Business card-based CRM startup Sansan raises $5M, planning global expansion



Tokyo-based venture company Sansan announced on Tuesday that it has fundraised about 500 million yen (or about $5 million) from Nissay Capital and GMO Venture Partners. This follows the previous round in 2009, which raised 50 million yen from CyberAgent, Recruit Incubation Partners, and GMO Venture Partners.

Sansan is known for providing the Eight app, a combined solution for business card scanning, data entry, and contact management. By linking your Eight account with your social media presences (like Facebook, Google Plus, Mixi), your contacts will be automatically imported and connected. Subsequently the business cards of those people will then appear on your Eight page. If don’t have enough contacts to connect but still have a large connection of business cards, you can ask the company to scan the business cards for free. Alternatively, you can scan the cards yourself with their smartphone app. (See our previous article for more information about how it works.)

Sansan CEO
Chika Terada

The entire service is provided completely free. In a CNET Japan report, the company’s CEO Chika Terada explained that they are not rushing to monetize it until they build a sufficient userbase, ideally something in the range of 10 million users. The startup expects to do business globally in the near future, and they’ll be looking at building a global pool of crowdsourcing workers for card scanning and data entry, which will makes data entry possible regardless of language barriers.

With this new infusion of funds, they’re hoping to intensify further development of a better user experience, with a plan to introduce a new version of their smartphone app in May. Terada says it will be not only for scanning and managing business cards as before, but it will also be something that gives you an access to various information about your contacts, such as info to help you call or e-mail them, or the ability to view a map when you meet up with someone.

Other startups operating in this space are Maysee, as well as China-based Youlu.