I have had many opportunities to learn about the challenges facing small businesses firsthand through my experiences as the CFO of a startup company and working in SMB marketing at Google Inc. (currently Google Japan LLC), as well as through my family’s experience running a hair salon that has been in business since my grandparents’ generation. I noticed again and again that small businesses were failing to effectively use technology and struggled with back office work such as accounting and payroll calculations, and that these roadblocks were holding them back from running their actual business.
To address these challenges, I founded freee in 2012, and we soon after released Accounting freee as a unique, integrated accounting software solution designed with small businesses in mind. That was the point when we began our mission to empower small businesses to take center stage.
At the time, the launch of accounting and payroll software that was designed to be a cloud-native and integrated ERP platform for small businesses and that aimed to automate the overall operations of a business was a novel and innovative idea. Since then, we have continued to refine our solutions with the support of like-minded innovators who were inspired by our original idea, and we have grown into a highly unique platform serving more than 150,000 paying customers.
At freee, we believe that small businesses can uniquely benefit from technologies that leverage cloud computing, data and AI to grow strong businesses and work smarter. In line with our mission discussed above, we will continue to offer innovative solutions in pursuit of our vision to create a platform that empowers anyone with ideas, passion and skills to build a strong business in a smart and efficient way.
In growing our business and working to deliver even greater value to society, the following three areas have been and will continue to be key priorities.
Mission and Vision
At freee, we place high importance on our mission and our vision. As accounting software, which is a service that every business needs, is our core business, we are able to promote the use of technology for all businesses while empowering small businesses in particular to grow stronger and work smarter than large enterprises.
With the idea of making management easier through automation, we will not only work to expand accounting and payroll solutions but will also work to expand related functions to enhance efficiency and increase management visibility for small businesses. On top of that, we aim to develop services that support the management of our customers’ businesses through AI, making it easy for anyone to build a strong business in a smart and efficient way.
As a result, we are focused on decision-making that prioritizes bringing us closer to achieving our mission and realizing our vision over short-term profits, which we believe will result in maximizing our growth and profitability over the medium to long term.
True Customer Value
At freee, we have a strong commitment to delivering true value to our customers. We also have a strong culture that is united around the concept of “true customer value” and taking action to promote this concept.
In order to deliver true customer value, we believe that it is critically important to develop services that identify and address fundamental problems in the best way possible by applying technology and a broad range of other perspectives without being bound by conventional thinking.
So far, we have launched a number of leading-edge services that did not previously exist in Japan that address underlying customer demands and needs that were not widely recognized at the time. For example, we have introduced integrated accounting software designed to automate accounting and other related operations, a powerful accounting smartphone app, chat-based customer support, a public API for our solutions and a payroll calculation solution that can fully automate a range of payroll functions for businesses based on employee information and year-end tax adjustment data inputted by employees. While some of these services did not immediately achieve success in the short term due to their innovative nature, they have achieved strong acceptance through our continuing efforts to enhance understanding of the value of our products and our continuous product improvement cycle. This cycle is supported by our ongoing evaluation of the value we provide to customers, such as the amount of time saved in performing manual tasks.
In the future, we will continue to pursue the fundamental problems our customers face and invest in technology that will enable us to address such fundamental problems while focusing on continuing to create medium to long-term value for our customers.
Our Organization, Our People and Our People’s Growth
Since our founding, we have been a unique organization with each member taking action both independently and with a strong sense of unity. While our organization has grown rapidly as our business has expanded, we continue to operate an open and flat organization to leverage the strengths of our bottom-up management style. We believe that this has allowed us to achieve a highly unified organization that is making a big impact on the world while enabling us to be recognized for our workplace environment, including being ranked by the Great Place to Work Institute Japan within the top ten companies within our peer group for the past five consecutive years (for small enterprises in 2015 and for medium-sized enterprises from 2016 through 2019).
In addition to being strong as an organization, we place significant importance on the undiscovered strengths and growth potential of each person on our team, and we strive to run an organization that provides an environment where our people can challenge themselves, learn from each other and help each other grow.
While our organization continues to expand, we will continue to value our organization, our people and our people’s growth.
We have been a pioneer of software-as-a-service (SaaS), a new segment of the software industry in Japan that has been underdeveloped until now. We have pushed traditional boundaries with our leading-edge approach not only in our technology and service development but also more broadly across our operations, including sales, marketing, administration and financial strategy. We believe this contributes to the development of new models in Japan, which helps cultivate an environment in which new industries can develop and grow.
We seek to realize a society in which any small business can use the latest technology to build a strong business in a smart and efficient way. As one of the leaders of the software industry in Japan, we have a deep awareness of and a strong sense of responsibility to further this goal and will continue to invest in developing innovative services as well as ongoing, day-to-day improvements to our services to create meaningful value in society. I hope that we can count on your support as we continue our work to deliver value to our customers and society at large.
Basic Stance on Corporate Governance
Our mission is to "empower small businesses to take center stage" and we aim to create a platform that allows anyone with ideas, passion and skills to build a strong business in a smart and efficient way. By developing and providing such services, we aim to achieve sustainable growth and contribute to society.
Based on our basic policy of placing emphasis on shareholders, we will establish a management control system to enhance the efficiency and speed of management in order to increase earnings as a going concern and increase corporate value.
We recognize our corporate responsibility to society, and we will make social contributions through various services and strive to realize a harmonious profit among our stakeholders.
In light of these factors, we will establish a monitoring system for business execution and disclose information in a timely manner in order to ensure transparency and objectivity in its business activities in the development of its business management system.