Kyoto Startup summer School 2017

Get Inspired. Learn Actively. Start Building.

Startup Teams: August 21st - September 8th, 2017
Rising Entrepreneurs: August 21st - September 3rd, 2017


Come learn from the best

Interested in entrepreneurship? Have an idea for a startup? Just getting started with your team and need help?

Come learn from the best at Kyoto Startup Summer School, or KS³ for short, Japan's premier entrepreneurship program conducted fully in English, based at the KYOTO Design Lab. KS³ brings together world-class entrepreneurs and educators who are passionate about raising the next generation of entrepreneurs interested in making a lasting change in the world.

KS³ Modules


Learn the different startup skills and gain the necessary entrepreneurial mindsets.


Sessions covering various relevant must-know startup topics.


Interactive sessions with trailblazing entrepreneurs.

Startup Resources

Building tools and team spaces to create initial prototypes.


Advices from those active in the startup ecosystem to budding startup teams.



More detailed schedule will be available as we get closer to the date.


  • Design Thinking - Identifying Entrepreneurial Opportunities
  • The Lean Startup Methodologies
  • Introduction to Software Product Development
  • Using Arduino for Mechatronics Prototyping
  • Introduction to CAD and 3D printing


  • Fundraising 101
  • Incubators and Accelerators (Startup Ecosystem)
  • How to do a great pitch
  • Global Marketing for startups
  • Developing Digital Products
  • Integrating stories into a startup
  • Nurturing entrepreneurial mindsets
  • How to start a web startup
  • How to start a hardware startup
  • How to start a technology startup
  • How to start an app startup
  • How to start a services startup

Workshop and lecture content are subject to change.


Where is KS³?

KS³ is hosted at the Kyoto Institute of Technology in the historical city of Kyoto, known for its traditional crafts and high-tech industries. In the northern end of the city, KIT is easily accessible by subway from anywhere in the city including Kyoto Station.


Incubation space

Startup teams will have access to incubation spaces equipped with basic collaboration tools and rapid prototyping equipment. During the academic year, this is the loft space for the famous ME310 program that has created many breakthrough innovations.

Fabrication Space

The Fabrication space is equipped for teams to create prototypes of their ideas as they work through the process of fitting their ideas to user needs. Participants will be able to use 3D Printers, many computers equipped with 3D modeling software, a wood shop and metal shop, CNC routers, laser engravers, and more! While not all students will be working on hardware startups, those who need it will find these resources invaluable.

Wood Working Room 1-min.png

Two ways to join KS³

Startup Teams

Already have a team and an idea? Apply as a team (2~5 people) and start building in our space. Join the workshops, lectures, mixers, and get dedicated resources and mentorship.

10,000 yen per person (free for those coming from outside of Japan)

Limit 5 teams

Deadline May 31st

Rising Entrepreneurs

Just curious and itching to learn? Come join the workshops, lectures, and mixers and participate in Startup Weekend to test your newly gained skills.

10,000 yen per person (free for those coming from outside of Japan) + Startup Weekend Participation cost (TBD but under 8000 yen)

Limit 25 people

Deadline May 31st


Voices from KS³ 2016

KS³ was a great opportunity not just to learn about entrepreneurship and creating my first business, but it was also a great opportunity to meet fellow aspiring entrepreneurs and make lifelong friends. The hurdle to starting a company definitely went down after KS³.
Shun Tamaki
KS³ participant 2016
CEO, Kyoto Teahouse

Questions you might havE

Answered before you even ask them!


What is the fee for?

There are many costs involved in running KS³ such as travel costs for the lecturers and material costs for the workshops. Much of the cost is covered through partnerships and the D-Lab budget, but we want you to contribute to running the program as well.

What exactly is "coming from outside of Japan"?

You are currently living outside of Japan and flying to Japan for the primary purpose of attending KS³. This can apply to Japanese people living outside of Japan as well.

Why is the fee for KS³ free for people coming outside of Japan?

We know it's not cheap coming to Japan, so we wanted to help those coming from what.

Can KS³ issue visas?

If you need a visa to come to Japan, we can provide the required documents for you to apply for a visa, but it's your responsibility to get one. Do check out the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan website.

Will housing be covered?

No. However, there are university housing that can be arranged relatively inexpensively. If you're interested in that, please indicate on the application. Alternatively, there are plenty of guest houses, short term rentals, and hostels in town.

Do I get Kyoto Institute of Technology student status or units?

No. Technically, you'll be considered a "workshop participant" and not a student of the university. However, you will receive a certificate of completion from the KYOTO Design Lab.

