Tokyo-based startup incubator Movida Japan held a Demo Day event on Friday, showcasing more than two dozens startups from the fourth batch of its incubation program. We’d like to tell you about a few that we liked, so here’s a quick rundown.
Bizzlio is a mobile news curation app that allows users to learn more about a news story by following it. If there is any update to that story, you’ll be updated too. In this space we’ve seen many competitors, including Gunosy, SmartNews, and Vingow. Shiroyagi Corporation, the startup behind the app, wants to differentiate from others by using a unique algorithm and recommendation engine rather than creating just an RSS aggregation tool.
The company’s co-founders have unique backgrounds. Their chief scientist Akira Shibata previously worked at New York University, and chief strategist Yoshi Watanabe previously worked at Panasonic. The pair met at Boston Consulting Group and decided to launch their own company. Their app is not yet available but will be live soon.
Flier is an abstract app especially designed for busy people. It allows users to finish reading a book in as little as ten minutes, something that usually takes most people several hours. It gives you two ways to choose books to read: trending books, and the books recommended by high-profile people. Abstracts for books are created by the company’s writers.
The company has partnered with 17 Japanese publishers, with abstracts from 20 books distributed to users every month via desktop, tablets, and smartphones. When you read an abstract, you can easily buy the original book at Amazon via a (referral) link from the service. According to the company’s CTO Yasushi Ohga, Flier is currently being provided for corporate users, where their employees can save time when a company requests that they read a certain book. The service was developed with an inspiration from getAbstract which has 40,000 corporate accounts and 10 million users.
ShareWis is a learning site that provides a number of online learning courses, motivating users to learn new things by visualizing their learning process, thus creating a feeling of the accomplishment. The service was launched in Osaka in December of 2012, and the website has seen over 300,000 visitors and more than 300,000 registered users.
In partnership with Skype-based English conversation learning service Rarejob, it is now testing a model of driving traffic to the service using the latter’s educational materials. The service is currently available on desktop and iOS, with an Android app to be released very soon.
UI Scope allows software and hardware developers to crowdsource product testing tasks. A registered tester (called a ‘panel’ in the service) receives a camera from the startup so that it can record the testing process. When a developer (called ‘a client’) chooses someone from all registered testers and asks them to test the product, that person will take about 20 minutes to test it and report back with a video of the testing process.
The developer pays 3,000 yen (about $30) for this testing, and the tester receives 500 yen. The test results are reported online in the form of video, screenshots, and behavioral reports in text. The company was launched back in August of 2012, had acquired 600 mobile developers as their users including the following notable companies.
Hima Switch is a mobile app that will connect you with someone when you have free time. The app’s developer wants to give people an alternative option to find friends who are available to hang out. Since the launch of its beta version one month ago, it has seen 10,000 downloads, with the goal of acquiring 1.5 million users by the end of next year.
Beatrobo is a music-focused startup that lets users build music playlists, primarily from YouTube music content. The company recently unveiled a mobile accessory called PlugAir, which has a unique ID and functions as sharable playlist. Users simply insert the device in the earphone jack of their smartphones in order to access the playlist.
The company plans to partner with music artists and the entertainment industry, and is already in talks with Universal Music Japan and American rock group Linkin Park. The startup launched its social music platform back in October of 2010, and fundraised about $600,000 from CyberAgent Ventures, Klab Ventures, and Movida Japan back in April of 2012.
Ciatr (a sort of Japanese pronunciation of ‘theater’) is a movie-focused buzz portal. The service was launched back in July, conducting an online promotional campaign in partnership with the Festival Cinema Brazil 2013. Users of the platform can leave comments on movies introduced at the event.
According to Viviane, the startup behind the service, they were originally targeting consumers in their 30s and 40s, but its main userbase turned out to be females aged 18 to 20 years. The service has 120,000 visitors in total, 140,000 buzz posts, and 8,000 registered users, and are aiming at reaching 1 million users by next July.
Aorb is a mobile app that allows users to present two pictures and ask others to choose the best one. For example, when you can’t decided between two outfits, you can take pictures and upload them using the app. Subsequently, you will be able to see a list of responses from other users. The app will be available for iOS on November 28th.
With the idea of selling Japan-made items to overseas markets, Michi tests a variety of products and then post articles on its Facebook wall. In this way, they can find out what ones get the best responses from their global audience, thus gaining insights about user tastes, especially about popular nail art, which is its speciality.
Many nail artists are working in the Japanese market, but after rapid growth they’re struggling to acquire more customers and revenue in the saturated domestic market. So now they are now looking for opportunities overseas. Michi sells artificial nails designed by Japanese nail artists to overseas customers online. And since its launch back in August, the service has seen almost 200% user growth every month. CEO Shun Nakazaki says he expects to make the business sort of like a Uniqlo of the artificial nail industry.