Working in the excitement of not being able to predict yourself three months down the road. The driving force and career outlook of Yamanaka, who was promoted to GM of the App Division within nine months of joining the company.




We have an employee at Repro whose title changes every three months. Three months after joining the company, Yamanaka was promoted to manager, six months later to general manager, and nine months later to business manager, and is now also responsible for sales/CS. Mr. Yamanaka, who has been making great strides, says that if you want to build a career in B2B SaaS, it's better to start with CS (Customer Success), but what are the benefits? We talked to him about his motivation for his work, his own career development that began with CS, and his future.

After graduating from a science graduate school, I entered the real estate industry in search of a "place to train".

You're currently the Business Manager of Customer Success (CS).

To be honest, I wasn't interested in CS at all in the beginning. If anything, I thought BizDev was more involved in new business development, and I thought that was cool (laughs).

: Is that so? What did you do in your last job?

I was in the real estate industry when I entered as a fresh graduate. Before that, I was studying mold in graduate school (laughs).

You've made a big career change. Why did you go from graduate school in engineering to real estate?

I enjoyed my research and wanted to pursue my studies, so I got a master's degree in molecular microbiology, but when I thought about my future career, I thought it would be difficult to crush it. So, instead of focusing on research jobs, I decided to find a job with a wide range of industries in mind. I want to accomplish something in my career, but I don't know what I want to do yet. I wanted to see and explore many different worlds when I was in society.

For the time being, I wanted to quickly acquire a high level of grounding as a businessperson at the first company. When I found out what I wanted to do, I didn't want to compromise by saying, "I can't do this because I don't have the power. It just so happened to be the real estate industry where I was looking for a place to learn. When I joined the company as a new graduate, I was in charge of sales, new business, and recruiting new graduates in human resources... Every year I was transferred to a different department and was able to experience the entire business side of things. About four years later, I decided to take my first career change, thinking it would be the next step.

The Room of Spirit and Time, where I jumped in to make up for lost time

-What were you looking for in a new job?

One is that we are a company that is seriously trying to take on overseas markets. I wanted to carry the national flag on my back and compete in a serious way overseas. When I was a graduate student, I was doing research in Thailand, and I was frustrated to see the reality that Korean and Chinese home appliances were selling overwhelmingly better than those made in Japan, and that we were losing. Of course I knew it as knowledge, but I'd say I felt it in real life. At that time, I had a vague idea in my mind that it would be interesting to work overseas. So I wanted to go to a place where I could definitely get a ticket to play abroad next time.

Another requirement for a career change is to be a small start-up. My previous job was at a relatively large company, so I wanted to dedicate myself to my work in a sense of unity, where everyone was on the same boat and working together in the same direction so that we could go farther. Also, this person is very talented... The fact that I had worked at several startups during my career was also significant.

Yamanaka 3

What made you choose Repro out of all the startups?

During my job search, I had a chance to talk to a representative of a startup that was close in age to me. there How did you manage to get your business off the ground? I've been in business longer than other people my age," he said.

I thought that I could not compete with the new graduates because I had gone to graduate school and studied hard. But if you think about it in terms of that theory, I'm two years behind everyone else because I went to graduate school. I suddenly became impatient to make up for that delay... That's when I found out about Repro.

My agent recommended that I get trained there because **Repro's representative has a reputation of being a 'hellish manager'.

- A hellish manager...that kind of reputation...

Yes. I went for an interview and was told, "Repro is a room of spirit and time," and this is it! That's why I joined the company. However, I thought everyone was working so hard that there were no weekends, but surprisingly, there was a gap between the two (laughs).

Maybe it's because when I first joined the company, I didn't get to work with a representative, so I didn't get to see the hell out of him.

"I want to do more" is what I'm looking for in my work right now

- How has it been for you since you joined Repro?

When I first joined the company, I didn't know anything about digital marketing or apps, so I thought I was the least valuable person at Repro. There was nothing but impatience already.

I had to climb up from the bottom or I'd be in trouble, but there were so many things to memorize that it was pretty tough. I even thought that I would never change jobs again (laughs).

- Why didn't you falter there?

The fact that the CS manager working in front of me was the same age as me may have been a big factor. We're the same age, but he sees the world far ahead of me as he works. I felt a sense of crisis at the sight of him, and I was able to run the whole time.

If I had to add, I would say it's because of the desire to "do one thing at a time". I've had a few experiences in the past where I've ended up in the middle of something. For example, when I was in middle and high school, I loved my club activities, but they were only at the prefectural competition level. I could have put more into it, but it didn't seem like it at the time.

I've had a few regrets like that, and now that I'm here, I'm looking for a job that I want to go deep into. I've always wanted to work like a club if I could," he said.

-Do you have any personal time outside of work?

Yes, there is. As far as my hobbies go, I like the outdoors. I went to Ethiopia, Egypt and Jordan for the end of the year. There was a tour of the world's toughest desert in Ethiopia. For three days, we traveled on unpaved roads in a Land Cruiser, wobbling around.

I slept on a bamboo bed in a place where there were no tents in the desert, and it was so much fun to see an incredibly beautiful, star-filled sky. The next day, we went to a salt lake where you can experience floating, and ran through the yellow-green earth to see the magma rumbling around the volcano's spout... The smell of sulfur was terrible the whole time, and camels were sleeping next to us.

Both members of Repro enjoy a camp called Bushcraft, where they practice self-sufficiency in the forest.

Enjoying the camp with Repro members
Enjoying the camp with Repro members

If you want to be at the core of your company with B2BSaaS, start with CS

: You said you were never interested in CS, but what is the interesting thing about CS that you have come to see as you continue to work on it?

If you do CS, you'll have a deeper understanding of the customer and the product. If you want to be the core of the company, you need to have a deep understanding of the customer and the product.

