February 16, 2016

Innovator of the Month: Hiroshi Mikitani

Photo courtesy of Fashion Times.
Who is Hiroshi Mikitani?

By Nick K 

Hiroshi Mikitani is the founder and current CEO of Rakuten. Back before the start of Rakuten, Mikitani realized that there was an untapped market of online shopping that would flourish in the decades to come.

Luckily, Mikitani was correct with his prediction about the large internet boom across the world. To make things even better for Mikitani, he runs one of the most successful, and largest e-commerce websites in the world. Mikitani wants to continue Rakuten’s success until it becomes the number one e-commerce company in the world.

Rakuten is a Japanese e-commerce company that was founded back in 1997. Like all great success stories, Rakuten started out as a small company with only a handful of employees. Today, Rakuten has over 11,000 people and is flourishing as the largest e-commerce site in all of Japan. Interestingly enough, Rakuten translated from Japanese to English means “optimism.” How about that for looking on the bright side of life?

What Led to Rakuten’s Success?
What makes Rakuten unique is their goal: to empower and support shop owners by focusing directly on the customer experience itself. Rakuten strives to provide high quality and personal service for their customers. Although Rakuten might not be as well known in the US as Amazon, they are one of the top international e-commerce companies.

We talked about how Rakuten wants to “empower users,” but what exactly does that mean?

Rakuten creates “growth opportunities for as many people as possible through the provision of services that ensure a high standard of satisfaction for both users and partner enterprises.”

Now, how did Rakuten become so big? Was it from their ingenious business model? Did the company peak at the correct time, or was Rakuten just lucky?

Perhaps those reasons all have some truth to them, but overall, Rakuten’s success starts with their founder and current CEO, Hiroshi Mikitani.  

How Did Hiroshi Mikitani Make Rakuten so Successful?
Mikitani’s corporate mission is, and always will be, empowering users and people around the world using the Internet. In addition, Rakuten’s online shopping experience provides great amounts of joy as users explore and find new products for affordable prices. This element of happiness is what keeps users coming back again and again.

Rakuten’s success stemmed from Mikitani’s five principles for success. These principles have allowed Rakuten to maintain the best online shopping experience possible for users. These five principles for success are:

  • Always improve and advance forward
  • Stay true and professional
  • Create and implement an action plan
  • Serve your customers
  • Speed is everything!

Without these simple principles for success, perhaps Rakuten would be just like most e-commerce websites who have been laid to rest in the internet graveyard.

In addition to the principles, Mikitani also emphasized the importance of empowering an organization. Many business owners fail to do this and it often can lead to great complications down the road. However, Mikitani felt that, if you follow these tips for your business, then it will help keep your business heading in the correct direction. These steps include:

  • Emphasizing teamwork among employees
  • Accepting it is alright to fail
  • Taking precautions to avoid chaos

These principles and tips are exactly what has led Hiroshi Mikitani and Rakuten to the great success that it has today. Overall, Rakuten isn’t meant to be compared to Amazon, but under their current supervision, it could very well be the next global Amazon!


Do you have an innovator you’d like the Tek Team to write about next month? Please let us know in the comment section below! 

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