See the original story in Japanese.
Tokyo-based Open Network Lab startup incubator held last week a Demo Day for participant startups of its Seed Accelerator Program 14th batch. In this batch, five teams including two foreign teams were chosen from among 76 applicants from Japan and abroad, having received mentoring and support over the last three months.
From this batch, Open Network Lab provided mentoring by startups appearing in its past batches. The followings were the judges for the pitch competition of the Demo Day.
- Kaoru Hayashi (President Executive Officer, Digital Garage / Group CEO)
- Shonosuke Hata (President, Kakaku.com)
- Atsuhiro Murakami (Director, Kakaku.com)
- Tomoya Sasaki (Senior Marketing Director, DG Incubation / President, Open Network Lab)
- Masayuki Sarukawa (Managing Director, DG Incubation)
Best Team Award winner: Toreru by Toreru
Toreru is a cloud service regarding intellectual property rights. The firm was founded by patent attorney Masafumi Miyazaki, who has dealt with more than 1,000 patent / trademark registration matters. Originally, the mission of patent attorneys is to protect intellectual property rights, as well as to maximize the profit while minimizing the risk for their clients, and yet it has turned out that 95% of working time required for the patent / trademark application process is spent for tasks extraneous to the basic missions, such as document preparation or reporting work to clients.
The patent / trademark registration application process can be divided into four tasks: consideration of the scope of claims, investigation, preparation of application documents and reporting to clients. Among these, Toreru made it possible for a series of work from investigation to reporting to be carried out on the cloud; one can investigate related patents by one-click search and create documents automatically, while enabling information-sharing on the cloud with clients. With this service, the average time required for each matter was reduced to 0.5 hours which is one-tenth of the conventional time, about five hours.
Patent attorneys will be able to spend the idle time for detailed service with their clients or on marketing activities. Within this year, the firm will launch a closed beta version of the service having three functions such as business efficiency improvement, CRM and customer attraction. In addition, it plans to implement foreign patent application support through cooperation with foreign patent attorneys, in addition to auto-investigation / observation of competitor trends by utilizing accumulated data.
Best Team Award / Audience Award winner: Cansell by Cansell
Cansell is marketplace for non-cancelable accommodation reservation rights between guest users. Kyohei Yamashita, who was formerly Product Manager at Dreampass (purchased by Yahoo Japan later), gathered the crew and launched this service as a preview-version in September of 2016. Dreampass is the film-showing service in response to requests from users and is a graduate of Open Network Lab 4th batch.
According to Dohop 2015 Hotel Report, 19% of the online accommodation reservations of hotels are canceled. Many online travel services do not allow cancellation instead of setting cheaper accommodation charges, and Cansell aims to distribute the vacant rooms by transferring name of the holder of accommodation reservations.
In Cansell, exhibitor users can sell accommodation rights only by transferring the confirmation email upon completion of reservation. The security of all exhibited accommodation rights is maintained by pre-marketing examination, and Cansell staffers perform the procedure for transferring accommodation reservations on behalf of users. Since its launch, 130 reservations have been exhibited and the agreement rate exceeded 50% as for expensive cases costing more than 100,000 yen (about $920).
In the future, the firm also aims to deal with cancellation of flights, restaurant reservations, wedding ceremonies or travel plans, in addition to accommodation, while supporting payment methods other than cash, such as service points, virtual currency or right-to-right trading (equivalent exchanges with unnecessary accommodations, for example).
Ninomin by Matsuri Technologies
Under the new Japanese law which will be enacted this June regarding paid accommodation in private homes in Japan, vacation rental business activities will be restricted to less than 180 days per annum for each property. The hosts owning properties for the vacation rental are deprived of business opportunities over a period of half a year, and some of them may be forced to withdraw.
Ninomin, provided by Matsuri Technologies, is a customer attraction service to support renting out of vacation rental properties for various uses such as company-owned house, short-term rental, rental meeting room or room sharing, through cooperation with real estate brokerages. Monitoring market prices in each area and taking into account the operational efficiency of investments, Ninomin proposes the best pricing in line with the use requested by hosts.
As online explanation of important matters related to real estate transactions will be permitted through a revision of another law, Matsuri Technologies expects more and more new players to enter the real estate business. The firm aims to grow capturing demands of these new players or withdrawing vacation rental hosts due to the enactment of the new law.
Café Wifi by Remote Work
The number of remote workers, working at café and so on outside the office, has been steadily increasing and is 50 million just in the US alone. On the other hand, valuable information for remote workers such as whether the Wi-Fi speed is fast, a power source is available or the atmosphere for each spot is not provided so much by conventional portal websites.
Café Wifi determines the score of each café based on unified criteria including auto-measured Wi-Fi speed and on posted information from remote workers all over the world, and shows a list of suitable cafés for remote working in any desired area. In addition, information about late-night operation or meal provision is also available.
The number of registered users has increased tenfold since its launch in December of 2016, and the current WAU (Weekly Active Users) is about 1,000. Information about 3,100 spots in 98 countries including San Francisco and Tokyo has been registered. The team plans to implement a seat reservation function by advance payment via app in the near future. The app is currently available only for iOS but will be soon be offered for Android as well.
Psygig by Psygig
The demand of mobility IoT (Internet of Things) has been increasing with the rising number of autonomous cars, autonomous drones or robotics. Typical mobility products require various sensors and thus some problems for developers may occur; for example, a necessary sensor may be missing, engineering is costly or processing becomes complicated due to the enormous data.
Psygig is a mobility IoT (Internet of THings) diagnostic tool based on the cloud. Mobility developers are allowed to implement this tool easily with the SDK (Software Development Kit). It notifies error information when an abnormality is detected, and also assists the performance evaluation / comparison. This service is provided in two type of SaaS (Service as a service) or on-premise.
In the future, the team will support any type of mobility IoT, and will provide additional functions such as DMP (Data Management Platform), traffic control assistant, P2P (Peer-to-Peer) sharing between mobile IoT devices.
According to Takayoshi Matsuda, Managing Director of Open Network Lab, this incubator program has produced 80 startups until the end of the 14th batch. The funding success rate of the startups to 13th batch are 49.2%.
Coinciding with the end of the Demo Day for 14th batch, it started accepting applications for the 15th batch. Open Network Lab will provide participant startups 10 million yen (about $92,000) at most as their activity funds during the three-month batch period. The participants will be allowed to use Open Network Lab’s three bases (at Daikanyama of Tokyo, Kamakura, and San Francisco) freely for one year, as well as to receive mentoring by startup managers who graduated the past Accelerators Program. The application for the 15th batch will be accepted until noon of May 22nd.
Translated by Taijiro Takeda
Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy