Fuminori Takaoka: Inspiring the Japanese Food Industry Towards Greater Success and Prosperity

Mr. Fuminori Takaoka is an eminent entrepreneur and business leader, working from Tokyo, Japan. He is the president, CEO and the driving force of Bespo!, an innovative and striking new food tech service dedicated purely to connect food lovers with Japanese restaurants. It’s proving immensely valuable to the Japanese food, beverage, and dining sectors today as it’s successfully directing an increasing number of customers to their desired restaurants.

Traditionally, all restaurants rely on online restaurant search indexes, guides, and word-of-mouth to raise awareness and bring in new customers. Despite few benefits, this method proves extremely expensive for participating restaurants. It is  not sustainable. On the other hand, customers want to find a suitable restaurant quickly. But they are overwhelmed by huge amounts of information and too many choices. Most of them mistakenly decide based on offers and coupons presented to them, instead of the quality of food and beverages.

Fuminori Takaoka_CEO of BispoInc
Fuminori Takaoka
CEO, BispoInc

Solving Critical Challenges Faced by Japanese Restaurants

Mr. Takaoka understands the essential role played by the food industry in Japan’s economy: feeding citizens, attracting tourists, and cultural identity. In the past, he had managed the daily activities of four large restaurants, collaborating with major food tech companies. But he was dissatisfied with the available options and poor results from these existing services. He started closely observing the underlying challenges and sought out a feasible answer. He drew on his decades of experience in marketing, management, and leadership; passionately believing that technology can help, he conceived the potent idea behind Bespo! He set up the company in January 2018, headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, as a powerful, easy-to-use, and nimble restaurant booking service.

In the initial stages, the biggest challenge was in building large networks of restaurants. Ideally, Bespo! would need huge sales forces and lots of investment to negotiate the participation of many restaurants. But the company devised an innovative two step strategy. First, it allowed restaurants to use their service free of cost, without any financial risks. Second, it began partnering with reserving service providers who already have restaurant networks. This was a huge success—in just 18 months, Bespo! partnered with over 15,000 restaurants nation-wide.

Empowering Japanese Restaurants Through An Innovative Service Model  

“Our service is technically unique, the only food tech reservation service in Japan.”  Mr. Takaoka states. He also reveals the plan to change the service name from ‘Bespo!’ to ‘Table Request’ (TR).

TR allows customers to directly connect with restaurants’ table reservation booking systems, instantly. “This system connection allows TR to check the vacant table on real-time base. With TR, people can check if their favourite restaurants’ tables or seats are vacant or not on their favourite day and time. Then if vacant, they can instantly book that table,” Mr. Takaoka says. By contrast, other reservation services are lengthy and unreliable. 

The entire table reservation process is quite simple as well. Customers should engage the official Bespo! account within their LINE mobile messaging app. They can immediately begin searching and secure reservations based on criteria such as location, cuisine, reviews, and more.

Furthermore, Bespo! has a unique business model. While all its participating restaurants can benefit from the service freely, it raises revenue in two innovative ways. One, it conducts marketing together with food and food-related companies. To illustrate, Bespo! became the official restaurant reservation partner of JCB, a major credit card company in Japan. So, JCB can effectively direct its 6,000,000 users to Bespo!’s large network of restaurants. Two, Bespo! conducts marketing with leading payment service providers, focussing especially on foreign tourists. To illustrate, Bespo! became the first official restaurant reservation partner of Alipay, the leading Chinese mobile payment platform. By facilitating reservations through Alipay itself, it not only simplifies the reservation process, but also bridges the communication gap between foreigners and local people.

“Our restaurants are happy as our service allows customers to them for free. Moreover, our customers’ loyalty to the service is high,” Mr. Takaoka updates.

Committed to Support the Japanese Food Industry Through Technology

Bespo!, guided by Mr. Takaoka’s skilful leadership, is well-established today, being highly influential across the nation. Its business model is innovative, effective, financially sustainable, and successful, overall—it’s poised for growth.

Moreover, its business is secured by several business partners, cementing its success story further. Moving forward, it is looking to steadily build partnerships with food or food-related companies, payment service providers and travel companies, as well as continually build the service. It will also carry out consumer promotions in July-August once the COVID-19 pandemic is alleviated. “Restaurants are the treasures of our country. Not only high-class restaurants, but many serve delicious food, reasonably and politely with a warm heart. That’s why we love to dine here. That’s why people from other countries are eager to visit our restaurants. We at Bespo!/Table Request are committed to continuously contribute to the Japanese food industries with technologies and innovations, to make our country, Japan, more attractive in the world,” Mr. Takaoka concludes.