Press release

9 Jan 2024 Tokyo, JP

EOY 2023 Japan: Soichiro Minami, Visional CEO and Representative Director, selected as Japan Representative

On December 15, 2023, EY Japan hosted the EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2023 Japan (EOY 2023 Japan) awards ceremony at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Tokyo. Following an extensive screening process, Soichiro Minami, Visional CEO and Representative Director, was selected as the winner of EOY2023 Japan. Mr. Minami will now represent Japan at the EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year (WEOY) to be held in Monaco in June 2024.

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On December 15, 2023, EY Japan hosted the EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2023 Japan (EOY 2023 Japan) awards ceremony at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Tokyo. Following an extensive screening process, Soichiro Minami, Visional CEO and Representative Director, was selected as the winner of EOY2023 Japan. Mr. Minami will now represent Japan at the EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year (WEOY) to be held in Monaco in June 2024.

Japan representative, Soichiro Minami

Japan representative, Soichiro Minami

Soichiro Minami - Profile

After graduating from Tufts University in the USA in 1999, Soichiro Minami joined the investment banking division of Morgan Stanley Japan Securities Co., Ltd. (currently Morgan Stanley MUFG Securities Co., Ltd.). He was involved in founding a professional baseball team “Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles” in 2004, and later established BizReach, Inc in 2009. He has subsequently created businesses to promote digital transformation (DX) in HR Tech including recruiting platforms and Human Capital Management (HCM) SaaS, and extended his reach to other business domains including an M&A matching platform, a logistics matching platform and cybersecurity. He assumed his current position in February 2020 when Visional, Inc. was established and BizReach, Inc. was reorganized within a holding company structure. In 2014, he was selected as a Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum in Davos.


As defined in its mission statement, “Persistent Creation of New Possibilities,” the Visional Group is committed to building new businesses to support digital transformation in the HR Tech space. Biz Reach, a career networking platform, and HRMOS, a cloud-based human capital management platform, are central to Visional Group’s vision for a data-driven ecosystem. The Visional Group also supports the creation of new businesses across various industries.

Comment from Yoshiaki Fujimori, Chairman of the EOY Judge

Selecting this year’s EOY Japan representative was a difficult undertaking, as it is every year. Each of these entrepreneurs brings to the table both passion and a unique story. Evaluating their respective achievements is challenging because of the significant societal impact and groundbreaking nature of their business models. While being selected as the EOY Japan representative is a momentous occasion, I hope that each of our nominees from across Japan take pride in making it this far, and in their individual achievements, independently of the final outcome.

The appeal of EOY lies in the limitless opportunities for entrepreneurs to take part. Some past participants were only selected as our Japan representative on their third attempt. I encourage each of our participants to use this experience as a steppingstone to becoming the best version of themselves. If you persist, I am sure that you will rank among the best entrepreneurs in Japan. I firmly believe that your journeys play a significant role in revitalizing this nation. If you aspire to compete on a global stage, to become the world's finest entrepreneur, then I am confident that your steps along this shared path will not only fuel Japan's future, but also establish you as global trailblazers.

Japan's obstacles reflect the challenges facing the world - and labor market mobility is of paramount importance among them. Soichiro Minami has addressed that issue by devising an ingenious business model that enhances the lifetime value of individuals and also reinvigorates society. The EOY udge believes that his approach, unique in its innovative departure from traditional methods, is exemplary at a global scale.

His lifelong cultivation of an entrepreneurial spirit, coupled with his ability to execute and to articulate his journey, have led us to conclude that he embodies the qualities needed as a world-class contender in this year’s EOY.

We hope that he embraces the WEOY, draws on the experience of his fellow competitors, and soars to new heights on the global stage.

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2023 Japan Award Winners

2023 Japan Representative/Exceptional Growth Category Winner

Soichiro Minami, Visional CEO and Representative Director 

Comment from Award-winner Soichiro Minami

I am humbled to receive this distinguished award. We began BizReach as a small group of members working out of an apartment room, without any prior experience of online businesses or the human resources sector. I attribute our remarkable success thus far to the unwavering support of various stakeholders, especially job seekers, employers, and headhunters. I want to express my heartfelt thanks for everyone’s support on this journey.

At its inception in 2009, BizReach was created to answer a single question - "What challenges can our service solve?" At the time, I saw how changing careers was difficult for business professionals, and how finding talent was difficult for companies. We attempted to expand the range of opportunities and options for both parties by creating an open platform where both individuals and organizations could interact directly, with the ultimate goal of redefining Japan's working culture. At present, we leverage data and technology to create systems which strategically enhance the utilization of human capital, encompassing various aspects of recruitment, evaluation, development, and allocation. The primary objectives of these systems are to bolster mid- to long-term human capital management and to increase productivity of all workers and businesses.

You may question why working culture was such a critical topic for me. The answer lies in my personal journey as a minority during my education in Canada and in the USA. I firmly believe that systematically gathering data on working culture and quantitatively defining job responsibilities can materially improve productivity. This approach yields a working culture where every employee is fairly evaluated, uncovers their as yet hidden potential, and is empowered to thrive in their respective role.

I intend to use my presence at the WEOY to demonstrate how Japan's growth is a non-negotiable inevitability.

Regional Vitalization Leader Category Winner  

Hiroe Imai, Representative Director, Founder, and Brand Producer, SHIRO CO., LTD.
Regional Vitalization Leader Category Winner  Hiroe Imai, Representative Director, Founder, and Brand Producer, Shiro, Inc.

Comment from Award-Winner Hiroe Imai

I have always been fascinated by the process of creating and building things. I would have never thought of myself as an entrepreneur, nor would I have dreamed of winning such an award in a million years. I am truly grateful for this honor.