I don't have any idea for a startup, can I still join?

Yes! This is your opportunity to start finding those ideas and get inspired by successful entrepreneurs and fellow classmates.

I'm still new to university without any useable skills for starting a company, can I still join?

Of course! Entrepreneurship like engineering and design is another skill for your future, and this is your opportunity to learn.

I don't speak English very well, can I still join?

Sure. However, in order to get the most out of KS³, you should have basic English skills in order to understand the workshops/lectures and be able to do team work.

Do I have to attend all the sessions to be part of KS³?

Rising Entrepreneurs are expected to attend all the the sessions while Startup Teams are expected to attend many. The certificate will not be issued to those who clearly did not take part in KS³
even if they were accepted.

Can I join a Startup Team even if I apply as a Rising Entrepreneur?

Sure. If the startup team is looking for more teammates and they want you to join, why not?


Got other questions? E-mail!


The Awesome Team

The all-star team of entrepreneurship, in alphabetical order.


Aki Saarinen
CEO, Reaktor Japan

Aki Saarinen is the CEO of Reaktor Japan. Aki was introduced to programming at the early age of 8 years and taught himself to be a software engineer. He launched his first web businesses at the age of 15 in 2000, and graduated from Aalto university with a Machine Learning major in 2009. Aki has built digital businesses and worked in the intersection of software, design and business for most part of his life.

Reaktor works to digitalize enterprise companies by introducing lean-startup and agile approaches to building digital services. Aki moved to Tokyo in 2013 to start Reaktor’s business in Japan, and has grown it to success with Japanese enterprise clients, now employing 10 people in Tokyo. His specialty is software development processes and teams, with a passion to building digital services that bring real value to people.

Antti Sonninen
CEO, Slush Tokyo

Previously the CEO of Rovio Entertainment Japan, the company responsible for spreading Angry Birds around the world, Antti now leads Slush Tokyo, one of Asia's largest startup events supporting entrepreneurs and young people who want to make an impact in the world.

Ajay Revels
Design Researcher, Polite Machines

Ajay is a strategic design researcher who helps enterprise and startup teams uncover and develop unique innovation opportunities. She applies systems thinking, ecological sciences, anthropology and design approaches to find hidden customer needs, visualize complex problem spaces and test potential solutions. Since 2000 she has worked for American and British design firms including Razorfish, HUGE, Adaptive Path and Flow Interactive, where she developed product & service strategies for CNN, MTV, Lionsgate Films, Center for Foreign Relations, TD Ameritrade and ADP. Her studies take place in settings as diverse as hedge funds, universities, hospitals, stock trading floors, comic conventions, news rooms and private homes in the US, the UK, and Japan

She has taught customer discovery and Lean Launchpad at New York University and the School of Visual Arts, participated in an ItoEn Chakathon, mentored startups and coached winning teams to secure funding. In 2016 she conducted a study on the state of Japanese startups and in 2017 was a speaker at Hack Osaka.

Constantly learning, her education includes Design Entrepreneurship at Pratt, High Tech Anthropology at Menlo Innovation and Cartooning from Center for Comics Studies.   


Anja Svetina Nabergoj
LectureR, Stanford
Professor of Entrepreneurship, University of Ljubljana

Anja Svetina Nabergoj holds a PhD in organizational learning and innovation and is a Lecturer at Stanford University, Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, where she teaches Executive Education programs and co-teaches advanced graduate classes “Collaborating with the future: Launching Large-Scale Sustainable Transformations” and “Organizational Psychology of Design Thinking.” In her work she focuses on helping individuals, teams and organizations build their creative confidence and reach innovation potential. She has been working with organizations in Europe and USA including Stanford Change Labs, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, JetBlue, GM, Kellogg, Hyatt, Microsoft, Visa, Genentech, NCH, Telenor, Johnson and Johnson and others.

Anja is also appointed as Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Faculty of Economics, University in Ljubljana in Slovenia where she teaches various undergraduate and graduate entrepreneurship and innovation courses. Her main focus is developing and using design thinking methodology and adapting it for entrepreneurship courses and business school curriculum. Her recent research focuses on design thinking, primarily in the context of entrepreneurship education and doctoral studies.


Managing Partner

At the age of 5 in the late 1970s, Bjoern was deeply saddened by an anime story about a little boy called Marco in search of his mother. At 12, he was excited by the dungeons he (and the hero he controlled with his game pad) explored, trying to rescue a princess called Zelda. And in his university days, studying Biology with a focus on neuroscience and genetics, he was horrified by a long-haired Japanese ghost crawling out of a television set. Television, of course, was almost at the end of its development in this late 1990s with the coming age of the internet and the first burst of the dot com bubble.

