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Interview: Tomo Nakamura - co-founder of Goen Matcha


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Looking for a change in direction? Co-Founder of Goen Matcha, Tomo Nakamura, is the man to ask.

Former banker Nakamura turned his life around when he left his 7 year corporate career for an entrepreneurial path, making the decision to start up Goen Matcha after spotting a gap in the UK market. Noticing the quality of UK green tea was still not in line with Japan, Goen Matcha aims to provide good quality Japanese Matcha green tea to the UK market.

Speaking to The National Student, Nakamura has a lot of entrepreneurial advice when it comes to funding, finance and the mindset needed to start up your own business...

What were you doing before Goen and what drove you to make a career change? Was it difficult to resign from your previous position?

I was working in a Bank in Tokyo then in London. The reason I resigned is to do with values; the banks and my values were different.

Some people call the corporate career a rat race and want to drop out, but they have financial commitments so it’s hard for them to retire from the race.  I think the structure and the goal of the team and the management can potentially make people unhappy.

It wasn't difficult to resign. It's similar to a relationship, at that time things didn't work out. Will we get back again? It depends on the timing and where we are in our lives.

Considering your background, what advice would you give to young entrepreneurs looking to start their own business, but are too afraid to venture outside of their comfort zone?

Look at the problems that you face and decide if you would be willing to pay to fix the problem. Talk to entrepreneurs and people who have gone through the journey before – but above all start early and be imaginative.

Calculate your risks and financials. For finance don't forget compounding interest and discounting cash flow. Try to have assets, especially those which can generate income, before the start up journey. Don't forget your skill and knowledge is an asset. Also make friends with other entrepreneurs going through the same journey and keep positive!

It can be hard to stay positive all the time though – what is the biggest hurdle you’ve faced or are still facing?

Getting more people to know we exist. Marketing is really important.

With this in mind, what advice do you wish you'd been given before starting Goen?

Don't hide the business idea, keep talking and people will chip in their idea so that improvements can be made.

Going about starting a business alone is naturally very daunting – what habits and mind-sets did you develop to be successful?

Be more open minded and help people.

Now that you’ve done it, what do you find most rewarding in terms of running your own business?

Talking with our customers and finding out how we can make improvements is rewarding.

So what advice would you give to those who feel they don’t have enough funds to start a business? Are there any options out there?

Firstly make sure to do research on the business. Bootstrapping is important before asking for funds to get a fair valuation. Ensure that the investors have values that are in line with you and your business and show the money is going to be spent on something which will make changes.

Princes Trust, University Incubators and Innovate UK provide funding. The Government Digital Service won the design of year 2013 and there is a lot of information on the Business finance and support: start-up loans being one of them.

And don’t forget friends and family can chip in.

Have you picked up any tips from other start up founders?

Keep hustling.

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