The number of gas stations (GS) in Japan has halved in the last quarter-century, as price competition has made selling gasoline unprofitable. Further, the Japanese government has formulated a policy to end the sale of gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles by 2035. Under these circumstances, Yamahiro, a GS company, (A) according to non-oil services, divided its GSs into three groups, namely, car inspection/testing, car washing/coating, and car rental, and further increased the specialization of each station by focusing on the services it offers; (B) not reduced the number of employees at the station despite operating self-service GSs and introduced the vehicle identification system and vehicle information management system to improve the profitability of its non-oil services by linking these systems; (C) utilized the vehicle data to create synergies between the car-rental business and used car sales business; and (D) increased the number of GSs by taking over unprofitable stations from wholesale dealers of oil products and retraining their entire workforces. As a result, the company expanded its business in Tokyo area, presently earning 40% of its profits from non-oil services, and won the Japan Quality Award (JQA).
In solar cell manufacturing from the late 2000s to the early 2010s, the turnover for top manufacturers implied that it was only a matter of years before they went out of business. In general, many tend to believe that top manufacturers went bankrupt because of the bubble and burst caused by policies intended to promote and control the PV industry in various countries; however, considering that solar cells can be sold in any country worldwide and the global market for solar cells continues to expand, the ups and downs of solar cell manufacturers cannot be explained by the bubbles and bursts of individual countries alone. In fact, (i) while the turn-key solutions of Western manufacturing companies facilitated market entry, in China, people witnessed successful companies and imitated them to start their own businesses. Many of these companies launched and entered the market one after another in a short time span, thereby causing companies in other countries to go bankrupt due to low prices. However, (ii) even these Chinese firms have been experiencing a decline in capacity utilization amid a chronic oversupply caused by vigorous entrepreneurship, and top manufacturers have collapsed due to minor setbacks that later proved catastrophic.
This study examines how the performance of startups during the time period up to their initial public offering (IPO) is affected by the macro environment, a topic that has not been given much consideration to date. Taking the end of 2012 (the beginning of Abenomics), when Japan’s economic environment shifted to a hot market, as the transition point, we analyzed companies that did IPOs in terms of such variables as the target market, the attributes of the companies in the sample (type of entrepreneurship), and the date of their actual establishment. We found that for those companies operating in an economically favorable environment, the average time period from startup to IPO was relatively long. This could be because an economically favorable environment and improved business conditions spurred startups that had been implementing a wait-and-see attitude. We have some reservations about using “time to IPO” naively as a performance indicator, and caution should be exercised when using it.