🎙️ | 29 | Shinya Deguchi
Educating Investors Through Manga
Fun episode this week! Chatting about webtoons and manga in the context of investor education. Hell yeah it’s a little different and niche, but I found it super interesting. My guest for this one is Shinya Deguchi. Shinya is the founder of Star Magnolia Capital, a multi-family office and Co-Founder of Gen Z Group. Through Gen Z Group, Gen Z Media creates and promotes educational content (mainly in the medium of graphic novels) in Chinese-speaking regions which is today’s focus.
Also, apologies for the late email this week! Been busying prepping for the big TSMC episode out this Thursday. Don’t miss it!
Listen to this episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Castbox, Google Podcasts, or on your favourite podcast platform.
My takeaways and lessons:
Manga is actually a very unique way to attract the younger generation to focus on the companies. If you can actually create something interesting, then maybe the companies will pay for it.
Money ain’t everything. And education is just as important:
“One of the message that we are actually telling those [wealthy] families is you have to figure out how to use money to make your life or your family happy or happier. In order to do that, then the next generation has to know how to be a master of money instead of slave of money. And then in order to be a master of money, probably the easiest way is knowing how to invest, right? So that they can generate returns.”
Don’t expect an anime adaptation anytime soon ;)
“you have to be able to read or digest at your own pace. Because anime is attractive for younger generations or maybe anyone, but then it actually moves at their own pace. If you watch anime, then you don’t, don’t have time to think. We want the readers to think. And then the webtoon is probably a better format because as you read, you can actually think about this. And then you can easily go back where you want to spend a little bit more time.”
[00:00:31] – [First question] – Shinya’s background
[00:03:47] – The influence of Makoto Maki
[00:08:00] – Shinya’s investing style and how that’s changed over time
[00:12:11] – Manga and Why start the Gen Z Group?
[00:24:14] – Early mistakes?
[00:31:07] – When comparing Manga and Webtoons compared to other mediums, why do it?
[00:32:21] – What Shinya wished he knew before starting this project
[00:35:55] – And what’s next for Gen Z Group?
[00:39:10] – Anything else we haven’t covered and wrapping up
Connect with Shinya:
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Kalani Scarrott (00:31): My guest today is Shinya Deguchi. Shinya is the founder of Star Magnolia Capital, a multi-family office, and is the co-founder of Gen Z Group. Through Gen Z Group, Gen Z media creates and promotes educational investor content, mainly in the medium of graphic novels and webtoons in Chinese-speaking regions, which is today’s focus.
For today’s conversation, we cover webtoons and manga in the context of investor education. And, yes, it sounds a little bit different, but it’s extremely interesting and exciting topic that I didn’t know too much about going into today. So I certainly learned a lot and I guarantee that you will too. So I hope you enjoy my conversation with Shinya Deguchi.
Shinya, thank you so much being on today. I think not only a logical place to start, but also an interesting place is with your early life and your background. So could you talk a little about your life growing up and maybe what lessons you took away from it?
Shinya Deguchi (01:21): Sounds good. Kalani, thank you very much for inviting me to this podcast. I’m very excited to be part of this projects. And I’m very happy to share, not only my investor journey but then the creation of, I think, very innovative investment education solutions. So I am Japanese. I’m living in Shanghai right now, but then I grew up in Japan. And one of the very important aspects of my childhood is called manga. And the parents don’t like the kids reading manga all the time because it’s so addictive. But then the kids love reading manga. And in Japan, we have a number of weekly magazines that we can buy, and then I bought one, another friend bought one, and then we just exchanging those manga. And then instead of studying, we kept reading manga, but then we also found a lot of educational manga in Japan as well.
So I learned the history through reading manga. I learned science through reading manga. So the manga is everywhere. And then it’s actually not only for kids but also for adults as well. If you go to Japan and then if you just jump on the subway on the way to office, and then on the way back from office, the adults are always reading manga. So it’s really, a very important part of the culture, pop culture, in Japan. And then that’s where I grew up before I decided to go to United States for undergrad.
Kalani Scarrott (02:52): Yeah. So what was your maybe reasoning for deciding to study in the US?
