About Us, Our Ideas, Our Vision

Small business with a unique style and character

About First Step Japan

Our mission is to make Japan accessible to your company and create wealth by making it easy and affordable to bring your product, technology or service into the Japanese market.

Our method is to leverage our market entry and marketing expertise, our language skills and cultural abilities as well as our extensive network of associates acquired over 30 years, to avoid costly mistakes and make the most significant impact possible for your company.

We know that doing business in Japan will not only contribute to your bottom line but will also allow your company to benefit from an increase in quality and service standards, a more global brand, and expanded access to the Asian market.

Having helped hundreds of companies in their efforts to enter this market, we know what works and what doesn’t. We will put you on the right path and guide you to optimize your market entry process and make it a very profitable adventure.

Equipped with the right knowledge, networks, and experience, we make Japan simple.

Why Japan?


Japan boasts the third largest economy in the world and arguably the most sophisticated consumer base. A high-tech powerhouse driven by large-scale firms such as Hitachi, Panasonic, and Fujitsu, it is without a doubt the world’s most technology-savvy market. With the second most patent filings in the world (most per capita), it consistently places in the top three of the Economist Intelligence Unit’s ranking of most innovative countries and is expected to continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Foreign firms in the high-tech sector, whether in telecommunications, aerospace, robotics, software, electronics, renewable energy, to name but a few examples, will find in Japan a market where intellectual property is valued and protected, and which offers a fertile ground to form fruitful joint R&D partnerships, sell licenses, and find excellent manufacturing and distribution partners with global reach.

Companies that put in the efforts, time and resources to develop the Japanese market increase their sales by an average of 25-30% within three years with the Japanese market representing an average of 20-25% of overall revenues. Moreover these companies consistently report that their efforts to meet the quality requirements of the Japanese market have resulted in a very significant increase in demand for their products in other markets. Japanese credentials indeed speak for themselves. It is also important to consider the influence of Japanese companies in the rest of Asia. Japanese firms’ reach extends far beyond the Japanese market. Japanese companies have extensive global networks which are naturally particularly strong in Asia. Japanese engineering firms, trading houses, electronics manufacturers and automakers are solidly implanted in the Chinese, Indian and South-East Asian markets. Thus, for foreign companies feeding into Japanese companies’ supply chains, it means indirect access to a market of over three billion consumers. 

Of course the Japanese market is not without challenges: doing business in Japan takes time. The Japanese language is notably difficult to master, business practices are opaque at best, and, more often than not, misunderstood by foreigners. As business is mostly relationship-based, it can be complicated to reach the appropriate interlocutor, especially considering the size and structural complexity of many of the Japanese multinationals. The Japanese attention to detail and high quality standards can also be trying.

In that context, it is not surprising to see many foreign companies with great technology, products, or services excluding Japan from their list of priority markets. Many companies will simply attempt to enter easier markets where language, culture, and business practices are less of an issue, even if the benefits are much less rewarding.

First Step Japan is a Japan-based market-entry and consulting firm that serves businesses and non-governmental organizations. We help our clients achieve their goals and make successful and lasting entries into Japan. Leveraging an extensive network of associates covering all angles of business operations, we offer a single entry point to the market. We have years of experience meeting clients’ needs in this rapidly changing and demanding environment. We are passionate about what we do and believe that any company serious about growing globally should not miss the opportunities offered by the Japanese market, not only to increase profits, but also to bring their processes and quality levels to a real global standard. 

Take the First Step with us!

make your business grow in Japan

see our team members

MEET THE FOUNDERSthey understand the challenges and benefits of doing business in Japan.

Stephane Beaulieu
Stephane Beaulieu
Founder, Managing Director

In my over 15 years in Japan, including 3 stints at the Embassy of Canada, I have helped hundreds of companies successfully do business here. As a member of the Canadian Trade Commission, I excelled at helping Canadian organizations navigate the unique nature of the Japanese market space. I am excited to now offer my knowledge and skills to all firms wishing to enter the market. I speak fluent Japanese and have an extensive network covering a variety of strategic sectors, within the private and public sector. I will help you succeed in Japan.

Paul Braganza
Paul Braganza

Digital media and marketing have long been a part of my professional career. I was part of a team that helped build my university’s first official website back in the mid-90s when the internet and email were still in their infancy. Now I am helping Japanese firms keep up to speed in the ever changing online landscape. As a founder of First Step I bring 12 years of professional experience in Japan as well as 7 years as the head of Rain Interactive, our online marketing and development strategic partner.