Japan’s analytics startup Plaid snags $25M to help companies refine customer experience

Plaid CEO Kenta Kurahashi

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based Plaid, the Japanese startup offering a real-time data analysis of website visitors called Karte, announced last week that it has secured funding from Femto Partners, Eight Roads Ventures Japan, Mitsui & Co., Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Venture Capital, SMBC Venture Capital, Mizuho Capital, Mitsubishi UFJ Capital, and others.

Combining funds through the investment aforementioned with loans from Mizuho Bank and other financial institutions, the company secured about 2.7 billion yen (around $25M US) at this time. Details including stock holding ratios were not disclosed. The latest announcement means that the company has thus far raised 3.4 billion yen (about $32M) in total, including previous funds from Femto Growth Capital and Eight Roads Ventures Japan.

Plaid employs 90 people when all contract forms are included. Since its launch back in March of 2015, Karte had been introduced to 1,430 companies by March of 2017. The number of user companies has been undisclosed since the third year after the launch; instead, the company released the cumulative number of users analyzed by the service, which is 2.2 billion. Also, since around half of the companies introducing Karte are commerce enterprises, the company revealed that the total transactions dealt with through the platform was 548 billion yen (nearly $5.1B US). Furthermore, as confirmed by CEO Kenta Kurahashi, this total reflects the total value of products actually purchased after users visit the websites of companies using Karte.

According to the press release, the company also achieved a monthly surplus in March of 2017, and the funds raised this time will be used mainly for marketing, strengthening recruitment for all positions, and overseas service expansion.

Turning into customer experience platform

In the past, Karte used access analysis and marketing-related tools to create simple figures expressed as “1 PV (page views)” and “1 UU (unique users)” and use them as actual visiting opportunities, and opened up the category of “better taking care of online customers” to respond to this while analyzing finer actions.

In its third year the company will now use these existing concepts to provide a new “CX Platform (customer experience platform)” that is a more customer-centered marketing analytics service. Kurahashi explains the difference between Karte and other marketing tools by relating that the total use distribution among companies using Karte becomes larger.

(When talking about companies using Karte) Karte makes people visible, so it can take on the customer’s perspective, what they want, who they want to buy it, and why they want it. Many of the conventional tools (for raising sales and setting indicators) are corporate-oriented, and there is nothing to prompt action by understanding the user’s voice.

Every year since 2011 the Chief Marketing Technologist Blog has been creating and publishing a marketing chaos map (see below), and as the map shows, the number of available tools continues to increase every year. While many claim to automate, there are times when companies must pay high-cost consulting fees to actually introduce the tools. Kurahashi also said, “It’s strange that you have to give it all you’ve got to master them,” but that is the exact world-view.

From Chief Marketing Technologist Blog. Click to enlarge.

Karte is based on the idea of returning marketing to the customer’s viewpoint, which must first be realized by thoroughly visualizing the customers who are hard to see on the web. The company takes what is natural for customer service in spaces with physical stores and brings it to the web. The increase in companies using Karte and the total amount of distribution, as well as the number of users analyzed, demonstrates that this idea is accepted.

Karte has undergone a great renewal in April, and in particular the visualization of user behavior in real time has become more useful. The company introduced a score function this time which measures users’ experiences as satisfactory and unsatisfactory, and adds visibility that allows them to bring forward the users who need support.

Additionally, up to now the company has visualized each user who visited a site as 1 UU on a timeline, and with the renewal it has strengthened this function by introducing mirroring capabilities that allow administrators to see which site flow lines the user actually traced. With this, it has become possible to judge at a glance when, where, and in which situation the user took action.

Kurahashi creates a customer-centered analysis culture through these renewals and aims to acquire and expand Plaid’s own positioning.

Translated by Amanda Imasaka
Edited by Masaru Ikeda