Japan’s Clear, study notes organizer app for students, raises $1 million



See the original story in Japanese.

Serving 500,000 students around the country

Clear is a study notes organizer app and has attracted over 500,000 students in Japan. Tokyo-based Arcterus, the company behind the app, has fundraised 130 million yen (about $1 million) from Japanese system integration company Startia (TSE:3303), Dentsu Digital Fund, Korea’s BonAngels, and others. The company will use the funds to add new app functions as well as aiming to expand globally.

Students have started adapting their smartphone for their studies. Japan’s Recruit Marketing Partners recently unveiled a list of trending keywords that includes the Japanese word “sumaben” meaning studying via smartphone.


Over 3 million notes are published and shared

The Clear app allows students to publish their handwritten study notes and share them with other users. There are over 3 million published notes available on the platform so far. Clear has two main usage styles:

  1. When students get something they can’t understand at school classes, they can try to figure out by looking at notes by classmates rather than relying on Google search or study-aid books.
  2. Finding well-summarized notes to better understand materials upon preparing for exams at school.

Goichiro Arai, CEO of Arcterus, says that the Clear app aims to be a study notes version of GitHub or online recipe app Cookpad. Compared to being taught by teachers, private tutors, or study-aid books, the app helps students enrich their understanding of their studies.

The company gets feedback from students such as: “The app has motivated me to study harder,” and “It has lowered a psychological hurdle in studying.”

The app helps to connect and motivate students across the country by allowing them to share and comment on handwritten study notes.

Expanding into Southeast Asia and North America

Arcterus wants to liven up the learning field with the app while ensuring the quality and boosting the sharing of study notes. In addition to serving students in Japan, the company wants to expand into other Asian countries in 2015, followed by expansion into North and South American markets in 2016. They launched the Clear app in Thailand back in April, receiving positive responses from the market as the number of users and shared study notes have been both increasing.

In a previous interview with the team of Penpal Schools, a Texan online penpal-based studying platform that has acquired over 7 million students from more than 70 countries, I was so surprised to learn that many students feel lonely studying at school even when they study together in a classroom. Arai agreed and said that is why many students come together at a diner and study together after school.

Arai concluded:

Studying for exams is likely to make you feel lonely. In class, you need to concentrate on grasping a new concept, which can be a lonely task. By compiling an extensive database of shared study notes, we aim to help students from around the world succeed in their studies.

Translated by Chieko Frost via Mother First
Edited by Masaru Ikeda and Kurt Hanson
Proofread by “Tex” Pomeroy