Feb 27 Lee Wang Jong
A dream isn’t something that is final, it’s something that should constantly be updated and thoroughly thought about with the aim to achieve it.
Miku Hirano is the founder and CEO of Cinnamon, a company that is dedicated to “remove all unnecessary work from the world by using AI.” At a glance, Miku seems to be another business woman from Japan; petit in stature, quiet in speech. Nevertheless, listening to her story of how she started and how her “persistence to overcome trial and errors” with near bankruptcy and no concrete business plan, her presence on stage became evermore palpable.
Early in her career, she pitched an idea to a friend about how they should “use technology for actual, practical uses.” This pitched turned into her company Naked Tech. Their aim was to sell AI technologies to improve mobile phones, however; interest in AI was low.
Her problem: “UI was horrible.”
Her solution: “AI.”
It sounded good, it sounded like a great idea, but Miku believes that perhaps timing was off and regrets that Naked Tech wasn’t able to go global. It was eventually acquired by Mixi in 2011.
Miku was 28 years old when her company was acquired. Notwithstanding, she decided to further pursue her goal: to get something that was practical in use out into the global market. It was the smart phone era, social media (she noticed) was having a bigger and bigger impact. How did she do it? She relocated, straight-up moved to another part of the world that was completely unknown to her. She moved to Vietnam. Even in the face of language barrier, unknown social idiosyncrasies, she started Cinnamon. A company dedicated to “removing unnecessary work from the world.” Products included: document reader, chat bot, recommendation engine, and speech-to-text applications.
Of course, even in Vietnam, trial and errors persisted, but she did as well. Restructuring her failing business down to 160 members, raising 16 million USD, with 40+ national clients in 2 years.
She answered the questions in our heads: where was this persistence coming from? “My simple answer: My dream, my plans… I had two babies during that time. I remember reading on the news about a Japanese lady who died from overworking (karoshi). Did I want my kids to grow up in the similar environment?” Her solution to these questions is the foundation of Cinnamon.
“It’s all about the dream.” It’s such a ubiquitous platitude that most certainly the startup scene hears all too often. “But it’s how you make changes, and adjustments to your dream” Miku reiterates. “Dream as big as possible, and dream even bigger next year. Discuss it to your closest friends and family,” as talking about it can make dreams into more concrete plans.
Is it all too repetitive? Is it all too familiar?
That’s why it works. Update your dream.
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