Shinya Deguchi (02:56): So my father, when I was 17 years old, asked me, “Maybe you should go to United States during the summer break?” Which I did. And the first city I went is called the Columbus, Ohio, which is in the middle of nothing. I didn’t really know much about United the States before that. But then I went there and I spent two weeks. I was really impressed by the size of United States and also the growing and then the very complex economy, which is very different from Japan. I start thinking, “Oh, maybe after high school, maybe I should probably go study overseas.” I really wanted to study economics. So the United States was one of the natural destination for me.
Kalani Scarrott (03:47): So from your first job, could you maybe elaborate on Makoto Maki and his influence on you? So the story about how Maki Senior helped you meet some interesting people. I think listeners would love to hear that. So could you explain that?
Shinya Deguchi (03:57): Sure. Maki Senior is a father of my high school friend. He’s also entrepreneur. And then the founder of this company called Melco Holdings. He passed away a couple years ago and then my friend, Hiroyuki, took over the business, but then this is the largest computer peripheral manufacturers in Japan. The brand is called Buffalo. And if you go to Japan and then the computer stores, you see the name of Buffalo everywhere, the hard disk drive, wireless LAN, they have almost 60%, 70% market shares. So he was really the first public company CEO that I had opportunity to interact. And I learned tremendously from him. So when I was high school students and my friend asked me to come over to his place. Now his house is bigger than most of other kids. And then we all had the parties. And then after-parties, Maki Senior came home. That was the fun part for me because I was able to sit down with him with beer or maybe Japanese sake in hands. And then we could talk for a number of years.
And then the story he shared with me was very exciting that he shared a lot about how to manage companies, how to think about the business and opportunities, and going overseas. So it was a wonderful moment for high school kids. And then even after I went to United States to study, I kept in touch. And then Maki Senior came to United States quite often. So when he came to New York, he always asked me to come over and then have a drink and then discussions. So even though I was studying economics, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do after graduation. And then I think it was my junior year, Maki Senior asked me to come over to New York because he was there. And then said, “Okay, I will show you to interesting people.” So I had no idea what the Maki Senior was thinking, but then he actually introduced me to so-called hedge fund managers in New York. That was the year, 2000, 2001. And in the middle of the internet bubble burst, and then United States was getting into the decisions. That was actually a boom time for hedge funds.
And I had absolutely no idea about hedge fund managers, but then the Maki Senior thought this is an interesting time for me to meet the hedge fund managers. And then I didn’t actually know what he was thinking, but then I had a really interesting meeting with those people, very different from my friends, the university students. And then everybody thought, “Oh, maybe getting a job at the mutual fund is a great idea.” Nobody really talked about hedge funds. And then I think the one summer day, the Maki Senior took me to the meetings with those hedge fund managers. And then I had opportunity to meet maybe four or five different managers. They talked about the world and how market works and how they can actually make money.
I was really surprised that this market, this world actually existed. And then the Maki Senior was also one of the persons who taught me the importance of meeting people and understanding people. And then meeting with Mr. Maki itself was a very important moment of my life because I didn’t know how much I could learn from just one person. It’s very different from the schools, but actually learning from the people from their experiences. I really enjoyed meeting with hedge fund managers as well because they are talking about their lives and then business was their lives as well. A lot of life stories. And then I quickly realized that investing is actually all about people, not really investing in companies or tradings, but then it’s actually the people business. And I think that was very important moment for my life because that actually led me to join Maki Senior’s company and then started my investor’s journey.
Kalani Scarrott (08:00): Yeah. So you already gave a few hints there, but how would you define your investing style, and how has that maybe changed over time?
Shinya Deguchi (08:07): So I think a lot of people think investing is the buying stocks or maybe selling bonds. For me, it’s actually different. And maybe it’s because that’s the investment platform the Maki Senior was developing back then. So right before I graduated, I actually have absolutely no plan of what I’m going to do after graduation. And then I was a little bit stupid, but then he kindly invited me to join his company. What he said was, “We’re actually creating Japanese version of GE finance. So he was in manufacturing business, it’s not as big as GE, but of course, he wanted to create the investment business because the company had a lot of cash on the balance sheet and he didn’t know what to do. And then he found the hedge fund managers very interesting, and then they know how to make money. So he thought maybe he can actually invest the company’s cash into those hedge fund managers, which he did.
