By Kota Chisuwa, MBA2024
‘You never gave up on becoming a world-class swimmer, even after a career-threatening injury. You inspired me,’ my teammate said at the Junior Olympics in Japan, highlighting the power of resilience and the impact of inspiring others.
I’m Kota Chisuwa, an MBA candidate at London Business School, where my experiences, including those as a swimmer, fuel my entrepreneurial journey. This past summer at the Entrepreneurship Summer School marked a pivotal moment in my journey — the birth of KoQueue.LTD. With a mission to blend the tranquillity and introspective qualities of Japanese Green tea into the bustling lifestyle of the UK, I stand at the cusp of a new venture, eager to navigate the challenges of the business world.
My story is about how varied experiences shape our dreams and aspirations. Join me as we explore how my path at LBS has honed me into the entrepreneur I am today.
Why an MBA and Why LBS?
Embarking on my post-university journey, I found myself at the heart of a globally integrated business enterprise. It was a world spanned across continents, with offices and subsidiaries knitting a tight web of innovation and strategy. My roles were as dynamic as the markets we catered to – delving into investment management, sales and marketing, and especially product planning within the automotive industry. From Japan to Malaysia and India, I led diverse teams, each experience expanding my worldview and exposing me to the vast tapestry of global business.
Yet, it was during the quiet introspection forced upon us by the pandemic that a realisation dawned on me. My career was a mosaic of achievements and learning, but somewhere along the line, I had drifted away from what I truly wanted to do. It became clear that to realign my professional compass, I needed an MBA – a decision that was less about filling gaps in my knowledge and more about recalibrating my path to follow a passion for innovation and entrepreneurship.
London Business School emerged as the beacon that promised to blend my past learnings with its diverse environment. LBS was not just another business school; it was a microcosm of the world I wanted to shape and be shaped by. Its promise of maximum exposure to varied ideas and cultures mirrored the invaluable experiences I had in Malaysia and India. It was this unique feature of LBS that convinced me it was the place to mould my ambition, to take the essence of my global experiences, and to distil them into a vision for the future.
Learning and Growth at LBS
My journey at London Business School, through realms of finance, strategy, operations, and more, especially focusing on Entrepreneurship and Marketing, resonated with my aspiration for impactful change. These academic pursuits, while vital, represented only one aspect of my growth. Personal challenges, like my grandfathers’ battles with Alzheimer’s, steered me towards preventive healthcare, a cause I championed as an Executive Committee member of the Healthcare Club.
The LBS environment, rich in diversity, provided another profound learning — the recognition and embrace of my Japanese identity. As an Executive Committee member of the Japan Club, I revelled in the joy of sharing my culture and realized the powerful impact of cultural exchange. The experience of participating in Tattoo, LBS’s annual cultural festival, accentuated the recognition. Leading the Japan Club’s dance team as a choreographer and dancer, I saw our victory against formidable clubs as a revelation of the global appeal of Japanese culture. This success instilled in me the potential for promoting unique Japanese traditions in a diverse city like London, leading to the conception of a green tea business that blends my Japanese roots with my passion for health and wellness.
Another enriching experience was the MBAT (MBA Tournament), akin to an MBA Olympics. Here, students from business schools across Europe and Asia, including myself, competed in various sports at HEC Paris. As a swimmer, I proudly brought home two golds, two silvers, and two bronzes. Beyond the medals, the true reward was the connections formed with MBA students from 17 different schools. The MBAT underscored the unifying power of sports and its efficacy as a networking medium. This event highlighted how sports can transcend barriers, fostering deep connections in a short time.
Through these experiences at LBS, I learned to embrace and leverage the unique aspects of my background in a global business context. The education I received transcended academic learning; it was a transformative journey, empowering me to envision a future that harmonizes my cultural identity with entrepreneurial ambition.
Lessons from the Entrepreneurship Summer School
Choosing the Entrepreneurship Summer School (ESS) over a conventional internship was a pivotal decision. The ESS experience was transformative, not just in acquiring knowledge but in reshaping my entrepreneurial mindset. The course thrust me into the depths of business creation, where I learned to navigate the complexities of entrepreneurial ventures.
The Seven Domains analysis, a cornerstone of the Business Road Test, became my compass for dissecting business ideas. The ESS did not stop at theory; it was a hands-on expedition into the art of presentation and persuasion, key for any entrepreneur seeking to bring their vision to life. Insights from market research experts and successful entrepreneurs enriched the learning experience, transforming it into a laboratory for real-world business strategy formulation.
What stood out most was the realization of the intrinsic value of a unique business idea. It was my green tea venture that cemented my reputation as a thought leader, opening doors to active engagement and a rich network of peers, mentors, and alumni. This was a stark contrast to my pre-ESS experience, underscoring the newfound understanding of my idea’s potential.
The ESS discussions were unparalleled and fostered by a cohort of dedicated individuals. This was a community where feedback was not only diverse but deeply insightful, coming from seasoned professionals across the MBA, EMBA, and Sloan programs. Such interactions didn’t just enhance my business acumen; they forged a network that became integral to my venture’s future.
In essence, the ESS was more than a summer program; it was the catalyst that made me contemplate the entrepreneurial path in London. It was here that I found my unique identity as an entrepreneur, ready to bring a piece of Japan to the global stage through the virtues of green tea.
I’m excited to introduce KoQueue.LTD, a venture born from a vision to infuse tranquillity and reflection, symbolized by the Japanese word for breathing (呼吸), into everyday life through green tea. My aim is more than offering a beverage; it’s about creating a holistic experience that brings moments of peace into our busy lives. We are currently developing products and planning to launch through E-Commerce and wholesale channels in 2023, with the goal of establishing KoQueue as a brand synonymous with wellness and mindfulness. Looking ahead to 2024, I envision opening a unique café that embodies KoQueue’s philosophy, offering a haven for health, peace, and self-discovery. This journey, from the idea’s inception at the ESS to its market realization, is driven by passion and a commitment to a dream. I invite you to join this journey, to witness the growth of KoQueue, and perhaps to find your own moment of serenity in our story.
In conclusion, the lessons from London Business School, particularly from the Entrepreneurship Summer School, have not only guided me through the intricacies of the business world but have also reinforced the power of resilience and the impact of inspiring others. As I embark on the journey with KoQueue.LTD, I am reminded of the promise that lies in new horizons and the discipline learned from swimming. Embracing the challenges and opportunities ahead, I am determined to use the insights and connections from LBS to build a business that not only offers wellness and mindfulness but also inspires and motivates others. Here’s to the journey ahead, rich in learning and potential achievements. Together, let’s navigate this exciting voyage.