For Mitsuru Izumo, founder and CEO of Euglena and Japan's start-up of the year, starting a business is like farming.
"You plant many, many seeds and by trial and error, you learn how to cultivate a business," Euglena chief executive officer Mitsuru Izumo told CNBC.
Founded in 2005, Euglena today is one of Japan's most talked about start-ups. The company's mission is to spread the health benefits of microalgae, which is full of vitamins, minerals such as calcium and iron, as well as amino acids.
Microalgae, a single-celled organism so small it can only be seen through a microscope, is grown in fresh water and photosynthesizes like plants. The nutrients are extracted, turned into powder form and added to foods or drinks – the company even sells a range of crunchy dog foods.
Not about money
Izumo's motivation for starting a business wasn't to make money. On the contrary, he wanted to help solve a social problem.