Mentors

An international network of mentors

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Yoshinori Sakuno
Founder, doq

Yoshi holds an Executive MBA from the Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM), UNSW. He has over 16 years of international marketing experience for global blue chip brands and specialises in building enduring brands and the commercialisation of products into new markets. In 2009, he founded cross-cultural marketing agency doq® in Sydney where he has built a diverse cross-cultural team, partnered with clients from a broad range of industries including government institutions to start-ups, and has seen the company grow significantly in the area of innovative marketing products and solutions from Japan. In 2014, Yoshi was invited to speak as a cross-cultural marketing expert at TEDxTitech Tokyo and currently holds the government appointed position of Australian Market Advisor for the Organization for Small & Medium Enterprises and Regional Innovation, Japan.
David Lawson

David Lawson
Senior Trade Commissioner, Austrade

David is currently the Trade Commissioner for Australia in Japan and has a long and strong history of working between Australia and Japan in the area of government and business. He has been the judge of several international startup pitching competitions and has first-hand experience as an Australian entrepreneur in Japan.
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Jason Hayes
Partner at PwC

Jason Hayes is the leader of PwC’s Japan Practice in Asia Pacific (ex Japan). Jason is a Financial Assurance partner and has more than 25 years of international experience providing assurance and advisory services to companies in a wide variety of industry sectors in Australia, Japan and the UK. Jason is the lead author of PwC’s “Japan Rebooted” series and is a regular commentator in the media and presenter at forums on Japanese trade and investment in Australia including seminars organized by PwC in conjunction with Asialink, JCCI and JETRO. Jason has spent the past 8 years on assignment with PwC in Japan and he is an active member of the Australia Japan Business Cooperation Committee.
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Yumi Millan
Management Consultant

Yumi was born and raised in Japan and subsequently built her professional career in Spain and Australia. A Business and Economics major from Jyochi University with an MBA from ESADE, she has dedicated most of her career to the management of legal firms, primarily in the intellectual property space. She has acted as a strategic consultant to Japanese companies, in particular, with an interest in the European Union and later in Australia. She now heads the Australian office of the intangible asset strategist firm EverEdge Global, providing advisory and transactional services.
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Anita Byrnes
Director with special expertise in Japan

Anita has a wealth of experience as a business owner and director in the software industry including 25 years in Japan. She specialises in business development, marketing, project management, localization for the Japan market and Japanese language and technical translation. Anita also holds a board position with the Australia-Japan Society of NSW.
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David Devlin
Group CEO, systemsGo

David is originally from Sydney Australia, and has lived in Asia for over 25 years. He worked for the Japanese construction company Shimizu Corporation as well as the Australian Embassy in Tokyo prior to founding systemsGo in 1998. systemsGo is a world class multi-lingual IT consultancy and professional services provider with an annual sales revenue of JPY1.5billion (AUD19.5million) and has offices in Japan, China, India, Singapore and Australia. He has served on the boards of several companies and also as Vice Chair of the Australia New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Japan for several years.
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Robert Millar
Founder & Business Consultant at Ginza Hub

Robert is a Tokyo-based startup expert who owns and operates co-working space Ginza Hub. After 15 years as a consultant and 25 years working in Japan, his passion is now coaching startups on the tools and strategies needed to succeed. He has founded or bought then later sold several successful offline and online businesses, giving him unique insight into what really works and what really doesn’t work to start up and run a small business, especially in Japan.
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Jeremy Shaw
Senior Vice President Asia at Intralink

Jeremy is a Japan market entry expert and is the Senior Vice President Asia at Intralink. He has been working in North East Asia for the last 10 years with a focus on Business Development for foreign companies entering Japan including many Venture Capital backed foreign startups.
Tim Gamble

Tim Gamble
Solving IT Headaches in Japan, NZ and Singapore

Tim has deep experience in finance and accounting including 8 years in Japan, is a qualified CPA and in his current role services Japanese clients in the areas of funds management, investments, IFRS, Treasury, Accounting and Financial Analysis.
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Dominic Carter
CEO, The Carter Group

Dominic is a marketing insights practitioner and entrepreneur who has devoted his career to assisting international clients succeed in Japan. He studied Commerce and Japanese at the UNSW before starting his career which led him to Japan in the late nineties. Dominic is experienced in most aspects of cultural adaptation, communications testing, brand development, brand tracking, segmentation and bespoke consumer research, both qualitative and quantitative. He leads a team of 40 full time people across The Carter Group of companies including Carter JMRN and Potentiate Global with offices in Tokyo, Osaka and Singapore.
Tim Romero

