CEO Kenji Nishinaka
Dream to create a sake that represents Tokyo!
With the support of the BuyTOKYO Project, I was able to move forward to accomplish my dreams
I was raised by a family that runs a sake wholesale business in Hachioji-city in Tokyo, and I myself started working at my family’s company. However, with the change in industry structure in the early 2010s, sake wholesale companies were only being recognized as a delivery company, and I wanted to do something to create new values to Japanese sake. In addition, I found out that there were couple sake breweries in Hachioji-city in the past, but all of those breweries were now gone. This fact motivated me to create a sake that represents the city “Tokyo”, where I was born and raised.
I came into contact with Maihime Inc, located in Suwa-city, Nagano, and I succeeded Maihime Inc , and in 2014. After succeeding the comapny, I created a Japanese sake that was made from rice harvested in Hachioji-city, called “Takao-no-Tengu”.
When I was planning to expand my business delivering “Takao-no-Tengu” to more customers, a local financial institution notified me of the BuyTOKYO project that provides financial support as well as hands-on support for business expansion.
I was able to solve issues my company was facing through hands-on support – the project provided a wide range of support from understanding current issues to providing practical advices
Through the BuyTOKYO project provided during 2019, we received support from “coordinator” who provided a wide range of support from annual report drafting to business operation consultation and “professional” who provided us with advisory from a professional point of view.
With the “coordinator,” we had monthly meetings to understand our company’s current situation, and they provided us with professional advice while introducing us to other professionals.
The “professional” provided us with support on expanding sales through the EC channel as well as strengthening our other sales channels. In terms of expanding sales through EC channels, we received support from “Threewell Management”, a company providing consulting services to restaurants, and they provided us with insights into how we would be able to sell “Takao-no-Tengu” through our EC channels. Most notably, we received detailed lectures on the process of how new and returning customers would consume our product on our EC channel.
In addition, in terms of strengthening our sales channel, we received support from “COKIA”, a company known for its strength in the retail industry to consider our future sales strategy. We had originally thought that having more sale sites would be the best solution, but, we decided to focus on building stronger relationships with local organizations after receiving advice from COKIA that we should be focusing on our local community. As a result, we were able to expand our customer network, including local companies that selected our product as gifts to their clients.
With these initiatives, compared to the previous year, we were able to achieve sales growth of more than 200% in December of 2020, despite the fact that sake industry has been shrinking. While sales to restaurants has decreased due to the effects of COVID-19, sales increase through our EC channel and corporate partnerships helped to boost our growth.
We were able to challenge ourselves in business investments using the financial support effectively, which led us to grow in the past two years
In addition to hands on support, the financial support we received was also a significant help for our business. In order to deliver “Takao-no-Tengu” to various customers, investment for business expansion was necessary, but given the high risk of investment, we were unable to allocate our limited resources to investment. The financial support system which provides support for 2/3 of operational expenses for the 1st year and 1/2 of operational expenses for the 2nd year helped us greatly. Using the financial support, we were able to create marketing tools and host tasting events at a scale that we would not have been able to hold with our budget. As a result, awareness of “Takao-no-Tengu” increased, which had led to more business opportunities in the past two years, as our product is now being selected as welcome drinks at large scale sake events.
With the results from the BuyTOKYO project, we hope to continue creating Japanese sake that represents Tokyo
“Takao-no-Tengu” sales is gradually growing since 2014, and its business scale has now increased by more than 10 times. However, we understand that there are still areas in Japan and the world where we haven’t been able to reach; and we are hoping to deliver our sake to more customers.
In addition, while we are currently brewing sake in our headquarters in Suwa-city Nagano, we hope to be able to brew our sake in Hachioji-city, Tokyo soon; so that we will be able to create sake that is truly “Tokyo-made” and also represents Tokyo
[Points for Success from the Professional’s Point of View]
The project structure that allowed for quick execution of initiatives led to success
(Mr. Ogura from Threewell Management)
In order to strengthen online sales, we outlined issues identified in each phase – reaching out to customers at direct stores, guiding customer to the EC channel and having the customers’ purchase through the EC channel. Once the issues were identified, we immediately implemented initiatives to solve those issues, which led to a quick turnaround. I believe the success point was how we were able to quickly implement the initiatives that were agreed through our meetings. I’m hoping for further success in the future.
(Mr. Sato from COKIA)
With the effects of COVID-19, marketing trends have shifted from focusing on unspecified large number of people to a targeted group of people; and it’s important to have high quality and features with its own “story”. I believe the success point for “Takao-no-Tengu” was the fact that we focused on its “localness” and targeted local companies/organizations with a focus on brightening the local community. In the future, we hope to be able to apply this success story and increase not just first time customers but returning customers as well.
[Introducing the Professionals]
Chief Consultant ltd.
Threewell Management is a consulting company that provides support to companies in the restaurant industry in sales growth, business development, organizational development, franchise headquarter development and global expansion, etc. They provide an end-to-end consulting service that focuses on the actual workplace.
Restaurant industry and marketing
CEO Kei Sato
Former journalist, joined Phoenix Capital, an investment fund in 2002 as a managing director. He established chore service company, Kajitaku and Agile Capital in 2008. He is currently serves as an advisor to about 10 start up companies and corporations.
Marketing and sales channel introductions