Taking on Global Challenges with a Startup: “Designing Intelligent Tools for Public Safety”

Greetings, my name is Akihiko Izu and I was a 2021 FUTI Scholarship recipient.  After working as a lawyer at Nishimura Asahi Law Firm specializing in M&A and corporate law for six years, I went to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and obtained an MBA in 2022. While at MIT, I co-founded Multitude Insights, a startup that provides a platform for sharing and analyzing crime information for US law enforcement, and currently operates in Boston and New York.

You may have heard about the high crime rate in the US through news reports of shootings and other incidents, but even in the relatively safe city of Boston, you often see shoplifting right in front of your eyes, bicycles with their tires stolen and left on the side of the road, and other crimes that are very close to home. There are many factors that contribute to the high level of crime in the US, one of which is the weak information coordination among police forces. Although there are approximately 18,000 police organizations in the US, the majority of them randomly request information from neighboring police organizations via mailing lists or faxes, and information coordination among police organizations is extremely inefficient. As a result, it is difficult to make arrests for crimes that cross jurisdictional boundaries (for example, if someone commits multiple shoplifting crimes in Shinjuku and then moves to Shibuya and continues to shoplift, their criminal information will be cut off).

To solve this social problem, while still a student at MIT, I founded Multitude Insights with a classmate who was a former intelligence analyst in the US Navy. At Multitude Insights, UI/UX and AI/ML is used to optimize information sharing between police organizations and to develop the technology to provide hidden connections between crimes. In the two years since graduating from MIT, the company has raised a total of $5.4 million in funding, mostly from New York-based venture capital firms, and has grown to a team of more than 10 members. Last month, the system was implemented in the Boston Police Department.

Managing a startup in the US has revealed to me how quickly businesses move based on decision-making and leadership. Regarding decision making, CEOs and executives are often present from the early stages of meetings, and decisions are made on the spot as to whether to proceed with a project. There are many opportunities to expand through business and technology partnerships with large companies, as even large companies are often open to working with startups, perhaps in anticipation of possible future acquisitions. Also, once decisions are made, they move quickly, which I believe is supported by the strong leadership of the CEO and other members of the management team. Since the majority of our team members are former military and police officers due to the nature of Multitude Insights’ business, I have learned a great deal about leadership from them, and am constantly striving to become a leader who can work on a global scale.

I am very grateful for the support I have received from Friends of UTokyo, not only in the form of scholarships, but also from the board members and committee members who are on the forefront of their fields in the US. I would like to continue my endeavors so that one day I can give back to future UTokyo students and alumni who are taking on the challenge of going global.