On August 13th, the Algorand Foundation announced the 2nd recipient of the ambassador of the quarter award - Japan ambassador Akio Sashima, who is a market entry consultant and has taken the role of the Algorand ambassador early this year.
Akio has been actively promoting Algorand in Japan ever since he joined the ambassador program. During the past months, he has 1）created and managed a Japanese Algorand community website, with comprehensive information; 2) managed the Japanese twitter account (@AlgorandJapan), translated and retweeted promptly every Algorand tweet; 3) kept up-to-date translation of the Algorand news release, videos, and update the news on the Japanese website. 4) actively explored business opportunities with local Japanese companies for Algorand etc.
We’d like to thank Akio for his outstanding contribution to the Algorand ecosystem on behalf of the whole ambassador team. To learn more about his story with Algorand, we held an AMA with him in our ambassador slack group. Here are some featured Q&As from the AMA, hosted by Daniel, who is the administrator of the ambassador group.
Daniel: Can you share with us the story between you and Algorand? How did you enter the world of blockchain and get to know Algorand?
Akio: I started working with some blockchain projects in 2017 when my business partner in Israel introduced me to some projects to promote in Japan. While I engaged in those projects, I understood that something interesting was happening in this space, so I contacted more projects to help their market entry in Japan.
It's fun to work with them, but gradually I found they didn't have any proper strategies nor resources to move forward. In other words, they didn't have a proper team.
In the meantime, I started my own financial application project with Japanese partners, so I had to find the best public chain for us. Then, I found Algorand around the spring 2019. I liked it as Algorand had all: good technology, good management team and good mission.
Daniel: Thanks for letting us know about your journey : ) Let's talk a bit about Japan. How do you perceive the blockchain market in Japan? Do you think there is a big opportunity for Algorand there?
Akio: Although crypto trading is very popular in Japan, blockchain businesses are not that much yet. As you can see, there are very few projects from Japan on the top list such as Coinmarketcap. Also, there are not many blockchain engineers in Japan.
But Japanese are always good users for something new. Once applications on blockchain become popular, Japanese will be early adopters to utilize those services in our own innovative way.
Actually, Algorand is already in Japan through the partnership with Securitize. They had investments not only from Algorand, but from some major companies including Japanese major financial institutions, and entered in the Japan market by M&A of local blockchain companies. This is quite a good example for foreign companies to enter into Japan.
In this perspective, introducing Algorand use cases to Japan is a good way to promote Algorand in this somewhat closed market.
Daniel: Great to have your insights! For those unaware you can also read about Algorand x Securitize partnership through here.
Let's talk a bit about the Website. We know you have created the Japanese Algo website, and you have been managing the Japanese Twitter, which has greatly promoted Algorand in Japan. Which do you think is the most competitive advantage of Algorand as a public chain in Japan?
Akio: Japanese, especially big companies, are quite conservative, so if you ask them to use Algorand, most of them say they have only two options; Hyperledger or Ethereum.
However, Algorand has a big advantage which is the "MIT" brand. Japanese people like brand name. Also, Algorand is a US-based public chain. This is political, so I don't comment any further, but this fact plays a key role now.
The next big move should be an ALGO listing on Japanese licensed exchanges. Although we are talking with some top exchanges, I should not comment any further at the moment.
Daniel: From your website, we can see there is a program called “ 100 Japan ambassadors recruitment”. Why do you initiate this program and how’s the progress?
Akio: From my experience, the number of "followers" or "community member" doesn't make that much sense at the time of startup. Rather, what we need is an "association" which is a group of leaders who actively engage in project's activities. In other words, we should create a network of independent wolves, not a flock of sheep.
The word "ambassador" sounds like we just need one person in each region, but actually, one person is not enough to cover all as blockchain covers all industries. So we need ambassadors in each industry or ultimately in each client.
Anyway, so far we have over 10 ambassadors now. Actually, more people show interest in becoming ambassadors, but some of them don't apply because of English skills. So I am planning to create Japanese channel which will be like a "Diplomat network" under ambassadors.
Daniel: Yeah agreed, while running the program I have felt similar. It has been good to see ''Developers'' coming to Algorand, but even then we have need for advocates who can talk about Algorand and bring more adoption of Algorand Blockchain.
Let’s talk a bit about 2020. What do you think of Algorand’s achievements in the past 7 months? And why?
Akio: I think Algorand has been super active even in this weird situation. We had lots of webinars, lots of new use cases and launched nice programs such as 250M Grant and asia Accelerator. We even released a Covid-19 tracing app.
If Algorand had few news, ambassadors had few things to do. Actually, I think we had quite a lot of things to do for now with good news, so we are happy.
Daniel: Grants program has been well appreciated as well as the Accelerator, we are still receiving applications on a constant basis from Devs and wish to expand this further.
What about the rest of the year? What do you want to achieve most? Any expectations for Algorand?
Akio: Lots of things to do, but I’ll pick up 3.
1. Training programs
For those who get interested in Algorand, we should provide a proper training program, not only in tech, but in business application. We are talking with some local vendors on this issue.
2. Tech partner program
We need to build strong relationships with local tech partners which could be "corporate ambassadors" in each industry. For example, when we get consultation from potential users who want to issue security tokens, we can introduce Securitize Japan.
3. Create local use cases
I think this is a top priority. I have already recruited a startup called "Artree" which is based in The University of Tokyo and they will use Algorand as a platform for their digital contents distribution application. Two Artree guys are ambassadors, too:)
Personally, what I have to do now is to create a "borderless workplace environment" which will be located in Tokyo, Malta and Israel. My wife already moved there in early Feburary when the border is still open.
Daniel: Checking out Artree as we speak : ) Thank you for showcasing them, it is good to see a local use-case being built upon Algorand in Japan.
As our super ambassador, can you tell us how you perceive the identity of an Algorand ambassador? Do you have anything you’d like to say to our other ambassadors?
Akio: "Algorand ambassador" title could be a "passport" to access to any industry players in the near future.
The more popular Algorand becomes, the more powerful this passport becomes. But don't forget, it's not a gift from Algorand, but it should be achievements of us, Algorand ambassadors:)
Thanks again to Akio for his contribution to our ecosystem. We welcome any talents around the world to join Akio, and join our ambassador global team (Program details). If you are passionate about the idea of building a borderless economy with frictionless finance, Algorand is here for you.
Click here to check Meet our Ambassadors Episode 1: Vincent Kong
Are you the next Super Ambassador? Join us now!