This past weekend at the Microsoft Japan office in Tokyo, the 7th edition of the Samurai Venture Summit took place. This is a semi-annual startup exhibition event run by Samurai Incubate. Here’s a quick rundown of the startups that caught our eye at the event.
San Francisco and Tokyo-based startup FluxFlex has developed a card payments solution for web developers called WebPay.
Generally speaking, cross-border transactions are not permitted under international card transaction rules, and all card payments in a specific country should be processed by a company in the that country. WebPay aspires to fill card transaction needs for web payment services in the Japanese market.
In 2010 the startup launched a Github-integrated cloud service, but that has been completely shut down. They’re now focusing on this payment solution in partnership with GMO Payment Gateway, Japan’s oldest card solution provider, a subsidiary of one of Japan’s largest web conglomerates.
Festival Lover is a social networking platform and bulletin board for sharing experiences around music festival events all over Japan. When you attend an interesting event, you can share your experience with other users, and record what you’ve seen and enjoyed.
Carnol is a service that give users an opportunity to test drive a new car. Japanese auto makers are struggling because the younger generation in the country is less interested in owning a car, especially in highly populated metro areas such as Tokyo or Osaka. Car dealers also having a tough time because they have no good way to reach new potential customers.
Samurai Infinity, the startup behind the service, is expecting to establish partnerships with many regional dealers, giving consumers a chance to test-ride a car they might like. In this way, dealers can access a new customer base that they might have previously had difficulty reaching.
The startup won the silver prize at CyberAgent’s mockup plan contest in 2012, and is now backed by Samurai Incubate.
Passta and PassSquare
Both of these services are provided by Monoplane. The Tokyo-based startup targets real store owners and specializes in providing customer engagement solutions using Apple’s Passbook technology.
Passta is a web app that allows merchants to create Passbook coupons for their potential customers. Using templates, users can make coupons that link to the merchant’s website, logo, and location.
As for PassSquare is a consumer solution where users can obtain Passbook coupons for nearby shops or merchants. For merchants issuing these coupons, they can reach more consumers with this coupon distribution network.
Documotion is a work-flow management system that includes a document scanning feature. On the Japanese business side, especially at old-fashioned or more hierarchical companies, every task is fully processed on formatted documents with the management’s official seal. When faced with many documents, some companies struggle and there’s lots of inefficient paperwork that really doesn’t have anything to do with making money.
This app lets users scan those documents, and they can also forward them to their management if they are in need of special permission. Unfortunately there is no OCR feature, so you’ll need enter figures and descriptions manually.
Foreign travelers visiting Japan often have difficulty finding a network connection here. 3G roaming services provided by local mobile carriers are costly, any many people buy a pre-paid SIM card or rent a wi-fi dongle upon arrival at airport – but this is still costly. Local wifi services are primarily for local people who subscribe to local carriers’ services. In Japan, all public WiFi providers are required by the government to authenticate users and to record usage logs, so that law enforcement can track and identify crimes or other illegal matters.
Solution WiFi lets merchants give their customers complimentary wi-fi access with Facebook authentication and a ‘like.’ For consumers, there’s no complicated process to authenticate or sign up. For merchants, it helps when customers like their Facebook fan page, thus contributing to customer engagement online as well offline.
Otoshimono.com is an online ‘lost and found’ service. Typically when you find a lost item, you’d usually bring it to your nearby police office. But in Japan, you’ll usually also be requested to answer many questions by officers, as well as complete a report form. This usually takes a long time and may discourage you from bringing in a lost item, even if you’d like to help out.
Otoshimono.com has invented a sticker upon which a unique QR code for their toll-free hotline is printed. It encourages someone who has picked up your lost article to report it, and subsequently you can easily find it article even online. The sticker is available on Amazon Japan, at a price of $13 dollars for two.
Colotown is a location-based community that helps neighbors connect. There are many social network services that let users connect each other regardless of their location. But the inventor of Colotown thought there was a need for a space where users could share information or updates about their neighborhoods. With this service, you will be allowed to register up to three town areas, letting you know what’s happening in those areas, such as a time-limited offers at a supermarket.
The developer expects to attract housewives with these neighborhood-focused services, or people who typically spend their time in a relatively small area. They also hope to facilitate electronic sign-boards in neighborhoods, showing tweets to encourage passers-by to connect with online community and learn what’s happening in the area.
If you work in a company, you’ll might sometimes be requested to submit a report to your management at the end of your day, describing what tasks you’ve completed or what you’ll do on the following day. This can be troublesome, but of course if you skip it, you’ll likely run into problems with your management.
Gamba is a corporate communication platform specializing in submitting daily reports. It has deployed Twitter- or Facebook-like short message input on its business communication platform, which helps office workers communicate what they are doing with their colleagues and management.
The startup was founded in 2012 by Masahiro Morita who previously worked with NTT R&D, KLab, and Rakuten Travel.