According to Hayato Mochida, Team Leader for International Sales and Planning at Light Boy, Sweden was an obvious choice almost from the start. “The market is very attractive,” he says, noting a combination of higher demand for lighting equipment (due to long winter nights) and lower corporate tax rates than other places.
Market leader in Japan & popular in the US
Originally founded in 1978 as a corporate contractor for road marking services, Light Boy began developing mobile lighting systems in the mid-1980s. The lighting was powerful and durable but also portable, exactly what its work crews needed to use at night. Soon it was selling its mobile lighting towers to other companies in the building and infrastructure sectors. Sales grew over the years, and the product line was further developed with new technology. By the early 2000s, lighting equipment had become the company’s core business.
Today, Light Boy is the domestic market leader for mobile lighting systems in Japan and has gained a foothold in the United States. The company’s lighting towers – which have a wide number of use cases beyond construction or road work – include mobile spotlights and light-up signage, as well as a unique line of balloon lighting towers featuring strong LED lights that have no glare.
“It’s a concept that is very popular in Japan and in the US,” says Mochida. “So, we thought: why don't we introduce our technology and unique features to Europe?”
“Businesses in Sweden think about the global market first. We want to be a part of such an environment and grow as an international company.”
The more Mochida and others on the Light Boy team considered Sweden, the more it made sense as a home for a European subsidiary. Along with the potential market for lighting products, the tax rate, and geography, there was something deeper: the attitude of the Swedish business environment.
“Sweden produces international companies, and I think this is due to the country’s business mindset,” Mochida explains. “Businesses in Sweden think about the global market first,” he says. “We want to be a part of such an environment and grow as an international company.”
To do that, of course, required establishing a Light Boy subsidiary in Sweden. Mochida says his first step was to contact the Swedish Embassy in Japan in early 2022. That led to an introduction with a consultant based in Japan for Business Sweden, Sweden’s global business development and investment agency.
“I asked the business consultant at Business Sweden about everything that I didn't know, and then she worked to answer all of my questions on everything from business accounting to import-export,” says Mochida, who then explains it was through that connection that he was introduced to Invest in Skåne
How Invest in Skåne helped
Mochida and Light Boy contacted Invest in Skåne through Business Sweden in May 2022. “I had planned to visit Sweden around that time, so I just stopped by the office in Skåne and introduced myself and explained what I was doing,” recalls Mochida.
According to Olof Tedin, Business Development Manager at Invest in Skåne, the agency set out to ensure that the meeting was not only productive and informative but also the start of a relationship.
“The value we provide in this, and all cases, is to be an advisor to the client,” explains Tedin. “Breaking new ground and establishing a network can take time and be costly. What we offer shortens the process, but we can also be a companion throughout their journey, should clients need it.”
Indeed, the way Mochida describes the experience of working with Invest in Skåne can sound less like the pro bono services of a government-funded agency and more like assistance from a partnering stakeholder.
“Whenever I got documents through our law firm, and I didn't quite understand something, I contacted Invest in Skåne and asked them, ‘What is this?’” he explains. “That's the kind of support I got from them.”
The agency also helped explain Swedish business culture and approach. They introduced the Skåne region and its opportunities – including potential office space and storage facilities, as well as prospective local partners relevant to Light Boy’s business. They even connected the company with valuable contacts at banks, law firms, and accounting firms.
Light Boy was able to establish its Swedish subsidiary by the fall of 2022. Although it chose Stockholm, not Skåne, for the location of its offices, Mochida credits the regional business development agency as playing a critical part in Light Boy’s move to Sweden – which itself is an essential element of something much larger.
“We want to deliver the world's best product with the world's best quality to every corner of the world,” says Mochida. “And we’ve established a subsidiary in Sweden to make that happen.”