGP. So what kind of skills are needed for hardware business? Towards this question that many start-ups may carry, Tech Planter will offer to teach the skills required in systematic way and also guide the way to achieve them. We believe that the process to an innovation can be separated into three steps; “Idea”, “Product” and “Business model”. For each step, training such as “using the brain”, “making the products” and “moving feet and meeting the user” corresponds to it. In Tech Planter, we especially support the last two skills that are difficult to achieve by oneself, which are “making the products” and “moving feet and meet the users”.
Tech Plan Grand Prix to the world
Although, TPGP is a new event that only started in year 2014 (First one held in Tokyo on March), now TPGP is not only an event that’s held in Japan. Since 2014 TPGP has been held in three different locations, which are Japan, Singapore and Taiwan (see the table below for details). Each TPGP is individually held at each location. However they are interconnected as the winner of the Taiwan and Singapore round will be invited to participate in the Japan round. Also, the winner of the Japan round will be invited to participate in Singapore round. This year TPGP will spread even more widely across the world. Malaysia will be the new location where we plan to hold the competition. For those who plan to participate in Tech Plan will be a great chance to release your idea to the world. For those who are interested in watching the competition, this is the perfect place to know what kind of problems and needs are hidden in each of the time and location. We will be planning to spread this international hardware business competition across the world. Next time, it might be your city that Tech Plan Grand Prix will come to!