Coconala is a website where you can buy and sell knowledge, skills and, experience from users who are willing to teach. Tokyo-based Welself, the startup behind the service, announced today that it has fundraised 150 million yen ($1.5 million) from Nissay Capital, Opt, Adways, and Tetsuro Yoshimatsu, the CEO of Japanese cosmetic site iStyle.
Coconala was originally launched back in July of 2012. Users don’t need to pay any sign-up or monthly fee, but they do need to pay a 500 yen ($5) commission for a purchase. To date the startup has acquired 63,000 users, 10,400 knowledge ‘items’ for sale (i.e. their expertise or skills), and it has transacted more than 43,000 deals using the marketplace.
The startup’s CEO Akiyuki Minami has an interesting background. He began his career at Sumitomo Mitsui Bank, and subsequently conducted five investment projects at an M&A firm. In 2009, he graduated from the business school at Oxford University and then launched his own startup. He has also been involved in some NPOs.
Many people want to help others, and Coconala wants to help them do so in their spare time.
This community-building concept is the main idea that the startup aspires to project. Otherwise users would likely use the platform just for making money, and items would be sold for a conventional market price – thus making them far less appealing and affordable. The company branded itself to avoid that scenario, building a platform that provides high quality services by implementing a flat-rate price system.
Sellers recognize that they are helping users who pay to learn their skills or expertise. And for buyers, they can get more benefits than they’ve paid for. These surprises on both ends is what the startup really wants to provide.
Most startups usually contemplate how they can maximize their value and growth, and Welself is no exception. Through one year of operation, the startup found that there was value enough for users, and they could foresee the potential of further growth. This naturally led them towards this most recent fundraising.
With these new funds, the startup will bolster its engineering team. They will also add a new feature that allows high-profile users to set an optional price for their sale items.
Coconala will also launch apps for a few different platforms, and that will allow users to consult sellers over the phone.
It will be interesting to see how the company will evolve in this unexplored business field, so stay tuned!