Hiroki Takeuchi: A Short Biography

Hiroki Takeuchi and Claire Calmejane.

A Quick Biography of Hiroki Takeuchi
Key Points and Facts
Timeline
Life Lessons
Questions and Answers
Featured Video

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The Life Story of Hiroki Takeuchi

Brief Introduction:

Hiroki Takeuchi, the resilient co-founder and CEO of GoCardless, is inspiring and determined. His life, marked by a pivotal event, illustrates the power of the human spirit to overcome and adapt.

Childhood:

Hiroki displayed a keen sense of curiosity and a burgeoning interest in entrepreneurship from an early age. His childhood was marked by exploration and a natural inclination towards innovation.

Education:

Hiroki’s academic journey led him to the prestigious halls of Oxford, where he excelled in his studies and joined the Oxford Entrepreneurs Society.

This period was instrumental in shaping his entrepreneurial mindset and future endeavors.

Interests and Hobbies:

Hiroki’s interests extended beyond the confines of entrepreneurship. He found joy in biking and cherished the freedom it offered. This hobby, however, would also lead to a life-altering event.

Family Life:

Hiroki’s bond with his family proved crucial during the most challenging times of his life. His brother called an ambulance after Hiroki’s accident, a testament to the family’s close-knit nature.

Philanthropy:

Hiroki’s empathy and concern for others remained undiminished despite his personal challenges.

His ordeal has potentially deepened his understanding of adversity, influencing his outlook on giving and supporting others.

Hiroki Takeuchi: A Portrait of Resilience

The Accident:

On September 22, 2016, while biking in Regent’s Park, Hiroki experienced a momentary lapse in concentration, leading to a collision with a car.

This accident, described as unlucky and without blame, resulted in Hiroki being paralyzed below his chest.


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The aftermath involved an eight-hour surgery to straighten his spine and a rigorous rehabilitation process at The Wellington Hospital.

Despite these challenges, Hiroki’s focus astonishingly turned to his business almost immediately after surgery, even joining a conference call with the GoCardless board shortly after.

Recovery and Adaptation:

Hiroki’s recovery was marked by determination and an almost superhuman resilience.

Aiming to complete a rehabilitation program typically lasting six to twelve months in six weeks, he was discharged in seven.

His days were filled with rehabilitation from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., relearning body movements and building different muscles.

Despite the challenges, including contracting an MRSA infection, Hiroki remained focused and driven.

Embracing a New Normal:

Returning to GoCardless, Hiroki faced new challenges due to his restrictions.

Yet, his strength and stability, although varying daily, never wavered in spirit.

His first address to the company since the accident was at the GoCardless Christmas party, where he thanked employees and even joked about not standing up during his speech.

He and Swidenbank even danced at the end of the party, a moment symbolizing triumph over adversity.

Living in the Moment:

Hiroki believes that he remains essentially the same person after the accident but now perhaps lives more in the moment.

This shift in perspective, though subtle, reflects a profound transformation in how he approaches life and its challenges.

Reflections:

Hiroki Takeuchi’s story is not just about overcoming a personal tragedy but also about the incredible capacity of the human spirit to adapt and find new ways to thrive.

His journey from the moments of biking in Regent’s Park to the conference rooms of GoCardless and the challenges of navigating life in a wheelchair is a testament to resilience and determination.

The undying human will to move forward, no matter the circumstances.

The Resilient Visionary: Hiroki Takeuchi’s Professional Journey

A Trailblazing Start

Embarking on the Fintech Voyage

Hiroki Takeuchi embarked on a professional journey that would soon redefine the landscape of online payments.

With a stint at McKinsey and an internship in a YC program, Takeuchi’s early career laid the groundwork for his entrepreneurial aspirations.

A pivotal encounter at McKinsey with Matt Robinson, later a co-founder, set the stage for what was to come.

Foundation of GoCardless

In 2011, alongside Matt Robinson and Tom Blomfield, Hiroki Takeuchi co-founded GoCardless.

Born out of the belief that existing online payment methods were inefficient, GoCardless was established to streamline the process through bank-to-bank payments.

This innovative approach signified a departure from traditional methods, indicating a bold step forward in the fintech sector.

Building a Fintech Giant

Rapid Expansion and Partnerships

The growth of GoCardless was meteoric. Within five years, the company expanded its employee base significantly, surprising even Takeuchi.

Partnerships, like the one with Duane Jackson at Kashflow, were instrumental in this expansion. The company’s global vision was clear as it swiftly grew beyond its initial single-country operation.

