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NOV 11, 2004

Venture Capital Gathering in Asia (Part 1)

By Yoshito Hori

I had just returned from my three-week, round-the-world business trip, and only had five days before taking off again. This time, I was headed for Hong Kong and Singapore, nearly due south of Japan on the map.

I was up to my neck during the time between the two trips. No time to recover from jet lag and fatigue, and then family stuff and work. After going out with the family on Saturday, I joined the first group of the GLOBIS All-Staff Retreat on Sunday and Monday. After returning to Tokyo on Monday, I gave a speech in the evening with another talk scheduled for the following day.

On November 3 (Wednesday), Culture Day, it was my second-oldest son’s Shichi-Go-San (age-specific festivals held in Japan for children at the ages of 3, 5 and 7). So far, I had been doing OK at work, but I really began to feel a little drained on this national holiday, which was also “taian”, that is, a day of particularly good fortune according to the Japanese traditional calendar, with the sky clear and sunny. Two years ago, I had gone to the same festival for my oldest son and had worn a kimono, and I had decided to do the same this time. Meiji Shrine was jam-packed. That’s probably what contributed to my feeling even more tired out and lethargic. At lunch where three generations of the family were all together with four grandparents having joined us, I felt even a little foggy.

My flight to Singapore was set to leave on the evening of Thursday, November 4. I started packing after my family was all tucked into bed. I had meetings all day till 3 pm on the day, and as soon as it ended, I jumped on the airport express and then boarded my flight to Singapore. I arrived at Changi Airport after midnight, local time, and caught a taxi to the hotel. The road into town was pretty, lined with palm trees. The last time I was here was about a year ago.

I had two objectives for this trip: first, to meet with investors in Singapore and second, to speak at the Asian Venture Forum (AVF) in Hong Kong. The schedule for the forum in Hong Kong had been already set, so I had arranged the Singapore trip to fit with the AVF.

The next morning I met with investors in Singapore. Things were looking good for the next fund. I had a laid-back weekend reading the assigned text for the Globis MBA study group, and then took off for Hong Kong. Compared to Singapore, Hong Kong is pretty chaotic, and I always find it interesting that both these cities were built by Chinese merchants.

This was the first time for GLOBIS to sponsor the AVF. We had sponsored venture capital forums in Japan before, but this was the first time in Hong Kong.

I should say a little about the AVF. The event is organized by the publisher of the “Asian Venture Capital Journal” (AVCJ). The company principally makes its money from this journal as well as these forums. They hold forums every year, starting in Australia and then Japan, Korea, India, China, the US, and Europe. After everything, the forum held in November in Hong Kong is a synthesis of venture capital and private equity across the entire Asian region.

Simply stated, they hold forums in all the other countries culminating with the main event in Hong Kong. GLOBIS sponsored the cocktail party at the beginning of this main Asian event.

There were 500 participants this year. The event appeared to be gaining more and more recognition, given there were only 250 last year and 150 the year before, with a impressive line up of people in attendance.

When I traveled on business to Michigan the last time, I had hired a private jet to visit two investing companies, but the top men of those companies at that time were out unfortunately. But both were at this event. That’s how important this forum is.

Of course, previous to the event I made an appointment for a breakfast meeting with each of them. Just being able to meet these two made the trip to Hong Kong worthwhile.

An invitation-only dinner party was held on the Tuesday, November 9, and on the 10th, I participated in the investors’ roundtable conference, after which the forum officially began at last in the evening. Starting around 6 pm on the 10th, guests began to appear in the lobby lounge of the Marriott Hotel, the venue for this event. As I was sponsoring the event, I welcomed people as they arrived, introducing myself in English as the host of the party and offering my hand and a business card. The venue was full just after 7 pm, overflowing with enthusiasm. I was nearly out of the 100 business cards I had brought.

Shortly thereafter, the organizer told me it was time to formally greet everyone. A mic had been set up on the counter of the lounge where I was to deliver the speech. I would really stand out there. This was a perfect chance to get the GLOBIS name out and recognized. Whenever I’m abroad, I try not to feel any sense of hesitation. The venue was bursting at the seams. I started getting excited. After the opening remarks from the organizer, I boldly jumped up on stage, and grabbed the mic.

“I am Hori from Globis Capital Partners, and I am engaged in a venture capital company in Japan. I’m sure most of you who have come here are drawn to China, but don’t forget about GLOBIS as a venture capital firm in Japan.” With this brief introduction I think I managed to plant the idea in their minds that GLOBIS = venture capital in Japan. I then shook hands and exchanged business cards with guests. I managed to hand out all of my business cards by the end of the evening. 

An invitation-only dinner party followed. In the course of this one day, I had managed to meet and greet most of the main players in venture capital and private equity in Asia. I finished the day feeling really satisfied.

November 11, 2004
At the hotel in Hong Kong
Yoshito Hori