Apr 13, 2021
WHO WE ARE
Samurai Incubate is a Tokyo-based venture capital firm with strong conviction for founders in Africa — not an incubator.
Samurai Incubate was founded in 2008, during the global financial crisis and amidst the emergence of Japan’s startup ecosystem. The firm is currently managing its 8th fund, but it came from small beginnings. The founder of Samurai Incubate, Kentaro Sakakibara, started only by himself with having deep conviction and dedication to supporting and learning from founders.These values are central to our culture today. As of March 2021, the number of Japanese portfolio companies reached more than 140.
In 2018, Samurai started investing in Africa by establishing subsidiary Leapfrog Ventures after finding tremendous potential in African startups. Leapfrog Ventures received $2.5 million (270 million yen) from Samurai’s 6th fund in August 2018 and invested the capital in 20 companies. In June 2019, Leapfrog Ventures was renamed Samurai Incubate Africa.
Throughout our journey, we have focused on refining and optimizing our operating approach to maximize our value proposition to founders. However, we might not always have been perfect.We believe that the value we bring should go beyond capital and access to Japanese investors and corporations. We are committed to learning from our founders and experiences to improve the depth and quality of the support we give.
Now, we became new us.
Here’s who we are today:
1) Our raison d’être.
We exist for problem-solvers, builders and doers.
We back down-to-earth doers who try to solve problems by building a product and a team. We highly value teams who try to “do” and “execute”. Talkers and those who are interested in PRing themselves would be less prioritized unfortunately.
2) What to Expect Working with Samurai/How Samurai Works with Founders
We stand by our founders whenever and wherever.
Being a founder is tough and sometimes lonely. Each day presents unexpected and — too often — existential challenges. As a value-add investor, our role should not be limited to providing commoditized capital.
We are reachable 24/7 whenever founders need it; even if we aren’t physically in the city where they do business. We care deeply about founders’ mental health. We want to listen to your issues — however serious — and work with you to resolve them. We will never abandon founders when difficult situations arise because we care not only about the business, but also founders’ overall wellbeing.
3) What we value.
We never lie. We never exaggerate. We do what we say we do. We do not do what we say we do not.
If we say we make a decision to invest, the money will reach the bank account.
We love founders who are honest as well. We would like to know things as they are even if the business, management, or fundraising is not going as smoothly as expected. We recognize investors should fully be ready to hear unexpected issues and think about how to tackle them together.
We know investors are just supporters and founders are the ones who devote their lives to building the business from scratch and growing it. We believe investors should be humble enough and fully respect the founder’s will. We do not pester our founders with too-frequent update requests because we believe that our founders are doers and prefer to focus on executing. However, we try to do everything we could do when they need us. We love founders who expect more than money from investors and have ideas about what they would like investors to do for them. Money becomes a commodity eventually, but the founder-investor relationship should not be commoditized.
Founders need to choose right investors, and vice versa.
We try to see out of the box. Stereotype kills innovation.
As a Japanese VC, we admit that we cannot fully understand local context in every African country and industry. Founders definitely know more than we do and should have a deeper understanding of the market. We never pretend to know and understand everything. We learn from founders, investors, and all the parties contributing to African startup ecosystem. We are keen to work with people who understand this. We think we know nothing once we start thinking we know everything.
We also look for those who have a similar mindset.
We want to learn from each other.
If you have any questions or investment requests, please contact us through our website.
We look forward to working with great people to build the African startup ecosystem.