Creating Value and Cultivating People for a Prosperous Future | Hanabi Inc.
In today’s increasingly diverse world, I believe that the issues faced by companies are also becoming more diverse. President Mayu Chiba of Hanabi Inc. is the focus of our spotlight, dedicating her efforts to empathize with such troubled companies and to solve a variety of challenges. During our interview, the Contri team was drawn to President Chiba’s personality and her inclusive aura. I believe the article captures the charm of President Chiba, so please have a look!
About the Business of Hanabi Inc.
Firstly, could you tell us about your company’s business?
Our business is broadly divided into five categories.
The first is the role of a project manager. Specifically, we participate in clients’ projects to manage the progression and provide various forms of support, including personnel coordination.
The second is the production and UI improvement of websites. We produce various kinds of websites, from corporate to shopping sites, with a particular focus on UI/UX based consultations. We don’t just create the sites; we also consult on operation methods to tailor the site to the customer’s needs.
The third is our drone business. We offer drone photography, video production, and drone operation training for companies. Not only do we teach drone operation, but we also organize drone tours for hobbyists and plan and manage the tours on-site. We also provide consulting for companies looking to adopt drones, especially since drone licensing became mandatory in December 2022, increasing the demand for consultations.
The fourth is our event business. We support the planning and production of various events, both online and offline, and often take on roles such as stage management and direction for events that require careful progression management.
The fifth is the manufacture and sale of cardboard beds for cats. As a new venture, we’ve started developing our products. Our first product, the “Mittchiri Cup Bed,” was designed with the idea that when a cat curls up inside, it looks like a cup of coffee or milk tea, encouraging everyone to take photos. We started online sales in December.
About the Inception of the Business
You are involved in a wide range of businesses.
Could you tell us what inspired you to start your business?
I used to work in game development, handling everything from project management to planning and team management. My first job was at a web system development company where I learned web design. I often worked on projects related to game companies because our clients were mostly game developers, and I also loved games myself. Later, I switched to a game company and then met the owner of a drone school at a barbecue I was invited to by a friend. This encounter was the initial spark for starting the drone business.
Though I had no familiarity with drones at the time, I found them interesting. After helping the drone school with web marketing on a volunteer basis, as my then-company didn’t allow moonlighting, I was invited to attend the drone school, which the owner even offered to pay for.
Is that when you began focusing on the drone business?
Actually, the drone company offered me a helping hand, and I changed my employment status at the game company from full-time to contract-based, allowing me to start working for the drone company while still at the game company. This marked my first step as a freelancer. As a freelancer, I initially wasn’t sure how to find work, so I relied on my experience in web design and event hosting, which I had done to make ends meet during my student days.
So, you were involved not only in planning but also in running events. It seems that has led to your current involvement in event-related work.
Indeed. Initially, I simply communicated what I could do to those around me.
Packaging your various experiences into services is wonderful!
It might seem so now, but back then, I often got asked what my main job was. I guess it’s because many people were focused on specialized work. However, after COVID-19, the idea that ‘work isn’t just one thing’ seems to have permeated society somewhat. Remote work, which many were resistant to before, has now become widely accepted.
It seems the times have caught up.
By the way, what prompted you to start the cardboard bed business for cats?
The start of the COVID-19 era meant I was spending a lot more time at home. I’ve had rescue cats for about five or six years, and during this time, I wondered if there was something I could create that would also make the cats happy. Having a cat myself, I looked at various products for cats and found a cute cushion that looked adorable when a cat was inside it, which inspired me to create something. That’s how I came up with the idea for a cup-shaped bed that would look cute with a cat inside. However, it was difficult to find a factory to manufacture such a product during the pandemic.
One day, I got a sales call offering assistance with applying for grants. When I mentioned my idea for a cat-related product, they suggested that it could be eligible for a grant, and that’s how the concept took shape.
So an idea you already had took form thanks to the sales pitch for the grant!
Yes. I’ve always enjoyed making things and creating “worlds” in game development, but I had never actually produced a real product. Fortunately, I had some acquaintances in manufacturing, so I was able to consult with them about my idea. The company I currently work with was introduced to me through these connections, and thanks to this fortunate network, I was able to realize the production of the cardboard bed for cats.
Regarding the most challenging episode to date
You’ve been involved in various businesses since becoming independent. Could you share any particularly challenging or critical moments you’ve faced?
It might sound a bit different, but I tend to be a workaholic. Not having work causes me anxiety. In that sense, a lack of work feels like a crisis to me, so I make sure to avoid that situation.
I’ve never had just one job since I went independent; I’m always juggling 3-5 jobs at a time. For example, I’d be planning a drone tour and working as an instructor on the day, while also moving forward with the production of the cardboard beds for cats, and managing projects related to drone licensing. This multitasking is my work style.
