Talknote, a Tokyo-based startup providing an in-company social network platform for sharing among colleagues, announced that it has acquired more than 5,000 corporate users. The startup was launched in February of 2010, pivoted to a communication tool for business in 2011, and raised funds from CyberAgent Ventures in March of 2012 .
They’ve been seeing good numbers lately with 1,400 corporate users coming on board in the last two months, and company’s CEO Haruo Koike says the service will be reaching a growth rate of 1,000 users a month very soon.
It was more than three years ago when I met with Haruo for the first time to discuss the original version of Talknote. At that time it was intended for chatting in closed groups, but the shift to target enterprise users has yielded good results.
The CEO’s eccentric background has really helped the rapid growth of the company. He has been running several restaurants since he was young, and I still remember how he emphasized the importance of feature phone-optimization for web services, making them easier to use at working sites like restaurants where adoption of digital services can be very slow. And he has apparently done a good job of bringing such businesses onto his platform. Haruo tells me that internet companies and IT business account for only the 20% of the entire user base. The rest are restaurants which were accustomed to fax or feature phone-based e-mails for their internal communication.
Most users have learned about our service by word of mouth from restaurant owners whom I know, and they’ve decided to use the service not because of better usability than other tools but because those owners find the value that Talknote may help them get away from conventional analog communication tools.
When I saw it for the first time, I thought it was just a Yammer clone and would be a new group chat tool for high school girls. But what Haruo is proposing is not developing an innovative system but evolving ways of communication in places slow to adapt to digital. It will be long journey to make this happen.
Compared to the other businesses, people working in the restaurant industry can be very digitally challenged, they don’t want to use anything even if it’s a bit complicated. I’ve been working here for 10 years, and that experience helps a lot in developing the service.
We often follow cutting edge technologies or business models in the tech space. But this conversation reminds me that this is just the tip of the iceberg when building new services or new businesses. Talknote is expecting to acquire 10,000 users by the end of this year. We hope they’ll have a big impact on digitally challenged businesses with their product.
The amount of funds raised was not disclosed. ↩