But then he realized that it’s actually really difficult to manage those portfolio unless he has something to manage these portfolios. And then he hired the Japanese guy based in Austin, Texas, and he became the CFO of US business, but also, he wanted to hire someone junior to help these operations. So I thought, interesting manufacturing company… I was not interested in manufacturing business, but then if I do investment job, it could be fun. And then Melco, the company Mr. Maki started what they did was investing in hedge fund managers and then generating… The whole point, the purpose was generating very stable returns. It was actually very interesting journey because we invested in a lot of fraudulent hedge funds. A lot of fraudulent hedge managers promised us very stable returns, which the Japanese investors love. So it seems that we are actually making very stable returns without taking risks, which was not true, even though it was the people business we thought what we are doing is investing in people. We actually didn’t look at people.
And then those people who we thought are good people were actually bad people. And so we lost a lot of money, but then that was actually the starting point of my investor journey. And I thought investing in people is nothing wrong, but the approach was wrong because we didn’t actually look at the people, but we only look at the numbers. And then we thought we are investing in those funds and making money. So we actually didn’t do what we thought we were doing. So when I joined the next company, the Cook Pine Capital, this is where I actually developed how we invest and then investing in people approach.
Kalani Scarrott (10:59): Is there anything specific in people that you look for or don’t look for?
Shinya Deguchi (11:02): So in the finance business, and then also those hedge funds and then the private equity space, I think everybody’s smart enough to make decent money or maybe almost all managers are very good at making money. The reason we lose money is because there’s no alignment of interest between investors and managers. The good example is a lot of successful managers, they keep raising capital. And then the fund size is getting big and bigger. So even though historical return, it’s good. But then the investors who came to funds, they don’t really make money because it becomes very difficult to generate good returns after the fund becomes large. So maybe the fee structure as well, sometimes the investors taking too much risk in order to get the high returns in one year, and then they don’t really care about the next year as well. So I think the alignment of interest is actually very important. And then that’s usually what I am actually looking for in order to identify good managers.
Kalani Scarrott (12:11): Yeah. So with your investment journey and your education along the way, how does this tie in with Gen Z Group and maybe why you decided to start it and what was the motivation behind Gen Z Group, I guess?
Shinya Deguchi (12:22): All right. So let me start with my manga project. So it was, I think, 2011 or 2012, I went to Tokyo and then had a couple of meeting with managers, investment managers. And then one of the managers, the activist managers took a significant ownership of Japanese company called Toei Animations. I think they had the 5% or 10% stake in the company. And I asked them, “So why are you looking at Toei Animation? This is my first time that anyone is talking about Toei Animation as an investment opportunities?” And this hedge fund manager said, “Well, Toei Animation has very good IPs or titles of animations, for example, Dragon Ball Z, One Piece, Sailor Moon among others. But they’re not fully utilizing the assets they have.”
For example, overseas markets, One Piece is very popular, but then they’re only making 3% of revenue coming from the overseas markets. So this activist manager thought a lot of things that Toei Animation can do in order to increase the revenues, especially just the focusing on the [monetization 00:13:39] in overseas market. So this is when I thought, “Wow, anime and manga industry could be a very interesting place to find investment opportunities.” And then I started looking around, I met my partner Yohei Sadoshima through my friends. He just left the company, one of the biggest publishers called Kodansha, and started his business because he thought the publishers are not really helping the manga artists to monetize their assets.
So they’re actually doing a good job in domestic markets, but then the overseas markets, publishers are very reluctant to help the artist. So Yohei was keen on helping artists to expand and monetize their products. So I thought that was a very interesting approach. So one of the manga artists, he was helping from very beginning and he became very popular is Norifusa Mita, He’s a very famous author of Dragon Zakura, which is the entrance exam manga, which is a very unusual topic, but then it became very, very popular. And then we had the second TV drama, which became very popular last year. He also had another title, which is called Investor Z. So this is a manga about investing.
So I was a little bit surprised because, “Oh, I actually didn’t know that there’s a man about investing.” When I was kid, I read the manga about the history, manga about the science, but then I’ve never seen the manga about investing. So I decided to read because it was done by my partner. So I spent some time just reading. And it was really interesting. This manga, it’s a story of the junior high school kid, who had absolutely no experience and knowledge about investing. He accidentally met the secret investment club of the school. So this investment club is managing the money for the schools and then generating tuitions for the school. And I thought, “Oh, wow, this is like endowments in United States.” Like a MIT, Yale, Harvard, they all have the huge endowments and generating the good returns to support and provide the scholarships and then building libraries.
