Hiroki Shimada can trace the genesis of his company, Scouty Inc., back to a time when he was on the outside of the job market looking in.

During his graduate studies in artificial intelligence at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, Shimada was surprised to see many of his undergraduate classmates placed in careers completely divorced from their own skills or background.

"One of my friends was a very capable designer, but for some reason he started working at a large advertising company for a low salary," Shimada said in an interview at his startup's Shibuya office. "But if, for example, a design company saw the designs my friend could produce, my friend may have found a better-fitting job."