Sho Hayashi might be a walking cliche in San Francisco or Austin. The 33-year-old founder, with two successful startups and a string of degrees to his name, met me in a light-filled coworking space before jetting overseas for a weekend of meetings.

But here in Japan, Hayashi is a new breed of revolutionary. A graduate of the elite University of Tokyo, his expected path would have been to settle into a lifetime job — perhaps as an international diplomat, or at a time-tested corporate empire like Mitsubishi. Hayashi’s turning point came when he attended a massive startup conference in Singapore in 2010, and realized Japan didn’t have a single representative. Frustrated, he asked to become one, and found a new calling: entrepreneurship.

“I realized that diplomats don’t create anything; they just negotiate based on what’s there,” Hayashi said. “I wanted to create. It changed my life.”

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