Japanese UI improvement platform planBCD raises $800,000



See the original story in Japanese.
PlanBCD is a platform that helps developers to improve the user interface on their web services. Kaizen Platform Inc., the Tokyo-based startup behind the service, announced today that it has raised seed funding worth $800,000 from Gree Ventures, GMO Venture Partners, and CyberAgent Ventures. With these funds, the company plans to intensify its system development and marketing efforts.

The service provides developers with an A/B testing environment, especially useful for improving web content and interfaces, comparing the performance of multiple available options. It helps you test and optimize processes like sign-ups, purchases, or landing pages. Unlike other conventional services, planBCD allows you to conduct this time-consuming, trial-and-error process by only embedding a single-line of JavaScript on your website. The video below shows more details about how it works. In the closed beta version, they’ve seen examples where users have improved conversion rates on their websites by 130% to 170%.

[T]here’s a big barrier to optimizing user traffic for clients unless they improve user interface on their websites.

The most remarkable part of the service is that PlanBCD gives you ways to crowdsource the UI and UX improvement process, something which is often difficult to assign someone in your company. The accumulation of A/B testing results will be stored on the service, helping you hand the process over to someone else if necessary.

The service is a combination of an easy-to-implement environment and crowdsourcing features. Kaizen was launched back in March of 2013 by Kenji Sudo. He previously worked at Japanese human resource company, Recruit, supervising the company’s ad-tech services. Sudo explained:

At Recruit, I was involved in ad optimization services for online advertising. But I learned that there’s a big barrier to optimizing user traffic for clients unless they improve user interface on their websites. But if we help them improve their websites, it hurts our overall business efficiency to the point where we can’t work on it. As a result, only rich companies can engage in the improvement process. So this was why we launched the testing service.

He notes that the service has acquired 200 crowdsourced workers for the UI testing operations, and they are appropriately ranked corresponding to their past testing performances.

The service’s pricing has three tiers according to the kind of workers you crowdsource your UI improvement tasks. It’s 100,000 yen ($1,000) a month for Standard, 200,000 yen ($2,000) a month for Professional, and 500,000 yen ($5,000) a month for Maestro. The service has a money-back guarantee so you will not be charged if you can’t see any improvement in your website performance. The charge is comprised of the monthly fee mentioned above plus a charge for how many times the embedded JavaScript test code is called.

The service is already used by many clients, including some enterprise companies. It’s a good indication that new business models comprising of a tool and a crowdsoucring service could be trending in the near future.