meleap CEO Fukuda’s Forbes Interview: Dream of “Shooting Kamehameha” becomes real with HADO, a new sport invention leading by Japan start-up
To make every child’s dream into a reality, HADO, the innovative AR sport, was born here in Japan. HADO is the […]
To make every child’s dream into a reality, HADO, the innovative AR sport, was born here in Japan.
HADO is the leading-edge AR sport, utilizing AR technology, with players wearing a head mounted display on and wearable sensors around arms. Players compete against each other by making full use of the “energy ball” or “shield” in a three-on-three game between two teams. Whichever team gets more points in the eighty-minutes game wins.
His business had begun with his innocent question, “How Can I shoot a Kamehameha, a wave beam?”. Here’s the interview with Mr. Hiroshi Fukuda, the CEO of HADO sport, to ask about his start-up story of his business.
My motivation to start a new business had come from my dream, “ I want to shoot a Kamehameha!”
To start with the interview, could you elaborate on how you started your business?
-It’s just simple. I’ve had this passion for “I want to shoot a Kamehameha” since a child. How can I make it real? -I’d been waiting for the right timing of developing the technology to do so. The advent of the AR devices such as Oculus or Google glass had prompted my decision to develop our current device of a wearable AR model.
When did you decide to promote HADO as a sport, not just an entertainment content?
-When Mr. Motoki, the CCO, joined our company in its prototyping phase, the future direction of our business had been determined. In the competitive game market, the cost for the development would have been much higher and the capital in need would have been much bigger. We had believed that making HADO a sport, moreover, making it a multiplayers’ game, would enhance the popularity for HADO for a long term and gain a worldwide popularity in the future. Based on this blueprint, Mr. Motoki had initiated the planning and development.
Could you tell us about the sites for HADO players?
-We have focused on hands-on experience at the entertainment facilities such as amusement parks or game arcades. We have also provided our content to other sites including trampoline parks, laser tag, fitness centers, and Spotcha. Among all, Spotcha has drawn the most attention.
There is still room for innovation in the sport business.
Is it agreeable for you that there would be more possibilities that technology could expand the business opportunities in the sport market?
-It is, of course. The approach to sport is still analog, though we have experienced new technological services in sport market such as Internet streaming and gifting services, or analysis service of an athlete’s physical condition or movement.
However, I have strongly felt that a sport itself hasn’t accepted innovation enough. We have played the same sport in the same style for a long time in the times of a significant advancement in technology. I would find it exciting to see someone with bold ideas innovates sports by utilizing new technology. Unfortunately, no one has currently focused on proceeding the idea except us. What I would like to do is to provide sports business with our model as the best practice.
We have rarely heard that anyone would invent any new sport like HADO.
-No one would, because it might be difficult to do so. Everyone would think it impossible from the beginning.
Only a handful of sports such as soccer, baseball, or American football have long been successful commercially, and it’s hard to believe the situation would change any time soon, which has made it even harder to make it happen.
We have assumed that it wouldn’t be any simple for a start-up company to be a pioneer in any business field. How have you managed the difficulties?
In my point of view, the society has been more open-minded to support start-up businesses, which was true even five years ago when we started our business. This is what we must be grateful for. It was also such a great opportunity for us to be able to join the accelerator program presented by docomo and KDDI∞Labo, where we thankfully received multiple supports and advices.
With a mentor’s three-months support at KDDI∞Labo and having hundreds of visitors on the DemoDay there, our presence had enhanced to generate great amount of resources and our promotion had gone easy to handle since then.
It has been just great that we have seen not a few businesses have considered utilizing start-ups. For example, we were able to gain a great opportunity to work with major companies such as TV ASAHI, thanks to our presence at ∞Labo where KDDI had also coordinated a big business association. Again, we have really appreciated the opportunity that KDDI had provided to us.
Another new sport will be unveiled this year.
Is there any moment that you feel it a turning point for HADO?
-Yes, there are two. One is the chance at the DemoDay. We were able to take advantage of the opportunity to increase the media coverage significantly. TV viewers basically tend to find it entertaining to watch our program. The more the media had covered our news, the more interviews we had been offered. This had enhanced the popularity for HADO as well as the opportunities of our business.
The other is when we started expanding our business overseas. We have continuously produced the promotional video clips to be viewed on SNS. Last March, some of them draw attention of Facebook media overseas and as a result, earned approximately 20 million replays. This has rapidly expanded our business chances overseas, with increasing inquiries from not only Japan but also overseas businesses. Thanks to the efforts of Mr. Tomita, our COO, and Mr.Kent Lim, one of our executive officers, we have now operated 55 HADO sites in 23 countries all over the world.
Now we understand that the number of sites is increasing so as the scale of the competitions. Could you tell us your vision of HADO in the next five years?
-There are two type of businesses we have been focusing on.
One is the location-based business. The other is broadcasting business. First, we have challenged to increase the number of HADO sites as well as players to make more earnings. The other challenge is to raise the viewers through broadcasting and earn more profit by selling the right of broadcasting or gaining sponsorships. Increasing the number of both the players and the viewers is important in terms of sports business.
Reciprocal transfer between the players and viewers would be ideal when we have focused on two sides of the business, that is, we would like to promote the interaction that the viewers would visit the site after viewing the admired professional league of HADO and the amateur players would attempt becoming a professional player.
It is predictable that HADO would face some challenges when it gains a license as a sport. Have you considered any countermeasures against the possible difficulties?
-I have to admit that it would be hard to overcome by ourselves, so I would like to coordinate a business association for HADO. In my point of view, it would become more important to gain multi supports from other types of businesses and align with the corporative businesses including media, agencies, sports companies, and entertainment businesses, for instance. I would like to work more with other types of companies in HADO business to seek an opportunity for further growth.
Is there any ongoing project following HADO?
-Yes, it is exactly advancing. You can expect a brand-new sport be unfold this year!
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「かめはめ波を打ちたい」を現実に 日本発の新たなスポーツ競技「HADO」 | Forbes JAPAN（フォーブス ジャパン）