When he worked in Silicon Valley, venture investor James Riney was used to aggressive entrepreneurs who pitched him for financing any time they got a two-minute opening. Now that he's in Tokyo, the culture is so different he's changed his ways. Startup founders are so timid about asking for money that he decided to open his office a few hours each week to let them stop by and chat.

"We realized we had to create excuses for founders to contact us," Riney said in an interview at his office near Tokyo Station. "We created office hours and said come ask us anything. They'll be like, 'Oh yeah, tell me about this thing. Oh and by the way, I need to raise money.' "

Riney opened the Japan fund for 500 Startups, a fixture of Silicon Valley that made its name backing entrepreneurs just as they're starting out. He's looking to break into a local market that has been dominated by corporate venture investors, which he sees as one reason the country hasn't had the breakout successes of the United States or China. Corporations were involved in 68 percent of venture deals in Japan in the first half, compared with 27 percent in the U.S., according to CB Insights.