Kiho Kamiya, the CEO and founder of FACTORY X, was born in Okazaki City, Aichi Prefecture. She grew up around world-leading manufacturing, which fueled her interest in robots and cars. Kiho considers herself to be a “Zaiko Otaku” (Inventory geek)”. However, at the age of 14, an illness prevented her from attending school, and by the time she turned 17, her health had recovered, and she dove into the world of “Monozukuri” which focuses on the pride, skill, and the pursuit of the highest quality production through innovation and improvement.
“I didn’t go to school because of my illness, which affected my academic background.” I was concerned about getting a stable job considering my illness, however, my interest and attachment to manufacturing did not waver. When I thought again about what I liked and what I was good at, I found manufacturing, playing with numbers, and system development. I realized that I could leverage these and found my interest in manufacturing inventory control,” she says. This led to the creation of FACTORY X, which offers develops and deploys an “Inventory Strategy Model” to improve productivity and profitability by strategically holding inventory in the manufacturing process. It aims for a new type of inventory optimization, rethinking the way inventory has been regarded as a negative.
After witnessing the case of a company whose manufacturing operations were halted due to insufficient inventory at the time of the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, Kiho was reminded of the stability that holding inventory can bring and learned of the possibility that there are situations in which it is better to hold inventory. The concept of ‘improving productivity and profitability by strategically holding inventory in the manufacturing process’ is an unwavering belief that sets her apart.
However, this new value concept for inventory, the inventory strategy model, was a service that had no competition and was difficult to understand. The reason why Kiho chose Aichi as a location for Factory X’s business development was also due to the high level of understanding of inventory there.
“We have a hard time getting people to understand our business model. When we explained it to the people in charge at large companies, they responded, “Isn’t there a similar service already in the market?” However, in Aichi, where mobility is thriving and production has been focused, there is a deep understanding of inventory, and the groundwork to expand this business model. Currently, we are developing our business with a focus on the automotive industry.”
Central Japan’s support system for startups was also a reason for starting a business in Aichi. “Aichi is a small in a good sense, and the distance between startups, companies, and local government is very close,” she says. “Central Japan also introduces us to all kinds of people, and there are many event spaces such as STATION Ai, Nagono Campus, and INNOVATION’S GARAGE. Kiho added, “There are enough key people from banks, government agencies, and related companies – Central Japan has everything I need.”
Based on her various experiences in Aichi, Kiho has a message for those who are considering starting a business in Aichi. “If you are looking to start a manufacturing-related business, Aichi is the place to be. It is a very startup-friendly place, even easy to consult or discuss business over a meal, and they provide close support to those who are new to the business. I feel that the environment in Aichi is 100 times better than in other cities.”
Kiho has a clear goal of going IPO in 10 years. She said, “I founded the company as a one-person operation and am currently building a team. In the next two years, we will get the model up and running in a small factory, and then expand the business laterally. We are also looking to form new partnerships and expand overseas. And for the IPO, we are working on a roadmap while working backwards from our goal. Our goal is to have sales of 10 trillion yen in 30 years,” she said.