So the story was based on the very similar concepts. And I thought, “Wow, so this kid is probably doing the same thing as I do for my job.” And so I was immediately intrigued by the story, but then not only the setting, the concept they’re talking, and then how this young boy grew up as an investor was a very interesting story. So I actually gave this manga to my father. So he’s a stock picker. He spent probably the previous 30 years picking the small, medium-sized Japanese stocks. He’s already almost 70 years old, but then I told him, “Maybe this manga is interesting because I know you like investing.” After reading, he said, “Oh, this is one of the best books, not even best manga, but one of the best books I ever read over the last 70 years.” So I said, “Oh, wow. Okay. So it’s not only me, but then my father also likes it.”
And then I came up with one idea. So my family, now we are running a multifamily office and then the managing money for our families. But then we had the problem on investment education. So my father is a stock picker, and then I’m also involved with the investing, but then my sister never expressed any interest in investing. And then my father tried because he thought investing will make people smart and then responsible. But then my sister never listened. And a lot of Japanese daughters do not want to listen to Japanese fathers. And then, which is very typical, but then my sister she’s the pharmacist. And then investing is not part of her life at all. So my father tried several times or maybe over the previous 10 years. And then he bought a lot of books. He opened the brokerage accounts for her, and then they send the stocks to these accounts under her names. So he said, “Well, you don’t have to do anything, but then just go to the website and then trade.” But then my sister never took actions because she thought it’s boring. And then, “Why do I have to do this?” So my father almost gave up on my sister.
So I said, “Maybe we can try, probably doesn’t work, but then we can see.” So I bought the whole 180 chapters of Investor Z and I gave it to my sister. “If you don’t like reading everything, that’s okay. But then just try for the first 20 chapters and let me know what you think.” So she said almost nothing. She was more like, “Why do I have to read this manga?” By the way, she loves reading manga. So I thought maybe this might be the good opportunity. And then I think it was about the two weeks after I gave her the book. And she came back to me and said, “Oh, my goodness, I didn’t know investing is such a fun thing.” I was like, “Oh, wow, that’s a very strong statement.” And then she even said, “I want to start investing. Can you teach me?” So I thought that was a defining moment. I was like, “Wow. So the manga actually changed this 30, I don’t know, 33 or 34 years old pharmacist.” She wanted to start investing. So I thought that was the power of manga and then the contents.
So what we did after that was, I told my father that, “Hey, your daughter is now interested in investing.” And he was very surprised and very skeptical because the previous 10 years he tried to change. He’s like, “It’s impossible. Like manga cannot change someone’s views completely.” But then she did. So previously my sister and then my father probably met a couple of times a year only, right? And then maybe for the New Years and maybe summer, and then otherwise they didn’t really do anything, but then now we actually have a investment meeting every week. So my father loves it because he can keep talking about his passions and then the companies. And then my sister is working on some of the companies that my father picked and then she can actually do a deep dive on the companies. So my father actually found that, “Oh, this is a great way to interact with my daughter.” Otherwise, maybe he probably didn’t have this kind of experiences.
So our family had this moment. So I moved to Shanghai from United States in 2012 and then I set off the multifamily office. And so I’m dealing with the family office, the people, the wealthy families. And then one of the problem with wealthy families is actually education of the next generation. We want to invest based on the long-term perspectives. But then if the next generation is not thinking anything about investing, then we can’t continue investing. But then it’s actually very difficult to attract the next generation to focus on investing because the very similar reasons for my sister, but then a lot of people think that investment is dangerous, risky, boring, and then not fun. They love making money, but then they want to make money doing something else. The other problem of those families is the money doesn’t make them happy. Quite often, money actually makes them unhappy. They start fighting for money. And then being rich is not always happy thing for many families in China.