Navigating Challenges and Growth

Hiroki’s tenure at GoCardless was marked not just by professional triumphs but also by profound challenges.

One such challenge was an early mistake in not correctly identifying where to innovate.

Learning from this, GoCardless refocused on innovations that genuinely mattered to their customers, a strategy that paid off significantly.

Open Banking and Future Innovations

Under Hiroki’s leadership, GoCardless embraced the potential of open banking.

Recognizing the promise of technologies like Variable Recurring Payments (VRP), Takeuchi positioned the company at the forefront of this emerging trend.

With successful payment initiations made by Third-Party Providers (TPPs) increasing exponentially, GoCardless stood poised to ride the wave of this financial revolution.

The Accident and Unyielding Spirit

The Fateful Day

September 22, 2016, marked a pivotal moment in Hiroki Takeuchi’s life. While biking in Regent’s Park, a momentary lapse led to a catastrophic collision with a car.

This accident left him paralyzed below the chest, an event that would test his resolve like never before.

Undeterred Leadership

Despite the severity of his injuries, Hiroki’s focus turned to GoCardless almost immediately after his surgery.

In an astonishing move, he joined a conference call with the GoCardless board shortly after his operation, showcasing his unwavering commitment to the company.

A Journey of Recovery and Resilience

Takeuchi’s rehabilitation was a testament to his determination.

Aiming to complete a typically year-long program in six weeks, he astounded many by being discharged in seven.

Even during this challenging period, the support from the board and financial backing for his treatment at The Wellington Hospital was unwavering.

Returning with Renewed Vigor

Nine months after the accident, Hiroki was back at GoCardless.

His return was marked by a poignant moment at the company’s Christmas party, where he delivered a heartfelt speech, humorously acknowledging his inability to stand.

This event encapsulated his unbreakable spirit and his deep gratitude towards his team.

Visionary Leadership

Innovative Mindset and Entrepreneurial Spirit

Throughout his career, Hiroki has valued the blend of enthusiasm and experience.

He credits the entrepreneurial spirit as a driving force behind GoCardless’s success.

Inspired by fellow startup founders like Drew Houston of Dropbox, Hiroki believes in learning from mistakes and emphasizes the emotional fortitude required in the startup world.

Advising Future Entrepreneurs

For aspiring entrepreneurs, Hiroki’s advice is to brace for a long journey, especially when considering venture capital.

His experience building GoCardless, from a valuation of £1.55bn to managing over $30bn in transactions yearly, is a testament to this advice.

A Renewed Outlook

Professional and Personal Transformation

While a daunting setback, the accident brought about a profound transformation in Hiroki Takeuchi.

Professionally, he views it as a “net positive,” having used the recovery period to reconsider GoCardless’s direction and role.

Personally, he admits to living more in the moment, a change brought on by the life-altering experience.

Continuing the Fintech Legacy

Today, Hiroki Takeuchi stands as a beacon of resilience and innovative leadership.

With GoCardless’s continued focus on international expansion and harnessing the potential of open banking, his vision for a streamlined, efficient payment ecosystem continues to unfold, shaping the future of fintech one transaction at a time.

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Key Points and Facts

  • Hiroki Takeuchi is the co-founder and CEO of GoCardless, a fintech startup based in London.
  • GoCardless specializes in managing direct debit collections for merchants.
  • The company processes over $30 billion in transactions annually for over 70,000 businesses.
  • Clients of GoCardless include DocuSign, Plum, and Epson.
  • GoCardless was co-founded in 2011 by Hiroki Takeuchi, Tom Blomfield, and Matt Robinson.
  • As of February, GoCardless achieved a valuation of £1.55 billion after a £230 million fundraising round.
  • Takeuchi experienced a serious road accident on 22nd September 2016, leading to paralysis below his chest.
  • The accident occurred while he was biking in Regent’s Park, colliding with a car.
  • Following the accident, Takeuchi underwent an eight-hour surgery to straighten his spine.
  • Despite his injuries, Takeuchi rejoined his company’s activities shortly after surgery, participating in a board call.
  • Takeuchi underwent intensive rehabilitation at The Wellington Hospital in North London.
  • His rehabilitation was completed in seven weeks, shorter than the typical six to twelve months.
  • During his recovery, Takeuchi faced additional challenges, including an MRSA infection.
  • Takeuchi returned to GoCardless nine months after the accident.
  • He views the accident as a potentially “net positive” for his professional life, as it made him reassess the company’s direction and his role.
  • GoCardless emphasizes bank-to-bank payments and partnerships have been crucial for its growth.
  • The company has expanded its operations beyond the U.K. to countries like France, Germany, and Spain.
  • Takeuchi began GoCardless at age 23 without prior management experience.
  • He highlights the importance of resilience and learning from mistakes in the startup journey.
  • Takeuchi met co-founder Matt Robinson at McKinsey and was influenced by members of the Oxford Entrepreneurs society.
  • GoCardless is exploring the potential of Variable Recurring Payments (VRP) and the growing field of open banking.
  • The UK has over five million open banking users, with successful payment initiations by Third-Party Providers (TPPs) increasing significantly year-on-year.
  • GoCardless foresees the continued growth of open banking due to the benefits it offers to users.

