Established the company in Machida City, Tokyo as OKWeb.
Officially launched and start to operate the Q&A community website, “OKWAVE.”
Change the organization to become a stock company and relocated the head office to Shibuya, Tokyo.
Start providing FAQ helpdesk solutions “OKBIZ. for FAQs/ Helpdesk Support.”
Relocated the head office to Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo.
Relocated the head office to Shibuya-ku, Tokyo.
Obtained certification of ISMS (Information Security Management System) Conformity Assessment Scheme (now ISO27001).
The company changed the company name to the current company name, OKWAVE, Inc.
Listed on Nagoya Stock Exchange Centrex.
Relocated the head office to Shibuya-ku (Ebisu), Tokyo.
Established a subsidiary, OKWAVE USA, Corporation in the U.S.
Acquired the patent for the company’s first helpdesk ticketing support (OKBIZ. series).
Launched the “OKBIZ. for Community Support” a user-participatory community support service.
Established OKWAVE Research Institute.
Launched the “OKWAVE PROFESSIONAL.” where where experts answer questions.
Corporate identity changed was made.
Established OK BLOCKCHAIN CENTRE SDN. BHD., which specializing in blockchain development as a subsidiary of OKfinc LTD.
Acquired LastRoots Co., Ltd., the Virtual Currency Exchange Service Provider (quasi-operator) as a subsidiary.
LastRoots Co., Ltd. completes registration with the Kanto Finance Bureau as a Virtual Currency Exchange Service Provider.
Head office relocated to Minato-ku (Toranomon), Tokyo
The founder of OKWAVE, Kanemoto, shares his story and thoughts on the establishment of the company.
1.The philosophy and mission of OKWAVE
When one seeks help and asked “questions,” I believe it is vital for others to answer it with good faith. Once they solve their problems with others’ help, I want them to give their hands to help by answering the questions from others. I want people to support each other mutually. Therefore, I established OKWAVE.
OKWAVE’s MISSION is “Contributing to world development through the creation of platforms for mutual aid, thus fulfilling people’s physical and mental well-being.”
By sharing our philosophy underlying the OKWAVE and the idea of “THANKS (gratitude),” I would like to solve the problems from personal to social norms together with those who use and participate OKWAVE. Therefore I asked to set up space where I could explain the reasons and the backstory of starting the OKWAVE.
2. My cornerstone (from childhood to adolescence)
Since I was a child, I had been a weak constitution. I got in and out of the hospital and was unable to go to school regularly until the high school age.In my 5th grade of elementary school, there was an event that I realized I was a third-generation Korean in Japan (*now I am naturalized). Simultaneously, I started being bullied by my classmates.Those classmates who used to play with me immediately turned away because of that one piece of paper identifying my nationality. I believe that experiencing such behavior was the starting point of my long journey.
When I was still an elementary school student, I was crying every day at the hospital where I was hospitalized, and there I met the old lady.
One morning, she was in the sick room and came up to read my palm. She said, “In your previous life, you were the captain of the pirates and caused so much trouble. In exchange, you got ill, getting injections, put the scalpels, and taking medicines. ” After hearing that story, I was disappointed in life and thought, what a life. But she continued. “But you’d better not think of ending your life now. As you will finish your life trial in the first half of your life, then you will be doing something beneficial for others on the latter half. ”
When I look back, maybe she was trying to encourage me.Though there is no doubt that this story made a great impact on me.I managed to survive by believing in this story as I was like a drowning man to catch at a straw at the time.
3. Stepping into the world of design, then…
Because I was sick during my childhood and spent so many times making a lot of paper crafts, I guess those times build the basics for becoming a designer and won several awards. “What is learned in the cradle is carried to the grave.” is certainly well said. I always keep having a passion for craftmanship throughout my life.
Eventually, it leads me to study at the Aichi Prefectural University of Art to develop my passion for design. I soon realized those other students have already had basic skills with hard training before enrolling in university. I rack my brain as I started to feel the fear of failing the course by comparing myself to other students. As a solution, I came up to work together with the peoples from different fields to work on the project, taking the benefit of being a student of a composite art university.
The broader perspectives were brought in as every person involved in the project came from different fields. I took advantage of having a differentially of perspective and use it for the design project. This mindset became the foundation for approaching design as well as the starting point for the management of OKWAVE. I believe the design is about balancing up and putting it together to the very best by understanding every person who works on things and spaces and their thoughts.
The way I used as an approach was very different from my fellow classmates in the design course, and luckily, I had great feedback after all. At the same time, I start to consider how design could help people’s lives, and gradually understand what the old lady from the hospital was meant to tell. “This is it! This is the pathway that I should do in the latter half of my life, to do something beneficial for others!”
4. Encounter to the world of Internet
After graduating from university, I worked at the design office in Kyoto and then to a construction company in Nagoya but tried to continue to engage in group activities which communicate with the peoples in different fields. Within this group activity, we applied for several design competitions and managed to win the award. We had members not just in Nagoya but also in Tokyo and Kyoto. Therefore, we had to travel back and forth between those cities by overnight buses, carrying the materials and documents. The budgets were starting to get limited because it was too often and paid by our own expense. That was when my friend suggested the “internet” and encountered it for the first time.
