Japanese mobile captcha startup Capy wins IVS Launchpad, has more plans ahead


This is part of our coverage of the Infinity Ventures Summit Kyoto 2013

Last week I had a chance to catch up with the folks from Capy in an office they’re working out of in Shibuya. The founder of the up-and-coming Japanese startup and CEO Mitsuo Okada first developed the concept behind his secure captcha service while studying at Kyoto University. Capy’s value proposition, for those unfamiliar with it, is that it’s less frustrating than the twisted letter solution of convention captchas, replacing it with a sort of sliding image puzzle that robots cannot complete (see below).


While talking with Okada and his colleagues last week, I happened to mention that I’d be attending the Infinity Ventures Summit 2013 in Kyoto.

“Oh, we’ll be there too,” said Okada.

Skip to a week later where Okada pitched his captcha technology in front of a packed hall at the Westin Hotel Kyoto. They were one of 12 startups that took to the stage, but Capy was judged to be the best of them all.

We first interviewed Okada about Capy way back in August, so they aren’t a newcomer to us. But among Japanese startups, the company does stand out in that it has taken a pretty global approach from the very beginning, initially launching the business in the US [1].

Even though conventional captchas can be frustrating, I’ve always admired the elegance of reCAPTCHA which makes us of user input not as a security precaution, but also as a means of digitizing books. Two birds with one stone. But Capy will be able to do something similar as well, and I think that’s why it has such great potential.

Okada-san all smiles on stage after winning IVS Launchpad

Websites that use Capy can repurpose its validation screen as a space to advertise, and that’s especially useful given how precious space is on a typical smartphone screen. Capy will have free and premium versions, the free version being ad-supported, and with the premium version, a publisher can use whatever image they want. Right now, the company is focusing on developing the premium version. In addition to advertising, there are other purposes for which Capy images could be used. They’re hoping to attend SxSW next year, and so I expect that many of the things they are currently working on should be ready for showtime by then.

Okada tells me that currently Capy is providing 50,000 captchas per day across three or four clients here in Japan. This is the perfect test market he says, because Japan is very closed. They still have improvements they want to make in user interface and experience, but I’m told they still need more engineers. Currently they are still just a team of four with only two engineers.

Their mentor and angel investor is security expert William Saito, with series A funding last May. I expect that a lot more eyes will be on Capy after their win at IVS Launchpad. So look forward to hearing more from them in the next year or so.




  1. Capy is incorporated in Delaware.  ↩