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Timeline
Hiroki Takeuchi

Timeline of Hiroki Takeuchi’s Life and Career

After University:

  • Hiroki joins a society named Oxford Entrepreneurs.
  • Influenced by some members who went to Silicon Valley.
  • Interns at a company in the YC program.
  • Works at McKinsey for some time.

Career at McKinsey:

  • Meets Matt Robinson, future co-founder of GoCardless.

2011:

  • Co-founds GoCardless with Matt Robinson and Tom Blomfield.
  • Aged 23, starts GoCardless, never having managed anyone before.
  • Vision of GoCardless: Emphasizes bank-to-bank payments, finds online payment methods inefficient.

2011-2016:

  • GoCardless expands from serving one country to two.
  • Growth includes significant partnerships, like with Duane Jackson at Kashflow.
  • Carlos Gonzalez-Cadenas introduced as CPO by Notion.
  • Company values entrepreneurial spirit in hires.
  • Surprised by growth to more than 250 employees in five years.
  • Co-founder Tom Blomfield becomes Founder and CEO of Monzo.
  • Co-founder Matt Robinson becomes Founder and CEO of Nested.
  • GoCardless processes over $30bn in transactions yearly for over 70,000 businesses.
  • Customers include DocuSign, Plum, and Epson.

February 2016 (Approx.):

  • GoCardless achieves a valuation of £1.55bn after a £230m raise.

22nd September 2016:

  • Hiroki Takeuchi has a serious road accident in Regent’s Park, London, resulting in paralysis below his chest.
  • Taken to St Mary’s hospital in Paddington.
  • Undergoes an 8-hour surgery primarily to straighten his spine.
  • Contracts an MRSA infection during recovery.
  • Moved to The Wellington for spinal rehabilitation.
  • Undergoes rehab from 8 am to 6 pm every day, aimed to complete in six weeks, gets discharged in seven weeks.

25th November 2016:

  • Practices a speech for the GoCardless Christmas party.

2017:

  • Has been back at GoCardless for nine months.
  • Management handed back by Robinson eight months ago.
  • Focuses on GoCardless’s international expansion, looking to grow beyond the U.K., France, Germany, and Spain.
  • Sees the accident potentially as a “net positive” for reconsidering the company’s direction and his role.

2017-2021 (Approx.):

  • Open banking gains momentum, with successful payment initiations by TPPs increasing by 250%+ year-on-year.
  • The UK has more than five million open banking users.
  • GoCardless sees promise in Variable Recurring Payments (VRP) in the e-commerce space.

2021 (Approx.):

  • Believes in the continued growth of open banking due to the benefits it offers to users.

Notes:

  • Specific years for some events, such as Hiroki’s time at university and McKinsey, were not provided.
  • The timeline is constructed based on the information given and might not cover all significant life events.

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Life Lessons

Teachable Lessons from the Life of Hiroki Takeuchi

Resilience in the Face of Adversity

  • Lesson: The ability to bounce back from challenges and continue pursuing one’s goals, exemplified by Hiroki’s return to work after a life-altering accident.

Embracing Change and Uncertainty

  • Lesson: Life can be unpredictable; Hiroki’s accident taught him to live more in the moment and adapt to new realities, a valuable lesson in both personal and professional contexts.

The Power of Determination

  • Lesson: Hiroki’s determination to complete his rehabilitation in a significantly shorter time than usual underscores the importance of setting ambitious goals and striving towards them.

The Importance of a Supportive Network

  • Lesson: From the board’s financial support to colleagues’ understanding, Hiroki’s journey highlights the crucial role of a supportive network in overcoming difficulties.

