Japan’s Oneteam raises $480,000, redeveloping collaborative communication tool for Asia

Japan’s Oneteam raises $480,000, redeveloping collaborative communication tool for Asia

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From the left: Kyohei Kondo (product manager/co-founder), Akira Sasaki (CEO/co-founder), Takaichi Kubo (software engineer)

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based startup Oneteam has fundraised a 60 million yen (about $480,000) seed round from CyberAgent Ventures.

Oneteam focuses on development of communication service with the same name, under concept of “Your Team, in the palm of your hand.” It allows teams having a certain common purpose, including companies or any other such organization, to proceed with projects regardless of the members’ location or time.

While the product is still in development, Oneteam plans to fulfill main functions such as ability to self introduce, in order to deepen mutual understanding within the team, or communicating for collaborative work between members.

Requirements upon cooperation

Oneteam was launched just this year. Akira Sasaki, CEO of this startup, had been involved in artificial intelligence research at Musashi Institute of Technology (now known as Tokyo City University). There he became interested in communication technologies, and after graduation joined Japanese large ad company Tokyu Agency. Following this, he moved to Recruit and worked on development of travel and property media publications.

An experience of having difficulties in cooperaetion when he was in charge of managing business across six Asian countries had a great influence upon Sasaki.

He explained:

The biggest problem was to let projects work efficiently. Differences in time, cultures and languages made communications complicated, and I did not even know what kind of communications they had in place. Then Kondo came from Japan and helped me when I was struggling.

Sasaki and co-founder Kyohei Kondo shared the experience of difficulties in the Asian field, and that led to the establishment of Oneteam.

When I was involved in a project with a major Thai company, 40 to 50 staffers were constant working. I noticed that it became possible to cooperate with them gradually through polite correspondence even if differences in culture and customs or business manners exist.

He continued:

The situation was similar in Indonesia and Vietnam. I experienced and learned that we can cooperate with whomever having a certain common purpose by building a trustful relationship and supported through joint activities, regardless of nationality or culture.

Importance of smartphones and Asia

After that, Sasaki joined the newly-launched Kaizen Platform, Japanese sartup behind an A/B testing platform, and charged mainly with leading business operations. There he again was faced with difficulties in implementing projects collaboratively. Sasaki elaborated:

Although the team was communicating over online tools like Slack and Qiita, it became hard to catch up afterward with the high volume of communication being exchanged while I was out on sales. While it would be no problem with desk workers, I was made awareness of issues that it would be rather hard for occupations entailing much out-of-office work or involving meetings, such as planners or salesmen.

After having been involved in various projects, Sasaki thought that only issues-oriented communications linked to specifics can match the business style of an upcoming information society as the number of staff and communication between them increase on a project.

In addition to needs for issue-based communications, Sasaki also noticed the importance of leveraging smartphones through his experience in Asia. He added:

I saw situations where several staffers had to share one desktop PC in the Asian workplace. On the other hand, the penetration rate of smartphones is very high in Asia. Therefore, I thought that the communication tool should be based on smartphones.

I had to make a move in 2015 anyhow. Because 2015 was the year when AEC (ASEAN Economic Community) was to start, with expectations that a larger number of Asian companies will expand their business beyond borders into locations overseas, I had to make a move. Under these circumstances, Oneteam offers a collaborative communication platform based on smartphones which supports improvement of business environment as well as productivity between Japanese and Southeast Asian companies.

Redevelopment of e-mail and intranet

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Oneteam’s goal is to redevelop communication tools in business areas such as the intranet or e-mail. There are some reasons why Southeast Asia is a suitable market for the purpose of replacing conventional tools. Sasaki says:

At Southeast Asian companies, the business environment has not improved well yet, for example some companies have not adopted the intranet or some employees use free mail addresses due to a high employee turnover rate. I think that Oneteam will be accepted in these Asian environment.

Oneteam plans to soon launch a profile app which enables smooth self-introduction for employees. Firstly, the app assists introduction to characters or backgrounds of members in a project, and then Oneteam is to offer a communication tool afterwards.

Many players are competing for redevelopment of communication tools. The tools have become easier to use, but still are not perfect. Let us check out in a while what Oneteam offers as solutions for users unsatisfied with conventional services.

Translated by Taijiro Takeda
Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy