5 great startup ideas from the latest Samurai Venture Summit in Tokyo



See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based incubator Samurai Incubate held its periodical startup showcase event called Samurai Venture Summit Vol. 10 at the Microsoft Japan headquarters in Tokyo last week. Despite the fact that there were a number of startup events like SF Japan Night and the Infogr.am meetup taking place on the same day, it seemed they had a larger crowd of attendees than past editions of the event.

Let’s have a quick rundown of some interesting teams showcased as always.

Virtual mountain climbing by Yama Reco


Yama Reco is an online community for mountain-climbing afficianados. They showcased what is called a virtual mountain-climbing system using a head-mounted display. Their users have collected and shared 360-degree pictures online of shots from famous mountaintops. So if you download any of these image data from the website, you can virtually experience the feeling when you take in the vista from the top of these mountains.

Because their photos are limited only to ones from the top, it is unlikely to be called virtual mountain-climbing. If they can collect sequential pictures on the way to the top in the way similar to Google StreetView, it may provide a more realistic virtual experience using a head-mounted display as well as an exercise machine.

Unclear because this captured the screen of a head-mounted display. But you can see Mt. Fuji far off over multiple ridges in this frame.



There are some companies that want to allow people to develop ‘connected’ hardware products with software engineering skills only. Some of these examples include Berg in London and Connect Free in Kyoto. Zugyuun is also pursuing the potential that helps people develop hardware products as easily as possible.

Raspberry Pi is used as a platform, and you can use it by inserting an SD card having the company’s operating system Zugyuuun OS. You can write source codes in HTML or JavaScript to command the device, which has to be stored in a repository like GitHub in advance. When you start up your hardware product, it will connect to your Zugyuuun account and operate in accordance with your source codes.

There may be some concerns about security and operational stability. In fact, the Zugyuuun team had been struggling to stabilize the internet connectivity for their demonstration because their booth was located on a very high floor which makes it difficult to catch cellphone signals. But it is certain that their solution lowers technical barriers in making ‘connected’ hardware products. Even elementary school students can develop something using this for their holiday research projects.




We featured a Korean startup called Notivo in our Japanese edition before, which was showcased at Korea’s annual startup competition beLAUNCH 2014. It is a mobile app that notifies you about updates or alerts if you register topics you wouldn’t like to miss out such as flash sales, flight delays, ticket sales start and suchlike.

The concept of Astero is very similar to that of Notivo. The app’s engine keeps scouring multiple news source websites or monitoring updates via APIs so that it would let you know as soon as any event you want to know happens.


Photo courtesy: Moneyless Hareyama

Scuel is an online database of medical organizations and pharmacies launched in early September. In addition to providing iOS and Android apps, it publicizes an API so that third-party developers can create their information services using the Scuel database. It has partnered with Japanese medical news site CareNet, fitness club operator RenascenceGoo Healthcare, disabled jobseekers’ community Welbe, atopic dermatitis patients’ community Untikle, poop-logging app Unlog and kidney disease patients’ community Jinlab.

I often keep my eyes on the intensity of information about medical organizations in the world for my own business reasons. We are lucky to have easy access to this kind of information in Japan because there’s no list or phone directory of medical organizations in some countries. However, even in Japan, some resources are not up-to-date or provide no semantic information. So it will be interesting to see how they set up a hub and provide medical information in a form that people can use easily.



KiSSonix is a sound-encoding service that lets you experience a 3D sound effect with only two speakers. When you record sounds, you don’t require stereo or surround recordings. Their technology is compatible with two of any type of speakers from any brands.

If you give them your sound, they will encode it and give you back the output in 3D. Their booth staff said, “Your brain will play a decoder role in understanding the encoded sound when you listen to it.”

While Occulus-like head-mounted display products or smart glasses devices are trendy, there will be increased needs for technologies to enable 3D hearing. I forgot to ask them whether or not it’s possible but  if their technology does it may have a great potential in application since it will enable live encoding that lets you hear a sound in accordance with the direction you are headed.