Jordan Fisher: Redefining Risk

How a lifelong fascination and a move to Japan paved the way to a successful startup

Taking the road less traveled is a risk. When Jordan Fisher graduated from USC Viterbi with a computer science degree in 2008, many of his peers were considering careers in typical tech hubs like Silicon Valley.

Fisher, though, had his eye on Japan, a country that fascinated him for years due to its juggernaut status in the video game and artificial intelligence market. During his Trojan years, he spent a lot of time leading the Ping Pong Posse to nationals and hanging out with his Japanese friends to practice his language skills.

Fisher moved to Japan after graduating and got a job as an analyst at J.P. Morgan. He thrived there, rising to the rank of vice president. But he noticed what he considered a problem in Japanese society: a lack of resources and respect for freelancers and entrepreneurs.

“This was the biggest problem we thought we could try to solve,” Fisher said. “We thought we had a chance to make a big contribution to society.”

That prompted Fisher to add a new title to his résumé — entrepreneur — when he co-founded Zehitomo. The Tokyo-based company works like a digital marketplace, bringing together freelancers including writers, personal trainers and tutors, and potential clients looking to hire them.

Fisher initially dedicated nights and weekends to the new venture on top of working a full-time job. But when his daughter was born, he decided to take a risk and commit full-time to the startup.

“When she was born, I basically said, OK, I can’t be doing a full-time job in finance, a startup on nights and weekends, and be a good father and husband. Something had to go,” Fisher said.

Under Fisher’s direction, Zehitomo has raised more than $1.5 million from investors.

“It definitely been the opportunity of a lifetime,” said Fisher, now father to a second daughter. “You don’t always have the right timing, the right market, the right co-founder and the right circumstances to do something like this. It’s been a tremendous learning experience for me, in ways that I couldn’t have even imagined.”