Yuta Shirahata Talks Creativity & Tech Entrepreneurship
Hong Kong/ Venture/ Profiles

Yuta Shirahata on How to Pivot Between Creativity, Tech, & Entrepreneurship

Header Yuta Shirahata On Moving Between Creativity Tech Entrepreneurship Photo by Mr. Yuta Shirahata

What does it take for creativity and culture to take shape in the digital sphere?

As a fresh alum of the esteemed HKU MBA programme at the University of Hong Kong, Yuta Shirahata had launched Web3 projects META AKITA Inc. with a fellow CBS (Columbia Business School) student from during his exchange study, and Cyberport-funded NFT and fashion project named "Not That Bad" alongside his classmate.

Crediting his success to rich partnerships, and a year-long study as part of the HKU MBA Programme to effectively establish and operate a thriving company in an industry full of up-and-coming potential, The Beat Asia chats to Yuta to learn how his experience in amassing his entrepreneurial toolkit through working with others has offered him the multidisciplinary framework to venture forward in developing his projects.

Mr Yuta Shirahata

Stoking his entrepreneurial spirit, Yuta was drawn to Hong Kong by way of its reputation as a glittering cosmopolitan hub for international finance and business. With one of the most diverse student bodies in the city, the HKU MBA programme presented a broad opening to connect with a cohort from backgrounds and industries far from Yuta’s own. Plus, guaranteed exchange partnerships with the London Business School or Columbia Business School in New York, the latter where he also studied at.

Having a background as a producer, writer, and editor in the field of publishing for print and web media, video games, and video; as well as experience working in a consulting firm, Yuta is a specialist in offering the strategic and entrepreneurial vision required to help catalyse new projects across the creativity and entertainment industries. Still, he felt he could take his career further, diving into wholly new arenas.

“I personally had experience helping the management of a company as a consultant, but I didn't have any opportunity to start all my business from zero,” he explains. Encounters with classmates who shared his career passions catalysed his goals into motion, with Yuta recounting that “we had a designer, entrepreneurs, marketers from fashion, and many other industries – in addition to consultants and bankers, of course.” He found that his partners’ respective strengths resulted in unique ways of compatibility across his different projects.

Yuta Shirahata

Likening group endeavours to the intersecting of dominantly left brained and right brained capabilities, the types of working knowledge and real-life experiences Yuta had privy to, helped lend him sharper insight on how to fit his specific skills in different contexts.

“[For META AKITA] I can share the creative knowledge to [my partner], and he can share the tech part to me. For Not That Bad, my co-founder is actually an interior designer. So, in that case, I can share how to run a company, how to do business, as another kind of knowledge to her, and then she can share the more creative ideas.”

Frequenting HKU’s networking events and expert-led keynotes, he had a multifaceted cohort of people to learn from and share his inspirations with. As part of his business development process, Yuta shares that “what I have done is, I write down my idea on paper and share it with my classmates and other great people [who] think this kind of activity is quite important.”

“When getting feedback, any way of improving was shared with you by people who might help you as well. In my case, I had a partner familiar with the tech part, but by doing this kind of activity, I could meet the engineers, and other kinds of people [who can help].”

Launched in August 2022, META AKITA spotlights the longstanding traditions of the historical Akita prefecture through Web3 concepts, and is fronted by adorable artistic renderings of its titular Akita dogs. The first NFT was limited to 100 and immediately sold out within 5 minutes.

Joining efforts with the 100-year-old Akita-Inu Preservation Society (AIPS), META AKITA has since become involved with over 20 companies and organizations, launched the country’s first XRPL NFT, and introduced values added to the token itself in different ways, such as in the form of ticketing functionality, and using it as a tax return prize as part of the Furusato-Nozei system.

Yuta Shirahata

Glancing back at his business journey so far, Yuta recounts the combination of know-how gleaned from his MBA study, his collaborators, and the convergence of his creative mindset and entrepreneurship as crucial to fuelling his first steps towards success.

He advises startup hopefuls to “just do it — that will be the key part. I'm not from the tech industry and [did] not have any professional tech [experience]. I believe what you want to achieve is more important than the knowledge itself. Why you want to share [your project] is really important.”

Accompanying the growth of META AKITA, Yuta is setting his sights on expanding the reach of his home nation’s products and culture to Hong Kong and potentially beyond. Here’s to 2023, where he hopes to further the range of Japanese imports to our local market, as well as introduce traditional Japanese festive events both online and offline, by continuing to weave together his own network of international collaboration.

You can connect with and keep updated with Yuta and his projects here.

To learn more about the HKU MBA Programmes, click here.

Join in at the HKU MBA Open House this Feb. 18 to get more insight first-hand to see how you can gain new experiences to help you reach your potential, click here to sign up now.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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