appreciate toolkits that innovate the planet

Our generation needs higher purpose

How I earned first 10K USD

When I entered the university in 2006, I was in the law faculty, very poor, I could not manage to buy textbooks of law. Law faculty requires 40+ books each cost 50 USD, totally 2,000 USD per quarter. I could not afford it. But when I was walking around campus of the University of Tokyo, senior guys, upper classes students, who already finished their curriculum, disposes the textbook after 1 year. I found it in university garbage, collected it and sold it on amazon.com which just started operation in Japan. In a day someone bought used books via internet so I packed and delivered it immediately. I attended school only once in a week because I wanted to save 10-dollars subway fare per day. But after selling disposed textbooks, I earned 50 dollars everyday I visit school. Return on investment of my subway fare became 500% after I found that business. When I attended school, everyday, I walked around campus, picked up disposed textbooks and sold it in internet using campus Macintosh for free( I could not buy Macintosh that cost heavily for me and there was no internet in my home). This business made me 1,000 USD per month during 4 years of my campus life, which earned 50% of my monthly living cost. The CAPEX and OPEX of that business was nearly zero and had quite high gross margin near 99%.

Finding genius and arbitrage: second opportunity

I found another opportunity in the class. There are 30 friends in the same class. There were 100 classes and 3,000 students in a same age grade. 10% of them was extraordinary genius who could get nearly all A+ and total GPA of 3.9 to 4.0. My GPA was avarage around 2.0 and always C grade of all 100+ curriculums.(sports and politics was A+ grade I remember.)

When there was final exam, nearly 90% of 3,000 students were collecting ”best notebooks” of each curriculum. For example, when there is a criminal law course, then every Monday there is 90 min lecture from professor. At the end of quarter, there is an exam and if we took upper 2.0, C grade and collect all 100+ degree in 4 years, then we can graduate university. Some takes minimum 4 years to graduate but some takes longer than 8 years to collect all the curriculum degree. Longer than 8 years, the university cannot allow it, you will get expelled from school. The lecture hall is quite large to seat 400 students, the best genius always seat at the front of the room where they can actively talk to the professor. Such students always kept perfect notebook(imagine 2006 everyone had paper notebook and hand written memo in it). I was not able to take notes at lecture at all, I couldn’t understand what professor was talking about and always felt asleep and slept after 5 minutes lecture started. When I first looked the best note of my classmate, summary and detail of lecture was in it with clear charts, he or she is predicting what will be asked in the final exam, and listing up answering patterns in it.

It was for me, really like Chat GPT of 2020s(That time was 2000s). The notebook had all the information I needed. I saw beauty in it and collected any classes genius notebooks. Everyday, I played soccer, tennis and baseball, drunk a lot in several students community, I had many friends, so it was very easy for me to collect the best of breed notebooks. After I collected them, I asked my friend Mr Aoki,( who is now lawyer and COO of my company) to scan them and make CD-ROM. Collected best suite cheatpapers. That was named “Shike-Pri”.

It was my first intellectual property business, we manufactured 100 CD-ROM and brought it to the lecture room, sold it 10 USD per unit, after 1 minute, all of the inventory cleared. My second hit product earned totally 1,000 USD in a minute.

The interesting point of this business was, I paid nothing to the notebook owners. Basically the University of Tokyo students were very rich. Top 1% of the wealthy family is gathered from all 47 prefecture of Japan to the school. So the motivation of notebook owners sharing their output was the reason because I understood its beauty and completeness. Only thing for me to do was admire it and just ask I want to share this to someone because this is really artistic. The motivation of the deal was to put someone’s writing out into the world. Buyer paid nothing but paid attention. Seller get no money but got praise from friends.

This business was also very nice, the only cost was CD-ROM purchasing, but that cost Mr.Aoki paid, whose father is very rich and he care nothing about 10 USD of CD-ROM cost. I earned 99% gross margin.

Demand and supply: commodities brokerage

The third business I learned in my universityhood was at an annual festival in the university. There are thousands of visitors in the 3-day festival. We sold sweet silky egg pudding which we bought it nearby our campus. The cost of pudding was US$1, the selling price was US$5, gross margin was 80%. Why high margin pudding could be sold, it was because we added value to it, we rented our class room for free if they bought pudding and gave free map of the college (the university administrator made it, we did not pay cost for maps), showed customers choices to enjoy festival which distination to visit next. We sold the thinking time to sit still at the chair to see campus map, eat pudding and chat with friends where to visit next. We sold value, not product. This business perfectly grasped the demands of visitors and I sold 100 tickets in a hour, totally $500 per hour. Out of $500, 80% amounting $400 was gross profit and we could drink free alcohol in the after party. I talked to 100 visitors and all visitors bought our ticket of pudding. The win rate was almost 100%. Some other classes was selling hand made vegitable soup at $100, some selling hand made attraction at $200, but we sold only value added products so there was almost no effort other than purchasing good commodities. I learned if I do easier things than competitors, then I can achieve lots more than competitors and can earn higher profit margin. I learned that more important thing than invention is predicting demand of the customers and purchasing good products: brokerage. Not use my time to invent something from scratch, just add value: invention takes quite long time, cost and efforts, adding value is easier to accomplish.