Nowadays, the Internet is part of an everyday object, but it was not so standard back in the 1990s. Also, because my fellow designers were Mac users, and I was the only one who uses Windows, I spent days not knowing how to handle it. Even I manage to connect to the internet, I remember that the infrastructure was weak for dealing with essential data for the designing, including image data, sound, CAD data between the computers.
That was my experience of how I encountered the world of the internet.
5. From Nagoya to Tokyo
The group activity which I started while I was in university was sailing smoothly until the unexpected sudden breakup. We were about to expand into the U.S. with our design. However, I was betrayed by the group member who had been working together. “Kanemoto is working hard as there must be the ulterior motive, and he will sacrifice others for his own benefit!” I was given doubt to them. As a result, they decided to start their own company and go to a different pathway.
I was wholehearted to serve, believing that creating the design which could be beneficial for people, and by sharing my thoughts with the group, I thought the member would follow me. But it seems that I wasn’t right. In the meantime, my beloved wife was claimed that she is tired of continuing such life. Bad things happen in quick succession.
As I’ve got time to look back, I reflected on my life once again. Before talking about people’s happiness, I realized that I should be responsible for my own family’s happiness. I reflected myself back on what I have done, and I moved to Tokyo to turn over a new leaf and get a fresh start.
6. Homeless life, and the communication on the internet
Restarting in Tokyo has never been so easy. It seems I was not appealing enough to the company director, who I first depend on, as I lost the backing of the design group. The words that I was told by this director wholly crushed my heart, and I felt lost alone in Tokyo. Then I became homeless.
There were two chances to escape out of being homeless. The first chance was when I met the Chinese student studying abroad, and the second chance was when I got a leftover at the fast-food restaurant.
This Chinese student who introduced to a homeless friend started to get angry after hearing my life story. “Stop crying like a baby, that’s not a big deal!” Then she began to tell us about her fierce life story in China. As a dedicated student living abroad and coming all the way to Japan to study, my experience doesn’t seem to be a big deal.
A few days after I met her, I went to the fast-food restaurant where I usually got the leftover from. I got the leftover as usual, and when I was about to eat it in the park where it was dark, I realized that there was a cigarette within. I was about to lose my life by eating it.
All of a sudden, I felt that “I shouldn’t live my life like this.” This time, I seriously decided to restart.
After that, I start to visit the company that helped me, and it leads me to introduce to the design works. I soon asked to do web design, which I had no experience within the area, but I had no look back. I started to learn HTML from scratch. Through the process, I found bulletin board services such as BBS and forums, where I could ask questions, and I asked about the essential information for WEB designing. Although, the response I had was, “You have no manner!” or “Why don’t you look through the archive!”
According to the book I was reading at the time, it says that “There are people on the Internet called “hackers” who will guide politely and carefully to the beginners to use the internet.” But the reality was different from what I read in the book, and I felt angry at the same time. Though I may have had a problem with the way of asking questions and expressions, it went a big textual quarrel as you could imagine. “Don’t just ask questions, you should share your knowledge as well!” they said. “I am asking questions because I am seeking someone to help. I could answer anything about the questions relates to design, so please feel free to ask.” I was told that “This is the place for asking about the computer, so get out!” In the end, I was kicked out and couldn’t get an answer for what I questioned.
Experiences for being bullied due to nationality, and my thoughts towards families, and the idea of doing something beneficial for others, as well as the experience on the internet. All of which made me realized what was wrong about myself and remind me what I truly wanted to do.
Then the idea of OKWAVE was born. Creating a platform where people could share their knowledge and experience, and mutually supporting each other, I realized that it could be the solution for all the concerns I wish to be solved.
In the beginning, we were being told that this would never become a business, but we manage to started-up OKWAVE with six months. After three months from its opening, we launched the prototype system of the current “OKBIZ.” With the funding and support from everyone involved with OKWAVE, we manage to come this far. Up till now, I’ve seen miracles for many times and received a lot of letters as well.
“I was waiting for a place like this! Thank you very much!”
It was a moving experience to receive heartwarming messages from people who involved.
Maybe this would be the way to “do something beneficial for others.” If peoples could discuss and exchange “the problem and the solution” and share the discussion open up to the world, I believe that it may reduce conflicts. It is maybe able to create a world which sang on “Imagine” by John Lennon.
Although we regret that the operation of OKWAVE does not sufficiently demonstrate everyone’s good faiths yet. We will reflect on it and will keep making an effort to improve in a daily basis.
It would be much appreciated to hear from you if you have an opinion about which you’ve noticed on anything. We will try to work hard to reflect on your idea as much as we could. Your warm thoughts would help people’s “problems” who participated in OKWAVE. Thank you very much again. We sincerely ask for and appreciate your continued support.