Japanese e-commerce platform provider Base raises $2M from CyberAgent

Base CEO Yuta Tsuruoka

See the original story in Japanese.

Japanese e-commerce platform provider Base announced today that it will raise 200 million (approximately $2 million) from Japanese internet giant CyberAgent. This will be the first investment from the latter’s new fund targeting middle- and late-stage startups, also known as Fujita Fund after the company’s CEO Susumu Fujita.

According to Base’s CEO Yuta Tsuruoka, his company also raised 50 million yen ($500,000) from Sun Eight Investment back in July. The total amount of funds raised is about 273 million yen ($2.73 million), including investments from East Ventures, Party Factory, and angel investors.

Tsuruoka describes meeting with Fujita back in August:

About four months ago, I met up with him for the first time. After Rising Expo [1] back in September, I had a chance to see him and shared our KPIs. I think at that moment, he seemed to decide on the investment.

When we look at how the platform was growing back in August, one of its primary sources of traffic was from Ameba, CyberAgent’s blog platform, following Facebook and Twitter. Subsequently, Tsuruoka asked his co-founder/investor Kazuma Ieiri to ask Fujita if CyberAgent was interested in investing. And to his surprise Fujita was indeed interested.

With the funds raised this time, Base plans to expand its team from 12 to 20 people, and to intensify marketing and advertising efforts as well.

We have acquired 50,000 merchants in the last eleven months, showing about 10% monthly growth on average. We recently launched an iOS app, and it seems to have had a big impact for our merchants, changing their experience and environment. For example, a retailer manufacturing handmade crafts can handle all the necessary tasks with his iPhone, ranging from taking pictures of items to be sold to his store management.

70% of Base’s user activity comes from smartphones, yet another indication that the Japanese e-commerce industry has mostly transitioned to mobile. The company is exploring monetization opportunities but intends to keep focusing on user acquisition for the time being.

  1. An annual startup showcase event by CyberAgent Ventures.