Tim Romero
Four-time Founder, Investor, Podcaster

Tim has started several companies since coming to Japan more than 20 years ago, and is deeply involved in Japan’s startup community as an investor, founder and mentor. He is currently a Market Entry Advisor for Creww, and hosts the Disrupting Japan podcast which focuses on Japanese startups and market entry.
Tim believes there is a new wave of both home-grown entrepreneurship and an increased openness to Western technology companies that is already beginning to fundamentally change Japan for the better.
Junko Foley

Junko Foley
Co-Founder, Silver Egg Technology

After graduating from Kobe College in 1984, Junko Foley (Nishimura) worked as a liaison officer and interpreter to the Governor of Osaka Prefecture from 1987 to 1989. After 1989, she worked as a simultaneous interpreter at various international conferences. In 1994, she set up a company called MAID Japan which is a sole sales agent of MAID Inc., a listed British company specialized in online database services. After she transferred its sales rights to a Fujitsu subsidiary “G-Search”, she founded Silver Egg Technology, a realtime recommender service company in Japan, with Thomas Foley in 1998 and worked there as COO until 2015. She is now the President and owner of Daidomon (the original and first chain of Korean BBQ restaurants in Japan) and is co-founder of Silver Egg Technology.
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Jacques Deguest
Angel Investor, Co Founder & CEO at Angels, Inc, MBA, LLM

Jacques is a tech–savvy Angel Investor investing in Asia and Japan in particular in the service industry, and is very active and supportive of entrepreneurs, specialising in strategic planing in service industry in Asia and Japan in particular and versed into post M&A consolidation and rationalisation. He has held various roles as CFO of start-up companies focusing on value creation. His diverse professional background includes time as an MBA specialised in venture capital and finance, as a lawyer (LLM in International Business Law cum laude) specialised in Corporate Governance including a specialisation in Japan Corporate Law; and experience incorporating companies in Japan, preparing contracts and other legal documents in Japanese.

Jacques speaks, reads and writes French, English and Japanese fluently, is working on his Korean and would love to learn Russian.
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Roger Sho Gehrmann
Head of Design, Pandora (AU/NZ)

Born in Japan, much of Rogers creative influence and direction comes from his roots in and connection with Japanese culture and media. Before moving to Australia, Roger lived his childhood across multiple countries before completing a Digital Media, Design and Media Arts Degree at UNSW in Sydney. He has since spent over a decade working across Creative, Design, UX and Project Management roles and his work has earned multiple awards from industry bodies including the Australian App Design Awards, Australian Mobile Awards, The Communicator Awards, Magento Site Awards, AIMIA and ADMA. In addition to guiding global brands from Audi to Macquarie Bank in the digital space, he has previously been an adviser to startups including OneFlare, AirServices and LionChefs and now holds the position of Head of Design for music tech startup Pandora in its Australian operations.
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Junko Katsuda
Principal at Katsuda Synergy Lawyers

Junko has a deep understanding of cross-cultural entrepreneurship, graduating with a law degree in Kyoto before moving to Australia to study Australian law and ultimately going on to start her own innovative law firm in Sydney. Junko has a full range of corporate legal expertise including the legalities of starting foreign businesses in Japan and founded Katsuda Synergy Lawyers in 2013 where she is the Principal lawyer. In this capacity she provides advanced strategic legal guidance in all aspects of corporate, employment, immigration and family law.
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Ryohei Shirai
Chief, Business Strategy Group, Asahi Broadcasting Corporation

Ryohei works within the well established broadcasting firm, Asahi Broadcasting Corporation, in Osaka, Japan. He is a specialist in the areas of technology and startup collaboration, and his role sits within the venture capital arm of the firm, ABC Dream Ventures. ABC Dream Ventures has a focus on startups related to advertising, media, entertainment, big data, health care, edtech, fintech and crowd sourcing.
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Bob Seidler AM
Alternate Director at Leighton Holdings Limited

A lawyer by training, Bob has over 40 years experience in working in Asia, particularly Japan and Indonesia. Currently he is a board member of : – CIMIC Group Limited (formerly Leighton Holdings Limited) – Investa Office Fund – Investa Office Management Also – a Vice-President of the Australia-Japan Business Co-Operation Committee – New South Wales Government Special Envoy-Japan – Chairman of Hunter Phillip Japan Ltd Bob was made a Member of the General Division of the Order of Australia for services to the international business community, to the development of Australia-Japan bilateral commercial relations and through the generation of new business opportunities. The Emperor of Japan has conferred on Bob, The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon in recognition of his contribution to strengthening economic relations between Japan and Australia
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Jason Khoh
Founder at mochiwa mochiya - the Japanese translation experts