So, have you been making an effort to ensure that you don’t run out of work?
Yes, that’s right. There’s always one constant project, and I often take on project management (PM) tasks every few months. PM projects vary widely, not just in development but in all sorts of fields. I balance regular work with time-limited projects.
Among the various jobs you do, which ones do you find the most enjoyable?
I enjoy being involved in various jobs. On the contrary, I struggle with doing just one job. For example, if I only had to write proposals, it would be torturous when I can’t come up with ideas. It’s better for me to be able to switch to another task, of course, as long as deadlines allow it. Ideas don’t come when forced, so I find it better to hop between different tasks to maintain balance.
It’s wonderful that you understand your characteristics and can work happily!!
From the outside, people often ask me why I work so much, but I adjust the amount of work and how I distribute my time. This method works for me to keep my life in balance.
Regarding the current business, the passion, what is cherished, and the rewarding aspects
Could you tell us what you value and find rewarding in your business?
Running various businesses, I find it rewarding to be able to help companies with their problems by listening to their concerns.
I always take a stance of asking “What can I do for you?” rather than simply stating what I can do. It’s often not about saying “I can do this!” but about offering help tailored to the other party’s situation. Sometimes this leads to immediate assistance, and other times it leads to future opportunities. I’m grateful for that.
Lately, I’ve been meeting more people in the same industry, not just for work but also for social outings. During these, I often get referrals like “Someone is struggling with this; can you do something about it?”
It seems that you have been building good relationships all along. Do you have any particular strategies for building these relationships?
When I’m free, I almost always accept invitations to go out (laughs).
I try to create as many opportunities as possible to meet people, whether online or in person. I also make an effort to initiate conversations.
So you actively seek out new encounters!
Yes, I do. Although I haven’t used it much recently, I sometimes use networking apps like Yenta. When I have free time, I talk to a few people I want to meet each week. If there’s someone I met but haven’t spoken to in-depth and I’m curious about, I’ll reach out to them. You never know how these relationships might turn into work opportunities later. For instance, someone I met at an event contacted me when I started the drone business, saying, “Tell me a bit about drones.” Then, about two years later, they reached out to give me a job.
So the daily effort of building relationships is very important!
Regarding the future vision
Finally, could you share your vision for the future?
I want to focus on the new business of products for cats. Another focus is creating an environment for those who want to work as freelancers. Having been a freelancer myself, I was provided with many opportunities for workspaces, earning income, and supportive environments.
For example, you can’t get event work without experience. For MC roles, you’re quickly hired if you have experience with big companies, but initially, you don’t have any track record. At such a time, a production company gave me the opportunity to MC for a well-known company’s event, and that built a reliable track record which helped me get more jobs.
Creating a track record is the most challenging part when starting a new job, isn’t it?
Exactly. Not everyone has such an environment, so I would love to help create it.
Providing such an environment is truly wonderful!
I believe so! If it’s within my power, I want to create such environments. When possible, I take people to shooting sites to show them how things work, as it’s better for them to see the actual sites!
Having such experiences is indeed valuable. It’s not just about working, but having the opportunity to gain valuable experiences and working with people who care about you is very fortunate!
Yes, there’s a lot to learn from the environment. To keep doing these things, I strongly feel the need to establish an environment where I can work with some leeway for myself.
That’s an admirable approach! I believe that wonderful people will naturally gather around someone with such a mindset!!
A word from the Contri editorial department:
Today, we had the pleasure of interviewing President Mayu Chiba of Hanabi Inc., who skillfully combines her experiences to solve a variety of corporate challenges. Contri member Takahashi was excitedly talking about wanting to work like President Chiba.
We hope that this article conveys some of President Chiba’s appeal. We resonate deeply with her policy of actively creating environments for the development of juniors who will lead the future, in addition to running her own business. It’s entrepreneurs like her who I believe will survive in the future.
We sincerely wish for the continued growth and development of Hanabi Inc.
Profile of Mayu Chiba
Born in Tokyo. After graduating from the Bantan Design Institute with a focus on Stage Acting in Film and Theater, she worked as an actress and event MC. She then worked as a game planning director at gumi Inc. and later moved to OVERFENCE Inc., where she became involved in game development.
Learning about drones, she explored new ways of working and started working as a freelancer. She leverages her skills in MCing and web design, expanding her business across various genres such as project management and drone business.
She founded Hanabi Inc.
Profile of Hanabi Inc.
|February 20, 2020
|2-10-5 Higashikanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
|WEB planning, production, operation, marketing and WEB media management
Consulting regarding new business
Application development, project management work
Aerial photography, inspection, investigation and video production using drones
Education and events using drones
Character product planning, production, and design work
・Maglicia (product EC site for cats)