Japanese startup aims to eliminate database management drudgery for developers

From the left: Technical Rockstars CEO Shuhei Hiya, and CMO Yohei Kawano

See the original story in Japanese.

Many startups offer platforms that allow users to develop outputs without the need for special skills, such as Monaca (developing mobile apps only with web app development skills) and Prott (prototyping mobile apps only with design skills). Zugyuuun, which was showcased at the recent Samurai Venture Summit event, gives users the tools to develop connected hardware devices that only require HTML and JavaScript coding skills.

A new API called Milkcocoa eliminates back-end environment management operations for web developers. From an engineering perspective, the expansion of cloud services has reduced the need to visit data centers to set up or tune-up servers. But many back-end operations remain, such as maintaining server instances, so that front-end apps can keep properly serving users.

An engineer may have to handle both front-end and back-end environments at several small startups. An engineer that is focused on the front-end of developing services may get into trouble to adjust the back-end environment. A small company may not be able to afford to hire someone to handle this task. Milkcocoa is the answer for such a situation.


When developing a web app having a feature like login or a user-to-user messaging system, data sets (e.g., user ID or password) are usually stored in a database like MySQL or PostgreSQL in the open source environment. Special skills are needed to manage a database so that a web app and database can exchange data. But Milkcocoa allows a user to forget about processes around a database because these functions become possible by simply coding JavaScript functions. The Milkcocoa platform has a web-based dashboard that allows the maintenance of sets of login IDs and passwords in order to control user access to an app, which will enable the development of a simple app without a database environment, but only with web server components like Apache.

The platform was developed by Japanese startup Technical Rockstars, led by Shuhei Hiya. He was qualified in a Mitou Youth project and officially approved as a “super creator” in 2010 by Japanese governmental IT promotion agency IPA. Technical Rockstars was previously based in Fukuoka because many team members are graduates of Kyushu University, where they created app development tools for non-programmers, such as diagram-based coding environment Clooca (somewhat like Yahoo Pipes?) and Dataflow programming language FLOWer. Upon the beta launch of the Milkcocoa platform in August, they relocated to Shibuya, Tokyo, to explore funding opportunities and partnerships with other startups.

Hiya outlined their plans:

We only have a freemium version, but we are planning to launch a premium version in January or February next year. The premium version will give users an option of auto-scale out, which adds a number of virtual nodes automatically in accordance with a traffic balance to your app. Furthermore, it will also enable user authentication using Facebook, Twitter, or Google accounts by merely inserting a line of JavaScript code to your app.

Milkcocoa uses AWS (Amazon Web Services) as their back-end environment. To provide users with the auto-scale out function, Milkcocoa will have to pay more to AWS for adding active instances. To cover this expense, Milkcocoa will need to raise money from investors.

CMO Yohei Kawano elaborated:

Our corporate philosophy is to make app creation easy. We want more startups to use Milkcocoa. That’s why we expect to attract investors with a vast network of startups rather than money.

There is great demand for this type of service in the global market. Y Combinator-backed Firebase and Facebook-acquired Parse might be competitors for the Technical Rockstars team, but these US-based platforms are primarily targeting the US market. So the Japanese startup aims to expand to Asia after launching the premium version. Their website, tutorials, and technical documents are available in English in preparation for the upcoming global expansion.

CEO Hiya will pitch at HTML5Minutes, a startup showcase event in Harumi, Tokyo, on Monday evening.