100 Next-Era CEOs in Asia 2012 -The region's best brightest, most promising-

Kawabata Holdings Co.

CEO  Yoshifumi Kawabata

Message to young people
Many people think, "I'll start in a major company and take it from there." Although that is not a bad theory, looking at recent businesspeople, I feel that it takes too much time. Dropping out of college may be too late as well. I was fortunate in many ways. To be able to think, "I am a lucky person," shows that that person worked hard in different areas, and I would like to liven up Japan with these "lucky" people.

During my second year of high school, I became an apprentice to a teacher for whom I had a lot of respect, whom I took lessons from until I graduated college. When I was 20, I was spending a lot of my time working a part-time job and neglected my studies as a musician. My teacher got very angry and told me to find a job in the food industry if I liked my part-time job so much, and it was then that I realized that my teacher truly wanted to make me into a musician.

I had been doing business for pocket money since I was in high school, so it felt natural to start my own business. My parents had their own business as well, so the only idea I had toward starting a business was that I just needed to do something I can make enough to live on. I had established my business when I was around 20 and had built a good reputation when I decided to open an actual store after graduating from college. It was possible to continue the business without an actual store and would have been more profitable that way, but I would only have been thinking of myself, and I would not be able to say that I was contributing to the industry.

Things got hard after opening the store. Although I was making more revenue, there was rent to pay and not enough operating funds. If customers asked if they could pay the next month, declining was not an option. Still, the payments to the distributers had to be made. I had to ask for an extension numerous times, and I am still grateful to those who agreed to my requests without a fight.

I was able to expand to Nagoya within five years, and Tokyo within 10. My goal is to continue to open stores around the country. It is a niche market, and each store is able to attract customers from a large area, but I would like to continue to be an accessible store to everyone where they always feel welcome. I hope to create a place that satisfies both the people in the music business and end-users who are not fulfilled by the current music industry.

Company Profile

Kawabata Holdings Co.
Instrument sales/rental, operation of music classes and rental studios