Japanese mobile auction site for women wins at KDDI Demo Day [Photos]


Daisaku Harada

Last week KDDI Mugen Labo held a demo day event for its fifth batch of incubated startups. Our readers may recall that we previewed this batch of five startups back in September, which included:

These five startups pitched their services on stage at the Hikarie event hall in Shibuya at the demo day event, showing the progress they’ve made over the past few months. In the end it was Smaoku that was awarded the top prize of the day, with CEO Daisaku Harada impressing the crowd in attendance with his mobile auction app for ladies. Our readers may recall that we interviewed them last October.

Smaoku, while it is not a mobile flea market app, continues the recent Japanese trend of mobile C2C commerce services that we have seen over the past year. Other notable startups in this space include Mercari and Fril to name just a few. Smaoku, Harada has said, will leverage the game-like feeling of auctions in order to stand out from the crowd here in Japan.

In his presentation, he explained that the amount of money they have transacted on Smaoku has been growing exponentially over the past few months. As you can see in one of the graphics from Harada’s presentation (see all his slides below). Back in November they were just transacting in the tens of thousands of yen (hundreds of dollars). But that grew by about four times in December to amount to millions of yen, and in January it grew again by five times to be in the tens of millions. These numbers, while admittedly rather vague, are still pretty encouraging.

I was also a little curious about their upside-down hanger logo. Daisaku explained to me that it sort of reflects the experience they want their users to have, turning their frowns upside-down in a similar way. I thought that was kind of cute, certainly a memorable image anyway.

You can check out a few more photos from the event below. We should note that photo curation service Zukan.com won the ‘Audience Prize’ at the event. But we look forward to hearing more from all five of these young startups in the next year or so. So stay tuned!