Kosuke Sogo

Co-Founder and CEO

AnyMind Group

2022

Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Kosuke Sogo

Young Entrepreneur of the Year

2022

Co-Founder and CEO

AnyMind Group

about Kosuke Sogo

A beautiful mind.

Empowering businesses by bringing ideas to life.

Ever since he was a boy, Kosuke Sogo dreamt of becoming an entrepreneur. Today, he is the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of AnyMind Group, a technology company that provides a one-stop platform for brands to support production, e-commerce construction, marketing, and logistics. AnyMind Group operates in 13 markets around Southeast Asia, East Asia, India and the Middle East; and 17 offices around the world, providing in-market support for their customers to maximize the value of their products. 

As an end-to-end commerce enablement company, their business is largely categorized into two spaces, Brand Commerce and Partner Growth. Within the Brand Commerce segment, they provide platforms for manufacturing, e-commerce, logistics, marketing and conversational commerce. Their Partner Growth segment on the other hand provides platforms for publisher growth/monetization and creator growth/monetization. 

With that, AnyMind platforms are all built feature-rich, and customers can use these platforms individually or together as part of their next-generation commerce infrastructure, combining data across platforms and technology to deliver greater efficiency and effectiveness for businesses.

The company was originally founded as AdAsia Holdings in 2016 by Sogo, together with co-founder Otohiko Kozutsumi, and was subsequently re-branded as AnyMind Group in 2018. They established the first office and headquarters in Singapore and expanded rapidly to Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia within the same year. Today, they power some of the most exciting businesses, publishers and influencers; from TikTok, Grab and Traveloka, to Pantip, Rhian Ramos, Nisamanee Nutt and many others.

Sogo, who is originally from Kagawa, Japan, has spent a good many years away from home since 2012, having been posted to countries like Vietnam, Thailand and subsequently Singapore. Recognizing the business opportunity and talent pool within Asia from a very early stage, Sogo embarked on understanding the various cultures of each country by traveling and living throughout the region.

Compared to many other Japanese-owned businesses, Sogo founded the company outside of Japan and expanded first into Southeast Asia, before entering Japan one year after starting operations. Having lived and worked in various parts of Asia, he understood what it took to grow a business in each market and understood their business customs and requirements. This was a key factor to how they were able to expand so quickly. Within the first eight months of starting the business, AnyMind had already expanded into five markets.

Armed with a Bachelor of Commerce in Management degree from Nihon University, Sogo realized that the internet technology industry was growing very rapidly at that time. It was then that he knew that he wanted to start a company in this fast-growing industry.

After graduating from university, he joined CyberAgent’s MicroAd, acknowledging that he needed first-hand experience of running a business in the technology industry first. This marked his foray into the industry, gaining much experience working in Southeast Asia as he led MicroAd’s expansion and grew the company in the region.

Although a believer in formal education, Sogo also stresses that a balance with experience is equally important, as ultimately having first-hand experience is important for those looking to start a business, as there are many things that can be learned simply by doing.

Citing his grandparents as his role models when growing up, Sogo admired how both of his grandfathers ran their own businesses, and how passionate and committed they were. He learnt about people management from his grandparents, as he saw how their employees were also committed and happy to work for their companies. He noticed how their employees were always treated with respect and fairness, traits that he employs in his own management style today. 

Sogo also draws inspiration from Softbank’s founder, Masayoshi Son, whom he admires for his forward vision and his ability to spot macro trends and action on them, being an early investor in internet technology companies and the current wave of tech companies.

Leading a team of over 1,000 employees based out of 19      offices across 13 markets is no easy feat. As a leader, Sogo describes himself as open-minded, always willing to learn and readily admitting to mistakes. He believes that not only grit and determination is important, but also the ability to bounce back from setbacks, the ability to spot and capture trends, and the ability to evaluate, understand and make business moves at the right timing. 

A typical day for Sogo entails many video      calls throughout the working hours due to their operations across all major markets in Asia, as well as meetings with department and country heads to ascertain progress. Being a hands-on founder, Sogo enjoys being involved in various areas of the business, from products, human resources and marketing to new business.

Since borders have opened up, he has also resumed travel to the various markets as well as to engage with employees to understand in-depth what is happening in each market. Sogo covers approximately three to four countries in a week and oftentimes, will also meet with partners, potential M&A targets and investors.

In his free time, Sogo enjoys reading financial reports of listed companies, learning from these reports how their business is structured, the business moves they make, and their impact on finances. Apart from that, he also reads business and company news to constantly keep abreast with the happenings within the industry. 

This remains an important part of Sogo’s routine as AnyMind’s business is very broad, and the need to stay updated all the time is crucial, in order to develop new ways of value-adding to their customers. While choosing to relax at an ‘onsen’ during down time, much of Sogo’s life revolves around the business, with almost every waking hour spent thinking about how to improve the business.

Sogo’s aspiration, much in line with AnyMind’s purpose, is to make it exciting for everyone to do business. He strives to remove as many borders and barriers as possible by putting the ability to do great business into the hands of creators and enterprises across Asia and the world, and empowering them to experience the excitement in easily bringing ideas to life.

Kosuke Sogo is that breed of young technopreneur that movies are made around. Dynamic, far-thinking, with a finger on the pulse of everything, he is the embodiment of the can-do-ness of the age of digital empowerment, fused with the innate ability to people read and react in the wise and wonderful way of his beloved grandparents.”

Shanggari Balakrishnan, Chief Executive Officer, MORS Group

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