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Venture Café Cambridge
One Broadway, 5th Floor
Cambridge, MA 02142


March 7, 2019

3:00 – 8:30 PM


What are the educational paradigms central to encouraging teamwork, creative thinking, entrepreneurship, and global citizenship in students of various ages and backgrounds? How can Japan and the U.S. learn from each other’s strengths and shortcomings in education, so that its citizens can thrive in a technologically-advancing society?

Entrepreneurs, students, educators, and investors – join an international community of innovators at Venture Café to discuss the future of education through a series of panel discussions, keynote speeches, and workshops. This conference will highlight the work of local and Japanese EdTech startups that are providing innovative solutions to issues of educational quality and disparity.









3:00 – 8:30 PM NETWORKING(Café)

3:00 – 5:15 PM OFFICE HOURS (Venture Café)

3:15 – 4:15 PM ROUND ROBIN (Havana Room)

4:15 – 5:15 PM WORKSHOP (Santa Clara Room)

5:00 – 6:15 PM SHARK TANK (Havana Room)

5:00 – 8:00 PM LIVE STREAMING (4th FLOOR)


5:30 – 7:30 PM INFO & DEMO TABLES

5:45 – 6:30 PM FLASH TALK (Santa Clara Room)

6:30 – 8:00 PM PANEL (Havana Room)



OFFICE HOURS (3:00 PM - 5:15 PM)

Early stage ventures and prospective entrepreneurs have an opportunity to sign up for Office Hours during this event. Entrepreneurs may sign up for 30-minute consultations with a variety of experts.

Appointments can be made on a first come, first served basis. Any cancellations will require 48-hour notification in order to accommodate entrepreneurs who have been placed on a wait-list. No-shows are frowned upon in the VenCaf community and we reserve the right to disallow future appointments for repeat offenders.

(Room: Venture Café)



Eric Hyett

Eric is Senior Partner in a consulting firm, Boston Marketing Partners (BMP). BMP focuses exclusively on Japanese companies seeking to enter the US market, and American companies seeking partnerships in Japan. Eric studied at Harvard College and the program in Science, Technology, and Society at MIT. He worked for 20+ years in executive roles at Microsoft Japan, TradeCard, Experian and Deutsche Bank. He is passionate about cross-border trade, especially anything to do with culture or technology.








Jiani Wu

Dr. Jiani Wu is a curious and passionate professional working in cross-sections of education, technology, and business.








Kirby Salermo

Kirby is a sales and marketing leader with nearly 2 decades of experience in the EdTech industry. He has led revenue generation, partnership development, and marketing efforts as an executive at Amazon and several venture-backed EdTech start-ups. Kirby is proud of a track record of leading revenue strategy and teams that have resulted in numerous successful exits throughout his career. He’s driven by a belief in the power of education to transform lives.






ROUND ROBIN (3:15 PM - 4:15 PM)

Round Robin

Growing Up Bilingual – How to Turn Struggles Into Success

Aya, Yumi, Kozue, and Shizuno are four Japanese women who are making waves in different sectors of education, ranging from creating early-childhood music learning classes to providing mid-career leadership programs. They will share stories of their own struggles and triumphs while learning to speak multiple languages from a young age, and how they found “ikigai”, or purpose, in their current work.

(Room: Havana)


Christine Pilcavage, Moderator

For over 20 years, Christine Pilcavage has advised diverse international stakeholders in government, non-government, academic and grassroots organizations on business processes, cultural competence, and the application of public health and educational best practices. She currently is the Managing Director of the MIT Japan Program with the MIT International Science and Technology Initiative at MIT.








Aya Abe

Aya moved from Japan to the U.S. when she was in elementary school. Aya was named salutatorian of her American high school and was designated the top student in her double major of biology and psychology in college. She was awarded a full scholarship to attend a liberal arts college in Michigan. She has worked in research positions at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital since moving to Boston. Aya founded Boston Tutors, LLC in 2018.








Yumi Izuyama

Yumi Izuyama is a third generation Japanese Brazilian who lives in Cambridge, MA. Yumi has a Master’s degree in Linguistics from the University of York in the U.K. She worked in Tokyo, Japan for 10 years before moving to Cambridge to write English language materials for children. She founded Reiko Isuyama e Associados (RIA), an educational consultant organization in Brazil, which she manages remotely. RIA runs an early literacy program using kamishibai stories that she creates. She also does kamishibai storytelling in the Boston area.









Kozue Sawame

Kozue Sawame is Program Manager at the Fish Family Foundation, a private family foundation located in Boston, established in 1999 by Larry and Atsuko Fish. Kozue is in charge of the Japanese Women’s Leadership Initiative, a program started by Atsuko Fish in 2006 to empower Japanese women to be leaders and to make positive social change and innovation in Japan.









