A Day in the Life: Directing a Tokyo-Based Startup

A Day in the Life: Directing a Tokyo-Based Startup

David Gallagher is TokyoMate’s representative director and head of sales. With a background in recruitment and business consulting, David is the guy to call if you have questions about TokyoMate’s services, partnership opportunities, or Irish tea.  

Sit back and enjoy a candid conversation with David Gallagher on directing a Tokyo-based startup, things he loves about his job, and an inside look at what TokyoMate offers Japan’s foreign community. 

Q: What is a typical day like for you, as Director of TokyoMate?

There’s no "typical" day really. Of course, I have my usual routine of business development and sales-related tasks and my goal is the same: introducing the service to different people, companies, organizations and getting the word out there. 

But I’ve quickly learned (early stage) startups definitely keep you on your feet as new opportunities pop up and you need to be ready to jump on them so I try to be as flexible as possible. 

In a startup, you get to wear many hats so while I’m responsible for sales and growth, I try to help out with operations, marketing, and other administrative tasks that come up too. 

TokyoMate works almost completely remotely (our team is spread across 5 different countries) so I’m usually back and forth on Slack to see what’s going on and where I can help out. 

My one constant: copious amounts of Irish tea throughout the day. 

Q: What do you love about your job? 

It’s really cool to be able to introduce this service [virtual mailbox and bilingual virtual assistants] to people who may not have known it even existed here in Japan. 

VA and Mail Service in Japan

Whether the service is for them or not, the resounding feedback I get is, “Huh, that’s really interesting.” And the conversations it strikes up allows me to get an understanding of how different industries or jobs that I have no experience with work and function.

I'm also lucky to be able to speak with extremely interesting people who are usually looking to start their business in Japan and looking to bring their idea to the market. Seeing someone be able to grow their business with the help of TokyoMate is very cool. 

Q: What’s something that might surprise people to learn about the TokyoMate team? 

We are a relatively small but pretty dynamic group, hailing from all kinds of backgrounds. We have Australian, Irish, Japanese, American, Pakistani, Russian, Ukrainian nationalities, with backgrounds in tech, medical devices, consultation, and even classical music.

Q: What is the profile of most of TokyoMate’s customers? Who gets the greatest benefit out of TokyoMate?

Quite a range of folks from different backgrounds, countries, and industries! All the way from entrepreneurs looking to start their own business and SME owners to established C-level executives and people who have been in Japan for a while. 

Our focus, for the time being, is on the English-speaking community and helping them with daily life and business-related tasks, but we are looking to expand in the future. 

I would say the most common profile is usually people wanting to focus on growing their business and who need to outsource some of the other administrative tasks so they can focus on the bigger picture. 

Q: Has TokyoMate made any significant changes in the face of the pandemic? What has been challenging for TokyoMate during these pandemic times? 

I don’t know if there were specific changes. I think it just brought forward our original plans and ideas to make digital/virtual services more available in Japan. 

The main challenge is the education that this kind of [virtual mail] service exists and what it can do. This idea of moving away from a fixed office is the main one. Still, the idea that a business needs to be focused on having a physical office to do business is burned into people’s heads, and we are looking to give alternatives to this.

We still have a way to go and big plans and dreams for the future: building a suite of virtual services to make living and doing business in Japan easier. 

There are definitely things regarding government-related processes that we want to improve, for example, making paperwork and filling out applications a lot easier and quicker. Watch this space!


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