Interview with Tomohisa Kato from Philippines

Interview with Xiaodie Huang from United States
May 25, 2023
Interview with Ina Jalil from Australia
May 25, 2023

Tomohisa Kato

Tomohisa Kato, the founder and current CEO of Zuitt, is a visionary with a big heart and big aspirations to create opportunities for society to excel.

Interview With The 2023 TITAN Business Awards Winner – Tomohisa Kato

1Please provide us with a brief bio of yourself.

My name is Tomohisa Kato, I'm a visionary with a big heart. As a businessman, I'm an accomplished entrepreneur and the CEO of Zuitt.

Aside from my role in Zuitt, I'm a serial entrepreneur who founded RareJob Inc. in 2007. RareJob is Japan's number one online English tutorial service, which connects Filipino tutors to Japanese students. The company experienced significant growth and went public on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in 2014 (TSE: 6096).

As a father, I take pride in being the father of five children (5 girls).

2What is your role in the company?
I am one of the founders of Zuitt and the current Group CEO.
3Please tell us more about your organization.

Our organization, Zuitt, is a leading institution for producing well-skilled web developers in the Philippines. Driven by its vision, Zuitt has trained over 2,800 individuals who are now working for over 390 companies that are predominantly international.

We launched an initiative called Free Coding Training to support individuals who have trouble financially supporting themselves in their career studies. This provided opportunities to individuals who are not well-off but have potential in learning how to code. Starting 2021, Zuitt also started its Free Coding Bootcamp, a basic web development workshop (1-day code-along session) to show how Zuitt does its live classes for potential students.

Zuitt’s global expansion started when the pandemic hit in 2020. In just a few months, the Bootcamp’s successful transition to online classes set off the idea to accommodate international students from the United States of America, Japan, Senegal, India, and others for its first run of international batch.

Furthermore, Zuitt continuously provides training to international students from the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) continuing its mission to provide opportunities for everyone, everywhere.

4Describe the industry your organization is specialized in, as well as its main characteristics.
As we expand globally through our various initiatives, Zuitt specializes in the Tech Education and Recruitment of Software Engineers within the Philippines.
5Congratulations! As the winner of the TITAN Business Awards, what does it mean for you and your team to receive this distinction?
The award means a lot to us - not only to me but also for everyone who is part of the company who worked hard through the years to continue our goal in promoting technological literacy. This is an impactful message to all of the teams who are tirelessly working in their departments: We are creating a positive impact for the communities in need. Our small start-up company is being recognized for its hard work.
6How has winning an international award help promote your organization?
Winning an international award - especially for Best IT Education Provider, gives a platform for a small company like ours to have a place in the vast and ever-growing industry. This award makes it possible for our message to be heard by those who are finding it difficult to transition within the tech industry. We hope to be seen as an education provider that can provide them the assistance that they need to kickstart their coding journey.
7What are the challenges of developing / marketing your winning entry(ies)?

The ideation of our initiatives are always rooted from our customer’s needs. This is combined with Zuitt’s eagerness to constantly create solutions.

Challenges and bottlenecks cannot be avoided; and operating during the pandemic was very difficult. We also had some hiccups with the increasing competition in the market and of course, proving that coding boot camps are effective for career growth.

Our initiatives can be challenging at first but more often than not, it can gradually adapt to Zuitt’s operations effectively. Sharing the aftermath of these initiatives are done through common marketing efforts but obtaining an acknowledgement from a recognized body like TITAN Business Awards is always a level up.

8As a business owner, please tell us more about your ideation process.

As a business owner, my ideation process is centered around addressing the users’ needs, particularly by creating opportunities for them to learn and earn. I start with conducting in-depth interviews with potential clients to understand their pain points and aspirations. These information helps me form hypothesis-driven solutions that cater to their needs and requirements.

I then focus on developing a product or service that can bring a meaningful change to the lives of our future customers. For instance, in the case of Zuitt, we started with the idea of training consumer students. However, through our research and interviews, we identified a much more significant need for software engineering education for academic institutions and job placement in the Philippines.

By addressing this need, we were able to build Zuitt into the #1 software engineering education company in the country. We have trained over 2,900 Filipino students, both in the consumer market and universities, and placed them in 390 companies across the Philippines. We also offer a referral service, which helps companies find experienced engineers, assessing not only their coding skills, but also, their motivation and soft skills.

Our ideation process has allowed us to make a real difference in the lives of countless individuals, as we continue to identify and address user needs through in-depth research and innovation.

Through our success we have slowly opened our doors to more and more individuals by making our services available to those in other countries around the world.

9What is your own definition of a successful team / organization / business?

What I define as key factors for our success stems from the core values that are heavily intact within the company. The invisible backbone for Zuitt success is through our passion for performance, passion for learning and outstanding camaraderie.

10What led you / your organization to become successful within the industry you are currently in?

The voice and opinions of our former boot campers are mainly the star players of our current success within the industry. This is more so after the success that follows them once completing their Bootcamp training and sharpening their skills. We also showcase the satisfaction that their employers remark upon seeing their productivity during their employment.

This social proof is important in gaining future clients because it's a way to show them how much of a positive impact we can have for their livelihoods.

11How has the country, you are based in, helped move your industry forward?

In the Philippines, there are thousands of individuals who are brimming with potential and waiting for a chance of opportunity to showcase themselves and their skills. The Filipino people with their high enthusiasm and outstanding resiliency creates what it takes to be a successful and highly skilled programmer.

I believe that these young professionals can become the blueprint in creating technological advancements within our industry and be a key piece in digital evolution.

12What have you found to be a hindering factor, for your business, during the entire course of the pandemic, and how did you overcome that hinderance?

When the pandemic first hit, like the rest of the world, we were left to think for a very long time “how can we overcome the difficulties of navigating through this ‘new normal?’ ”. Transitioning from an on-site boot camp to an online boot camp was no easy task. Our instructors had to adapt to a different way of teaching. We even closed a few of our other office branches because there wasn't any use for them anymore.

Our current boot campers at that time were left wondering about what’s to happen. But as we progressed and refined our online setup, we’ve found it beneficial for the direction of our company, now being able to teach our boot campers from the comfort of their own homes and not limiting their education based on their location within the country.

Now, boot campers from different regions of the country are able to take the program and become skilled programmers themselves without having to think about concerns regarding commute and other necessities.

What seemed to be a predicament turned out to be a window of opportunity to scale up as a business. If it wasn’t for the pandemic and the sudden need to adapt to an online set up, we wouldn’t have thought of working on this idea sooner than we thought we could. Now, Zuitt can cater to students all over the country and all over the world.

13What are the current trends in the business industry that you are most excited about?
ChatGPT. This current trend will change education significantly as more and more organizations and businesses adapt the use of OpenAI technology within their practices.
14What resources would you recommend to someone who is searching to improve their business prospects and organizational success?

I most certainly would recommend to first plan out a map on how you envision your goal. It may not be linear, but it's certainly helpful to know which direction your business is heading towards. It’s not enough to plan out your course of action and to adapt the necessary mentality to accomplish these said goals. You will need perseverance, focus, and a can-do attitude in order to progress towards your desired goal.

Along the way, I would also recommend knowing the trends and workings of the industry that you are in. Adapting is a necessity in this current age, especially since technology is moving at a faster pace than before. You will need to keep with that pace in order to stay relevant.

15Where do you see the evolution of the overall business industry in the next 5-10 years?
LLM AI. LLM AI, like ChatGPT, will change how people effectively work and learn. Players who change themselves from scratch will win the market. I see this as a possible evolution given the current direction of technological evolution.
16Who inspired you in your life, and why?

One of the biggest inspirations is my grandfather’s life story. He had a great school record when it came to his academics but somehow had ended up doing cheap manual labor instead. This is due to his family not having enough financial stability to get him through senior high school and tertiary education.

His story has inspired me to create a product or a service that can provide opportunities and change the lives of people like him, who are exceptionally gifted but financially restricted.

17What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?

The key to success is your dedication to your passion for change. Creating opportunities for those in need and improving their livelihood for the better. Creating opportunities for everyone, everywhere is an important value to have.

As entrepreneurs, it's in our capability to create these changes in the industry that we specialize in and become the positive impact that the community needs.

I will always believe in our company’s vision, opportunities for everyone, everywhere. Let’s change lives by creating opportunities.

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(Read more at TITAN Business Awards)

Tomohisa Kato

Tomohisa Kato, the founder and current CEO of Zuitt, is a visionary with a big heart and big aspirations to create opportunities for society to excel.

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