Leveraging Adversity for Growth

  • Lesson: Challenges can be reframed as opportunities; Hiroki’s accident led him to reconsider GoCardless’s direction and his role, proving that difficult times can lead to positive transformations.

Balancing Enthusiasm with Experience

  • Lesson: Hiroki’s reflection on the growth of GoCardless reveals the importance of blending youthful enthusiasm with seasoned experience for sustainable growth.

Learning from Mistakes

  • Lesson: Recognizing and learning from mistakes, as Hiroki did in his early entrepreneurial journey, is crucial for personal and professional development.

Preparing for a Long Journey in Entrepreneurship

  • Lesson: Hiroki advises new entrepreneurs to be prepared for a long journey, especially when considering venture capital, highlighting the importance of endurance in business.

Importance of Resilience in Startups

  • Lesson: Building a startup is likened to riding a wave; Hiroki’s emphasis on resilience underscores its significance in navigating the unpredictable waters of entrepreneurship.

Focusing on Customer-Centric Innovations

  • Lesson: GoCardless learned to focus on innovations that truly matter to customers, teaching the importance of customer-centric approaches in business development.

Adaptability in Business Trends

  • Lesson: Hiroki’s embrace of open banking and new payment technologies demonstrates the importance of staying adaptable and embracing emerging trends in the business landscape.

Hiroki Takeuchi’s life story, from overcoming a life-changing accident to building a successful fintech startup, offers numerous lessons on resilience, adaptability, the power of support networks, and the importance of customer-centric approaches in business.

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Questions and Answers

FAQs about Hiroki Takeuchi

Who is Hiroki Takeuchi?

  • Hiroki Takeuchi is the co-founder and CEO of GoCardless, a high-growth fintech startup based in London.

What happened to Hiroki Takeuchi in September 2016?

  • On 22nd September 2016, while biking in Regent’s Park, Central London, Hiroki Takeuchi had a collision with a car. This accident left him paralyzed below his chest.

What were the consequences of the accident for Hiroki?

  • Hiroki Takeuchi will likely never walk again due to his injuries. He also sometimes gets flashbacks of the moment before the accident.

What was the primary goal of the surgery he underwent?

  • The primary goal of the surgery was to straighten Takeuchi’s spine, not to make him walk again.

How long did Hiroki Takeuchi’s rehabilitation last?

  • Hiroki aimed to complete his rehabilitation program in six weeks, but he was discharged in seven weeks. The typical duration ranges from six to twelve months.

What were some challenges Hiroki faced during his recovery?

  • During his recovery, Hiroki faced multiple challenges, including contracting an MRSA infection.

How did Hiroki Takeuchi’s accident impact his role at GoCardless?

  • Despite his accident, Hiroki returned to work at GoCardless after nine months. He believes the accident was a “net positive” as it forced him to reconsider the company’s direction and his role within it.

What is GoCardless and who are its founders?

  • GoCardless is a payments company that manages direct debit collections for merchants. It was co-founded in 2011 by Hiroki Takeuchi, Tom Blomfield, and Matt Robinson.

What is the valuation of GoCardless and who are some of its investors?

  • In February, GoCardless achieved a valuation of £1.55bn after a £230m raise. Its investors/backers include Accel, Balderton, Notion, Passion, and Y Combinator.

What is Hiroki Takeuchi’s background before founding GoCardless?

  • Before founding GoCardless, Hiroki Takeuchi interned at a company in the YC programme and worked at McKinsey for some time. He also joined a society named Oxford Entrepreneurs after university.

How does Hiroki view his experience as a CEO after the accident?

  • Hiroki believes he remains largely the same person but may now live more in the moment. He has a renewed focus on GoCardless’s international expansion.

What are some of the key partnerships and milestones for GoCardless?

  • Partnerships have been crucial for GoCardless’s growth, with significant partnerships including one with Duane Jackson at Kashflow. The company has expanded its operations globally and processes over $30bn in transactions yearly for over 70,000 businesses.

What advice does Hiroki Takeuchi have for new entrepreneurs?

  • Hiroki advises new entrepreneurs considering VC money to be prepared for a long journey and emphasizes the importance of resilience and learning from mistakes.

Stay Up to Date With The Life of Hiroki Takeuchi

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References:

GoCardless CEO: ‘I still feel like I’m the same person’ | TechCrunch

Founder in Five: Q&A with GoCardless CEO Hiroki Takeuchi

Hiroki Takeuchi: Founder Story | Notion

Web Summit, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons


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