Hiroki Ashida
Vice President
Hiroki works in the Tokyo team, focusing on investment opportunities in Biotech, AI and related technologies.

What motivates you?

The principles and mechanisms behind everything; from complex technologies, to science, to the business models that make products go viral.

What’s been the steepest learning curve on your career journey so far?

When working as a consultant, I was put in charge of developing a consumer app for one of the largest telecom companies in South East Asia to increase user engagement. I was involved from the planning to the execution; creating a grand concept of the service, breaking it down into specification documents for development, fixing the app design, running a marketing campaign after the launch, and tracking KPIs.

I learned through the experience that to have an idea is one thing but implementing it and bringing it to life requires a tremendous amount of effort and patience; you must make decision after decision on every minor detail while meeting deadlines and constantly dealing with unexpected issues. That is why I have a great deal of respect for entrepreneurs who are creating the “one” from scratch.

Which tech trend are you most excited about at the moment and why?

One of my top choices would be genome editing technology. I spent around eight years conducting research on DNA/RNA, right after the completion of the human genome project, to computationally decode the blueprint of life. I was intrigued by how the information flow was precisely programmed and regulated at various layers; DNA sequence, chromatin/nucleosome, chromosome, transcription and so on. Today, with a more clear understanding of how the genome works and the invention of CRISPR-based editing technologies, people can edit the source code of these programs and control how they are implemented. This revolutionary platform technology could be a game-changer in many fields including therapeutics, agriculture, and spaces where we currently cannot even imagine.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Ignorance of technology or industry can never be an excuse for anything. This is the first thing I was taught at the beginning of my career and it has stuck with me ever since. It is impossible to be an expert in all fields but we need to be agile learners, able to assimilate facts and data at least to the level where we can nail down the issues and be able to ask right questions to make informed business decisions. As an investor, this becomes even more important. We are constantly exposed to new businesses and technologies and our limitation in knowledge and experience can never be the reason to pass on an opportunity.