Japan’s Aquabit Spirals secures $325K to enable online bookmarking on real objects



See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based Aquabit Spirals announced on Tuesday that it has fundraised 40 million yen (approximately $325,000) from K&P Partners in a seed round.

Since its launch back in 2009, Aquabit Spirals has been developing O2O (online to offline) solutions using NFC (near field communication) technology. The company was selected to  join the Spring 2015 Season batch of the Orange Fab Asia incubation program with its Smart Plate device which enables bookmarking on real objects using NFC-enabled IC chips. Having a unique QR code and IC chips inside, the device gives information linked with other Smart Plates through NFC-enabled / camera built-in smartphones.

By managing linked information with codes via the cloud, the Smart Plate leads the user to the information by redirecting access destination, even enabling the NFC chip campaign owners to integrally manage information via the cloud with a specialized app.

A prototype of the Smart Plate device showcased at Orange Fab Asia Demo Day. This can be put on books laid sideways at bookstores and help customers reach supplemental information on mobile.

The company was selected a Top 10 finalist in the Startup Launchpad Area competition at Echelon Thailand 2015, a startup showcase event taking place in Bangkok last week. They also recently won the Shibuya second prize in the Tokyu Accelerate Program, a startup acceleration program by Tokyu Corporation, one of Tokyo’s leading private railway companies, in association with IMJ Investment Partners. With the support of Tokyu, Aquabit Spirals will start test marketing the Smart Plate device in January of 2016.

In addition, Aquabit Spirals started providing the showrooming experience for customers at two DIY shops in Tokyo and Osaka using the device, connecting items displayed for sales there with an online storefront where customers can buy afterwards. In Bangkok, the company has placed the device at Airbnb guest rooms, aiming to drive potential customers to Travee, an online activity matching platform in Asia, and bring additional revenue for guest room owners. It can be considered as a new affiliate business model that drives customer traffic into offline retailing.

A Smart Plate device located in an Airbnb guest room in Bangkok. (Image from Travee’s Facebook timeline).

Using the latest funds, Aquabit Spirals wants to enhance the function of the device and accelerate the penetration thereof in Japan and the rest of the world, aiming to connect various location spots and physical things to the Internet.

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Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy