The goal is to expose the nine entrepreneurs on the one-week program to the ways Silicon Valley goes about innovating “and then bring those experiences back to Japan to spread to other entrepreneurs,” Kan says.
Among the stops on the trip: Lessons on design thinking from Adaptive Path and LUXr, learning about agile development from Pivotal Labs and product design from IDEO, and a prototyping session from Google+’s Bradley Horowitz.
Also on the docket: a workshop on pitching angel investors and venture capitalists at 500 Startups’ downtown Mountain View penthouse labs.
“You want to make sure you communicate confidence,” instructed Kandice Cota, the workshop leader and CEO of IP Franchise, a social game company, as Stanford Unversity’s famous Hoover Tower hovered in the distance, beyond 500 Startups’ floor-to-ceiling windows.
The TOFU Project is the brainchild of Lisa Katayama, a San Francisco-based journalist who grew up in Japan (and who writes for Fast Company as well as Wired, the New York Times Magazine, and NPR) and Tomo Saito, a designer and photographer who created Betabrand’s Japants cargo pants. Among its advisors are MIT Media Lab director Joi Ito, RISD president John Maeda, and Kiva cofounder Matt Flannery.