Veljko Vasic: from Zero to One in Japan
Japan is a leader in the deployment of commercial 5G networks, but the question for the country’s leaders, is how best to use such technologies to benefit its companies and individuals over the coming decades. HolyWally co-founder Veljko Vasic, who’s also the founder and CEO of venture builder Creitive, was invited to the Digital Transformation Leaders’ CxO Summit in Tokyo to share his views about the Zero to One approach.
I’ve been on the road a lot recently, finishing 2022 off with a trip to Money 20/20 in the US, then to Web Summit in Portugal and now here in Japan.
I was invited to this prestigious event, organised by the GSMA, to talk about startups, venture capitalists, accelerators and service diversification.
I wear two hats. I am co-founder of HolyWally, the world’s the world’s first B2B2C wallet-as-a-service platform, but I’m also founder and CEO of Creitive Ventures. Having these two roles is great for me, as I am both a founder which all the challenges that that brings, but also a VC myself, helping startups in Europe, the United Arab Emirates and Portugal. So, I get to see the issues from both ends.
One thing I can say with certainly, that having been in the tech heartlands of the US, Portugal and Tokyo, the spirit of the startup is undimmed by the recent economic problems being seen around the world.
There is much talk of lay-offs, down rounds and an uncertain future. But, along with most of the people I have met on my travels, I remain very optimistic about the future of tech and how it effects the everyday lives of people around the globe.
Also, interestingly, the startup scene at the seed level remains strong, in recognition that we still need innovative thinking to build products and services that maximise such technological leaps as 5G. The demand for these has not slowed.
I have to applaud for Japan for adopting what I say is the right way to go about tech. They start by asking the question, what can such technologies as 5G do for our companies and people. In short, what benefits does the latest tech bring to the country.
It’s the right way to look at tech — what problems do we have currently and how will tech help to solve those? This is not a question of tech for the sake of tech. And also, that national and local government, and industry, need to drive change — they cannot sit back and allow it to happen by accident.
Japan also understands that it is also a partnership, one that needs nurturing from the seed of an idea, onwards to a company that has the ability to make a difference. They see it as a virtuous collaboration between mobile network operators (MNOs), cloud providers, hyperscalers, venture capitalists, ecosystem players and innovative SMEs/startups. All play a part in ensuring the creation of a scalable digital ecosystem.
The conference highlighted the fact that many MNOs have their own CVCs and accelerator programmes. These identify, invest in, or partner with innovative SMEs and startups to create new revenue opportunities, and reinforce existing ones by facilitating digital transformation across sectors.
Our particular part of the conference included four presentations. The first one, a look at early-stage venture building, a zero to one approach, was given by me.
We then enjoyed a lively panel discussion, which included by co-presenters: Jongkap Kim, Chief Executive Director, Born2Global Center; Takahisa Ohira, Head of Asia, Deloitte Tomatsu Venture Support; and, Andy Zain, Managing Partner, Kejora Capital.
The invite-only Digital Transformation Leaders’ CxO Summit in Tokyo is held by the GSMA with the support of MIC Japan. The GSMA Digital Transformation Acceleration Forum (DXAF) invites DX and 5G industry/ecosystem leaders for a focused discussion on the policy, industry and commercial opportunities and challenges to driving sector wide digital transformation beyond 5G towards 6G.
Digital Transformation Leaders’ CxO Summit, Tokyo JAPANDigital Transformation Beyond 5G - Tuesday & Wednesday, 29th — 30th November 2022Sheraton Miyako Hotel Tokyo, Japan