Innovation That Matters

Wise Words with Yusuke Ohki

Publishing & Media

A year since launching out of his small Tokyo apartment, Yusuke Ohki's BOOKSCAN now employs over 180 people, and international expansion beckons.

Yusuke Ohki worked as an IT professional for a number of companies before creating BOOKSCAN with his friend Shinya Iwamatsu. Prior to this, Yusuke created Value Press, a company offering low-cost press release distribution.

After the launch of BOOKSCAN, demand for the service grew rapidly, leading Yusuke to expand the company’s operations and inspiring a host of competitors to enter the market. Ohki still works hands-on with BOOKSCAN’s systems, developing and expanding the services on offer.

1. Where did the idea for BOOKSCAN come from?

I love books. It got to the stage where I had more than 2,000 books at home, taking up half my room. Also I was afraid of the bookshelf reaching up to the ceiling. There were lots of reports in Japan of bookshelves falling over and causing injuries during earthquakes. I wanted to avoid any risk of this happening to my kids. This was around the time of the iPad launch, and the idea occurred to me to scan each of my books so they could be read on the iPad. Then, I thought that many people must have the same problem. That’s the idea behind BOOKSCAN.

2. BOOKSCAN addresses a number of issues specific to the Japanese market. Will you have to adapt the concept to take it global?

There were some specific legal issues that prevented the early adoption of e-books in Japan. However, we will not have to change our basic concept for the global market, we just need to make sure the business is compliant with the law in each country.

3. Can you describe a typical working day?

The systems and the workflow are changing and improving everyday. I spend my time mainly developing and programming in order to enhance BOOKSCAN services and improve our internal operations. I also make sure I have time to have lunch/dinner with other entrepreneurs to share new ideas.

4. How do you unwind or relax when you’re not working on Bookscan?

Spending time with my kids. Still programming… which I find relaxing.

5. What’s the secret ingredient to success as an entrepreneur?

I am still wondering because I have not succeeded yet! If I was to guess, it should be to keep trying. The possibility of success should be getting greater the more things that you can do at once!

6. What drove you crazy when building your business?

The copycats who were trying to emulate our business. It was not a big issue, but it wasn’t a good feeling.

7. What motivates you to keep going?

The comments from customers: “A-Ri-Ga-To”.

8. If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

As soon as I had an idea I would act on it quickly!

9. Where do you see your business in five years, and how will you get there?

I have no idea where we will be in five years. I started BOOKSCAN from my apartment in 2010, and we’re growing very quickly, with 180 staff already. We didn’t predict this growth, but I hope we keep offering what customers want.

10. If you weren’t working on BOOKSCAN, what would you be doing?

I would want to be a Lawyer, or a Detective.

11. Tell Springwise a secret…

For lunch today I ate pasta at one of the greatest restaurants in Japan.

12. Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Keep trying. And if you’re working on something exciting, please let me know!

You can read more about BOOKSCAN in our article here, or visit the BOOKSCAN website here.