After graduation

When I enjoyed four years of campus life, I combined several high margin business that made me constantly 3,000 USD per month and that was already 50% higher than new graduates’ salary of top companies like Toyota, Honda, Mitsubishi, SMBC, Mitsubishi etc. Every friend went interview of conglomerates and passed easily, but I failed all of the interviews because I was too honest. When I asked by interviewer, “how long you are willing to be in our company” I said, 3 months. But in 2000s in Japan, everyone stayed same company up to 40 years. I was too innovative to pass any of the companies, I went top 100 conglomerates interview but failed any of it.

The purpose

Why I took long texts to elaborate thing is “this generation, earning money is too easy to be ultimate purpose.” In my lifetime, I earned money as if I am breathing air. It will be automatically done and there is no effort to accomplish it. Thanks to human wisdom, shoulders of giants, we can utilize internet. If I would have been in university 1960s, then I could not found such highest margin business. My success in the first and second business was thanks to tech industry.

If we can earn easily, then, why we work? For what we wake up in the morning? Everyday after I graduated school, I was thinking about it, I was always walking around and traveling lots of countries to find the meaning.

My university friends got busier and busier when he or she perform well in their company, they have to work day and night. Around 30 years old, they are already too elite class to have enough free time so I could not invite them to travel together, go shopping, go drinking anytime, anyplace. That problem drove me very seriously because I can earn money easily but nothing to do, I am very boring and lonely. Every day, I woke up and went city, go karaoke or pachinko(popular amusement in Japan) alone every day, just walk very slowly and passed time. Someday I go north, someday I go south, I had no schedule to do. I can read a lot of books but my reading speed is so fast as 10 seconds per book(flash reading). I have no time consuming lifework. So that’s why I started to let someone get the ability to earn money easily to make new friends I can consume time with. I started it from sole proprietorship clients. All time in my career, I have been mentoring 5 to 10 entrepreneurs in a month. Gradually the clients sizes grew up. From sole proprietorship like aesthetician, voice trainer, gymnastics, massage, logo designer, foretune teller etc. Gradually my customers grew from small business, to mid size, to publicly listed companies, to conglomerates and UHNW family offices in the end. Customer base started from Tokyo and extended to other 47 prefectures in Japan, eventually extended to Asia, Europe, United States.

The meaning

I almost retired work to earn money when I was 25 years old: now 36 in 2024.

But my question in life is still same. I do not need to work for money, earning money to live is too easy so I cannot put it as my goals nor milestones. I think, in our generation, perhaps quite lots of numbers under my age would be thinking similarly.

They want something more exciting to consume there time and life. They are not assuming difficulty about earning minimum required money to live. It’s easy for us to earn money to live minimal life.

If the money is plenty like air, I can withdraw it from “air ATM”, automated teller machine. We can breathe any time without paying cost, imagine same, we can earn anytime without paying anyting. But there is one constraints in the air ATM, if I do not really need money, I cannot withdraw excessive amount from that ATM. The privilage of using that ATM is “purpose”. Our generation wealth is drived by higher purpose than previous generation.

Why you spend time, why are you still alive? Why you talk to neighbors and what goals you are finding and achieving? Why you invite friends to do it together? What is the desire of you and your family, friends, colleagues? It is the requirement to withdraw money from air ATM.

Being the world largest company is one of our group milestone but it is not the purpose nor goals. The purpose of doing it is to appreciate several known and unknown force of nature, admire the beauty of this universe, push the boundaries of humanity, and feel unknown mythic power of life in space-time.

The desire

Problems and solutions are not our generation’s issue, if there is no problem, then why we are motivated to do something? I think every company really do not have problem to solve. What they are lacking is the desire to do something, the purpose of finding universal truth(because it is exciting), and the meaning to live just one more day. What I found in my universityhood will be one of the hints. Admiring someone’s effort, appreciating each diversity, circulating value will make this planet better without any cost. It’s realy high margin and high ROE investment.

Find inequity, spread equity

Observe nature in front of you, find inequity, spread equity. Look for areas where there’s unfairness and then working to distribute resources or opportunities more fairly. “Equity” means not exactly same as startup stocks, you need no ownership to persuade someone to pursue similar vision and find something together. You can be an owner of your life and let stakeholders involve in it without distributing corporate share. You can start your real truth journey anytime, in anyplace.