Innovation Weekend is a monthly showcase and meet-up event organized by Tokyo-based startup incubator Sunbridge Global Ventures. Every December there is a big one, where the monthly winners from the year compete in a pitch session. This year, Osaka-based startup Quadcept won the finale with its printed circuit board design solutions.
Quadcept – Top prize winner
Typical factories in the electronics manufacturing industry have to purchase a tool for designing printed circuit boards, usually provided in the form of packaged software, with costs of up to $80,000 for the initial fee and as much as $10,000 for annual fees per user license. But many factories don’t have the budget to distribute that kind of package to all their employees. And collectively, that problem can slow the entire industry.
Quadcept looked to the cloud for a solution. Pricing depends on how many licenses you need in your company, with payment possible on a yearly or monthly basis, requiring no initial fee. Quadcept proposes that you only pay for the licenses you need, when you need them, and not waste money on idle seat licenses. The startup wants to be aggressive in helping device makers by sponsoring events like Maker Faire and Gugen. They expects to start global business expansion next year.
More than a dozen startups from Japan, Taiwan, and Thailand pitched their apps and services to a crowd from in Tokyo. Here is a quick rundown on some of the new faces.
VisasQ is a platform for consulting that takes advantage of relationships in your social graph, letting users get advice from experts. The company’s founder, Eiko Hashiba, is very experienced, including time working as an investment banker. The concept is inspired by Gerson Lehrman Group (GLG for short), a company providing consultation and advice from over 250,000 subject matter experts worldwide. Hashiba aims to provide such ‘spot consulting’ services for as little as 1% of the price of conventional services. Their team includes engineers from notable Japanese groupware solution Rakumo.
When you want to hang out at a karaoke bar in Tokyo’s Shibuya district, you might first turn to Google Search or Google Maps, inputting keywords like ‘karaoke’ and ‘Shibuya’. But that typically yields irrelevant information like a list of shops you don’t really care about.
But Tokyo-based startup Tritrue has developed a ‘spatial search engine’ called Pathee, which provides more relevant information by narrowing results to buildings within a five-minute walk from where you are, and to certain trending topics as well. So for example, when you arrive at a train/subway station near an event venue, you check how to get there by just entering the name of the event, with no need for the address. The startup is based at Samurai Incubate’s startup space, Startup Island.
ClickonCake delivers birthday cakes to any part of Japan, based on orders collected from their website. The company’s founder is Shintaro Naganuma, whose family business is a confectionery based in northern Japan. To make the business more profitable, he rolled out a delivery service specializing in birthday cakes. It currently earns 8 million yen ($80,000) in revenue every month.
Typical cake buyers will purchase a cake for someone on or near their birthday. And with this in mind, Naganuma’s team is planning to establish distribution centers all across the Tokyo metropolitan area. He has also invented a frozen type of cake that can be preserved at these centers. In this way, they can give users the option of same-day delivery cakes with unique designs. That would certainly pose stiff competition to conventional cake shops around town.
Waygooapp is a mobile translation application that uses optical character recognition (OCR) technology. For western visitors who come to Asia, one of biggest obstacles is typically reading Chinese characters, since signs and menus usually aren’t in English. And checking them on mobile is hard too, if you haven’t mastered the input method.
But with this app, all you need is to place your phone’s camera over it and let the app figure it out. You will see then English subtitles overlaid on the image. The app is currently available only for Chinese-to-English translation on iOS, but an Android version and Japanese-to-English version will follow soon.