Strengthening Your Network

JMEC in Japan Today

TOKYO — The 18th Japan Market Expansion Competition (JMEC) this year resulted in the top three teams of aspiring executives and entrepreneurs being judged within 3% of each other and the difference between third and fourth place less than one-fifth of 1%.

JMEC Program Director Pierre Couret said: “JMEC 18 had highly motivated participants from 12 countries who overcame language and other problems to cooperate in small teams to analyze market opportunities for JMEC project clients, and developed realistic business plans to crack the Japanese market. I really enjoyed working with such great young management talent.”

The eight project clients — including SMEs and global companies — received high-quality business plans tailored to their specific needs, for a much lower cost than those from outside consultants. Some of Japan’s most established foreign managers and business professionals mentored and advised the teams as they developed their plans.

Brian Norton, project client of first-place winners Team 1, said: “I read the JMEC plan and I was very impressed with the way the team laid out the contrast between the potential for failure and the potential for success. I have been agonizing over these issues for five years, and now I have some objective analysis and extensive information to move toward some decisions.”

Jason Hutson, project client and founder of What Sport Creative, said: “On behalf of my staff, I would like to thank everyone at JMEC for all the support they’ve provided my organization over the past several months. It has been a great learning experience and throughout the process of assessing our history and the previous three years of pilot projects we can see more clearly what kind of financial plan we need to grow our vision into in the future.

“Now with the JMEC business plan, I think we have a solid base to begin growing our social entrepreneurship venture in Japan over the next few years, thanks to the help of all the Team Mastermind members.”

JMEC’s three judges spent hours reviewing plans and presentations from each team. In such a close contest for the top three places, the presentations were a very important factor in deciding the overall outcome, according to Rike Wooten, one of the judges.

In second place was Team Mokuzai, representing UPM-Kymmene Japan KK, and third place went to Team 6th Sense, representing SIX Financial Information Japan Ltd. The prizes included Hewlett-Packard laptops, British Airways return tickets to London, and a two-night stay at a Small Luxury Hotel (SLH) anywhere in the world.

JMEC Executive Committee Chairman Thomas Whitson, said: “I have been a JMEC lecturer for many years, but as the chairman of the Steering Committee I listened to a few of the team presentations to the judges. I thought that the presentations were not only professional and action-oriented, but I was also amazed by their creativity in content and format. Some teams actually produced examples of TV commercials for their clients and showcased them during the presentation. This year’s business plans were really excellent.”

The 200 guests — including leaders of a number of foreign chambers of commerce and embassies in Japan — enjoyed drinks and a buffet at the Tokyo American Club and bought raffle tickets and auction items which raised money for the JMEC 19 program.

Founded in 1993 by the Australian and New Zealand Chamber of Commerce (ANZCCJ) — JMEC is a non-profit business planning skills development training program which is now supported by 16 foreign chambers of commerce in Japan. Centered on a business plan competition, JMEC provides classroom training and hands-on experience for up-and-coming executives living and working in Japan, and JMEC provides high-quality business plans to help foreign companies operating in or entering the Japanese market.

The JMEC 19 program will begin in November 2012 with information sessions where potential JMEC participants can find out more about the JMEC program, speak to JMEC Alumni and to other potential participants.

For more information about JMEC, please visit