Makerspace Profile: Ginza Hub

Each week, as we get to know our community and the broader IoT movement, we’re fortunate to connect with some remarkable individuals and organizations. In our “Makerspace Profile” series, we interview makerspace founders to learn more about the maker movement around the world.

In this profile, you’ll meet Ginza Hub based in Tokyo, Japan.

How did Ginza Hub start?

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As a serial entrepreneur and long-term resident of Japan, I’d always dreamed of working with a dedicated group of truly special people from all over the world who could combine their various talents to create something meaningful. The initial result of that dream was an IT outsourcing and recruiting agency I created called Zeros And Ones, which grew to 32 employees, and which I sold back in 2007. This time ’round, I wanted to avoid the huge amount of time and energy it takes to manage such a large and diverse group of people by myself, so in August this year I launched a fresh new co-working space called Ginza Hub in the small office building that my wife and I own in the Ginza district of Tokyo. The result this time is that instead of being the CEO/HR Manager/BDM/Project Manager/IT Engineer, I’m just the guy who makes the coffee, but I STILL get to work with truly special people from all over the world who combine their talents to create meaningful things. It’s awesome!

What was the initial response to Ginza Hub like?

Quite good actually. In the year or so prior to launching Ginza Hub I spoke to a lot of startups who really wanted to get out of the kitchen and into some proper Tokyo office space, but the price and language barriers were just too high for most of them. So I knew there was a need there. I then did a some presentations at a couple of local entrepreneurial events about co-working space versus shared office space and traditional rented office space, and I was blown away by the response. So when we launched, I already had paying customers ready to stop by, sit down, caffeine up, and get working on whatever it was they were passionate about. That was just over 3 months ago, and we are already half way towards our membership target.

What kind of equipment and resources do you provide participants?

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Well, the 4th floor is a public co-working space, where visitors can drop in for ¥500 (about $5) an hour or ¥2,000 (about $20) a day, all inclusive. That means free WiFi (we have a super-fast 500 Mbps fiber optic cable running from the street right into our high-speed WiFi router), free power, and free tea/coffee/snacks during business hours on weekdays.

The 3rd floor is a fully featured conference & event room with 24 seats, conference table, whiteboard, projector, video camera, sound system, and again high-speed WiFi for ¥4,000 (about $40) an hour for visitors.

Ginza Hub members get their own key for 24/7 access and can use everything on the 4th and 3rd floors at any time, included in their ¥20,000 (about $200) a month membership.

Free to anyone who uses Ginza Hub is my expertise as a qualified systems engineer and project manager, which has proved quite useful on occasion.

What does “hacking” mean to you and your community?

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I believe that “hacking” to the staff and members at Ginza Hub is pretty close in meaning to Aaron Ginn’s 2012 definition of a growth hacker on TechCrunch – “mindset of data, creativity, and curiosity.” Everyone here is super creative in their particular niche – the corporate trainer, the international investor, the adventurous travel co-ordinator, the bright-eyed yoga teacher – all of them. And we use data and technology to refine our marketing and to appeal to our various target audiences. And, of course, we work in this wonderfully curious metropolis called Tokyo, where everything is on all the time.

What projects are people working on?

Wow. Too many to mention here, but let me pick a few at random. There’s a huge movement towards green energy in Japan now, given the nuclear disaster of 2011, so our resident investment guru went through the process of actually purchasing land and building a solar farm, twice, which he now presents on. Our resident linguist is working on translating a beautiful children’s book from Japanese into English, while maintaining of the rich flavor of the original. Our resident travel legend is working on ways to pull Japanese tourists away from boring, run-of-the-mill tourist attractions and into the gorgeous vineyards and wineries of Northern California. And me? I’m working on a free version of my flagship software product, Qhub.com, and Ginza Hub is the perfect place to focus on making that project a success (between creating tasty lattes and cappuccinos, of course.)

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What are your future plans?

My future plans are my current plans, and they are to continue to make our Tokyo-based co-working space, our Japanese real estate company, and our Australian software company creative, fun and profitable places for everyone involved.

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