Interview: Hiroyuki Yokoyama of Astris Advisory Japan on the launch of its WAPORTA corporate advisory service

HFC’s Stefan Nilsson checks in with Hiroyuki Yokoyama, Head of Corporate Advisory at Astris Advisory Japan, who recently launched the WAPORTA corporate advisory service which connects Japanese investors with innovative companies globally.

What can you tell us about WAPORTA, the new Japanese corporate advisory service launched by Astris Advisory?

WAPORTA (和ポータ) is a matching site where idea-hungry investors, such as corporates, CVCs and VCs in Japan, can meet up with promising and capital-thirsty startups overseas. We strongly believe that there is a huge opportunity bringing the two parties together.

WAPORTA combines a tech platform with the human touch. Has the evolution of technology in recent years significantly changed how corporate advisory services are done?

Yes, slowly but surely. The Covid-19 situation has of course accelerated the way corporate advisory services are being performed. Furthermore, with the creation of the new Digital Agency, implemented by the Suga Administration, the shift towards technology will be even faster. And this technological shift has surely given a smaller player, like ourselves, more opportunities to reach a bigger audience more effectively. However, Japanese corporates still require the personal touch and that is exactly where our expertise comes into play.

What’s your business model? Is it subscription-based or more ad-hoc services?

Yes, it is subscription-based. We would like to create an ecosystem for bridging business between Japan and the globe.

What’s the story behind choosing the name WAPORTA?

The name WAPORTA comes from the combination of WA (和) as a meaning of the concept of culture in Japan and PORTA as a gateway or portal in Latin. We would like to act as the gateway to Japan.

You personally have some three decades of experience in the financial industry (including Macquarie and CLSA) and In the WAPORTA corporate advisory team, you also have my former JP Morgan colleagues David Shirt and Kumiko Namai. How does the team’s long, deep and wide experience translate into a great service for your clients?

Our team is really all about interdependence – David with his many offshore contacts, Kumiko with a huge reach into corporate Japan and myself adding on corporate advisory wherever required. John Byrne is our tech guru on the actual site, running it day-to-day. We are all extremely excited about this opportunity.

Which industries do you see the biggest interest in from investors? Is it all about fintech, biotech and gaming or is it broader than that?

While the biggest interest is in the tech space, 60%+ of investments are tech, it could, of course, be a lot broader. We deal with a broad array of corporates and CVCs where their focus differs widely.

What kind of investors do you work with at WAPORTA?

Corporates, CVCs and some financial investors.

Has the travel and meeting restrictions this year due to the global pandemic increased the need for the kind of services you offer?

Yes, it has helped our business, but we believe that there is a strong structural demand for these services. Huge potential.