EOY Judge’s Special Award

Takeshi Hakamada, Founder & CEO, ispace, inc.  
EOY Judge’s Special Award Takeshi Hakamada, Representative Director, CEO, and Founder, ispace

Comment from Award-Winner Takeshi Hakamada

I want to sincerely thank the judges for this special award.
My colleagues and I are proud of taking on the most difficult challenges that the world has to offer.
We are committed to creating an environment where people in Japan can challenge themselves and be recognized for their achievements on a global stage.

Note: About the award categories

What we look for in entrepreneurs
  • Entrepreneurs who have brought innovative value to society
  • Company founders
  • Entrepreneurs who have brought innovation to the management of generational family-owned businesses
  • Entrepreneurs who have achieved outstanding results through innovative management
  • Foreign entrepreneurs who have started a business in Japan
Master Entrepreneur Of The Year Category
  • Must be a leading industry or market presence
  • Must be a role model for all entrepreneurs
  • Must have expanded business overseas and have a global influence
  • Must have a highly competitive business model, excellent technological capabilities, and outstanding marketing capabilities that are attracting worldwide attention
Exceptional Growth Category
  • Must be garnering attention, or have an established presence, for leading business to success
  • Must be a role model for upcoming entrepreneurs
  • Must have a certain influence overseas and have plans for further expansion
  • Must have generated outstanding results through business development based on innovative technologies and business models
  • Entrepreneurs who have achieved remarkable growth, or who are on a growth trajectory, and for whom further growth is expected
Regional Vitalization Leader Category
  • Must have a track record of regional achievements and be engaged in various regional contributions
  • Must have created value from the region, or entirely unique value, which is having an influence on Japan and other countries worldwide
  • Must have Japan- and world-leading technological capabilities and business models through the fusion of tradition and innovation, and have achieved sustainable management practices
  • Must have generated long-term value by creating regional employment opportunities and continuing to grow alongside their communities, and in turn helped to develop regional society

Note: About the Selection Criteria

Following document screening, the Japan representative selection committee conducts interviews with candidates before making its final decision. Particular emphasis is placed on the following areas during the selection process.

Pursuit and achievement of long-term value creation

  1. Entrepreneurial spirit
    • Must be able to gauge and capture opportunities to make the world better
    • Must be taking risks to achieve vision
    • Must have courage, fortitude, and resilience to overcome major obstacles and difficulties
  2. Purpose
    • The individual and organization must be pouring every effort into achieving their purpose and vision
    • Must be promoting a sustainable business strategy for the future
    • Must have created and be protecting long-term value for all stakeholders and ecosystems (consumers, employees, suppliers, governments, communities, investors, shareholders, etc.)
  3. Growth
    • Must be expanding market share and entering new markets
    • Must be achieving excellent results
    • Must be investing in the hiring, development, and retention of diverse personnel
    • Must be building an organizational culture conducive to pioneering innovations such as new methodologies and technologies
  4. Impact
    • Must have a positive influence on the clients they provide services to
    • Must be implementing sustainable ESG practices based on a strong commitment and specific strategies
    • Must be proactively promoting diversity, equity, and inclusiveness from a diverse perspective

EOY Japan judges 

EOY Japan judge Chairman
  • Yoshiaki Fujimori
    Senior Executive Advisor of Japan, CVC Capital Partners
    Outside Director, Takeda Pharmaceutical Company; Outside Director, Boston Scientific Corporation; Director and Chairman of the Board, Oracle Corporation Japan
EOY Japan Judge Members
  • Yoshiaki Ishii
    Director, Startup and New Business Promotion Office, Industry Creation Policy Division, Economic and Industrial Bureau, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
  • Shigeo Kagami
    Chairman, the Japan Academic Society for Ventures and Entrepreneurs
    Professor, Graduate School of Engineering, the University of Tokyo
  • Takateru Kawano
    President and CEO, TKP Corporation
    Japan Representative, EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2017 Japan
  • Motokuni Takaoka
    Representative Director, Chairman & President, Airweave, Inc.
    Japan Representative, EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2016 Japan
  • Yuka Tanimoto
    Executive Director and Editor-in-chief, Forbes Japan
  • Hiroyuki Watanabe
    CEO, B Dash Ventures Inc.
    Managing Director, Japan Venture Capital Association

About EY

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About EY Entrepreneur Of the Year 

EY Entrepreneur Of the Year is an international business awards program that honors the efforts and successes of entrepreneurs who strive to build a better working world. EY provides a stage for remarkable entrepreneurs to have their accomplishments recognized worldwide. Participants have the opportunity to take part in regional and national awards programs in more than 145 cities in over 60 countries. This year marks the 23rd anniversary of EY Entrepreneur Of the Year Japan, an award ceremony which has elevated Japanese entrepreneurs to the international stage since 2001. To date, approximately 300 outstanding entrepreneurs and their endeavors have been showcased and honored. EY Entrepreneur Of the Year Japan strives to nominate role models for entrepreneurship and helps mold the next generation of leading international entrepreneurs. EOY Japan supports entrepreneurs on their journey to expand on a global scale and builds a community for entrepreneurs to connect with their peers.

About EY World Entrepreneur Of the Year

EY World Entrepreneur Of the Year is a program that honors and elevates the social contributions of ambitious entrepreneurs who think big and act boldly to transform our world. Held annually in June since 2001, EY Entrepreneur Of the Year award celebrates entrepreneurs through regional and national awards programs in more than 145 cities in over 60 countries. This international event bestows the EY World Entrepreneur Of the Year award to the entrepreneur considered to be the “best of the best” of the entrepreneurs selected during the annual global competition.

For inquiries concerning EOY Japan, please contact:

EY Entrepreneur of the Year Department

Tel 03 3503 1004

Media inquiries

EY Japan BMC (Brand, Marketing and Communications)