One of the message that we are actually telling those families is you have to figure out how to use money to make your life or your family happy or happier. In order to do that, then the next generation has to know how to be a master of money instead of slave of money. And then in order to be a master of money, probably the easiest way is knowing how to invest, right? So that they can generate returns. So a lot of traditional Chinese families think that the next generation have to take over their own business. Right? But then the first generation is actually doing a very boring business like the real estates or maybe the coal minings, and then the younger generations are not very interested. Some of them are probably more interested in music or maybe the sports. So I said, the kids don’t have to take over the parents’ business, but then they still have to be responsible for the future. Right? So then one of the option is maybe the family can sell the business and then they get the money and then manage this money so that they can support their living. And then they can focus on what they think is interesting. It could be art, music, and sports.
So the investment education is very important topic, but then it’s very difficult to bring those next generation to the table. So I realized that the manga was actually becoming popular in China. And then my idea was… Or maybe I can probably bring the Investor Z to China, and then use this manga to educate the next generations. So that was the original idea of this manga project. So what I did was I approached my partner and then asked him, “Can I translate this manga and then distribute in China?” And then he said, “Of course, why not?” And then the translation was actually not that cheap. So we transferred everything and then they replaced the Japanese with Chinese, and then they start publishing. And one of the problem was… The biggest problem was this manga was not very popular. So nobody is interested. We tried so hard to push this manga, but then it seems nobody cared. So we are wondering what kind of mistakes we have made.
Kalani Scarrott (24:14): And what were those mistakes?
Shinya Deguchi (24:15): So we actually realized that the traditional manga, which is the original, we created based on the paper books. So we’re actually reading the flipping page to move to the next one. And then we are also reading from top right to bottom left-right. And it’s a black and white. So we just put this black and white, the traditional manga online, and hoping that people will read on the smartphone. The problem was the image is so small because the paper is large. Paper version of manga is large, but then smartphone is actually small because it’s important to be small, the screens small. And then the words are tiny. So it’s very difficult to read. And also the black and white user interface was not suitable. And then the people didn’t think that was very appealing because we got used to Japanese style of manga. Actually, we didn’t know that was the problem, but then just watching Kurosawa movies, which is black and white, and then the younger generation probably think it’s not attractive, even though the story is very interesting.
So from the beginning at the entrance points, this manga was not very appealing at all. And then people actually didn’t pay too much attention to the contents just because of the user interface. We thought the content is great because it has so much impact on my family, but then it was not really having a lot of impacts in China. The funny thing was if you ask people to read and then ask their opinions very consistently. If they read, then they find this, “Oh, this is actually very interesting.” We thought the content’s quality is good, but then the entry point was a problematic. So we thought we have to fix it because if nobody reads, no matter how good the contents is, it’s useless. So we realized, “Okay, so we have to do something to fix these problems.” And then we also have to find a way to make money as well because we are spending money on the translations and then the editings, and then also the advertisements, which all wasted because nobody was reading. And then how can we generate revenues out of this?
So I thought, “Okay, maybe if we want to make the new versions, we have to create a mechanism that someone is willing to pay for it.” So one of the opportunities I thought could be interesting was maybe using manga as part of the corporate PR. So as an investor when I speak to the managers who are investing in the stocks, we often discuss how bad the public companies are in terms of the investor communications. And then I think American companies getting better, but then the Chinese companies, Asian companies are terrible. So if you go to the website, hope they have website, but then if they go to their websites, then they have greetings from the chairman and then CEO. And then also they have a milestone. They say which year they started business, which year they opened the first factories, and then which year they started the new subsidiaries overseas, which could be important, but then it’s actually very boring for investors and then leaders.
But then what we want to know is what is the corporate culture, what is the founding story of those companies, and then why do they think this business has to exist, and then how they actually make money. It actually takes a lot of time to find out the story and the cultural aspects of the companies. And then that became the very important part of the investment process, understanding the corporate culture and the business model, but then the companies don’t talk about this.
Kalani Scarrott (28:31): And that’s where the webtoon or the manga fills the gaps then?
