Japanese subculture flea market app A2mato secures funding to accelerate user growth



This is the abridged version of our original article in Japanese.

A2mato (pronounced as ‘ani-mart’) is a C2C flea market app focused on goods relating to Japanese subculture. Tokyo-based 7-bites, the company behind A2mato, announced today that it has fundraised an undisclosed amount from several Japanese investors. This round was led by CyberAgent Ventures with participation from East Ventures and angel investors like Ryu Okada (DeNA co-founding member) and Osamu Shibata. This follows their previous funding of $295,000 in June 2013.

A2mato allows users to sell and buy their anime goods, fanzines, manga books, games, cosplay costumes, figures, and cards. Since its launch in January, the marketplace has listed over 250,000 items. An iOS app is available here.

Upon this funding, 7-bites has partnered with Aucfun, the Japanese company behind a price comparison site under the same name. Aucfun acquired an undisclosed amount of 7-bites shares from shareholders in this round. Through this partnership, the two companies will integrate their systems – leveraging Aucfan’s database of prices and profiles for more than 20 million items.

7-bites CEO Shota Sawada

7-bites CEO Shota Sawada explained:

As our integration proceeds, users will be allowed to find items listed on A2mato through Aucfan.com. C2C users are less internet-literate and less familiar with market values. So we will list market quotes in item lists on the A2mato website through the integration.

Nearly a year has passed since our launch, and we’ve seen heavy users spending as much as 100,000 yen ($865) a month. They are mostly fangirls who buy goods of their favorite anime characters.

However, it was slow going for A2mato in its early days and has been struggling to grow the first three months since the launch.

Sawada continued:

We have drastically improved the user interface to enhance the perspicuity, changing one column to two. Results were good, and our users has been increasing in number since April. Today the user growth has reached 20% to 25% on a month-over-month basis, and their retention rate hit more than 40%. After a user submits an item on our app, it takes about five minutes to close the deal. We aim to shorten this time.

Sellers want to sell their items faster; buyers want to buy their items faster. So more users will use various flea market apps, and a fast selling market will win. We will enlarge our user base and accelerate the speed from the discovery of an item to its purchase for users. Because our app is focused on a niche market, it is more likely to matchmake sellers and buyers than other Japanese flea market apps like Mercari and Fril.

7-bites aims to transact 100 million yen a month in six months, 200 million yen a month by November of 2015. They expect their user base to grow by increasing public exposure through advertisements, etc.

The company will use the funds to strengthen marketing, user support, as well as enhance functionality.