Eccentric billionaire Yusaku Maezawa reportedly ended his efforts to find a girlfriend to travel to space with him last month, but he's apparently not done with the idea of elaborate worldwide contests. As CNBC reports, he recently took to Twitter to announce an "entrepreneur competition," with some $91 million in prize money going to ten lucky winners.
The contest appears to be geared mostly towards Japanese entrepreneurs, since the site linked to from Maezawa's Twitter account is in Japanese, and all submitted business proposals must be accompanied by a "screening fee" of 10,000 Japanese yen (about 90 American dollars). Basically, entrants email Maezawa their business proposals, and the ten best (after two additional rounds of questionnaires and interviews) will get a billion Japanese yen each as sort of a cash prize/investment from Maezawa. But it's not the kind of prize you can just run off and do whatever you want with, since Maezawa is expecting a return on his investment, and will apparently seek to have an ownership stake in the winning businesses of about 20 percent.
In additional tweets on the contest, Maezawa reserved his right to invest even more into businesses he finds especially promising, saying he might decide to invest as much as 3 billion yen in any one company through the "Maezawa fund." The size of his stake is apparently flexible too, and could range from ten percent all the way up to nearly 50 percent, depending on how things go. And he says he's hoping for a wide range of applicants, from young students with a good idea to ambitious heirs, whether they intend to use his money to "launch a student venture or increase the size of the company you have taken over from your parents."
While Maezawa will be an investor in all the winning businesses, his tweets also reveal a relaxed attitude towards their success or failure. The prize money won't be expected back in the event of the latter, he says, since "failure to start a business is a big plus of a life experience, and if you succeed, that's fine." The deadline to enter is midnight local Tokyo time, on February 16th.