Empowering Families Around the World: Yohana’s Journey from the US to Japan

Sep 28, 2022

Solutions for a Better Future / Feature Story

Products & Solutions

Empowering Families Around the World: Yohana’s Journey from the US to Japan

Yohana launched its Modern Family Concierge Service in the US in 2021 and it has now been expanded to Japan. We look at Yohana’s successes in the US and the founder Yoky Matsuoka’s plans for the service’s next chapter.

Photo: Yoky Matsuoka

Yohana was launched in Japan on September 15

Story Highlights

  • Yohana launched its Modern Family Concierge Service Yohana in Japan on September 15

  • The service pilot launched in the US in 2021 and as of June 2022 it has helped more than 1,000 families with more than 20,000 tasks 

  • Yohana will roll out in the prefecture of Kanagawa first, with plans to expand to other areas of Japan and beyond as soon as possible

People these days are busier than ever. On top of work pressure, we have family responsibilities to fulfil, and everything takes place against a backdrop of an everchanging world with global events increasing our stress and anxiety levels. According to a recent survey conducted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, despite technological developments and advances in home appliances, the time spent on housework in Japan has increased compared to 5 years ago. Husbands in households with children under 6 years old do spend more time on housework and childcare compared to 5 years ago, which can be seen as progress, but the burden is still disproportionately placed on women. With the total time spent on housework actually increasing, it is getting harder for men, women and families alike. 

*2021 Basic Social Survey, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) https://www.stat.go.jp/data/shakai/2021/pdf/youyakua.pdf (Japanese)

It was to address these issues that Yoky Matsuoka founded Yohana, a Modern Family Concierge Service, which launched in the US last year and was expanded to Japan on September 15.

Throughout her career, Yoky’s mission has been to build technology solutions that empower people to be the best versions of themselves. “More than anything, I want to help parents everywhere feel more supported and less overwhelmed. To give them a way to slow down and have more joyful moments with their families,” said Yoky, in a recent interview.

Yoky’s passion growing up was tennis, but an injury ended her hopes of playing professionally. A chance encounter led to the discovery of a new passion in science and technology, and Yoky subsequently earned her B.S. from the University of California, Berkeley, and her M.S and PhD in electrical engineering and computer science from MIT.

She started her academic career as a professor at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Washington. During her tenure at UW, she founded and directed the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering and the Neurobotics Laboratory to create devices to restore the human body's capabilities for sensation and movement. After a successful career in academia, she dove headfirst into Silicon Valley, where her principal roles at leading tech companies have included CTO of Nest, Vice President at Google's Healthcare organization, Co-Founder of Google X, a senior executive at Apple, and CEO of Quanttus, a wearable health technology startup. On her decision to join Panasonic, Yoky cites Pansonic’s founder Konosuke Matsushita, as well as the company’s sustainability credentials, as her main reasons. Yoky says that when she heard about Matsushita’s stated goal of wanting to “free women from housework,” she “felt an affinity with him as that was a pain point she could relate deeply to.”

Yohana is a Modern Family Concierge Service. Members pay a monthly subscription fee and in return they are paired with a dedicated team of specialists who help them with their daily chores. By delegating tasks to their Yohana team, members can focus on what is really important to them, such as being with family or fulfilling personal goals. The Yohana Membership also includes access to Yohana’s extended network of local pros and contractors. Members in the in the US have used the service successfully for a wide range of tasks from simple everyday chores like booking restaurants and planning kids birthday parties, to more complex jobs like air conditioner repair and bees nest removal.

Photo: Yohana app

Your Yohana partner helps you take care of your to-do list

The service has proved popular. Yohana was launched in the US on September 9, 2021, being piloted first in Seattle and then Los Angeles. As of June 2022, the app had supported more than 1,000 families complete more than 20,000 tasks. There are countless testimonials from customers but the most satisfying for Yoky are the ones that show the time saving impact of Yohana, with some users reporting that the app saves them between 8–10 hours a week. Some users also reported feeling that their Yohana concierge was like “one of the family” and other comments included “Now I have a partner; I am not alone. I can achieve my goals together with Yohana.”

Yohana team
Yohana app

On the back of this successful reception in the US, the service was launched in Japan on September 15, initially in Kanagawa, a place close to Yoky’s heart as she grew up there. Based on research conducted by Yohana, even though Japan and the US are very different culturally, the challenges faced by families in both countries are strikingly similar. Families in both countries reported that meals, family activities, and family care were the top three challenges that they would seek help from Yohana for. However, there are some unique issues to tackle as the Yohana service rolls out in Japan. There is less of a culture of paying for help with tasks around the house like housework and home cooking because of a sense of uneasiness about having strangers in the home. Parents must also contend with their own sense of guilt that they are not doing enough for their children.

As the mother of four children, Yoky is no stranger to the stresses of family life or feelings of guilt, which she experienced a lot as a mother. “It’s the guilt that eats me alive sometimes. If I give my time and energy to work, the kids don’t get all of me. If I give to the kids, am I able to show up fully at work? What about my husband, my family and friends? And forget about putting myself first. That would make me a bad mom or an underperforming CEO.” Therefore, Yoky has been particularly happy to see over the last year of operations in the US that Yohana hasn’t just become another thing for parents to manage but a “family concierge” in the truest sense. She has seen many Yohana members make use of the service as a family and many husbands be proactive with the service as well. This means that Yohana can be successful in reducing the burden on families in many ways: by directly reducing their workload, and by encouraging all family members to make time for what matters most.

The first step is rolling-out Yohana in Japan, but after that Yoky is enthusiastic about making the service available to as many people around the world as is possible. “We look forward to collaborating with Panasonic to consider expanding Yohana globally and helping even more people get a handle on their household chores,” she said.

Panasonic recently announced that its company purpose is to “contribute to the well-being of people, society, and the planet.” As a subsidiary of Panasonic, Yohana will contribute to this goal by giving back precious time to working parents and their families—time that can be spent doing the things that are really important. Yohana has already proven its worth and potential for success in the US; the next challenge is Japan and beyond.


Photo: Yoky Matsuoka
Photo: Yohana app
Yohana team
Yohana app
Yohana network

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