The story behind IVS’ offline return after the pandemic.

CEO of IVS Toshiaki Shimakawa On Why He Chose to Hold IVS2021 in NASU

Since the start of the pandemic, our bi-annual tech conference IVS has gone mostly online. We hosted IVS2020 Summer (July 30 to 31, 2020) online and IVS 2021 Spring (March 17 to 19, 2021) as a hybrid event that occurred both online and offline. Our last fully in-person event was IVS2019 Winter in Bangkok (December 3 to 4, 2019). However, this year, IVS 2021 NASU, scheduled for November 17 to 19, 2021,will be returning as an offline event. We recently spoke with Toshiaki Shimakawa, CEO of IVS, and he told us why he decided to host this year’s IVS in Nasu, what sets this year’s event apart from others, and also the story behind IVS2021 NASU.

“Trigger the next generation” is the mission of IVS, an invitation-only conference that brings together business owners, executive managers, and investors of Internet companies that are leading a new era. It’s been 14 years since the first event in the fall of 2007, IVS has evolved into one of the largest communities, both in terms of history and scale, for leaders of Internet companies in Japan.

This year, the conference will be held off-site at the “Nasu Highlands TOWA Pure Cottages” resort area. “We have prepared programs that will break down boundaries between speakers and participants and help participants connect with each other in the spacious and nature-rich environment in Nasu,” Shimakawa says.

“We have prepared programs that will break down boundaries between speakers and participants and help participants connect with each other in the spacious and nature-rich environment in Nasu.”

Why did you decide to make the event offline?

Toshiaki Shimakawa: At the end of last year, after having IVS during the pandemic, I strongly felt that I wanted to deliver the networking and exciting atmosphere in the venue to the participants in an offline, face-to-face event. We held several online events. Many connections and meet-ups were made possible thanks to the lack of physical limitations. There were many benefits.

However, I realized that offline is essential to connect deeply with people, and that was the main reason to hold this event in Nasu. Yet, what could we do during the pandemic? At the time, I still had no idea, but I was thinking, “I want to do this offline, even on a small scale!”

“However, I realized that offline is essential to connect deeply with people, and that was the main reason to hold this event in Nasu.”

The operations team had discussed how to hold the event without worrying about the pandemic, and we agreed that it would be safer to hold the event in an open space (camping or outdoors) rather than in a hotel as we did in the past.

Also, while talking with several entrepreneurs, I heard from one young entrepreneur that he didn’t want to participate in a party-style conference. He understood that the existing way of conference organization is very efficient, but he said that it mentally burdens entrepreneurs who have not yet built their position in the community to talk to other entrepreneurs and investors. Rather, it would be more natural and overall more satisfying to have participants work together, such as cooking curry or setting up tents. Through these activities, the participants meet, start conversations, and build relationships with each other.

With this in mind, we began to come up with ideas for potential venues.

How did IVS come to be in Nasu?

TS: Back in May 2020, IVS was still focusing on online activities. During a dinner meeting with Mr. Hachimine from DIGITAL HOLDINGS, Inc., he told me that they were working on a workcation in Nasu. This came to my mind when we were brainstorming for venues at the end of 2020, so I immediately contacted Mr. Hachimine.

After that, things progressed very quickly. I was able to connect with people in Nasu, and they gave me an overview of the facilities and equipment there. I also went on a quick business trip. All of this happened within a week after I came up with the idea.

Seeing the actual venue, checking the accommodations and facilities, and enjoying my time there, I truly felt that I wanted to create the experience of “gathering with friends and enjoying outdoor activities” at IVS. Of course, the scale of the event was expected to be smaller because of the pandemic, but I was confident that this would allow people to get to know each other in-depth.

The unique environment (resort/campground) that was different from previous venues created a sense of unity with the wonderful landscape in Nasu. When I imagined organizing the event at TOWA Pure Cottages in Nasu highlands, I could picture it as a place where participants could get to know each other through various activities and have lots of things to enjoy (Well, a great location with a nice view. Simply walking around the place makes you excited!)

This year’s IVS was first planned in September, but due to the effects of COVID-19 and the vaccination status, we had to postpone it. We are very happy to announce that IVS will be from 17 to 19 November.

The concept of the event is “a three-day town for entrepreneurs in Nasu”.

During the day and at night, with food and a campfire, we will create a space for entrepreneurs and other participants to have fun and talk with each other.

“The concept of the event is ‘a three-day town for entrepreneurs in Nasu.’”

What is different from the previous IVS?

TS: At IVS2021 NASU, we are conscious of creating programs that generate a poignant experience. We have prepared a lot of workshop-style programs to shorten the distance between the speakers and participants (as if the participant acts as one of the speakers) and make the event a place where people can figure out solutions to their own business problems. Rather than one-way delivery of content, we create a place where each participant can act proactively and learn.

The traditional conference format has its advantages, but there are also challenges for newcomers. Therefore, we will provide sufficient support for first-time participants in communications.

“Rather than one-way delivery of content, we create a place where each participant can act proactively and learn.”

Again, the venue is a campsite. It is very special that both the event operation team and participants will have fun from the same perspective, and we will keep in mind to provide onboarding support to make sure all participants enjoy the event.


About the workshops: Everyday in the event, the operation team will prepare a workshop to onboard participants about “How to enjoy IVS today? Basically, the workshops are structured to allow participants to ask speakers and learn from them. Every workshop is reservation-only. Participants can get the information they require by asking one question to speakers.

About the morning activity:We will have a morning activity on November 18. There will be 5 activities, including mountain biking, golf, mountain stream fishing, mountain stream tent sauna, and natural hot spring. We expect that you can make new friends and build long-lasting friendships after IVS.

How can I participate in IVS2021 NASU?
Ticket types include start-up tickets, general tickets, and media tickets. We will suggest ticket types according to the organization and position of the participant.
If you are interested in participating, please apply through the application form below. We will contact you after screening.

IVS Application Form:
IVS Ticket Details:

Please note that only applicants who passed the screening will be able to participate in the event.

For the latest IVS news, check out IVS social media:

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