Tokyo-based Photosynth, the Japanese startup developing smart lock solution Akerun, announced today that it has fundraised 450 million yen ($3.7 million) from Jafco, YJ Capital, Gaiax, and Beta Catalyst. The funds will be used to strengthen sales and engineering efforts.
Photosynch graduated from the Startup Innovator Program by Japan’s NEDO, or New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization. The program aims to create global, mega-venture companies within ten years in Japan where R&D-focused manufacturing companies are less likely to be born. Some 420 companies have applied for the program, while 14 companies have been selected to receive support from the organization. Photosynth is the first graduate from the program because startups that receive funds of more than 100 million yen ($830,000) are requested to quit.
Photosynth started shipping their flagship smart-lock solution Akerun in April. In July, the company announced a wireless data gateway device called Akerun Remote, which allows users to lock or unlock a key from a feature phone or a desktop web browser as well as the Akerun smartphone app. They also recently started a new service meeting corporate needs.
Since the July launch, the new product has attracted many businesses, mainly co-working spaces, restaurants, diners, etc. Users will be charged on a monthly basis, helping the company pile up sales through the subscription-based business model. That’s why the company will focus on acquiring business users.
The company recently introduced the handsfree unlock function, which allows users to automatically unlock a key when close to a door. Based on user feedback, they will keep improving and enhancing the functionality of the product because, which is their strength.
Photosynth is taking a lean startup approach, a rare case for a hardware startup, however it will be interesting to see how the company develops the smart lock market from here.
Translated by Masaru Ikeda
Edited by Kurt Hanson