Custom Programs Students Work Hand-in-Hand With Startups

Glasp founder Kazuki Nakayashiki talks about this exciting opportunity

Every step Kazuki Nakayashiki takes is propelled by a desire to give back to his community, to leave a positive mark on the world.

This lifelong mission was brought to the fore when Kazuki was 20 and faced a near-death experience. “I had a sudden subdural hematoma that paralyzed the left side of my body, and my doctor told me that I could have a cardiopulmonary arrest at any moment. I was hospitalized and underwent emergency surgery.

Kazuki Nakayashiki: "It is stimulating to interact with people who are full of creativity and curiosity, and I can learn a lot from them."

“I still remember the sense of fear and emptiness that welled up from the depths of my body—which words cannot express—as I was confronted with the reality that the normality of yesterday was suddenly taken away from me and that my existence might disappear from this world. Since then, I have wanted to leave behind a legacy that would allow me to feel that I have made even a small contribution to the future of humanity—a legacy that would be the proof and meaning of my existence in this world.”

And so was born Glasp, a social web highlighter that people can use to highlight and organize quotes and ideas “pinned” from various websites. The mission? To democratize access to other’s learnings and experiences through what Kazuki calls a “curator economy.”

Giving back to his community: Check.

Giving Back to the Learning Community

A 2018 graduate of one of our Berkeley Global certificates, Kazuki has remained in contact with one of his instructors, Brett Yokom. Having had such a wonderful experience as a visiting student, Kazuki desires to contribute to the learning community by speaking with our students, especially those who are coming from Japanese universities.

This ongoing tie to us—and specifically with Brett—provided a serendipitous opportunity to connect with a Summer 2022 custom program cohort of students coming from ESADE University (Barcelona).

“I am always eager to help students and the next generation,” Kazuki says, “Above all, it is stimulating to interact with people who are full of creativity and curiosity, and I can learn a lot from them. With this in mind, I decided to participate in this custom program.”

Glasp logo

I understand a one-of-a-kind feature of this custom program is the ability to work with a startup, such as yourself, helping to ideate on real-world solutions. Tell me about the project that our students worked on for Glasp.

ESADE students worked on a proposal for strategies and tactics to attract new users. Our problem was how to expand the user base. The big challenge was to create word-of-mouth virality and to think about how to best reach the right audience through the right channels.

In the end, they proposed two strategies. The first was a direct strategy, in which we approach professors at well-known universities and ask them to use the product with their students as a tool to help their reading.

The other is an added-value strategy, in which we recommend content to new users by analyzing content saved by existing users. This strategy is based on the hypothesis that if new users have a better experience, they will spread the product to their friends.

The experience of working with them was refreshing and full of insight. The big problem with startups is that founders tend to be myopic about what they are creating. However, in order to not miss out on great opportunities, a broader perspective and more flexible thinking are required. Working with these students has been extremely valuable in teaching me about strategies that I had not previously thought of. I believe this was only possible because they were the only people looking at my startup from the outside. It was also very valuable that through the Q&A session with them, I was able to deepen my understanding of the industry and insights that I had not been able to verbalize well.


Students present their new-users strategy to the rest of the cohort


What an exciting opportunity for both you and the students!

The experience of working with them was very valuable and meaningful. They gave me ideas and questions that I normally would not have thought of.

I was able to share frameworks and ideas that are commonly used in startups. As many of these ideas are not commonly used in large companies, I think it was a good stimulus and learning experience for them.

I would be happy to participate in a future custom program again, and I think it would be useful for many startups to have the experience of working with talented and curious students like those in this program. I highly recommend it.

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