What It Means to Be an Entrepreneur: "You can't operate a band or a company by yourself."
People who know JOSUKE must also know Josuke Sato the entrepreneur.
In 2011, he founded ARTI FACTORY Inc. (now called ARTORY) and worked as the representative director; currently, there about 20 employees. His business has expanded quite smoothly.
At a glance, his company may not seem to be related to music, but in actuality, it can be safely said that his company was developed by his band.
We will explain his history.
He started using computers when he was in kindergarten and made his own homepage when he was in high school
JOSUKE's representative company ARTORY Inc. specializes in web service and system development. One may ask why he is in a band. The answer goes all the way back to JOSUKE's days as a student in an international school.
"I started using computers when I was in kindergarten since the school had a computer room. Hotmail launched during my grade-school years. I remember I was sending emails through Hotmail to my friends in my sister school, so really I was interested in computers since the dawn of the internet."
He made his own homepage when he was in middle school and learned how to program when he was in high school. He soon started to make game websites and chat rooms "for fun."
When he formed the band SINSEMILLA, naturally he made a homepage for it. He began to use the internet to actively promote his band.
"I had a business-like mindset at the time, and I was thinking of ways to get more fans. The members wrote columns in the homepage, made flyers like a Monthly SINSEMILLA of sorts thinking that we should get ourselves into some magazines, and left the flyers in a few live houses. Thinking about it now, there were a lot of other ways I could've handled the advertising."
"I thought it'd be nice for me to be an icon of some sort."
When JOSUKE was a bandsman, he had many part-time jobs: an employee for a web design company, an employee for a publishing company, a radio personality, and a model for a fashion brand that continues even now.
After SINSEMILLA was disbanded, he started a business with the band's bassist and design specialist Masaki Furuichi and attracted the attention of his part-time job and his colleagues, who then gave him requests for web design-related work.
"When I started the business, Furuichi already had a job, so I had him work for the business on top of his job. Eventually, I asked him to formally join my company because the amount of work I had to do increased to where I couldn't manage it all by myself. I had a four-and-a-half mat room I could use as a private room and office, so by the time we got four people coming to the room, the fourth person had to spread cardboard on the floor to work. (laugh)"
The company soon started to develop smoothly and his business expanded to where he appeared in Japan IT Week recently, but the next step he saw for his company was having its own products.
The first product was JOSUKE himself.
"Thanks to everyone, I could get away from all the business- and production-related duties and had fewer duties to do this year, so I'm thinking of coordinating all the music I've made to promote the company. Going through my music activities under the name of JOSUKE has had a huge impact. In 2016, I played music under the name "50 HEARTS", but that name doesn't coordinate well with the company, so I decided to play music under the name of Josuke Sato, representing ARTORY.
"First I would need to spread the reputation of JOSUKE, and then I would need to get information about other artists and be a producer for some of them and make a web program starring JOSUKE. I thought it'd be nice for me to be an icon of some sort. At first, I thought it wouldn't be right for me to be so forceful, but a lot of my workers love music, so they're actively supporting me."
A pure-hearted worker driven by effort who always pushes straight forward
Tetsuro Gamo, one of Artory's employees and one of JOSUKE's longtime friends, talks about the kind of person JOSUKE is:
"He's a very straightforward person. Whenever he comes up with an interesting idea, he goes through with it no matter what the dangers or obstacles it has. He's pure-hearted like a child. (laugh) But he puts a lot of effort into his ideas, driven by his desire to make them a reality. I don't think he would call it effort, though."
The company lies on the extension line of the band
Incidentally, JOSUKE and his middle school classmates, four altogether, are employees in ARTORY. Three of them, JOSUKE included, were members of the band, and Gamo was one of them. JOSUKE reflects on the band and says, "If SINSEMILLA hadn't been disbanded, it might've become a part of the company." From this, I can see that the company lies on the extension line of the band.
"You can't operate a band or a company by yourself, because they both require teamwork. JOSUKE's projects feel like everyone's works. The name of our company ARTORY comes from "Artifact Factory," and I would like everyone in ARTORY along with everyone involved with ARTORY to continue making all kinds of works."
He crowns his projects with his own name, but when he talks about his work, he says that it involves teamwork, that it's his employees' work as much as it is his, and that he wants to continue to work together with everyone involved with his company, everything except himself especially.
Many of JOSUKE's pieces wish for the listener's happiness.
Having learned of the path JOSUKE trod and how the company of ARTORY came to be, I knew why.
(Written interview: Hiroshi Tanaka / Editing: Taiyo Tajima "BLOCKBUSTER")