Interview with Mr. Masashi Machisda, Founder of grownUp from Panasonic R&D of America (Silicon Valley)
‘grownUp is a C2C platform that allows older adults to mentor younger adults who are seeking advice and perspectives on their life decision’
1. Whats your name, and please tell about your background
My name is Masashi Machida, a founder of grownUp from Panasonic R&D of America.
I have 10 years’ experience as IP attorney. At that time, I realized how important not only technology and IP but also business concepts, so that I have learned and practiced 3 years’ experience to create business concepts through Design thinking. I also won startup competition in Japanese Business school.
2. Please explain your project and how did you started?
grownUp is a C2C platform that allows older adults to mentor younger adults who are seeking advice and perspectives on their life decision. We started it around a year ago from Draper Acceleration Program, and we’re going to launch in public in this April.
3. What is unique about your solution?
Our successful solution is C2C posting system, which decrease users’ work greatly to find out mentors. Over 500 mentors respond within 24 hours as soon as mentees post their concern to our platform, then they can connect with appropriate mentors confirming comments from the mentors and their profile info. Namely mentees don’t require a lot of work to find out specific mentor compared to the searching system, and get excited by receiving mentors’ comments at once
4. What is your vison?
My vision is to prevent baby boomers declining self-esteem, making them happier.
Human’s self-esteem is decreasing at the peak of around 50 years old, however many companies focus on only senior like over 75 years old. We need to pay attention to people at an earlier stage, who are baby boomers like 50-70 years old.
5. Who are your customers, and what problem are you solving for them? What is your unique insight?
We have 2 types of customers, who are older adults as mentors and younger adults as mentees.
As for mentors, we figured out essential key element to energize baby-boomers through lots of user interviews. It’s an intergenerational relationship. Before the interview we thought their pains are loneliness and anxiety about the future. However, they are totally different. They want to become being more active, fun and networking. The strongest gain was intergenerational relationship.
They want to connect and guide young generation and guide them.
On the other hand, how about younger adults? We found out that they wanted to leverage other’s insights to make life decisions, especially they need years and years experiences in the field of work-life balance such as good balance between family time and working time, health wellness consisted of life-style, productive and healthy career in your life. Their career and life goal shouldn’t be separated.
6. How big is your market?
Our market is $8.7bn. if we get 15% available share that’s $1.3bn. This is only US market. We can cross the border and approach other countries.
7. How does your product actually work?
8. What is your business model?
The business model is simple, users will pay for communications with good mentors. We can get 20% commission fee from them.
9. What is your go-to-market strategy? Why now?
We’re planning to get first customers at metropolitan suburbs in California, Texas and Georgia because these areas are common to respond through digital ad tests between mentors and mentees. We already have over 500 mentors that women are around 70% of them, so we’ll focus on the work-life balance topics related to working mother.
10. Who are your competitors and how are you different?
Regarding to competitors, in the life coaching field, there are almost individual or small private companies but they are not platformer like grownup. About a mentoring service, a lot of companies focus on professional career or education but these’re not life experience. Further totally we differentiate UX we provide from the competitors. As I mentioned, that’s our c2c posting system.
11. Please write a message to your potential strategic partners in Silicon Valley or another cities around the world.
Potential partners are AARP, Senior living communities and some startups like Stitch focused on baby boomers. WeWork and other coworking and sharing space companies will be potential partners when we’ll create in-person mentoring system next year.