Business Insight

In-House Innovation: The Untold Story of 7-Eleven's Global Takeover

Asia Tomorrow Original
February 8, 2024

When you hear the word "7-Eleven," what country do you immediately associate with? You probably think of Japan, but 7-Eleven was actually headquartered in the United States!

Today, we're going to explore the amazing in-house venture that took over the original.

야간에는 7 일레븐 매장 앞
(Credit : Unsplash)

1. Southland Ice Company, the world's first convenience store

In 1927, Southland Ice, a small ice factory in Dallas, Texas, USA, began selling ice, milk, bread, and eggs late in the evening and on Sundays, using its expertise in managing low temperatures.

The new business was well-targeted to the needs of its customers and became the first convenience store, later renamed 7-Eleven, the name of the global chain since 1946.

2.A business trip to the U.S. led to a startup within itself

Toshifumi Suzuki, a HR manager working for Ito-Yokado, Major retail brand in Japan, came across 7-Eleven convenience stores while on a business trip to the United States. At the time, the Japanese retail market was dominated by hypermarkets.

He realized that the unique selling point of small and medium-sized retail stores would work in Japan, so he returned to the workplace and founded '7-Eleven Japan' as an in-house venture.

Seven & i's CEO: "I Find It Pointless to Think About My Own Future" |  Business | The ORIENTAL ECONOMIST | All the news you need to know about  Japan
(Toshifumi Suzuki, Former CEO of Seven & i, Source : The Oriental Economist)

He succeeded by adapting the U.S. headquarters' know-how to the Japanese style, and eventually incorporated the U.S. headquarters as a subsidiary. As a result, 7-Eleven grew to become the world's fifth largest general retail group.

(Credit : Unsplash)

3.What the 7-Eleven In-House Venture Story Tells Us

Ito-Yokado grew to become the world's fifth largest retail group, '7-Eleven & I Holdings', based on the success of its in-house ventures.

There are many other examples of internal venture success: 'Naver', which started as an in-house venture of Samsung SDS in Korea, and 'SK Encar', which is now a separate SK affiliate.

💡 : What factors do you believe are most important for the success of an in-house venture? The capability to quickly leverage business opportunities from existing markets seems to be crucial.

Written by underdogs



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