The difficulty of conveying your thoughts to others
We are a young startup, founded in November 2017 to provide AI technology services to pig farmers and to construct a new pork-based business ecosystem. We are full of ideas and thoughts we want to express, but since everyone at the company is technically minded, we didn’t know how to accurately convey these ideas to our customers. I, therefore, contacted Saso, a close friend from my college days who I regularly rely on for advice, and asked him to help us create a website.
Extracting your inner thoughts
As a first step in the website creation process, Saso conducted a thorough interview. He threw question after question at me, such as “What is the underlying meaning of the name ‘Eco-Pork’?”, “What is your manifesto?”, “What are you trying to achieve with this technology?”, and “In the long run, what kind of society do you wish to create?”. The process of answering each of these questions clarified and focused my inner thoughts and vague impressions. We settled on “Harnessing technology to contribute to a natural society” as our company mission, and this phrase ended up on our website’s company profile. The process of generating this mission statement struck me as very co-creative.
Co-creative conversations after work
Since our families know each other, we would sometimes have joint family dinners and talk together. There was no pressure to produce any output during these off-hours informal conversations, and they often gave me the seeds of new insights to work out later.
Clarifying the Five Ws and How
Now that we had the foundation laid down, BIOTOPE’s UI/UX designer Tomoko Ikenoue stepped in to help us turn it into a website. We started by getting the basic facts straight through questions such as “What kind of content do we need?”, “How should it be structured?”, “What do we want to convey on each page?”, and “Who is our main target group?”. This clarified how and to who we wanted to convey what, covering all the Five Ws and How, until the website design was complete.
Choosing the optimal solution for logo design
Next followed the production of a logo for our company and services. After Ikenoue had summarized what information we wanted to convey with our logo, we used a crowd sourcing service called CrowdWorks for the design. BIOTOPE made this choice after considering our situation as a startup that couldn’t afford large expenses, and I think this was the optimal solution for us. The response amazed me; we ended up receiving 147 proposals. Thanks to Ikenoue expertly conveying the logo concept and its nuances (i.e. “It’s for a technology company, but shouldn’t be too focused on technology”) to designers all over Japan, we ended up with a perfect logo. Ikenoue managed the process with an eye for detail that I know I could never replicate myself.
Getting certified by government ministries
Soon after launching our website in April, Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries selected us as one of several businesses in 2018 that “facilitate real-world application of cutting edge technology”. Further, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry certified our software for their IT Implementation Subsidies program (probably the first agricultural software to receive this certification), allowing companies that use our software to receive subsidies. The website also led to a collaborative development partnership with a veterinarian, and to a major domestic farm becoming our client. That we got such an overwhelming response within just 4 months of launching our service is all thanks to the website. In particular, I think that the recognition by government ministries is related to us having a website that communicates its contents much better than the websites of other startups.