Japanese UX design firm Goodpatch fundraised 100 million yen (or about $1 million) from DG Incubation, the investment arm of Digital Garage (TSE:4819) in December 2013. Back then the firm was in Akihabara, but two months ago they moved to Shibuya, a major startup hub in Tokyo.
Upon visiting the new Goodpatch office, this reporter met a familiar person in addition to the CEO, Naofumi Tsuchiya. It was Boris Friedrich Milkowski, a German who had studied at Keio Media Design (KMD). When he was attending the university, I had been requested by him to join a group focus interview where I offered him my insights about the UI/UX trends for Japanese apps as well as about local startups in Tokyo. He subsequently joined the Goodpatch team for business development to help accelerate the company’s global market expansion.
Goodpatch launched rapid prototyping tool Prott as a “closed beta” in March, and their team is finalizing the release of its official version and its iOS app, scheduled to go live soon. CEO Naofumi Tsuchiya aims to disrupt the industry with the Prott app:
Prototyping is not so common in Japan, but overseas, many developers typically prototype prior to app development commencement. We want to educate the Japanese app development industry about the need for prototyping in association with other companies in this sector.
A prototyping tool allows planners or designers to create a mock-up instantly even if they are less familiar with coding.
Existing design tools have many functions but less usability for mobile app designs. By adding various functions such as “drawing function” to Prott, we can bite into user bases held by other software, such as Adobe Photoshop.
The drawing function he mentioned will be supported in the future version of the Prott app. In addition, they are considering supporting other features like those enabling export of a prototype that has been created outside the prototyping tool.
Because the Protto app has been developed in Japan, it obviously supports the Japanese language. But 70% of users are overseas. We are keen to see how their global release and expansion efforts go.
Goodpatch aims to create a comfortable working environment similar to that of startups in Silicon Valley. The company spent a lot on relocation and interior design, but Tsuchiya says the investment will be worthwhile if it can attract talented people.
An unconfirmed report has it that the Tokyo event of Finland’s annual startup conference Slush will take place at the Goodpatch office on October 3rd. The 2013 event took place at Open Network Lab. By helping organize such events, Goodpatch can contribute to the local startup community in Tokyo and bring in a lot of international perspectives and entrepreneurial spirit.
Goodpatch consists of a 32-person team, of which seven are developing the Prott app. Another prototyping tool Pop, which came from Silicon Valley and Taiwan, recently announced their full-fledged entry into the Japanese market, which indicates this space is heating up. To expand Prott and other UI/UX-focused projects, Goodpatch is hiring, so those interested in working there are advised to immediately contact the firm.