Japanese flea market app Mercari raises $500,000 from East Ventures



See the original story in Japanese.

Mercari, a flea market app launched by Japanese serial entrepreneur Shintaro Yamada, has been showing good numbers of late. Since the release of its Android app back on July 2nd, more than 50,000 users have put over 10,000 items up for sale using the marketplace.

Kouzoh, the startup behind the app, introduced the iOS version of its app today, and also announced that it has fundraised 50 million yen (approximately $500,000) from East Ventures.

Several hundred items submitted every day

According to Yamada, they are struggling to acquire users but have started seeing good result in user activity. He explained:

So far things are as we expected. In terms of user submissions, we saw lots of ladies clothes being posted, but we’ve seen also home appliances sold on the marketplace — so item posted vary. Several hundred items are submitted every day and the market is still small, but we’re seeing sound growth in deals between buyers and sellers on the platform.

The startup itself might be best known for having a very high-profile management board. In addition to having ex-Zynga Japan GM Yamada as CEO, Hiroshi Tomishima (the founder at Bank of Innovation) and Ryo Ishizuka (COO at Rock You Asia) are serving as the heads of engineering. They are a small team but their prominent skills and experience have contributed to the services solid operations to date.

Increased competition

When I spoke with Yamada, I found it interesting that he spoke about resources that we thought were lacking on our planet. He noted:

Any kind of resource is limited. You will need energy to create something new. If you have a PSP but don’t want to keep it, you will probably not be interested in selling it for a high price. But instead you likely need way to easily hand it over to someone else. We call it a sort of frictionless society. That’s what we want to help to make.

His concept is very similar to Craiglist in a way. There will be a way to share resources easily, rather than the complicated schemes often used on auction sites.

From my perspective, a flea market app is a form of C2C that everyday people — even less tech-savvy ones — can use without hesitation.

Yamada has previously involved in launching the Rakuten auction site. Based on the history of Japanese auction sites, he is predicting a high rise in flea market apps on smartphones.

It will be interesting to see if Mercari can get to the top of this increasingly competitive arena.