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Review on SOPHOLA’s Year 2021

As usual, I would like to look back on this year at this time. 2020 was a year that was greatly influenced by the Covid19, but Year 2021 was a year that ran through with the main theme of “self-transformation.” The big events/happenings for SOPHOLA and myself were:
Event-1 (January-February): Contract negotiations with Australia’s Longtail UX
While we were forced to suddenly introduce a new price table and change the service level agreement, we were able to proceed with contract negotiations in a way that would not affect existing partner companies and customers as much as possible.
Event-2 (March): Concluded a strategic partner agreement with PPC Protect from UK
In 2020, Australia’s Longtail UX became our new killer service, but due to a sudden policy change from December 2020, at this timing with British PPC Protect, which had been negotiating a contract from October 2020 we were able to conclude a contract properly—a great plus for our business.
Event-3 (March): A Founding Member Left
He came to Nagano together during the founding period, created important sales expansion and support operations for AdScale (from Israel) solutions, and laid the foundation for the company. However,  Kenta, an important teammate had to leave SOPHOLA as a result of a lot of discussions with him. At the same time, the days of asking myself whether he could have spent my time at SOPHOLA in a happier way began from there.
Event-4 (May): Started part-time job at McDonald’s
I had never worked in the food and beverage industry before, so I found it very difficult to do all the kitchen work. It was an opportunity for me to humbly reconsider what people should do when they jump into the digital marketing industry from a totally different industry.
Event-5 (June): Joined EO Nagoya
As part of my self-transformation, I decided to join EO Nagoya to interact with other aspiring entrepreneurs and deepen my learning as a CEO.
Event-6 (July): Sales reduced by 90% & Dishonesty
Nearly 100 accounts were completely cut off at the end of July without sufficient advance notice, sales were reduced by 90%, and customers were switched to another tool without any notice. That was what a 3 year long partner did to us. Yet, rather than a 90% decrease in sales, I was shocked to see that my relationship completely fell in parts after being treated like this by someone I truly trust. I was depressed for about a month, partly because I was blaming myself by asking myself if I did something wrong with the partner.
Event-7 (September): Thank you for the warmth of people
We received various advice from mentors and people with whom we have connections at work, and introduced us to new leads. It was one of the triggers for my mental recovery.
Event-8 (October): International Trade Council Go Global Awards (In Business Process Outsourcing)
This year, I lost confidence from spring, but by receiving this prestigious award, which was selected as one of only 50 from 6416 companies around the world, I was able to reaffirm the value of the business I have created so far. This was also a great opportunity for my mental recovery.
Event-9 (November): Marketplace advertising operation & Kaori’s awakening
In November, we started a trial of an Amazon advertising optimization solution from France. Kaori won the competition with a competing tool in Japan, and also took charge of a big marketplace advertising operation project with the person who said “Let’s work together!” I have come to feel the reward. With the expansion of the service portfolio, I feel that the company has grown in depth.
Event-10 (December): Right upper arm complete fracture which required a surgery
At the arm wrestling tournament I attended at the Christmas party in early December, I had a complete fracture of the right upper arm and had surgery. It would take 6 months to cure, so I again got very depressed at work and in private. With the support of rehabilitation and surroundings, it is also an opportunity to realize the gratitude of my family and friends, and I feel that it will be an opportunity to grow further as a person.

There were many challenges and learnings that led to self-transformation. In 2022, with self-transformation as a continuous theme, we would like to further grow the buds of the new business that we grew up in 2021 and promote the recruitment of people again. Last but not least, thank you very much again this year! Thank you for your continued support next year.

Masaki “Mark” Iino
Founder & CEO
PS: My son started to speak words little by little after turning to be 2 years old, and nowadays he is more adorable.