Japan’s wheelchair startup Whill raises over $10,000 on Kickstarter in six hours



See the original story in Japanese.

Whill is a Japanese startup that is currently developing a next-generation wheelchair. Our readers may recall our advisor Kiyo Kobayashi spoke with CEO Satoshi Sugie at their office in Silicon Valley. The company launched a kickstarter campaign with its goal of $30,000, so you can gain opportunities like the privilege to attend their driving test and obtaining a t-shirt of their design if you invest.

If you invest more than $10,000, you can obtain the Kickstarter version of the wheelchair product. The project already surpassed $10,000 in as short as six hours since its launch at noon today (Japan time).

The team won the top prize at the Launch Pad session at Infinity Venture Summit 2014 Spring which took place in Sapporo back in May, where Takao Ozawa, one of judges at the session, promised that he would definitely buy it. [1]

I wondered why they launched this Kickstarter campaign at this time, since typical crowdfunding projects are used for fundraising to develop a prototype but they have already completed it.

In a response to my question regarding that point, Sugie explained it’s a topical gimmick to attract consumers in the US market. It is interesting to see how much a crowdfunding project can help a startup like them market or promote their product.

  1. Takao Ozawa is the COO at YJ Capital, the investment arm of Yahoo Japan.