2014 Game Changer: Taro Fukuyama

By Sarah Sipek

Aug. 3, 2014

Taro Fukuyama learned at a young age that results are what count. Originally from Japan, Fukuyama studied abroad in Missouri during high school and was surprised to find that his classmates weren’t eager to learn about his home country. What did capture their interest was the skills of Japanese baseball player Ichiro Suzuki, who at that time was playing for the Seattle Mariners.Taro Fukuyama

“That’s when I realized that this is a country where if you do something great, no matter where you’re from, people will admire and respect what you do,” Fukuyama said. “And that’s pretty awesome.” 

Greatness is what Fukuyama is on the path to achieving. At just 26 years old, he sits at the helm of AnyPerk Inc., a platform that provides employee perks and benefits to companies of all sizes. The goal is to attract and retain employees by providing a rewarding work environment.

The idea was inspired by a statistic that he came across that only 13 percent of employees are happy to go to work every day. Fukuyama understands that unhappy employees don’t make a company successful, so he set out to become part of what he refers to as the “workplace reincarnation,” wherein companies build their value by taking care of the employees they already have instead of hiring from the outside.

The idea wasn’t an overnight success. Along the way Fukuyama and a friend spent three nights living in their van in a Taco Bell parking lot in San Francisco. He jokes that it was a “great deal” because they could stay for free, but the experience taught him a valuable lesson: Rock bottom isn’t that bad.

“No matter if the business succeeds or fails, it doesn’t matter because you can just sleep in the parking lot,” Fukuyama said. “You realize that there is no risk. If there is a big dream that you want to do, and that’s the only downside of doing it, then let’s just go for it.”

Sarah Sipek is a Workforce associate editor.

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