Maybe you have often heard the term “venture company” (ベンチャー企業) when applying or career transitioning to companies in Japan. However, many of you may wonder what venture companies in Japan look like and what the pros and cons of working for one are as an international job seeker. In this article, we will explain employment at ventures in detail.
- What are venture companies?
- The pros of working at a venture company
- A frank and straightforward company culture or environment that is easy for foreigners to get accustomed to
- Fast growth and many opportunities for career advancement
- Some companies have a high need for foreign employees
- The cons of working for a venture company
- Less stability ensured
- Many companies are quick to task new hires with formal job duties, translating to a shorter training period
- Potential companies may not have well-established reputations
- What kinds of people are fit for venture companies?
- Employment agencies specialized in ventures
1．What are venture companies?
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry defines venture companies as “emerging companies that pursue rapid growth through new businesses centered on new technologies and/or new business models” [note: roughly translated from official Japanese definition]. To put it more simply, venture companies are young, fast-growing companies that conduct new businesses. Below are the major pros and cons of working at venture companies as a foreign job seeker.
2．The pros of working at a venture company
A frank and straightforward company culture or environment that is easy for foreigners to get accustomed to
A common concern for foreigners working in Japan is the struggle to acclimate to rigid Japanese company cultures. Across many venture companies, frank communication is exercised, strict hierarchies are absent, and opinions are expressed freely. Furthermore, many companies provide flexible work options such as teleworking and flextime. Average employee ages are young, and some companies boast a large number of employees with overseas work experience, which may prove a comfortable work environment for foreigners.
Fast growth and many opportunities for career advancement
Large companies have a disadvantage in that their training process can span across several months to half a year, making it difficult to grow in practical work experience during that time. In contrast, one can challenge themselves with new projects soon after employment at ventures. Additionally, promotion by seniority—a practice among large companies—is nonexistent; therefore, young foreigners can be promoted to executive positions provided that they possess the abilities to be one. If you aim to start your own company or to become independent in the future, experience at small organizations like ventures will undoubtedly come in handy.
Some companies have a high need for foreign employees
Most venture companies offer new technologies or business models (and among these, IT ventures number large). As a result, many companies need foreign engineers who are skilled in state-of-the-art technology from abroad or foreign salespersons/marketers familiar with overseas contexts. Employment at such growing ventures allows one to use personal skills while being involved in projects of higher job responsibilities.
3．The cons of working for a venture company
Less stability ensured
A fair number of ventures pursue risky, new businesses with little capital when first establishing the company. For this reason, venture companies are sometimes outdone by large businesses in terms of job stability. It may go without saying that performance-based bonuses might not be handed out; furthermore, other risks such as company downsizing or bankruptcy exist as well. It is important to determine which companies have promising prospects when planning for employment at ventures. For international job seekers, the company’s stability affects one’s visa, so extra caution should be applied when selecting which companies to work for.
Many companies are quick to task new hires with formal job duties, translating to a shorter training period
One has the opportunity to be involved in official job responsibilities almost immediately after joining a venture company. As a result, many ventures train employees through on-the-job training (OJT), meaning new hires learn by performing their assigned tasks. Although new employees are taught through their tasks under senior colleagues, a rich instructional environment is not always guaranteed. It will become important to be initiative-taking or self-motivated in catching up. Therefore, ventures may not be a fit for those expecting generously dense training programs.
Potential companies may not have well-established reputations
Unlike large businesses that are recognized by virtually anyone, many venture companies have little to no known reputation. When making a career transition within Japan, working at a venture does not put one at much disadvantage as the work experiences gained are often sought out by other kinds of companies. However, one may find themselves at a disadvantage when transitioning to a company abroad or in a home country as the venture may be completely unknown overseas, regardless of how recognized it is within Japan.
4．What kinds of people are fit for venture companies?
From the pros and cons above, we recommend venture companies to the following types of people.
- Those who like frank and straightforward company cultures or environments
- Those who want to grow and challenge themselves
- Those who are planning to start their own company or become independent
- Those who can effectively measure a company’s prospects
- Those who can catch up in work even if the training period is short
5．Employment agencies specialized in ventures
It is possible to search for venture companies on general job search engines, but we also recommend using employment services specialized in ventures.
Cheercareer is a job search site run by Cheer Inc., tailored to new graduates interested in working for ventures or growing companies. Aside from operating a job search engine, Cheer Inc. also organizes job hunting events (named 情熱フェスタ) for potential candidates to meet presidents of venture companies. It is a useful job search site for those interested in ventures.
Green is a job search site operated by Atrae, Inc. and centers its listings around opportunities for engineers, designers, salespersons, and marketers in the IT/Web industries. Apart from start-ups and ventures, Green also features opportunities at both publicly listed and foreign-affiliated companies. We recommend this site to international job seekers pursuing a career transition to IT ventures.
In this article, we introduced the pros and cons of working at a venture company. Under the umbrella term “venture companies,” a wide variety of companies exists. Thus, letting go of preconceived opinions and doing interviews or internships to discover what companies are a personal fit is a good plan of action.