HRBrain, Japan’s answer to BetterWorks, gets seed round for business goals platform

From the left: Hiro Maeda (Partner of Beenext), Hiroki Hori (CEO of Mosquitone), Soichi Tajima (Genesia Ventures)

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based Mosquitone, providing a cloud-based personnel assessment and target management platform called HRBrain, announced on Wednesday that the securement of funds from Genesia Ventures and Beenext. Details such as the amount raised, payment date, and the share ratio were not disclosed. Along with the funding, the company plans to release the official version of HRBrain, which until now they operated solely in closed beta.

According to Mosquitone’s CEO Hiroki Hori, up until now the company has been managed by funds raised from within, making this the first time for funding to come from outside.

The company was established in March of 2016, with CEO Hori having previously managed the business department of media relations at CyberAgent (TSE:4751), where he first became aware of the difficulties and inefficiencies brought about by a large number of registered members using general tools, such as Excel, to manage their targets and evaluate their personnel. The company participated in Recruit Holdings’ (TSE:6098) Tech Lab Paak accelerator in order to promote the development of their service. He noted that they improved the scope of their service through introductory tests with some 20 companies focused on Internet related business.

A screenshot of HRBrain
Image credit: Mosquitone

So, as far as a first impression, HRBrain is quite similar to SmartHR in terms of development. They specialize in the very niche range of corporate management, which until now has been handled by general tools like Excel and paper, but, “as a system the range is narrow, so general-purpose tools are troublesome.” They attack this problem with “refined usability.” There are two major points here. One point is whether they can generalize the extremely qualitative content of the disconnected personnel evaluations and target management for each company. The other is which cost to replace.

As far as the first point goes, Hori says, “We can do it.”

We’ve been able to categorize the methods of target management for each company into a number of patterns. Then we used this to draw up a goal sheet with 4 types for now (OKR, MBO,WCM=Will Can Must, 360 degree evaluation). From here on out we plan to increase this one by one every month. But, there are only about 10 types of such classifications.

The service itself is not complicated. It consists of a target management sheet for entering personal targets and a management screen for HR or a person-in-charge to evaluate. Hori and his team met with nearly 60 of these companies with disjointed evaluation management in order to make such classifications. It seems there is compatibility at the moment as a service aimed at Internet based businesses, however trying to expand into other industries became difficult with circumstances such computers not being distributed to each worker, etc.

The question, “Whose wallet are you looking to lighten?” was also answered to an extent. He added,

I suppose the wallet we’re after has a connection with HR. Take this, there is an example that the evaluation management sheet put together every six months using Excel takes one and a half months to complete. We’re getting a significant amount of hype for reducing that by half.

Pricing is based on the number of users (employees) and is charged per person, with the price changing depending on the total number. It appears the general price will be around 600 to 800 yen (about $5-$7 US) per person. As an example, take a company with 100 employees, with a simple calculation it comes out to about 60,000 to 80,000 yen (about $500-$700 US).

Whether this is cheap or expensive can be judged by whether or not the evaluation management can be firmly tied to talent management. It could be cheap so long as superior workers do not get swept away with an unmatched evaluation, but if it becomes a tool simply for improving the “operational” efficiency it may be seen as an unnecessary expense.

As I remarked above, HRBrain has a similar feel to last year’s big hit service SmartHR. On the other hand, whether or not it ends as a simple tool could depend on whether the data obtained can be efficiently reflected in management. As many companies update their personnel and goal management in April, I am interested to see the growth of HRBrain around that time.

Translated by Amanda Imasaka
Edited by Masaru Ikeda