Shizuno Furuya

Shizuno was raised in Miami, Florida. Growing up where English wasn’t the predominant language, her Japanese family faced some hardships, which led her to turn to music at a young age. Wanting to give families the opportunity she had in finding hope in art, at age 20, Shizuno started teaching children piano and volunteering as a kindergarten teacher. During her time at Berklee College of Music, she founded EchoKids, an educational program that provides affordable and engaging private music lessons and ensembles to Boston’s youth.



WORKSHOP & DEMO (4:15 PM - 5:15 PM)


Think Like An Artist! Art Education Workshop/Demo

Join us for a brief hands-on demo and discussion about holistic education centered around the arts, featuring Artful Mind Project (AMP), a creative educational workshop that’s currently taught via online platforms to schools in Japan. Implementing Visual Thinking Strategy (VTS) method at its core, AMP uses creative outlets such as art and music as the main medium to help cultivate creativity, critical thinking, empathy, and communication skills.

(Room: Santa Clara)


Hinako Sato

Hinako Sato is an award-winning pianist, educator, entrepreneur and community leader with passion to empower and unite people through arts. She now runs two chapters of “Women In Music” in Boston and Japan, a non-profit dedicated to fostering gender equality and female empowerment in the music industry. Hinako and her partner Shuhei Teshima co-founded “Artful Mind Project”, an innovative educational curriculum that’s centered around arts and visual thinking strategy to cultivate creative/critical thinking and cross-cultural communication.







Shu Teshima

Shu Teshima is an educational coordinator and facilitator. He currently facilitates an online art class for Sapporo Shinyo High School as well as an Art x English class for Kagoshima Gaigo School in Japan. Shu is a professional guitarist and a photographer who also recently became a certified museum teacher at Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. He and Hinako Sato co-founded Artful Mind Project in 2018, an innovative educational curriculum that fosters creative/critical thinking, empathy, and cross-cultural communication skills.

ED TECH SHARK TANK (5:00 PM - 6:15 PM)

EdTech Shark Tank

5 Edtech startups from US and Japan pitch to a panel of judges with deep expertise of industry,
academics, and investment – the winner will receive 2-month free rent at EduLab Capital Partners
Office or Voucher for EdTech industry conferences.
2-3 american startups and 2-3 japanese startups
7 minutes
3 minute Q&A
2 min Comments
delibreration of Judges and Audience Q&A, click here to apply to pitch!

(Room: Havana)


Rokuichiro Michii, Keynote

Rokuichiro Michii is the Consul General of Japan in Boston. Prior to the current position, Mr. Michii served as Minister, Embassy of Japan in Russia. Also abroad, he was Pol-Mil officer, Embassy of Japan in Washington DC, Counselor, Embassy of Japan in Myanmar. In Tokyo, Foreign Ministry, Mr. Michii was Director of Treaty Division, serving in the International Legal Affairs Bureau for 5 years. His area of expertise includes security, international law, trade negotiations, science, and cooperative efforts.








Liam Pisano, Moderator

Liam Pisano is a Managing Partner at EduLab Capital Partners. Liam was the Managing Director at LearnLaunch where he managed all LearnLaunch investment activity and drove domestic and international strategy for the organization. He has over 16 years of direct investing experience, holding investment professional positions at Spectrum Equity Investors, Hercules Capital, and Patriot Capital. He also co-founded one of the first MOOC’s for student use, Academic Earth, which was named as Time Magazine top websites of 2009.





John Kim

John J-H Kim is a Senior Lecturer at Harvard Business School. John created and teaches the course Entrepreneurship and Technology Innovations in Education. John has also authored several cases and articles on EdTech. John Co-Chairs the Public Education Leadership Project (PELP), a joint project of HBS and Harvard Graduate School of Education to strengthen the management and leadership capabilities of urban school districts. John also founded and oversees District Management Group, an organization that helps school districts.


Julia Kuo

Julia joined Spectrum Equity in 2011 and is a Vice President. She focuses on investor relations and marketing and previously served on the investment team. Prior to joining Spectrum, Julia worked in the private equity group at Goldman Sachs. She serves as a board member and on the executive committee of the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center. Julia holds a BBA and BA, with honors, from The University of Texas at Austin.


Norihisa Wada

Norihisa Wada is a Managing Partner at EduLab Capital Partners. He is also a Director of Edutech Lab, Inc. USA, and an Executive Vice President and CMO of EduLab, Inc. Norihisa has been responsible for EduLab’s investment portfolio into both Edtech companies and fund investments. Norihisa is heavily involved in Edtech, mentor at GSV Labs and served as a GESA (Global EdTech Startup Awards) finals judge for the past two years.










