Dwayne Grech

Founder, Experience Design Director
Hello xLAB KK

Where are you from and how did you end up living in your city/region?

My origin story starts in Toronto, Canada. I went to Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology to study graphic design. After a year’s stint in Australia, I returned to Canada to pursue postgrad studies in web and interactive design, which would begin my career in UX—user experience.

After ten years in Toronto, my career took me to Las Vegas. I worked for four years with several clients, including the Las Vegas tourism board, until COVID hit.

When COVID arrived, my wife and I were ready for a change of scenery. Instead of returning to Canada, we felt Japan would be the safest, most stable place to ride out the pandemic, start a business, and raise our family.

We relocated to Nara to be close to my wife’s family, intending to settle in Tokyo eventually. COVID had other plans for us, however, so we hunkered down in Kansai until the infection rates across the country improved. This pivot allowed us to reconsider Osaka as our home and base of operation. We discovered the city has the essentials we need, from excellent livability standards to a thriving startup community, and it was right at our doorstep.

 

Tell us about your career. Why is your city/region a good place to pursue your work?

UX is a multidisciplinary practice that employs design, technology and psychology to engage users, improve processes, and influence behavior. UX is employed in architecture, commerce and the devices we regularly use, to name a few.

Osaka has a history of design, innovation and manufacturing. It’s seeking out young, diverse thinkers and doers to push innovation and be the future leaders the city needs. While doing business in Tokyo would be easier, there’s something unique about Osaka. They understand what I do and are eager to help businesses like mine and many others achieve their goals because Osaka can share in our success.

 

What prompted you to get involved with the CCCJ?

My initial contact with the CCCJ was during the early days of my research into moving to Japan. I sought insights into how my business could penetrate the Japanese market and thrive. While I could access plenty of experts and resources, the CCCJ appeared to have more on-the-ground knowledge of the market and sound, unbiased advice to offer a fellow Canadian.

Conversations about what the Chamber could do for me quickly turned into what I could do for the Chamber. Even though I was still living in the US, it didn’t take much convincing to join.

My involvement with the Invest in Innovation Committee led to a challenge to devise a more efficient and accurate method of making and maintaining business connections remotely between Canada and Japan at the height of COVID. How could technology and UX energize the engagement process and support continuing exchanges of ideas and opportunities regardless of language barriers and cultural differences?

We later launched a matchmaking and collaboration platform we call ONO, which uses AI to automatically match people to experts, ideas and opportunities worldwide. (Please visit learn.ono.community to explore ONO.) 

Osaka Castle Part of the old magic the city’s renaissance is based on

Please sell readers your city/region. What’s so great about living there?

As Osaka prepares for Expo 2025, it feels like Venice at the start of the Renaissance. Supported by a wealth of new investments, Osaka will become a more vibrant, innovative city rich in culture and opportunity.

There are many reasons businesses should relocate here, from government support to a history of top-notch innovation, manufacturing and academic research. Even publications like The Economist have recognized Osaka’s excellent living standards. It’s a beautiful place to raise a family.

I encourage you to come see the magic yourself. Chances are you’ll be charmed into staying.