Bjoern Eichstaedt is Managing Partner at the Germany and China based communication agency Storymaker. The agency focusses on story-based communication consulting, strategy building and operations for technology-driven companies from all over the world. Over the last 4 years Bjoern has put one of his focuses on the work with Japanese clients, helping them to discover their story for foreign markets. He lives in Munich with his wife, his son Kenji and cat Araki. 


Isshu was born in 1982 and graduated from the Graduate School of Media and Governance of Keio University. By his motto of making a "human" program, he created a software called Kamicopi when he was a high school student. Since 2007, he has gone to the U.S.A. and established Nota Inc., and he creates apps and web pages. Now, has the most users in the world by its screen shot sharing system. He was certified as Super Creator of IPA and its project in 2003.

James Riney
Head of 500 Startups Japan

James is the head of 500 Startups’ $30m fund for Japan, and recently listed in Forbes Asia’s 30 under 30. Prior to 500 Startups, James covered early stage international investments for DeNA's venture arm, focusing on Silicon Valley and select countries in Asia. He drove DeNA's first investments in Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, and India. His investments have raised from Andreessen Horowitz, Khosla Impact (Vinod Khosla), Innovation Endeavors (Eric Schmidt), Global Founders Capital (Rocket Internet), and Biz Stone (co-founder of Twitter). Before DeNA, he was the founding CEO of STORYS.JP, the " of Japan". The site is the birthplace of the Amazon #1 bestseller, “The Invincible Blonde Gal,” which sold over 300,000 copies in the first 3 months. The motion picture went on to gross about $23 million at the box office. In another life, he worked at J.P. Morgan in New York and Tokyo.

Joey Ho Nihei
Marketing & Recruitment, KS³

Joey is a junior at the National University of Singapore where he studies business, East Asia's political economy and Korean language.

Currently based in Kyoto, he is part of the SUGAR ME310 network where his international team tackles design and innovation challenges posed by a corporate sponsor. Concurrently, he leads the international marketing and recruitment team at KS3.

He is constantly amazed by how simple, frugal innovations around the world can so drastically enhance the lives of local communities.

Julio Terra
Director of Design and Technology Outreach, Kickstarter

Julio Terra is Director of Design and Technology Outreach at Kickstarter. He leads a team that supports designers, entrepreneurs and organizations from the design and technology communities, including Peak Design, Lomography, Hax and Make Faire. Before joining Kickstarter, Julio produced interactive installations at the LAB at Rockwell Group and developed global marketing programs for multinational companies. He holds an MPS from NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program.

Justin Clune
Serial Entrepreneur
Co-founder of HouseCare

Justin Clune is an engineer and serial entrepreneur. He taught himself programming at the age of 10, and the same year made over $2,000 by selling Pokemon cards at a lemonade stand. He studied at UC Berkeley and moved to Japan to work in a solar energy laboratory at the University of Tokyo. He worked as a programmer at CyberAgent and co-founded Japanese startups. He was the founder and CEO of HouseCare, which automates Airbnb cleaning for property managers. In 2 years, he bootstrapped the company to grow from 0 up to an annual run-rate of over $1 million and to get acquired in an international M&A.

Justin also pitched for HouseCare at the demo days of Japan’s most international accelerators: Open Network Lab and the 500 Startups Kobe Pre-Accelerator. Recently, Justin is studying machine learning and passionate about growing the global data science community. He strives to realise a world where we use the sharing economy to encourage social equality and use artificial intelligence to slow global climate change.

Kenshin Fujiwara
CEO, Hacarus

Kenshin is the CEO at Hacarus, a healthcare technology startup based in Kyoto, Japan. Previously he worked on the Playstation for Sony Computer Entertainment and was part of a startup derived from the Israeli Military. In the past 15 years, Kenshin co-founded several tech startups with two successful exits. The fist startup was acquired by a Japanese public company, and the second startup was sold to a US company.

Since 2010, Kenshin has been living in Kyoto rediscovering the strengths of intellectual property owned by local universities and the richness of food culture that Kyoto has to offer. Born in Shiga in 1976, Kenshin holds a Computer Science degree from California State University.

Kyohi Kang
Co-Founder & CEO, Atmoph

Kyohi concentrated on UI engineering for both hardware and the web at Nintendo, after leading the User Interface Technology Department at NHN Japan. Before he started his first web startup, he earned a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Aoyama Gakuin Univeristy and a MS in Computer Science from the University of Southern California, studying robotics.


