BBA 2022 Winner Profile: Entrepreneur of the Year – Jayne Nakata

Written by Sterling Content
November 25, 2022

Written by Sterling Content
November 25, 2022

Jayne Nakata, founder of consulting service Podlaunch with Jayne, has been named Entrepreneur of the Year at the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan’s 15th annual British Business Awards (BBA) gala, held in the Conrad Tokyo on November 2.

Nakata was one of seven individuals or companies awarded a BBA trophy by judges from the worlds of business, academia, media, sport and government at the glitzy event, designed to celebrate British excellence, innovation and diversity, as well as the best of UK–Japan relations.

The podcast producer, manager and strategist was recognised for growing the English language podcasting scene in Japan by 400% over 2021–2022 and providing underrepresented groups with the support to put their voice out on the air. Moreover, many of her former and current clients are Japan-based British people who use their podcasts as a platform to share their activities in Japan, thereby contributing to the business and cultural links between the two countries.

Reflecting on the win, the New Zealand native said the recognition presents both an opportunity to do the BCCJ proud and a challenge to seize further chances that come her way.

“What I do has become so natural that I forget it is something special. It’s good to be reminded,” she said. “This BBA was so unexpected so I don’t know what is going to happen next [with my business] but, whatever happens, I’m going to grab onto it and run with it just as I did when this business appeared for me.”

 

From closet to ballroom

Nakata’s business is rooted in her passion for podcasts, which she started listening to about five years ago. As a mother of two young children and resident of Fukushima Prefecture, she felt isolated and began searching for podcasts about international women living in Japan. Unable to find anything, she decided to try and create the podcast she was seeking. This decision coincided with her departure from her long held role as an English teacher, which inspired the name of her podcast, Transformations with Jayne.

“I was transforming out of the role that I’d come over to Japan with and I wanted to highlight international women in Japan who were doing something a bit different and enjoying their lives,” she said.

Inspired, Nakata sought the peace and quiet of a closet and recorded her first episode using her iPhone. She talked about her life and released the podcast without any of the genre’s typical bells and whistles—what she describes as “the minimal viable product.”

In the following three years, she continued to improve her offering by building on the technical components, such as editing and music, as well as marketing and branding.

In spring 2020, she was presented with the opportunity to turn her hobby into a business. A contact, who had been recording live interviews for YouTube, became unable to meet interviewees due to the pandemic-induced stay-at-home requests and asked her for advice about podcasts.

“They were kind enough to show me I had a valuable skill. Then I realized that I could help other people,” she said. “People noticed that person’s podcast and asked me to help them. Work took off after that and here we are from this tiny start.”

Collecting the BBA in the ballroom of the Conrad Tokyo, Nakata was joined by many of her clients who include members of the BCCJ.

 

Fostering the community

In the past 18 months, Nakata has developed her ad hoc podcast consulting service to create Podlaunch with Jayne, a growing business whose team is based all over the world. All members are women who work when, where and how it suits them, based on their circumstances.

“I love that we can all help each other to have the lifestyle we want. This is what I dreamed for myself a long time ago—to be able to be flexible on where and when I work to be here for my kids,” she said. “We’re fulfilling this dream together.”

Nakata works full-time alongside her team to support a range of clients according to their needs. Some simply want know-how to get started, some require technical support and others need every aspect of their podcast managed, from booking the guest to editing, marketing and distribution. And, when required, she coaches fellow podcast hosts as they release their first episode, an experience that Nakata has found can be challenging for people who fear criticism or are hesitant to “put their authentic voice out there.”

As part of her work to spotlight the value women bring to the podcast industry in Japan, Nakata also encourages her clients and other members of her podcasting community to enter podcast awards. In 2021, her own show scooped silver in the New Zealand Podcast Awards while a client’s show secured bronze. One host on a client’s show, meanwhile, won Host of the Year.

According to Nakata, the gongs are only one indication that the shows she supports are performing well in the marketplace. Other positive feedback comes from clients and their listeners.

“I often hear that my client got a new client or project because someone listened to their podcast and liked their delivery or character. This is the ripple effect of podcasting. Some of my clients are getting a great return on investment for the effort of creating their show,” she said.

Nakata hopes that her BBA win can inspire other people, especially women, to create their own podcasts and thereby make a difference to people’s lives.

“Podcasting is such a powerful medium and so accessible for women, in particular, yet it’s incredibly male-dominated—in Japan and globally,” she said.

When she tried to launch a community of podcasters in Japan four years ago, she was unable to find members. Now, one is flourishing and she is excited to see where it goes next, she said, noting that community members promote each other and share each other’s wins.

Grateful that the BBA gives her “an opportunity to say ‘this is what I do’ and inspire other people,” she encourages small business owners to consider putting themselves forward. Even the process of submitting the application, she said, will facilitate professional development and personal growth as it requires considering all the key achievements that have been made—a great exercise for any entrepreneur.