Japan’s Orkney secures funding, strengthens tools development freeing up frontline salespeople



Yokohama-based Orkney, the company that provides fieldwork-focused customer relationship management tools called Orkney Upward, announced Tuesday that it has fundraised 90 million yen ($839,000) from CyberAgent Ventures and SMBC Venture Capital on August 29. Prior to this the company had obtained about $1 million in loans from Japan’s state-run loan company Japan Finance Corporation in June. They will use the funds and loans for sales force enhancement and for adding more features to the tools.

Orkney Upward is a web-based platform that allows salespeople on the go to easily check the profiles of their customers via smart devices. The platform works with a mapping solution that the company has been developing since its launch, providing the best route for visiting clients in fragmented locations. Based on a partnership with Salesforce.com last year, Orkney Upward is now available on the Salesforce cloud environment as well (see video below).

Orkney was founded in 2002, a bit old to be called a startup. They had been focused on entrusted systems development, serving the mapping industry, before they launched the Orkney Upward (previously known as Orkney Geograph) platform in 2011. Oakney CEO Toru Mori previously worked at Alps Mapping (acquired by Yahoo Japan in 2008). Looking back on his early days at the company, he said that he had wanted to start a business in the geographic information systems sector at a time when there was no service like Google Maps.

He explained:

Mapping costs a lot and is also technically difficult. I founded Orkney to remove such barriers in 2002. I initially thought we want to do business in the open source integration space.

But the debut of the iPhone in 2008 was a major turning point in their business. While receiving many orders from academic institutions at that time, they began to plan a new mapping service for business use. That was the predecessor of the present Orkney Upward platform.

Why are there no other services providing this feature in a space with so many competitors? Mori explained that his company has an advantage in providing a better user experience through a web browser and a mobile app thanks to their years of continuous R&D.

As they have acquired over 100 clients, they are in the early to middle stage in their business development. What is interesting about Orkney is that such a company with a long history in R&D stepped forward to start a new business and made it a success.

Because CyberAgent Ventures led this round, are they becoming more focused on investing in enterprise businesses? CyberAgent Ventures SVP Terry Hayashiguchi explained:

Because the smart device penetration is rapidly rising in the business scene, I think some of conventional products, which were originally designed for PC use, are not enough to serve users.

Therefore, we are assuming that people who experienced to manage a business in a big company are becoming more interested in launching their own startups. In addition, compared to the US, we think there’s a huge space to innovate in the enterprise and other B2B sectors in Japan. Based on these perspectives, we aim to invest in more B2B startups.

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