Sabrina Sasaki is part of Makers Boot Camp Marketing team. Her mission is to build awareness about Makers Boot Camp's services and find ways to connect to global entrepreneurs during their journey. She believes understanding the “rollercoaster" startups face, with loops of ups and downs, is the best way to support their business challenges, considering current needs and next steps.

Born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sabrina has a degree in International Relations and has worked and traveled around the world, passionate about connecting with people from different backgrounds.

Before joining the startup ecosystem, Sabrina worked as client partner and project manager for agencies such as Publicis Groupe - Digitas and Razorfish, GPA- Casino, French retailer, and WMcCann Brazil, managing initiatives aligned to marketing goals.


Sushi Suzuki is a specially appointed associate professor at the Kyoto Institute of Technology and KYOTO Design Lab where he teaches and runs projects based around design thinking, the Stanford-IDEO innovation methodologies. Previously, he co-founded Paris Est while teaching design innovation at École des Ponts ParisTech and was the Executive Director of the ME310 program at Stanford University. Sushi also set up an innovation team for Panasonic Europe, was one of the co-founding members of, a Japanese start-up company that handles antique kimono and accessories online, and a concept  developer for Yocondo, a Germany-based semantic product search engine.

Sushi was born in Kyoto, Japan but spent over fifteen years in the US and over five in Europe, and has traveled to over sixty countries. He holds a M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and B.A. in Studio Arts from Rice University.

Artist by nature, Engineer by training, and Designer by desire, Sushi is always thinking of new ways to do the old things better.


Tatsuya teaches leadership and entrepreneurship at the Kyoto Institute of Technology, creates new industry-academia programs, and is responsible for the COC project where he develops partnerships with the local community.

Before coming to Kyoto, he developed and taught the business leadership program at Rikkyo University for which he won an award from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

Tatsuya also has experience in marketing in IT companies and startups as well as sales in the electronics industry. He has an MBA from the Globis University Graduate School of Management.

Tim Romero
Founder, Disrupting Japan

Tim Romero is host of the Disrupting Japan podcast, the best-known source of insights into Japanese startups and innovation. Tim has started four companies and led Japan market entry for others since coming to Japan more than 25 years ago, and is deeply involved in Japan's startup community as an investor, founder and mentor.

Travis Cardwell
Lead Developer, Asahi Net

Travis Cardwell is the lead developer at Asahi Net's R&D lab in Kyoto, Japan.  While his professional interests include a wide range of programming languages and paradigms, he believes that distributed systems and functional programming will play a critical role in the future of software development.  His current work involves the design and development of scalable and fault-tolerant distributed systems using the Haskell programming language.  Living in Japan for 17 years, he also has professional experience in project management, graphical design, and education, and he has created and managed his own company. He has a degree in computer science from Rice University.

Yuji Fujimura
Evangelist, Autodesk

Yuji Fujimura is a Japan-based Autodesk Fusion 360 evangelist. Yuji manages customer recognition, social media marketing, market analysis and technical localization for Autodesk’s Fusion 360 platform. Prior to this, his role as Technical Specialist at Autodesk encompassed managing customer success and partner support, as well as industrial design consulting for the automotive and consumer products industries in Japan. In his extensive career of 10 years as a consultant, Yuji has an excellent track record at leading Japanese companies towards adopting next-generation technology platforms across the design, make and use cycle, from product development to fabrication and retirement. Yuji started his career at Altair Engineering where he was first exposed to various technologies such as 3D printing and simulation and topology optimization, which is now known as Generative Design. A 2003 graduate of Pratt Institute with a major in industrial design, Yuji has won the Good Design award and has received recognition from multiple media outlets for his concept designs.



Special thanks to these amazing companies and organizations for making Kyoto Startup Summer School 2017 happen.


Silver Partners


Bronze Partners


More coming soon...


About the KYOTO Design Lab

Since 1899, the Kyoto Institute of Technology (KIT) has pioneered practical education in design and engineering in Japan. Its new KYOTO Design Lab (D-lab) has been selected by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) to deliver their strategic vision of educational innovation and excellence in higher education in the fields of architecture and design.

By engaging with and responding to the global problems faced by our world, the KYOTO D-Lab will be a site for social innovation through design and for the exploration of practical design methodologies. D-Lab is the first institute of its kind in Japan to focus on architectural education and research into urban revitalization. D-Lab aspires to tackle such issues as the aging society worldwide and to use design and design thinking to realize its vision. Its core team and the staff of Kyoto Institute of Technology will work with leading international designers and researchers, and a wide range of partners drawn from both the public and private sectors. The aim is to reveal and address contemporary social challenges.