Nobuyuki Idei once embodied Japan's corporate establishment, the leader of technology giant Sony Corp. Now 75, he's aiming to reinvent himself as a cross between a Silicon Valley venture capitalist and Hollywood mogul.

The former Sony CEO describes himself as the "executive producer" behind a long list of projects, including a venture fund, a design consultancy and a salon for entrepreneurs. They're all designed to boost start-ups in Japan, a country the World Bank ranks behind Ghana and Tanzania in ease of starting a business.

"We want to transform Japanese corporations and society because after Sony and Honda (Motor Co.), no big companies have been born except retailers," said Idei, seated in front of a wall of windows at the offices of his Quantum Leaps Corp. in central Tokyo. "In Japan, the concept of patient risk money doesn't exist."