De-risk market entry into Japan through our proven, structured approach

The Program

Our Rainmaking Expand: Japan program is an opportunity for growth stage startups and SMEs to enter and accelerate in the Japanese market.

By focusing on companies with validated business models, the program is designed to help founders from around the world scale their business in Japan, by refining their approach, localising for the market and by approaching targeted potential partners.

Rainmaking Expand programs run for 4-months, focusing on business development and leveraging genuine commercial opportunities, our Rainmaking Expand framework aims to accelerate startups’ speed to market while de-risking market expansion through a rigorous viability assessment, curated expert guidance and targeted introductions to strong business leads.

During the program, your time will focus on ramping up for your market entry into Japan, covering topics such as mapping, assessing and validating real commercial opportunities with the support of our in-market experts. Our goal is to drive commercial opportunity with you, and provide leads for early business development and detailed validation. This approach features two 2-month phases, focused on validating, refining and de-risking market entry into Japan.

Phase 1

Market Ramp-Up

8 Weeks Remote

This phase focuses on helping startups understand the Japanese market in detail, gain an understanding on how to validate their business for market entry, and to begin building networks into Japan.

Market Discovery & Expansion Readiness

A 4-week sprint of workshops, mentoring & discovery sessions, focused on market discovery and preparations for expansion – Custom designed to meet the needs of each individual startup

This sprint helps startups to understand the Japanese market specifics and how to operate there. More broadly, startups will be briefed on expansion methodologies and experiment sprints, ensuring they are well placed to take advantage of any opportunity identified.

Japan Customer Development Sprint Readiness

A 4-week customer development sprint based on our proven venture expansion methodology

The sprint focuses on speaking to customers and potential partners in Japan in order to validate the desirability of a startups’ solution within the Japanese market and identify potential partners within the ecosystem. This phase enables participating companies to de-risk expansion before committing significant human and financial resources.

Phase 2

Go To Market

4 Weeks Remote, 4 Weeks in Japan

This phase will be delivered on a 1:1 basis for selected high potential startups. It focuses on designing pilot experiments, minimum viable concepts, and PoCs with customers and commercial collaborators in Japan, as well as building connections with the Japanese investor community.

Market Validation Sprint (remote)

4-week remote validation sprint

This sprint focuses on securing commitments from target customers, commercial collaborators and investors in Japan to engage with you while you are in Japan. Target engagements include PoCs, pilot experiments, sales and investment pitches, and the development of minimum viable concepts tailored to the Japanese market.

Market Validation Sprint (in Japan)

Customised 4-week expansion validation sprint in Japan

This intense 4-week period is dedicated to designing and executing PoCs, pilots, MVCs and both commercial and investment pitches. You will be supported by Rainmaking’s Osaka-based Program Manager, both of whom provide access to a deep local network to help your business rapidly expand.

Selection Process


On average, our programs attract 100+ applications. We have a rolling selection process, which means spaces are filled on a first-come, first-served basis.
If you are interested to join one of our future cycles, please register your interest below.


If your application passes the initial stages, you’ll be invited to an online call for final review. This is an opportunity for you to learn more about the program, and for us to better understand how we might support your expansion goals.

Phase 1

If you’re one of the startups selected for Phase 1, you’ll participate in an 8-week online sprint of workshops, mentoring & discovery sessions, focused on market discovery, customer development and preparations for expansion.

Phase 2

The top startups are selected for Phase 2, where you’ll participate in a second 8-week sprint, culminating in four weeks dedicated to designing and executing PoCs, pilots, MVCs, and commercial & investment pitches with target partners on the ground in Japan.

Why Japan?

Welcomes International Startups

Japan welcomes high potential startups like yours through various initiatives supporting innovation projects and the National Strategic Special Zones established.

Rapid Growth

Japan is rapidly moving forwards to implement technologies to assist with the achievement of innovation in multiple sectors. All these elements have been driven forwards by the government and through Japanese companies, turning towards innovation to bring about a new age.

Large Development Projects

As the UmeKita project, 2025 World Expo and other development projects approach, Japan is investing in technologies to support these projects. Not only are these huge projects driving Japan to innovate, but the government is in the middle of a large technology and innovation push to drive the creation and expansion of more technologies. Entering the Japanese marketing right now is the perfect timing to catch a wave of opportunity.

Engaged & loyal market

Japanese are engaged and loyal, with many foreign companies successfully penetrating the market. Slack: Most daily active users outside of US, 12.5% of global DAU. Amazon: #1 E-commerce platform, 20.2% market share. Salesforce: 2nd largest Salesforce economy, 20% of global CRM revenue.

Highest offshore M&A in Asia

In 2018, Japan announced more than 1,000 offshore acquisitions totalling a record $191 billion. And with companies in possession of more than $890 billion in cash, the spending spree is likely to continue.

Proximity to Key Asian Markets

Located in Northeast Asia, Japan acts as a launchpad for accessing 2 billion tech-savvy potential customers and the rest of Asia.


Coco & Lucas

Through multiple tasting sessions with food-related insiders, vegans, vegetarians and standard eaters, Coco & Lucas was able to collect deep insights into the evaluations and opinions related to vegan and vegetarian food within the Japanese market. These insights were able to provide insights for product development suitable for the Japanese market and created opportunities for commercial outcomes with a potential Japanese partner.

The program has been very rewarding with the wealth of knowledge and expertise shared by the mentors and the team. As an entrepreneur it has given me the opportunity to gain a better understanding of how to do business in Japan through the amazing sessions put together by the team with amazing industry experts who have experience working in Japan and with large companies.

— Diem Fuggersberger, CEO & Founder, Coco & Lucas


Within the Japanese market, Transreport ran two PoCs with two of the largest railway operators in Osaka to test implementation and interaction with their Passenger Assistance app. The focus was streamlining the communication between station staff and disabled passengers, while also significantly improving passengers’ travelling experiences, knowing they will be fully assisted as needed along the way. The results of the PoC were incredibly positive with next steps in active discussion for further expansion into the Japanese market.

The Transreport team has thoroughly enjoyed the program. Expanding our network, through meeting various partners and mentors on the program, has initiated new conversations about how we can use the technology we develop. The team delivered on access to important stakeholders with decades of industry knowledge in transportation, which will allow us to better facilitate our integration into the Japanese market.

— Jay Shen, CEO, Transreport

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Rainmaking is one the world’s most prolific corporate innovation and new venture building studios. We are a global team of over 200 that creates, accelerates, and scales new businesses with the world’s leading corporations and entrepreneurs across 13 offices on 4 continents.

Since 2010, we have run our accelerator programs under the Startupbootcamp (SBC) brand. We are now a global family of 20+ accelerator programs running +90 cycles in partnership with 200+ industry partners across various sectors.

Apply Now

We are currently preparing to open the applications for this program. If you are interested in joining this program, please register your interest in our form below. We will notify you as soon as the applications are open.

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