Yuta Shirahata & Meon Tang (Class of 2021)
Meet with the most promising Startup Co-founders
The first step of launching a startup will be finding a co-founder. Having a company and investment rely on a single founder flags numerous potential issues and it will be risky if something happens to the individual. Having a co-founder helps the individual to focus on a particular part of the business and alleviate the burden, especially when the company is still small and resources are stretched. Today, we met with Yuta Shirahata and Meon Tang who are co-founders of a new startup company called <Table of Finest> (https://tablefinest.com/), an e-commerce platform specialising in sophisticated Japanese products.
One of the Japanese co-founders, Yuta Shirahata, has more than 7 years of experience in Japan’s leading information media and is familiar with all genres of Japanese products. The second co-founder is Hong Kong native Meon Tang, an interior design professional with a strong sense of aesthetic and creativity, which she has gained from international award-winning design companies. Let’s hear what they have to say about this brand new platform!
HKU MBA: Congratulations Yuta and Meon for your new career journey as an Entrepreneur. Understanding that you two have very different backgrounds, what made you two collaboratively start your own firm?
Yuta and Meon: We would say that our CBS exchange program in New York was the cornerstone of our partnership. During those 3 months, we explored different places together and had many interesting conversations about our own cultures. We were surprised that so many aspects in our life which we considered to be normal, are in fact intriguing to other cultures. For example, tinwares are a popular household item among Japanese drinking lovers for elevating the taste of liquors, but it is very rare to see it in Hong Kong. Having gained so many fresh cultural insights, we thought there was a big potential for international trading. With a strong passion to reveal the untold aspect of Japan and serve as a bridge between Japan, Hong Kong and the rest of the world, we started our business.
HKU MBA: Let’s talk about your business. What is the main service and what is your philosophy or concept of your business?
Yuta and Meon: We created a brand called “Table of Finest”, which is a high-end Japanese select shop. We imagined our shop as a table where we can share our exciting findings from Japan, as well as the rest of the world in the future. Premium is also about exclusivity, therefore only a handful of products with small quantities are included in our product collections. We saw that there we re quite a number of e-commerce shops specializing in Japanese products in Hong Kong, but most of them are being run like a marketplace with numerous pages of products and the price range is mostly mid to low. We aim to tap into this new market by creating a highly selective e-commerce shop. With our backgrounds — a Japanese native and a professional in the design sector, we differentiate ourselves by sourcing premium and rare products with style.
HKU MBA: As an Entrepreneur, what are the biggest challenges and difficulties when running your own firm?
Yuta and Meon: Having our own business somehow means that we make decisions much more cautiously compared to when we worked as employees for another company. As we are in the beginning stage, we tried to lower our investment by doing all the work on our own, for example, making our website, sorting out logistic arrangements and managing customer services to name but a few. However, the more cautious we were in each detail, the less we could see the bigger picture. We have to always remind ourselves to step behind and think ahead, regardless of all the ad hoc tasks we have on our list.
HKU MBA: What was your most fun memory out of the MBA Programme? How has this programme influenced your career?
Yuta and Meon: We were exposed to many opportunities that we would not have expected before joining the MBA programme. Meeting classmates with different backgrounds is definitely one of such experiences which influenced not only our career but our life as well. Being in a classroom with 17 different nationalities of classmates allowed us to learn from the best in different cultures. It is also truly inspiring to know classmates from all walks of life and different ages with amazing experiences. Looking backwards, we are both amazed by how our mindsets and way of thinking differ from one year ago. It began in the classroom and continues outside the classroom as we keep in touch with our classmates.
HKU MBA: What are your short-term and long-term career goals? What would be your advice to future entrepreneurs?
Yuta and Meon: We see a lot of potential in the metaverse and we believe it would revolutionize the commercial sector, especially for international trading businesses. Stepping into the metaverse has already been on our agenda and we are very excited with our upcoming plans. For those who are considering becoming an entrepreneur, we understand that it might take months or even years to think and plan beforehand. You can plan, however it is hard to predict everything and you would most likely have to pivot along the way. Do not be afraid to fail, since we believe that if you aren’t failing, you are not trying hard enough.