This past year was unforgettable with its challenges and uncertainties. It was a year that would test our collective resilience. Could we manage to push forward amidst the unknown? This question was on all of our minds. Entrepreneurship in itself is a journey with no clear roadmap. And even in a pandemic, our EIRs pushed forward with unwavering resolve and optimism despite building a venture for the very first time in an unprecedented world of unknowns. Six ventures and their EIRs embraced the unique challenges and opportunities that only the pandemic could have triggered.
Tanongdej (Den) Lertchanyarak, EIR of EZD, was stuck at home during quarantine in Thailand when he noticed all of the junk he wanted to get rid of to make space for new appliances. He realized that there wasn’t a trash removal service or recycling pickup available in Thailand, especially for large furniture and appliances. A light bulb switched on inside of Den and he knew this idea had to be pitched to Moon.
Before the pandemic, our venture VOOX, which offers learning content in quick 10 minute segments, had originally intended to target commuters in Japan. Since the number of commuters dramatically decreased during the pandemic, EIR Guihua Hong was left to explore other audiences. Through user research, the team at VOOX discovered that working mothers wanted to further their careers through continued learning, but had challenges with managing their time to do so. With a little investigation and the willingness to adjust course, VOOX was able to remain agile and expand their target audience.
Kazuki Minamihara and Shohei Horiguchi, EIRs of Suup, had been working on a service prior to the pandemic that allowed anyone in Japan to discover and book temporary meeting and workspaces. The EIRs found accelerated growth in the new remote-first working environment. With offices closed, more people around Japan began to seek other locations to do their work. The timing of Suup’s service could not have been more ideal.
Tomopiia, a service that helps patients with chronic illness track their care and communicate directly with nurses, had originally intended to build a network of doctors, nurses and patients throughout hospitals. With the pandemic limiting access to hospitals, Tomopiia’s EIR, Junichiro Shigemura, resorted to video calls to build his network. While challenging at first, Shigemura found that he was able to directly connect with nurses quicker and more frequently as it was easier to secure their time allowing Tomopiia’s network to flourish.
Yukari Tago, EIR of our venture Lullaby, found solace in connecting with the moms and sleep consultants who used her app during shelter-in-place. It was during these tough times that she really started to understand her target audience and listen to their needs. She learned that by listening to what they wanted most she would be able to better position Lullaby for success.
Finding empty tennis courts around Japan can be quite challenging, especially during the pandemic when people were craving outdoor activities with friends. EIRs of Tennis Bear, Kei Esaki and Hiroyuki Mashihara, built their app with a community-first approach by connecting recreational players of all levels. During a time when many sought human interaction, Tennis Bear helped its users find the human engagement they needed beyond a simple tennis match.
All six of these ventures experienced new and unexpected challenges due to the pandemic. These challenges led to new discoveries and learnings — the magic we celebrate at Moon.
Here are their stories.