Pre-IPO US-based Pet Food Firm Needed VP to Begin Its Japan Ops

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The Client 

The client is a fast-growing US-based pet food company looking to launch its first international market as part of its pre-IPO strategy. They were looking for a Japan head as their first person to build a regional team and go to market strategy.

The Challenge 

The company had not to that point done business outside of North America. They were looking for both a regional head and further insight into how best to enter and grow their Japan business. As part of an insular and highly niche market there would be only a very limited candidate pool. Additionally, as both a private company and startup, they did not have the brand recognition necessary to attract top talent as they had in their home markets of North America. So our role was to map the entire market, not just for purposes of identifying talent pool but to assess relative strength of potential competitors.

Our Solution 

Our initial market mapping took approximately a month from which we were able to identify three qualified senior candidates. One of these was well-known to the senior leadership of the client but the candidate was not interested in the position. Of the other two candidates, both completed the interview process with finals at the Client HQ. The Client determined their preferred candidate, extended an offer, and the candidate accepted. A month prior to expected start date the candidate was diagnosed with a major health issue and had to retract his signed offer. Because we had continued to map the market as well as maintain contact with candidates met at earlier stages, we were able to refresh and add to our pool of candidates. Most importantly, we were able to turn around the originally disinterested candidate and orchestrate his joining the Client within a month of the prior candidate needing to pull out. As the Chairman of the Japan Pet Food Association, this candidate was a highly strategic hire able to bring immediate business to the client and initiate the building of a strong Japan organization. By advising on non-competition issues, equity allocation, company establishment, as well as handling all Client payroll issues for the new business, we have continued to add value to the client to ensure a highly successful market entry.