This session is an engaging music education program for children. Learning how to play an instrument at a young age helps increase self-confidence, hand-eye coordination, concentration, and mathematical ability. We will explore music as a language using rhythmic tools, songs, colors, and dances. Kids between the ages of 0-12 are welcome.

(Room: 4th FLOOR)


Shizuno Furuya

Shizuno was raised in Miami, Florida. Growing up where English wasn’t the predominant language, her Japanese family faced some hardships, which led her to turn to music at a young age. Wanting to give families the opportunity she had in finding hope in art, at age 20, Shizuno started teaching children piano and volunteering as a kindergarten teacher. During her time at Berklee College of Music, she founded EchoKids, an educational program that provides affordable and engaging private music lessons and ensembles to Boston’s youth.

INFO & DEMO TABLES (5:30 PM - 7:30 PM)

Info & Demo Tables

Demos are a great way to gain exposure through our online and offline channels. During our Japan Innovation Night event, a selection of start-ups and service providers will have the opportunity to showcase their work to the Boston community.


FLASH TALK ( 5:45 PM - 6:30 PM)

What’s in your “Global Survival Kit?” — Key Tools to Thrive Internationally


How people use language can reveal how they think and then communicate their ideas. Understanding key thinking and communication patterns can harness the creativity of diverse teams and uncover the cognitive diversity present in homogenous teams. Using this knowledge, second language speakers can develop useful strategies to put themselves “in the driver’s seat” and lead with confidence.

(Room: Santa Clara)

Kerianne Panos

Kerianne Panos helps international professionals and global companies communicate and collaborate more effectively. As the founder of MCML Consulting, she designs customized coaching and training programs using her knowledge of 8 languages and 20 years of cross-cultural experience. Watching her clients, who range from professional baseball players to CEOs, harness the strength of their diversity to achieve their goals is the most rewarding part of her work. When not creating new material, she loves making her son laugh and rowing as a family on the Charles.

PANEL (6:30 PM - 8:00 PM)

Education’s Role in Supporting Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Where does Japanese public education fall short, and what are some ways to improve how we educate our youth?  What are lessons to be learned from local education initiatives in Massachusetts?  A panel of entrepreneurs, educators, and researchers will discuss the future of public education and share best practices.

(Room: Havana)

Ning Shirakawa, Keynote

Ning is a natural rebel, transforming education in Japan through global entrepreneurship programs focusing on changing students’ and educators’ mindset. Born in China, K-12 in Japan, Ning became the first local school student from her school to go to Duke University. During her time at MIT Sloan School of Management, she decided to turn her own experience into a force of change and started Taktopia & Co. As of 2019, Ning has transformed more than 50 schools in Japan, 15K students. Currently she’s advising multiple functions of Japanese gov.


Yumiko Murai

Yumiko is a postdoc at Lifelong Kindergarten group in MIT Media Lab. Her research focuses on designing and studying learning environments that support learner motivation and confidence through online/in-person creative activities. She leads professional development programs for maker and computer science educators. She also works on Beyond Rubrics project in MIT Teaching Systems Lab, where her team develops assessment toolkits for maker classrooms. Yumiko holds an Ed.D. in Communication in Education from Teachers College, Columbia University.


Alec Resnick

Alec Resnick is the director of Powderhouse Studios. With a background in math and physics, he made educational tools and toys at nublabs before co-founding sprout & co, and now Powderhouse Studios.


Lia Camargo, Japan Desk Associate

Lia is the Japan Desk Associate at CIC, providing industry agnostic-support Japanese corporations and startups looking to partner with Boston-based innovators. She is passionate about making entrepreneurship accessible and equitable for people of various backgrounds.


The Consulate-General of Japan in Boston works to promote economic, cultural, science and technology, and educational exchange between the New England region and Japan. In April 2018, we opened a satellite office in CIC Cambridge to better immerse ourselves in the expansive innovation ecosystem and help people forge stronger connections here in Boston.

CIC Japan Desk is the Cambridge Innovation Center’s Boston-based touchpoint for Japanese and Japan-adjacent companies. With the support of the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) and the Consulate General of Japan to Boston, we provide Japanese-language tours and briefing services for companies seeking to establish presence in Massachusetts, encourage Boston-based startups to take their business to Japan, and support CIC’s Japanese clients’ work by making introductions to key players in the Boston innovation ecosystem.

The Japan Society of Boston  is a non-profit whose mission is to promote cultural and economic ties between Japanese and Americans for mutual understanding, benefit and enjoyment.