Yuzu Kyodai believes that every project has its own, unique solution.

We begin by putting together the best experts for your project from our team of specialists on a case-by-case basis.

We bring together different, but complementary, skills and each of us has a wealth of experience and extensive training in a diverse array of specialisms.


Core Team



Sven Palys

Founder & Co-CEO


Sven is a semiotics and branding expert. He has extensive experience across Asia in the fields of advertising and insight, beginning with his time as Associate Director and head of the Semiotic Practice at Flamingo Tokyo, a market research and brand consultancy. Prior to founding Yuzu Kyodai, he served as Standard Advertising’s Head of International Strategy. Sven is also an adjunct professor at Keio University, lecturing on branding.

Half German, half British, Sven grew up in Bahrain. With a passion for Japanese food and culture, he studied Japanese at the University of Cambridge and researched media theory at the University of Tokyo.


Markus Winter

Founder & Co-CEO


Markus is an expert in innovation management. He spent the first five years of his career on the editorial side of The Economist’s business intelligence unit. Markus subsequently took up the role of Researcher at Japan Innovation Network, an accelerator running in-house innovation programs for large Japanese companies. There, he helped organise large startup competitions, run innovation programs, and served as one of two representatives from Japan in the ISO committee drafting the first global standard on innovation best-practice.

Markus holds a B.A. from Maastricht University and an M.A. from the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo. He is lecturer at Hosei University and taught Entrepreneurship as well as Global Economy at Gakushuin University.


Kaz Yoneda

Director of Design


Kaz is Yuzu Kyodai’s head of design and production. He started his career at a start-up architecture firm in charge of its international portfolio, and later became the founding Associate Director for space design at Takram. Kaz worked closely with companies such as Konica Minolta in designing spaces for their global strategy.

After Takram, Kaz founded Bureau 0–1, Inc., an architecture, urbanism, and communication design firm, where his clients include Daiwa House, Mitsubishi Jisho, and SOM Japan. Kaz is concurrently an adjunct assistant professor at Keio University for Architecture and Urban Design program.

A Japanese-American, born in Seattle, raised in California, Kaz studied Architecture at Cornell and Harvard. Recently awarded the prestigious 2018 Richard Rogers Fellowship.


Hikaru Okabe

Communications Strategist


Hikaru is a communications expert and Yuzu Kyodai’s creative writer. After working for an advertising agency and a company responsible for events by international artists, he expanded his career as a creative director and copywriter. He has been engaged with various projects for over 10 years across multiple industries including technology, finance, food and hospitality. He also produces budding musical artists such as Bossa Connection. In 2016, he published the book “Kaneko Kuniyoshi Style Book” from Art Diver.

Hikaru is a Japanese native and holds a B.A. in American literature from Dokkyo University and is a holder of the Executive Diploma of Positive Psychology in Coaching.


Robb Satterwhite

Communications Strategist


Robb is a communications and consumer insight expert. After working as a copywriter at Standard Advertising in Tokyo, he moved into digital marketing, working with clients on digital content production and promotion.

Robb is the founder and editor of the long-running Japan restaurant guide Bento.com, and founder of several specialized Japan-focused websites, including Where In Tokyo (city guide), Craft Beer Bars Japan (beer-bar guide), and AnimalCafes.com (cat-cafe guide).

In addition to online content, he is the author of five books, including the groundbreaking guide to Japanese cuisine, What’s What In Japanese Restaurants.

Robb is a native of New York City and a graduate of Columbia University, where he studied mathematics and architecture.


David Hawk

Project Director


David is Yuzu Kyodai’s marketing specialist. Prior to joining Yuzu Kyodai, he served as country manager for an Australian FMCG company, preparing their Japan market entry and product innovation strategy.

David started his career in communications at Australia’s largest advertising agency, George Patterson Y&R. He then moved to a boutique youth-focused communications agency, working on research and communications projects.

He subsequently moved to Japan to earn his Master of Business at Rikkyo University on a MEXT scholarship. While completing his degree, he worked at Japan Innovation Network in projects related to innovation management and helped develop a digital platform in conjunction with the UNDP.


Nicole Takahashi

Beauty expert & Influencer


Nicole is a successful Japanese blogger and Instagrammer on all things beauty in Japan and has been active as an expert in the beauty industry for over a decade.

