From rags to riches, the journey of the Buddhist monk and entrepreneur Kazuma Ieiri

He was once called a “hikikomori”, a person who shuns society, worked as a paperboy to support himself and today he is one of the very successful CEOs in Japan who is making fortunes. This is the story of a 42-year-old Buddhist monk, Kazuma Ieiri.

Kazuma Leiri, 42, was born in Japan. The man who was bullied at school learned coding in his bedroom and chatted with people through online bulletin boards was saved by the internet. After working at several companies, he decided to quit and start his own business. That’s where it all started. This successful entrepreneur has to date founded three start-ups and is now seeking to take his third start-up “Campfire Inc.” public at a valuation of more than one billion.

Campfire Inc is a rewards-based crowdfunding platform that allows individuals and small groups to raise funds online. It was founded in 2011. The platform allows participants to submit their projects related to any of the categories (technology, art, music, anime, fashion, entrepreneurship, sports, beauty & healthcare, social good, etc). It charges a commission fee of 12% and an additional settlement fee of 5%. The company has its headquarters in Tokyo, Japan. They have funded more than 50,000 projects since their launch. The company is now looking forward to listing itself in the IPO in the year 2021 at a valuation of as much as 200 billion yen ($1.8 billion). If the platform is successful in bagging the IPO it will soon go public.

Due to pandemics, many businesses are facing downturns in customers which is depriving them of their supplement revenue. In this case, sites like Campfire act as a boon as they quickly connect cash-strapped firms to people keen to donate, invest or lend. According to studies, in the year2020, the funds raised through campfire in May 2020 rose six times from the same month a year earlier to 4 billion yen ($37.44 million), with benefactors rising almost five times to 390,000.

With the upcoming IPO, the company will have a chance to grow bigger and be able to lower the commission fees. Leiri believes that “Everyone is born into different situations - whether they have money or not, whether they have someone to support them or not, and that opens up gaps between them. But we can use the democratizing technology of the internet to solve this gap.”

Leiri’s success in building ventures

  • In 2001, he started his first company at the age of 22, which later came to be known as Paperboy & Co. This company initially provided internet servers to individuals. In the year 2004, he sold it to GMO Internet Inc., a Tokyo-based firm founded by entrepreneur Masatoshi Kumagai. It is now known as GMO Pepabo Inc.

  • He also helped set up Base Inc. an e-commerce platform, which provides services in net shop creation, shopping application development, online payment development, and other services. The company provides its service throughout Japan and has shares of 500%.

  • Before his start-up campfire took off, the serial entrepreneur helped other businesses by raising funds.

  • In 2014 Leiri also announced his candidacy for governor of Tokyo. He obtained 1.8% of the vote.




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