Startups August 07, 2020

Ignite Podcast – Episode 15 – Masahiko Honma – Founder Market Fit Masahiko Honma – Co-founder and General Partner – Incubate Fund

Episode Summary

Quote: “ Invest more, take more, higher initiatives.” 

In this episode of the Ignite Podcast, Michael Waitze is joined by Masahiko Honma, the Co-founder and General Partner of Incubate Fund, a venture capital specialising in the seed stages of startup investing. Since 2010, the establishment had invested $340 million in seed startups making them the biggest investors in the early stages in Japan. 

They discussed his early investments and reasons behind his interest in investing in the seed stages of these startups, talked about going global, and revealed the enigma behind what drove him into investing in specific startups.

The Seed Stage and the Probability of Success 

“I want to be able to find potential in a business opportunity,” said Masahiko. 

Masahiko expressed his devotion for Biotech startups as he remarked on his interest in life sciences. He specifically focused on the seed stages of investment in which he provided funding by contributing to the advancement of business ventures. 

As a venture capitalist, he wanted to be the one that had the means to detect success. He wanted to be able to give his full effort towards attempting to ascertain the prosperity of business opportunities. Masahiko explained that his approach favors the idea that investors should choose a more curated bet which solely depends on a number of founders in that specific opportunity. 

Masahiko then elucidated the importance associated with risks and how investors should continue to take and invest in more in order to dig deeper into each of the stages of opportunity. He claimed that it’s the investors job to “encourage researchers and technologists to gamble and set the variation” in order to survive in competitive markets. 

The Evolution of Founders

“Not a big change so far.”  

When asked about what had changed overtime, Masahiko was convinced that the new founders are getting older by the years. Founders back then tend to be in their late adolescent years whereas now the anticipated age range is much higher. 

Similarly, Masahiko pointed out that today, it is compulsory for startupers to have a computer science background. With the market constantly shifting to where innovations involve new technology, founders are expected to possess if not acquire the skills that enable them to play a vital role in communities. 

Overall, Masahiko interpreted the change in age as being very inconsequential. With time comes different investment opportunities, the market however is the main determining factor, and startups will have to adjust to fit the market accordingly. 

What to Look For When Going Global 

“If the investor isn’t there how will the founders trust the investor.” 

Masahiko had been investing globally with funds set up independently. He had informed Michael on the general partners assigned to look at the funds globally to maintain good relations with founders. 

He highlighted the practicality of avoiding market saturation which can only be done by specific founders. Masahiko was firmly convinced the founders act as differentiators and believe in the idea that some business opportunities can be successfully done by specific founders. 

He explained the Founder Market Fit theory and placed emphasis on commitment and instincts. “I need the type of people that have deep thoughts into each specific idea to solve day to day,” he claimed. 

To learn more about Masahiko Honma and investing in venture capital businesses, listen to this episode of the Ignite Podcast today.


Michael has been podcasting with some of the best investors and business builders globally and discussing all things startup with them from an Asian perspective.

Michael I. Waitze worked in Global Finance for more than 20 years, employed by firms like Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, primarily in Tokyo.

Michael always maintained a particular focus on how technology could be used successfully to make businesses more efficient and to drive P/L growth.

After more than 20 years in Tokyo, Michael moved to Southeast Asia to get more involved in the Private Equity and Venture Capital business and invest his own capital.

Michael is quite skilled at connecting people and capital to innovative ideas and is a trusted advisor to both investors and founders. Michael has raised capital and advised some of the most famous startups in the region.

Michael is a leader in the digital media space, having pioneered the concept of a podcast network in Asia, while building the biggest and fastest growing listener base in the region. His flagship website,, has listeners in over 100 countries and is available on virtually every podcast player that supports RSS feeds.


Started his investment carrier at JAFCO in helping Silicon valley and Israel tech startups access into Japan market, then worked for Accenture’s venture capital arm and corporate venture capital under Mitsubishi Corporation. In 2007, he founded Core People Partners, angel fund specializing in the incubation of internet businesses, and made about 10x returns. He co-founded Incubate Fund in 2010, and has been making active investment in Japan as well as directing Asia investment operations in South East Asian market and India.
He was Graduated from Keio University Faculty of Business and Commerce.

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