Jason is the founder of Japanese translation house, mochiwa mochiya, and is a Research & Liaison Officer at the Japan Local Government Centre. He is a MEXT scholarship recipient with a law degree from the University of Tsukuba and two Masters degrees (Translation & Interpreting and International Relations) from Macquarie University. He was the first to introduce e-learning (coincidentally developed by an Aussie startup) to medical universities in Japan at Nihon University School of Medicine and as the Regional BD Manager for ProScribe Medical Communications, he helped them secure the 2013 Queensland Regional Exporter of the Year Award. Jason also acts as a strategic consultant for Australian firms looking to expand further into Australia, Japan and across the globe.
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James Smith & Shahe Momdjian
Founder & MD at Masters Academy

James and Shahe are communication specialists who work with students, founders and executives looking to improve their: persuasiveness when pitching, memorability when storytelling or general efficacy as speakers. Together they have participated, mentored and/or judged in a variety of startup pitching competitions in Sydney. James founded Masters Academy in 2007, a communication skills education company that works with thousands of students and hundreds of teachers across NSW each year. Shahe founded Young Wisdom in 2012, a communications consultancy offering content marketing strategy, creative production and training to diverse organisations ranging from early-stage tech ventures to large enterprises. When training together, James tends to focus on manner and body language whereas Shahe covers structure and content. Together they have worked with MBA students at UNSW Australia, innovation program participants at Scentre Group (Westfield AU/NZ), student members of Ribit (part of Data61 and CSIRO) and many more.
Todd Heslins

Todd Heslin
Digital Entrepreneur | Investor | Data Analytics Nerd

Todd is a data nerd, entrepreneur and digital investor. Cutting his teeth in Corporate Finance, he started his first business as a student at UNSW and whilst on a cadetship with Ernst & Young. After leaving his first business after four years, he returned eight years later to facilitate its sale. Todd has been hunting and solving problems across the energy, software, eCommerce, and digital media industries within the Asia Pacific region for the last 10 years. His team and clients span across Australia, Singapore, Thailand, Japan, China, and the Phillipines. Todd loves Javascript, PostgreSQL, building digital assets, and using data to tell compelling stories.
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Ken Aoyama
Chief Product Officer, Advisory Board Member, Mentor

Ken started a company in China at 14 years old, worked as CTO of the second startup in Japan since 22, has spent 11 years with Microsoft, and for the last 5 years has led the engineering teams of Cybozu, aTokyo Stock Exchange listed software company with over 18 Billion JPY in Capital and 600 employees worldwide, to deliver fast growth kintone.com aPaaS for global market. Fluent in Japanese, Mandarin and English, Ken has also led the global expansion of Cybozu establishing kintone business in the China, US and Australian markets. Ken currently holds an Advisory Board position with Cybozu and is Chief Product Officer of Australian SaaS company SiteMinder.
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Melissa Ran
China Entrepreneurship Program Manager at UNSW | Founder at Panda Basecamp

Melissa is the CEO of China Ambition, an Australia-based Chinese language communications service. Melissa has previously worked with various local Chinese governments to put on Australia-China innovation and business exchanges, including ‘Chengdu Innovate’ in 2016, worked as an entrepreneur community manager at UNSW Innovations and worked in sales and marketing at Procter & Gamble. In April 2016, she was selected to accompany Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull as a part of his history-making trade delegation to China. Melissa holds qualifications in Marketing, Finance and Law from the University of New South Wales.
Angela Kwan

Angela Kwan
Director, 9 Springs

Angela Kwan is a lawyer and entrepreneur having co-founded Catalyser, a social enterprise focused on workplace giving. After many years working in China, Taiwan & Hong Kong as a lawyer and in multinational corporations including General Electric, she is currently based in Sydney focusing on entrepreneurial interests in real estate, education, technology, startups & philanthropy. She has had a long connection with Japan via her family business and study abroad experience. Angela studied Japanese from high school in Sydney and majored in Japanese studies for her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Sydney. She studied abroad at Kobe University Law School for the final semester of her Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Sydney and she also holds a Masters of Laws from Harvard University.
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Rayn Ong
Early Stage Tech Investor

Rayn Ong is an investor in early stage tech businesses. He works closely with venture fund managers, angel investor groups and accelerator programs to co-invest in high growth opportunities.
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Dimitrios Salampasis
Lecturer of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Swinburne University of Technology

Dimitrios Salampasis (Ph.D.) is a Lecturer of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Swinburne University of Technology. He is an internationally-educated, self-motivated, visionary researcher and trained professional with more than 12 years of international professional working experience. In addition to his academic activities, Dimitrios is actively involved in consulting activities by assisting companies in developing long-term strategic focus and market business strategies. Dimitrios is an active and enthusiastic volunteer, youth business mentor and trainer on peace education and has participated in numerous international programmes, workshops and conventions as a presenter, facilitator and rapporteur.