Her focus is on helping foreign brands understand how Japanese consumers think about beauty. Nicole also leads inspiration tours and introduces the most cutting-edge innovations originating from Japan’s sophisticated skincare industry.

A Japanese native, Nicole is not only completely bilingual in Japanese and English, but also bicultural, bringing in years of international working experience.

Nicole is a widely read contributor to many of Japan’s most influential lifestyle publications, such as GLAM, FAVOR, or currently LBR. She also works as professional product photographer.



Board of Advisors



Chris Pokarier, Ph.D.

Chairman of the Advisory Board
Professor of Business, Waseda University


Christopher is a tenured professor in business at Waseda University, where he teaches corporate communication design, negotiation, and creative and cultural industries. He is also an adjunct professor at Keio University.

Christopher grew up in Australia, studied journalism as an undergraduate at the University of Queensland and then a masters degree, while working as a photographer. He then spent several years working in Nagoya and spent most weekends exploring surrounding regions, following his personal interests in Japanese history, crafts and culture.

Christopher later took his PhD in economic policy at the Australian National University in Canberra, becoming lecturer (later senior lecturer) in marketing and international business at the Queensland University of Technology. His teaching and research centred upon internationalisation and market entry strategies, and destination marketing to foreign investors.


Brigitte Steger, Ph.D.

Advisory Board Member
Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Studies, University of Cambridge


Brigitte is senior lecturer in modern Japanese Studies at the University of Cambridge and Secretary General of the Japan Anthropology Workshop. She holds MPhil and DPhil degrees in Japanese Studies from the University of Vienna. She spent two years researching at Kyoto University and shorter periods at Tokyo’s Meiji, Sophia and Keio Universities. She also taught at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and Karoli Gaspar University in Budapest.

Brigitte specializes in Japanese society, with emphasis on the cultural history and anthropology of daily life. In her research, she has always been intrigued by questions of the cultural and social embeddedness of seemingly natural, bodily matters and daily life. She has studied midwifery, cleanliness, waste disposal, time use, sleep and life in tsunami evacuation shelters. Her research on inemuri (napping) has received world-wide attention. Her most recent book, published in 2017, is Cool Japanese Men: Studying New Masculinities at Cambridge.

Brigitte at the University of Cambridge


Kazuhito Endo

Advsiory Board Member
President, Office Apollo


In 2017, Kazuhito established Office Apollo, a company producing educational materials for corporate trainings and to help smooth communication between executives and staff. He is also representing the Corporation of American Business School of Executive Education in Japan.

He started his career at ITOCHU Corporation after graduating from Keio University in 1974. He first worked in the import and export department and spent 8 years in London during the 1980s. Upon returning to Japan, he assumed the post of Secretary to the Vice President in the Textiles Management Planning Department and worked there until 1996.

Subsequently, he has been engaged in human resource development. Kazuhito has been particularly active in setting up a company-internal Business Management School, centred around a Global Executive Program for developing innovation leaders. In addition, he has been active as a lecturer in Mission & Values ​​trainings for overseas employees.

Kazuhito also served as Chairperson of the Working Group on Training for the Japan Foreign Trade Association in 2015, and is a frequent lecturer both at high schools as well as Keio University. He is an authorized license holder of ‘Human Analyst of nEQ (EQ for Japanese)’ by The Institute of Labour Administration.


Dan Slater

Advisory Board Member
Director, The Delphi Network


In 2013, Dan founded the Delphi Network, a bespoke business intelligence and relationship-building service based in Tokyo, after four years as the director of The Economist Group’s Corporate Network (ECN). During that time, he appeared frequently on CNBC and BBC commenting on the political and economic changes; and almost doubled the number of members.

Prior to coming to Japan in 2008, Dan had spent the 12 previous years in China, where he worked as a foreign correspondent and deputy editor for FinanceAsia, the region’s leading finance title. During that time, he focused on some of the most vital and controversial developments in the region, including the evolution of China’s economy, the rise of its private sector, and the unique social atmosphere that accompanied such a transformation.

He holds a degree in Oriental Studies (Chinese) from Oxford University and an MSc in International Relations from the London School of Economics. He speaks Chinese, French and German fluently.

Dan at the Delphi Network




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