**Even if you're not particularly interested in CS, if you want to make a career out of B2BSaaS, I think CS is the place to start.

: How did you feel when you first tried it as an inexperienced person?

Although I didn't have enough knowledge, CS values such as "Client First" fit me well, and since getting used to it, I've been able to enjoy it in a natural way. However, I'm constantly dealing with digital marketing experts, so the pressure is amazing every visit. If my clients think that I don't learn when I meet with them, it's over, and every time is a game changer.

In Repro's CS, we set up a training period immediately after the introduction to learn how to use the service, and visit clients about once every two weeks. We will teach you how to use Repro and its framework so that you can use it freely.

After about 3 months, when the results of the marketing have come out, the training period will be completed. I'm very happy when the client, who is a marketing professional, tells me that he is troubled or misses me when I tell him that I will be visiting a little less frequently because he has become more proficient at using the site. I'm glad I did it with the intention of dying... I think.

- That's a CS blessing in disguise, isn't it?


Became business manager after 9 months at the company. The pressure of taking on the job that the representative did a few years ago

You became a manager in the third month after you joined the company.

In the first three months after joining the company, I was agonizing over how to put my value out there in the professional group called Repro. What I realized is that there is no balancer in this organization. At the time, there were only people who were pointy, like a bunch of specialties. If I was in this group, I would value the balance I exerted. So what can you do as a manager to make sure that everyone on your team is focused on their job? I thought I'd focus on what to do. From there, I became the head of the department three months later and then the head of the app business three more months later.

-You change your title every 3 months...!

In fact, I ran for the position of business manager myself (laughs).

The day before the meeting, I asked representative Hirata, "Who do you think is better suited to be a business manager? So I said, "I want to do it. Then he said, "Well, I'm going to vote for you tomorrow. **

After the decision was made at the official meeting, Mr. Koshigo, the current CSO, told me, "Being the GM of the App Division means doing what Hirata was doing two or three years ago," and I was under tremendous pressure (laughs).

How can I manage a group of people who are better at CS and sales than I am, and what is the best way to act and behave as the head of a business unit that is responsible for huge sales at Repro? I'm always wondering how I can best manage myself and my talented salespeople.

: Has the atmosphere of the company changed compared to when you joined the company?

When I joined the company, I was in the phase of "we are about to enter the second founding phase. In the year since then, the number of people has almost doubled, and the organization is in the midst of reorganization through trial and error. Our products are expanding in scope, and we've entered a phase where we're ready to fight, so we're going to compete seriously from here.

What do you find interesting now that you are in the midst of the second founding period?

I think it is only in the second founding period that we are able to experience the difficulties of building an organization. Even though the company has grown in size and the number of positions has increased, there is a significant lack of strong human resources who can play a core role. What we need and want to do as an organization is beyond the reach of our old core members alone.

However, as the number of employees has increased, we have not been able to secure a sense of unity with the frontline members, and as the ship grows, the timing is right for us to produce further results. In order to ensure that everyone is moving in the same direction, we need to train or hire people to fit strong parts into the necessary positions, on the premise that everyone will become more powerful.

On the product side, there is also a different kind of enjoyment than in the founding period. For example, although Repro is gaining market share through its app, we are expanding the business domain we cover and elevating the product to something completely new. It's rare to find a time to drastically revamp the branding that's been used to say, "When we think of app marketing, we think of Repro," so it's very valuable and gratifying to be a part of it, and it's interesting.

: As the company has grown in size, you've been making rapid progress as well. Looking back, what do you think?

There's a fear in me that I'm going to be a dexterous pauper. It's been a long time. I've always been able to study and play sports better than average, but I couldn't say I was particularly good at them. That's why I've always wanted to make a sharp career out of it.

Although I am proud that I am able to take on more challenges than other members in Repro, I have not been able to accomplish one thing with my whole heart because the position has been changing one after another. I sometimes wonder what the members think of me as a person who can do.

What is it that only you can do? **At Repro, I always keep in mind what values I can create for the organization that other people can't.

Just be like this guy! I've never once in my life thought about achieving that kind of image. Mr. Hirata and Mr. Miki are both out of the box with different elements, and I think it's great, but it's not interesting to duplicate them.

So I guess I'll just have to keep thinking about it from now on. It's also about living a life that is unique to you and full of originality.

Yamanaka 2

Working to create a future we haven't seen yet...it's interesting that we can't predict the next three months.

- What do you see in the future?

The theme of my life is to do what I want to do now, not to be bound by my past experiences. I want to live a life where I run as hard as I can, and when I'm done, I find something else to do and run again.

In terms of Repro, my definition of completion is to have a country manager in charge of a country and get the business on track in that country. It doesn't matter where the country is. However, overseas companies are taking in a lot of talented people locally, so if I continue to smoke in Japan, my seat will be gone... I'm feeling quite impatient inside.

Now that I'm involved in the domestic business, I recognize that I'm in the process of forging "the drive to achieve our goals while successfully bringing the organization together" at Repro. It's a skill that will help me in the future when I have a different job.

If you could do a different job, what would it be?

You have a dream of running a ranch one day. I love the countryside and animals, so I'm sure the power I've gained at Repro will be put to good use in ranching (laughs).

We're in the midst of our second year of business, and we're stepping up our recruitment efforts.

All sorts of balls are rotting in the Repo right now. If you pick it up and turn it into a task and continue to carry it out, you will quickly gain trust and become more and more responsible. I've been on that path myself, but I never expected to be a manager three months after I joined the company (laughs).

If you don't know what you'll be doing 3 months from now, and you're excited about creating your own future that you haven't seen yet, you might not find a more enjoyable environment.

Reported and written by: Ryo Haraguchi



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