CNet Japan Startup Award nominees: PlanBCD, Talknote, Wantedly



The quality of start-ups nominated for Tuesday’s CNet Japan Startup Awards is high, and Japanese entrepreneurs are seeking to solve problems on par with Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. This is part six of our preview of the nominees. The rest can be found here.

PlanBCD, Kaizen Platform Inc.


PlanBCD is one of the few startups — globally — attempting to bring high-converting designs to the masses. The closest corresponding product from the US is Optimizely, founded by an ex-Googler 1. While Optimizely’s core product is technology-reliant, PlanBCD is taking a different approach. Users post a job to PlanBCD’s dedicated network of designers, UI/UX specialists who they call ‘Growth Hackers’. These Growth Hackers pick a job they would like to take on, and the user chooses their favorite, which is then tested for 28 days. Payment is based on performance 2.

Its human factor sets Kaizen Platform aside from similar products: Optimizely uses Amazon’s Analytics SDK and Google’s UI optimization tool, Content Experiments. We expect that PlanBCD is a product that will stay on our radars for awhile.



Wantedly is a social recruiting tool based on Facebook. The CEO and founder Akiko Naka’s ethos aligns with the product, aspiring to connect potential employers with talent through the social graph. She believes opportunities found through friends (and mutual friends) create better cultural fits and happier work environments.

“Invest in people, not ideas” is a saying repeatedly spoken by VCs and investors in the US. It is apparently working well in Japan, as Wantedly reports they have over 1,800 clients and more than 61,000 users.



If I were still living in America, it would be very easy to dismiss Talknote as just another Yammer clone. But here on the ground in Tokyo, it’s clear why Talknote acquired so many customers. There are many archaic infrastructures out there and the restaurant industry is certainly one of them. Countless establishments still have no website and even accept fax requests for reservations or food deliveries. Haruo Koike, the CEO and founder of Talknote, is the perfect person to push this industry forward, as he has been in the restaurant business for 10 years.

Disruption starts with little baby steps like these, and it will be exciting to track Talknote’s progress. There’s also a part of me that wishes an American start-up would take Koike-san’s approach, as the food industry in the US could use a big change as well.

Talknote’s Facebook page is also very engaging, and I love how the CEO uses and supports products in the start-up community.

  1. Fitting, as Google is known for its thorough A/B testing, the most well known, Marissa Mayer’s 41 shades of blue test. ↩
  2. There’s nothing online that describes their growth hacker acquisition strategy – the closest I found was this job-share posting found here. Since the founders are ex-Recruit, I’m assuming they have techniques unavailable for public knowlege.  ↩