From English Teacher to Entrepreneur
Holax is truly an original—a sustainable on-demand food (or anything, really) delivery service born right here in Sendai, years before any of the big gig-economy players moved in. Holax was founded by Franz Lawrence who, like many expats, first moved to Japan for work as an English teacher. His success in branching out to an industry other than English teaching is something many hope to emulate, and he’s been kind enough to share his advice and experience with our readers. In our interview with Franz, he tells us about what life is like for a foreign entrepreneur in Tohoku, why Sendai is an ideal city for expat business startups, and his tips on integrating oneself into the local community—both socially and commercially.
Sendai Motions: Hi, Franz! Please tell our readers a little about yourself.
Franz Lawrence: I’m Franz Lawrence from Jamaica. I’ve been in Japan for eight and a half years now, all of it spent in Sendai. I first came here as an ALT, and after three and a half years I decided to branch out.
SM: As an entrepreneur, what’s your ultimate or “big picture” goal?
FL: I have two things I try to live by: one is to inspire as many people as I can, and the other is to help as many people as I can. I just want people to look and say “If he can do it, then I can do it.” Because I think anybody can be great if they put their mind to it. […] Right now I think Tohoku—Sendai in particular—there are so many opportunities for foreigners. The government, the city, they’re creating opportunities for people to do things and they’re encouraging people to do things. I just want us as foreigners here in Sendai to really come together, because there’s nothing stronger than the power of a group!