Japan’s Arcterus wins Global EdTech Startup Awards with study notes organizer app Clear

Arcterus CEO Goichiro Arai receives the award at GESAwards 2017 Global Finals in London.
Image credit: MindCET

See the original story in Japanese.

The Global EdTech Startup Awards (GESA) is the world’s largest pitch completion focused on EdTech startups whose global finals event annually take place in London. Led by Israeli EdTech startup incubator MindCET, the initiative was jointly founded by European Union’s EdTech incubator Open Education Challenge and EdTech UK.

Tokyo-based Arcterus, the Japanese startup behind study notes organizer app Clear, won the Japanese regional preliminary in December, and then won the 4th GESA world finals in London last week. The Arcterus team won the awards for the first time as a Japanese startup followed by the runner-up, Kenya’s mobile learning management platform M-Shule, and the 3rd place winner, India’s MentorMind, which helps students work on real-time work situations in the form of challenges put forth by companies.

GESAwards 2017 Global Finalists
Image credit: MindCET

This year’s GESA has received 600 2,000 applications from more than 70 countries and regions around the world. 18 teams including Arcterus were chosen as global finalists this year while many of the judges came from EdTech-focused VC firms and other education-related organizations in eight countries. I’m so impressed that a Japanese startup won the competition where Asian teams had a less strong presence. As winner awards from the competition organizer, Arcterus will receive support for their global expansion efforts in the educational ecosystem plus for public relations, in addition to mentorship and business assistance opportunities.

The Clear app has been especially attracting users in Asian markets including Japan where classmates and friends have a culture of teaching and helping each others while their entrance exams are fiercely competitive. Winning at the Western community-based competition in Europe will definitely help them expand beyond the Asian region. Arcterus CEO Goichiro Arai understood there could be a possibility of meeting the demand of the app in UK, France and Russia given how students in these markets may think in line with the GESA event attendee perspective while the company’s judgment for expansion will be based on a market survey.

Attendees at GESAwards 2017 Global Finals in London
Image credit: EduLab

Since its launch four years ago, the app has acquired over 1.6 million downloads in the Asian region including more than 1.2 downloads in Japan alone. Considering the 7 million population of middle and high school students in Japan, 1 out of 2 students there use Clear. In addition, the company is offering the service in Thailand, Taiwan, China, Indonesia and Malaysia while planning to expand into Brazil, India and Vietnam after this year.

Besides Clear, Arcterus is handling a teaching tool for tutor school named Caiz or a individual tutoring cram school in the residential area of Ota City, Tokyo named Shiki Gakuin. The company raised about 130 million yen (about $1.05 million) from Startia (TSE:3393) and other companies in July of 2015, followed by securing 110 million yen ($1 million) series B round funding from The Asahi Gakusei Shimbun and Z-kai in 2016. They recently partner with Yoyogi Seminar Education Research Institute, the R&D arm of Japan’s leading cram school chain, to offer them with ClearS, a lecture support tool optimized for educational organizations.

Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy

Goichiro Arai with his commemorative shield at GESAwards 2017 Global Finals
Image credit: EduLab