We talked to Shin Hasegawa of MOON-X, Inc about the Fusion of Japanese manufacturing and technology and this is what he said about it?
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Shin Hasegawa: At the beginning, we were worried because we did not know how others in Japan would react to this situation. As a matter of fact, there was some chaos around daily products like toilet paper and masks. But recently, I believe everyone is adapting to this environment and trying to find a way to co-exist with COVID-19. Japan (fortunate or unfortunate) has been facing many disasters in the past few years, which seems to have made all of us resilient to unexpected situations.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded MOON-X, Inc.
Shin Hasegawa: I spent my childhood in Seattle, then moved to Japan at 9, and had a chance to work in Singapore for 6.5 years. Perhaps these international experiences helped me to obtain a multicultural and diverse POV. Professionally, I looked over brands like Pampers・Gillette・Braun・SK-II at P&G until 2012. I was then responsible for domestic and global marketing (17 countries) in Rakuten as the Senior Executive Officer. Lastly, my most recent job was at Facebook Japan as Managing Director. While I was at Facebook, Instagram MAU jumped from 8,100,000 to 33,000,000. I founded MOON-X, Inc. last August with the vision of integrating “Japanese Craftsmanship x Global Technology.” For me, founding MOON-X was very natural because everything I do as the CEO and Co-Founder of MOON-X is somewhat linked to what I have done in my past career.
How innovative is MOON-X, Inc, and how does it innovate?
Shin Hasegawa: We innovate in the following ways.
Skincare brand SKIN X & BITOKA with Nihon Kolmar
We use cutting-edge technology called “nanoemulsion technology” by Nihon Kolmar Co., Ltd., the biggest OEM Company in Japan. This technology took five years of research actually to be used in a skincare item. Nanoemulsion is innovative because it enables the creation of small cream particles (the size of 1/25 of a normal cream particle) that contain water and oil. Since the particle is very small, the cream itself looks like it does not have any color since the particle size is smaller than the wavelength of visible light. You can see this with BITOKA Crystal Cream (https://www.bitoka-japan.com).
Nanoemulsion technology was also announced at the IFSCC (The 31st IFSCC Congress 2020 Yokohama) held in October.
Skincare brand SKIN X with SONY
We use sustainable material for our Clay Wash product, which is called “Triporous.” Triporous is a material invented by SONY, and this is created by using rice husks, which is generated more than 100 million tons around the world every year. As you can assume by its name, Triporous has many porous, which helps your skin be clean since it can capture many sizes of dirt or extra oil on your face.
Craft Beer brand CRAFT X
We are constantly improving our product on both taste and package by communicating with consumers. We actively take questionnaires from CRAFT X fans and talk with our brewery about the results. Because we moved fast and listened carefully to customer opinions, we were able to update our flagship item twice a year.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business, and how are you coping with it?
Shin Hasegawa: At this point, our business is purely based on online sales, so the coronavirus pandemic did not hit us that hard. However, it was unfortunate that we could not increase offline touchpoints with potential customers. We did a tasting event with CRAFT X in January. We were planning to host those types of events constantly, so coronavirus kind of took away our opportunity to directly communicate with our customers.
To tackle this challenge, we opened another shop online on Rakuten（https://www.rakuten.co.jp/moon-x-shop/） apart from our official page so that CRAFT X can be seen by many potential customers as possible.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Shin Hasegawa: One of the big challenges was to identify a new work style with the team. As a newly established company, working closely and building a culture and stable work rhythm is extremely important. We decided to go full flex-work/remote under the circumstances, which was not easy to manage with many new employees joining us.
At the same time, we started some new initiatives, including a 9:00-9:30 all-hands meeting with everyone, which worked out to become our company-wide way to start the day seeing everyone’s faces. I think the lesson learned is that sometimes, tough times can help to come up with new ways to do things that are more efficient/effective than before.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Shin Hasegawa: I try not to get too frustrated with day-to-day stress by reminding myself about the big picture, i.e., my life plan. Re-applying the P&G-way of project management, I created a rough schedule about my life with key gates. The point here is that I don’t really care if I go behind schedule or if I decide to take a different approach from the one prefixed. I also learn how to control my feelings from all kinds of books and Twitter, where I Tweet about tips to become a successful business person.
How do you project yourself and your company in the future?
Shin Hasegawa: Personally, my lifelong commitment is to help young businesspeople stretch their possibilities. To encourage them, I created my own personal Twitter account and currently engage with young business owners or answering people’s questions who want help.
As MOON-X, in the near future, we are planning to spread our business globally. We also might be able to create a new brand apart from skincare or beer. I think we can transform into any kind of company as long as we stick to our value of “Spreading good things from Japan to the world.”
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Shin Hasegawa: These are our competitors.
CRAFT X (Beer): Breweries of craft beer are increasing in number in Japan, but they are still not fully experienced with the technique of selling their product online. Therefore, we will like to keep working with these breweries in Japan to boost up the craft beer community.
Men’s Skincare (SKIN X): Huge skincare companies are also looking at the men’s skincare market, so I think this road will be bumpy. However, I think now, when the market is starting to move, is the excellent timing for us to spread the message of “a new skincare routine specifically for men. “
Women’s Skincare (BITOKA): We all understand that this market is a “Red Ocean.” This is why we want to focus on “Japan made” with “Japanese materials” and try to create new products as fast as possible.
Your final thoughts?
Shin Hasegawa: No one could have predicted the coronavirus panic, and I think the unpredictable can always happen at any time. I believe how to face the “unpredicted” is one of the criteria on how you are evaluated as a CEO. I will certainly want to keep being open to any changes whenever another type of panic occurs.
CRAFT X (Craft Beer）：https://www.craft-x-beer.com
SKIN X (Men’s Skincare）：https://www.skinx-japan.com
BITOKA (Women’s Skincare）：https://www.bitoka-japan.com
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