Shinya Deguchi (28:34): Right. So I thought maybe a manga is actually a very unique way to attract the younger generation to focus on the companies. If you can actually create something interesting, then maybe the companies will pay for it. Right? But then in order to convince companies, I think, the structure has to be interesting enough. So we spoke to the manager, the Singapore-based asset manager called Arisaig. They had a long in investments in the company called Vitasoy. They invested more than 20 years in Vitasoy and then they knew the story, and then they knew why this company is good, and then why they can generate such a good returns over 20 years. So I thought maybe having managers talk about the company, like why this company is great and then combining with the company’s own message. That could be a very interesting episode for investors to read. Instead of spending a number of hours searching the corporate culture, and then the story of the companies, they can just read the manga and then understand the companies. So that was our original idea.
So we developed the first webtoon. Webtoon is the web version of cartoon. So this is the smartphone-friendly, the full-color manga. And then we call it, Investor Z IMPACT! So the impact is… Because we do really care about the ESG factors. And then the ESG is a very the attractive factors for the younger generation to pay attention. So we actually combined the ESG aspect of investing, and then the focusing on the corporate culture and the corporate history, and then encouraging people to be long-term investors, which I think a company is interested. So we created the first episode about the Arisaig investments in Vitasoy and then we published, but then nobody read it. So I thought, “Okay, well, we made a mistake again, we created, again, something the people don’t want to read.” Right? So we have to think, and then we also try to convince the companies, other companies to do the same thing, but then those companies are still very skeptical, right, “Because it seems nobody’s reading this manga. Why do we have to pay for this?” So our original idea of generating revenues to support, and then creating more manga actually didn’t work.
Kalani Scarrott (31:07): So how do you view webtoons and manga compared to other mediums maybe? So often investment education is through courses, books, and textbooks, or even videos, like where do webtoons differ and why use that format or why do you think it is best, I guess, for education?”
Shinya Deguchi (31:23): So for educational purpose, I found webtoon format is actually very interesting and then effective. A lot of people ask me, “Oh, why don’t you make animations? One of the reason we didn’t make animation is it’s actually expensive to create animations and at webtoon, even though it’s not cheap, we can create more webtoons. But the second reason is for educational purpose, you have to be able to read or digest at your own pace. Because anime is attractive for younger generations or maybe anyone, but then it actually moves at their own pace. If you watch anime, then you don’t, don’t have time to think. We want the readers to think. And then the webtoon is probably a better format because as you read, you can actually think about this. And then you can easily go back where you want to spend a little bit more time.
Kalani Scarrott (32:21): Is there anything that you wish you knew before starting this whole project? What have been the biggest takeaways? Or what do you wish you knew earlier on?
Shinya Deguchi (32:28): So I hope we knew what people actually wanted to read, and then the importance of user interface or maybe just a format. We thought if the content is good, then the people will love it. And that was actually not true. And then we need something a little bit more. So that’s why we created the second version, the Investors Z IMPACT! Because we tried to monetize or maybe try to find the source of revenue very early on, and then it actually didn’t work because you need more episodes in order to reach out more people. Right? And then if you cannot show the data, nobody will be interested. So those lessons actually led me to focus on the next projects, which is the latest webtoon called INVEST! It’s about probably a year ago after creating Investor Z IMPACT! and then actually we felt, okay, nobody’s paying attention, even though the content is great. It was a little bit devastating.
So my partner, Tiffany, and I thought, “Okay, did we make a mistake?” And then, “Should we continue doing this project?” But then we thought, “I think the content is good. The approach is good. It makes sense. But then we probably didn’t know how to approach the market. So maybe we should probably try. And then this time, we have to make an investment.” So it’s actually a very good point because we probably didn’t invest enough. And then the first project was just translation. It’s much cheaper than just creating a new manga or new webtoons. The second one we created new webtoons, but then we’re thinking too much about generating revenues too early. So the third one we created excellent webtoons that everybody wants to read. Then we spent money on the marketing and then try to spread the word as much as possible. So we just have to make an investment.
So it’s such an irony we’re actually creating the educational products, but we actually didn’t invest in ourselves. So the INVEST! the new webtoon is actually a remake of the original Investor Z. Because we thought the original Investor Z was very good. But then they had some problems. One is, it’s a black and white, it’s a paper format. And then so we have to make it into webtoons. And then it has too much story about Japan, too many the Japanese companies and the too much Japanese culture aspects. So the readers didn’t feel close enough to them. So the investment is already foreign subject, but then if it’s a story the foreign subject in the foreign country, probably people don’t want to continue reading. So we had to overhaul everything. So we found a very famous Chinese manga artist. And we convinced him because he was skeptical about creating investing manga. But then he finally agreed. So we are creating the full color, smartphone webtoons using Chinese culture and also using Chinese companies.
