In the past couple of weeks, each team showed what idea and purpose they were applying to the accelerator program supported by Techstars and Rakuten. Then, based on their startup profiles, they received flight tickets to three different countries. One team went to Tel Aviv to the headquarters of Viber, some other headed to Tokyo to the Rakuten Center, and Talk-A-Bot travelled to San Francisco, San Mateo the Rakuten US headquarters.
After a 15 hours direct flight we arrived in the States. Our primary goal was to meet as many company leaders as possible. The HQ’s café on the first floor was the most suitable place to meet them. We talked to Djamel Agaoua, the global leader of Viber, Stuart Simms, the marketing CEO of Rakuten US, and Yaz Lida, the president of Rakuten US. We also had the opportunity to meet and pitch for Hiroshi “Mickey” Mikitani, CEO of Rakuten Viber.
The timing was perfect because Talk-A-Bot and the other two startup CEO were selected for the Rakuten Optimism – the first global conference of Rakuten, where all of the “Japanese Amazon” 70 business lines were presented. Besides many prestigious branches, the most prominent one, the American EBATES, which joined the Rakuten family in 2014. The popular company guarantees credit to its registered customers after every online purchase. In cash.
The Bill Graham Civic Auditorium was an excellent venue for the event. The high-quality opening and the performances were in the concert hall, while the reception was in front of the auditorium, directly at Grove Street, closed during the event.
The one-day meeting program featured key players such as Mike Brown and Jordan Bell, the famous NBA Golden State Warriors team coach, David Alpert, the producer of Walking Dead and of course Hiroshi “Mickey” Mikitani, CEO of Rakuten. In his speech, Mickey highlighted Rakuten’s vision and the next new development steps. All 40,000 dealers in Ichibo, Japan’s largest e-commerce company will have their own Japanese speaking chatbot.
He also emphasized that chat and chatbots are now a part of every business or commercial application. Forbes’ choice of top 20 most innovative companies in 2002 continued to keep pace with its fast growth rate. The best example was Curbside, best in offline-online conversion recently had been bought up for $ 100 million.
At the reception, we accidentally met a gentleman who was sitting at the closest table. After a few sentences, it turned out that he is one of the best neurosurgeons in the United States and he is also the husband of Mickey’s cousin. More than two hours of conversation we talked about Singapore, the famous Hungarian Tokaj wines, his book about aging, and of course the secrets of Mickey’s success.
When everyone finished with the dinner, we took place at the Auditorium where previously hundreds of famous performers such as Kiss, U2, Madonna made a show. Now Shakira dazzled the audience. The fantastic pop star appeared full in gold and has shown the album, El Dorado, supported by Rakuten. Besides the new songs, the well-known singing songs have also risen. Our night was a once in a lifetime and we liked to move it, move it for Waka-waka.
Talk-A-Bot’s 12 weeks incubation is coming to an end. On the Closing Day, the 10th of October Talk-A-Bot will be announcing its new product developed during the program to more than 70 VCs invited to the elegant closing event