Japan’s handmade item marketplace Creema fundraises $1 million from KDDI



Tokyo-based Creema, the startup behind the C2C marketplace for handmade items, announced today that it has raised 100 million yen (about $1 million) from KDDI Open Innovation Fund. The company plans to use the funds for system development efforts to give users better experience.

In this space, we’ve seen many startups like Etsy (US), Creatty (Japan), and Pinkoi (Taiwan). But Creema is one of the oldest companies among them. Since its launch back in June of 2010, the company has acquired 18,000 creators and they have submitted over 500,000 items on the platform.

Their founder and CEO Kotaro Marubayashi explained why they have grown their platform business spending a long time:

I think this kind of websites usually takes time to make users understand what’s interesting. That’s why we’ve been carefully developing this community. What makes us unique from other similar services is that most of our creators are making a living by selling their items here. Their items are completely different from what people create as their hobby in their spare time.

Creema’s flagship store in Shinjuku

In order to gain people’s awareness for handmade products, the company holds an exhibition called ‘HandMade in Japan Fes‘ every year as well as has a real flagship store in the Shinjuku Lumine department store. As a result of these efforts, they have surpassed 15 million monthly page views, and the amount of transactions through their platform grows at a pace of 400% every year. Some creators earn more than $10,000 a month despite the fact that most of items are one-off originals.

Coinciding the funding, the company drives user traffic from Au Smart Pass, the unlimited app download service by KDDI, planning to add several payment methods for KDDI’s smartphone subscribers. Marubayashi added:

We’ve been developing our service diligently and steadily. We have a good revenue stream but we can try out something new using the money raised this time. But we’re not interested in increasing page views using ads. We believe there’s a huge potential in the manufacturing culture. We’ll focus on improving our system infrastructure to better serve our users.

In view of the Japanese C2C market, this handmade item market can create new values while second-hand platforms are saturated with mobile apps like Mercari and Fril. Since Japanese manufactured items are favorably rated among foreign consumers, we can expect this marketplace to meet demands from outside the country as well.