Kalani Scarrott (35:55): And you’re starting to find a bit of success in the Chinese market. So where to next? Where to from here? What have you got planned?
Shinya Deguchi (36:01): Right. So we published this webtoons last October and the first season had 21 chapters. It was the amazing hit for us. So the original Investor Z translations, we probably had maybe, I don’t know, 400, 500 people reading. Right? And then Investor Z IMPACT! the second one, maybe 1,000 people read. INVEST! our latest webtoons already at this eight million views. And then as we publish, we track the numbers. It was really exciting. Every minute we check the platform, the number is increasing. And I, “Oh, wow. So the people actually reading this finally. It’s happening.”
Kalani Scarrott (36:49): Found that fit.
Shinya Deguchi (36:51): Right. But actually the first three chapters, we didn’t actually capture lot of audience, but then chapter five, chapter six, the number keeps rising. And then we thought, “Oh, finally, we got something.” So we started in China, then we actually expanded into the overseas markets. So we published in English, in Singapore, and then we are already speaking to the potential platforms in Indonesia. Bahasa version will come up very shortly. And then we are actively looking at the partners in Thailand and then Vietnam maybe some other countries as well. I think this manga or webtoons be popular in Asia first, then maybe we can probably think about the overseas market. But then we actually created for Chinese people initially. It’s a lot of Chinese business and Chinese culture. So it might be difficult to attract the attention of maybe the Americans or maybe Europeans audience, but we will see because a lot the Japanese anime, it’s very popular in the overseas markets.
Kalani Scarrott (38:20): Yeah. And then, again, maybe you attracted those hardcore fans because I know, for me, I’m an Australian and I love reading about Vitasoy and all that. So for me, it’s cool. So maybe you attract those fans and that’s good enough. I don’t know.
Shinya Deguchi (38:32): Right. So that’s the second step. So we are having abundant Investor Z IMPACT! I think this is very meaningful and then impact for projects. So once we can actually prove that our main project INVEST! is popular and then can actually have a lot of fans following us, then we can actually approach other public companies. And then saying, “Hey, actually the younger generation, they love the manga format. And then reading your company information. So maybe you can actually consider creating your manga.
Kalani Scarrott (39:10): So is there anything that we haven’t talked about today about whether it’s manga, webtoons, Gen Z? Is there anything we haven’t talked about that’s important in your opinion?
Shinya Deguchi (39:19): So we are not stopping just creating manga. And then it’s just there’s a manga, the very famous manga called Slam Dunk. This is about the basketball. And then not only Japanese kids, but a lot of Asian kids, they started playing basketball because of this manga. But then if you just read manga, if you don’t play, then you can never be a basketball player that you have to start it. And then I see the same problem in investing and then our products as well. Because after reading investment manga, and then if you don’t invest, then you’re not going to be an investor at all.
So we decided to create, it’s called Generation Z Investment Club. So after reading manga, if they want to start investing, especially the university students, they can actually join the club. And then we set up the endowments. So we actually give them real money to invest. And the big mistakes or maybe the problems of younger generations or maybe Generation Z, it doesn’t have to be Generation Z, but then why a lot of people are not very good at investing, even though they become the adult is they are afraid of making mistakes and then they’re not investing at all.
I think advantage of the young age is you can make a lot of mistakes and you can actually learn from the mistakes. But then a lot of people don’t take advantage of this. So Generation Z Investment Club, once give the younger generation the opportunities to make mistake, and then investing in real money, it suffers if you lose money, but then you can learn from the making mistakes. So I think that’s a very important project. I hope the combination of the investment webtoons and then this investment club concepts, we can actually into the housewives or maybe the high school kids, many different the angles. And then the combination of the media and the actual practice, I think it helps. And then it gives opportunity to the people to start their investor journey.
Kalani Scarrott (41:38): Yeah. Because exactly you’re better off making a mistake with $10,000 than $10 million later on. I love it as always. Thank you so much for being on.
Shinya Deguchi (41:46): Thank you very much for giving this opportunity. It’s definitely a fun experience for me.