Japan’s EXest, inbound travel promoting startup, secures $470K in pre-series A round

Yukihiro Nakabayasihi (CEO, EXest), Tomoko Deguchi (Marketing, EXest)
Image credit: EXtest

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based inbound travel promotion startup EXest announced on Tuesday that it has raised 50 million yen (about $470K US) from Mizuho Capital, SMBC Venture Capital, Mitsubishi UFJ Capital, Hidekazu Watanabe (CEO of Concord Executive Group) and TV Shin-Hiroshima. The company claims it will use the funds to strengthen product design, improve of user interface and experience, in addition to extending media reach.

EXest was founded back in December of 2016 by Yukihiro Nakabayashi, who previously worked for Hiroshima TV and video creation startup Viibar. In conjunction with EXest, he recently founded a sales support agency called Pool & Moon.


The company provides the WOW U platform that connects inbound visitors to Japan with licensed interpreters and tour guides in addition to WOWU-media offering potential visitors to Japan with video clips introducing must-visit spots and popular local souvenirs on Facebook. To create these video clips, WOWU-media gets license and uses video footage from local TV broadcasters across Japan, so that EXest can obtain high quality materials for affordable cost while the broadcasters get additional revenue stream by licensing their video footage asset. It doesn’t seem like WOWU-media can monetize themselves but works as an effective marketing engine to drive potential inbound visitors to the WOW U matching platform.


Based on a partnership with Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance, EXest has has been insuring their interpreters and tour guides to prepare for a possible accident at work since last month. In addition, the company has been applying traveler insurance to all visitors who have agreed to tour with these guides. Since its launch back in the beginning of this year, WOWU-media has partnered with 20 local TV Stations all across Japan and has surpassed an accumulated 1.5 million monthly video plays. Going forward, the company aims to partner with more than 50 TV stations across the country by April of this year.

Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy