Strategy+Business: Can a Laundry-Folding Robot Improve Your Life?

Strategy+Business: Can a Laundry-Folding Robot Improve Your Life?

Tanja Houwerzijl

Tanja Houwerzijl

For Shin Sakane, CEO of Japan’s Seven Dreamers Laboratories, the key to innovation is satisfying unrecognized customer needs.

Chief executives of highly innovative companies must figure out how to take bold risks while being stable enough to sustain an enterprise over the long term. Achieving this balance is even more difficult in Japan, where lifelong employment is a strong tradition, than elsewhere. Shin Sakane, founder and CEO of the Japanese startup Seven Dreamers Laboratories, has built the company’s identity around resolving that conflict.

Sakane is a member of a prominent Japanese business family, perhaps best known as the founders and owners of the I.S.T Corporation, a global producer of composite materials made from glass fiber and fluorine resin. After completing a Ph.D. in chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Delaware, he returned to Japan in 2000, joining I.S.T as a managing director. He succeeded his father as CEO in 2003. In 2008, I.S.T acquired Super Resin, a company making components for the aerospace, industrial, automotive, and semiconductor industries. Its products include windmill blades, satellite technologies, remote-controlled aircraft, and components for Japan’s Hayabusa spacecraft. Sakane was appointed president of that company, and moved full-time to Super Resin two years later, shifting his attention from materials to consumer products.

This article originally appeared in Strategy+Business on February 27. Continue reading here

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