Tokyo-based startup 7-bites has launched a new service called A2mato, a C2C flea market app focused on goods relating to Japanese subculture. It’s a smartphone marketplace where individuals can buy and sell things like self-published works, cosplay costumes, gaming, manga, and pop idol goods. When the startup raised funds last June, the CEO told us about this plan, and now it has finally gone online.
This ‘otaku’ market includes other things like dating simulations and other online games, vocaloid voice synthesizing, cosplay, figures, novels, electronic comic books, and even railway models.
According to a study by Yano Research Institute, this otaku market is getting more customers in Japan beyond its core fan group. In 2011, the market size was valued at 892 billion yen ($8.5 billion). The CEO of Bushiroad, Takaaki Kidani, mentioned that the market for card gaming alone is almost 100 billion yen ($9.5 billion), big enough to get the attention of many businesses.
Recently I had a chance to interview with 7bites CEO Shota Sawada about why he thinks there’s potential in this market.
He explained there are two main reasons why he started A2mato:
One reason is that there is a market. The other reason is that I wanted to support creators.
At Comiket (a large comic convention) visitors cannot get enough information on the groups that are participating, and they turn to other media like Twitter or websites to get information. Because information is not easily accessible, comic fans pay attention only to major groups or circles. So it is difficult to find new talented creators. With A2mato I’d like to make information on new talents more easily accessible and support long-tailed creators.
While mobile C2C marketplace and flea market apps attracts many consumers today, there was no flea market app focused only on subculture. So Sawada thought there would be potential to grow.
Today many of online marketplaces for self-published works charge users high service charges. For example, when a creator sells their work on websites like DLsite or Melonbooks, the company charges the creator 30 percent of the price as a service charge. But on A2mato, it’s only 5.25%.
On A2mato, users can follow hashtags for each genre and see that content on their timeline. There is also a feature called ‘remart’, similar to Twitter’s retweet, and users can save their favorite items as well.
The UI was developed based on Sawada’s assumption that the many users with interest an in subculture might be Twitter users too.
Just like other flea market apps, users can list their items on A2mato from their smartphone app. Payments can be made using credit cards, money transfer at convenience stores and banks, or with A2mato points.
Unlike most flea market apps, A2mato has a web version of its marketplace as well. This is because the company expected that linked web content will be important to bring traffic/users from Twitter.
A2mato is targeting a half million users and 500 million yen ($4.8 million) in monthly transactions. If you’d like to try out the app, it is available for the download here. Currently it’s in Japanese only.