[Buzzvil People] Japan Managing Director, Arata Yoshizawa

Our Buzzvillian Story series features our outstanding team members on our blog. Get to know us, hear our stories, and find out how we came to be part of this dream team!

Arata Yoshizawa, Business Manager, Japan



Gunma, Japan

What’s your story?

  In 2002 when Korea and Japan were co-hosting the World Cup, I stayed in Busan as an exchange student. I hoped to learn about digital content, and at that time Korea was a leading country in the industry. So I asked a Korean professor in my university with whom I had had no acquaintances before if I could go to Korea to learn it. The professor referred me to an exchange program to a Korean university in Busan. But not long after I arrived in Busan did I realize that every course was taught in Korean. One professor there told me that if I could not speak Korean, I would not be able to learn anything. I was shocked, and for the next 10 months I ended up studying only the language, especially the one with a local Busan accent. This yet unfulfilled desire to explore the Korean digital world was compelling enough to bring me to Buzzvil after more than ten years. Throughout my career, I’ve walked alongside the history of IT, starting from a PC software company and then moving on to a flip phone games company, and now Buzzvil whose products operate on smartphones. Each of these has been from a different country. The PC software company where I started my career was an American company specializing in voice recognition. That company division was later acquired by Apple and it laid the technological foundation of Siri. After the American company, I moved to a Chinese company and then a French company, both engaged in the games industry. And now I’m working for a Korean company, Buzzvil. I can’t wait to see where IT will advance and how that will change my career.

What is your role in Buzzvil’s Japan office?

I’m officially the business manager of Buzzvil’s Japan office but until recently had been tasked with everything related to Buzzvil that has to be taken care of in Japan. Now that we have two new members in the Japan office, I’m no longer the sole operator and delighted to finally be able to share the office. Even before these two joined the Japan office, Buzzvil’s Japanese team has had two other members, Elena and Hailey, but they operate remotely from the Korean headquarter, leaving only me here in Japan. My main job as a business manager is to maintain and keep building relationships with ad networks and other potential partners.

Since you have observed the advances in Information Technology throughout your career, please share with us your outlook on the future of lockscreens.

  At first, I was struck by the idea of paying the users simply for advertisements displayed on their lockscreen. “What? Giving money to them because they see those ads?” But not long after did I find out how this business works and I was very impressed. As I had been in the games industry focusing on how to get money directly from the users, this concept was groundbreaking. But a greater advantage is that there is no one in Japan that understands the value of lockscreens, and thus no competitor. This possibility in the Japanese market was my biggest motivation to fight the loneliness throughout my sole operator days. Even though people see their lockscreens more than 70 times a day, people filled their lockscreens with photos of dogs, flowers, kids or other stuff to their liking. Because people thought their lockscreens represent them, any attempt to utilize the lockscreen as a venue for ads had been deemed harmful for quite long. However, now that we’ve got SNS and other channels to show ourselves, there is and will be more room for rewarding service to occupy lockscreens. And I’m pretty sure there are more unexplored opportunities than one might expect and we will be the one to further expand the horizon of lockscreens.

Do you have any special moments at Buzzvil?

The most remarkable moment that represented Buzzvil’s culture to me was my final interview. After passing the first and second interview, I was notified that the final interview would be done at a bar. I was like “What? Drink beer with the CEO in the interview?” The interview was held in a very casual setting and covered a lot of grounds ranging from work-related questions to personal stuff. John even asked me how much of alcohol I can drink. What’s more, I could feel a deeper tie with John who is another Busan guy. Since John and I are of similar ages and stayed in Busan at the same time, we share local accent there and memories about the events or hot spots in Busan at that time.

Would you introduce Buzzvil’s Tokyo office?

It is located in Shibuya, Tokyo’s iconic area famous for the bustling crosswalks. There are two main neighborhoods with a high concentration of startups in Tokyo: Shibuya and Robbongi. While Robbongi is a rather fancy and snobbish area for the upper class, Shibuya is a hot spot for young people. Settling down in such an area provides us deeper insight into the young generation, Honeyscreen’s current main target. And since until recently there had been only me operating in the Japan office, we chose to rent a few desks in a shared office rather than a separate office. Sharing the office with professionals from various industries is an obvious benefit. They range from designers, programmers to even architects and manga writers. In free coffee time at the shared kitchen, I enjoy mingling and interacting with those talented, passionate people and the atmosphere then is really lively and rejuvenating. And in the course I may bump into unexpected business opportunities for both Buzzvil and me.

What are your future goals?

  As we’ve operated in Japan for more than two years, I wish to not only follow the existing business from the Korea HQ but establish our own Japanese business model as well. And when it comes to performance evaluation and rewarding system, project by project evaluation can also be considered. After we successfully complete each project, we can be rewarded for that project by sumptuous hoesik. Isn’t it a cool idea? On a personal level, I’m deeply interested in sake (Japanese traditional rice wine) and sake breweries all around Japan. A huge variety of breweries with their own distinctions are scattered all over the country and so is the information on them. Someone needs to gather all the information on them on a single website and let the trade work on that online platform. I will be the one to build an online sake empire.

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