See the original story in Japanese.
Japanese startup Cinnamon, developing a document reading engine for “white collar” businesses, announced on Monday that it has secured an undisclosed sum of investment. Participating investors are MT Partners (led by angel investor Makoto Takano), Monex Ventures, Vector, RPA Holdings, and four angel investors: Toru Shimada (former Rakuten vice president), Mamoru Taniya (CEO and President of Asuka Asset Management), Akihiko Mori (Renova CFO), and Kazuhiro Ishikura (3Minute CFO).
Miku Hirano, who co-founded Naked Technology and then sold it to Japanese internet giant Mixi, established the company in 2016. Previously referred to as Spicy Cinnamon, the company developed the photo sharing apps “Seconds” and “PicChat”, but then changed its business model from targeting consumers to targeting businesses. The key members of Spicy Cinnamon’s lineup are still playing for the team, but the corporate body has been revised, so it is not clear whether the term “pivot” applies or not.
The company’s main focus is the RPA (robotics process automation) class 2 solution Flax Scanner, which uses the document reading engine “Cinnamon AI” also developed by the company. Instead of simple OCR (optical character recognition), the Convolutional Neural Network (CNN), which is one type of deep learning, finally achieves accurate document reading with a precision rate of 99% or more. The biggest feature is not only the document reading, but also a system that can understand the context of the document and capture information in a semantic manner that databases and other systems can easily handle.
Specific use cases include contracts, resumes, sales progress reports, medical charts, handwritten application forms, real estate property information, receipts, etc. In particular, it is expected to be utilized in the fields of finance and insurance where paper documents are abundant, and it set the general goals of quadrupling business speed and cutting costs to a quarter.
In addition to Flax Scanner, Cinnamon has also begun to develop and provide other AI solutions such as Lapis Engine, which matches users and products, and the chatbot Scuro Bot. Cinnamon’s operation maintains the same network from its Spicy Cinnamon days: business development and sales are mainly conducted in Japan and Singapore, whereas most of the system development, including AI technology, is done in Vietnam.
While it is said that it is difficult to hire AI engineers in Southeast Asia, Cinnamon CTO Hajime Hotta, who also serves as a mentor for AI startup specialized accelerator Zeroth.AI, himself went to Vietnam, gathered students showing high potential from the top three universities, and successfully trained the AI engineers through a 6 month internship program. In addition to strengthening the basic technology and UI of the AI products, the funds raised this time appear to be going towards strengthening the organizational structure in Vietnam and Japan.
In the same field, serial entrepreneur Changsoo Lee from Korea, who exited from his mobile game analytics startup called 5Rocks, founded Allganize to develop an automated system for businesses in Silicon Valley through machine learning, and raised 1 million dollars last November from the KDDI Open Innovation Fund.
Translated by Amanda Imasaka
Edited by Masaru Ikeda