Japan’s influencer marketing startup BitStar expands into Greater China, Southeast Asia

BitStar CEO Taku Watanabe
Image credit: Masaru Ikeda

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based startup BitStar, the company behind influencer support platform under the same name and YouTuber production E-DGE, announced earlier this month that it has partnered with Fun Japan Communications (Fun! Japan for short) to start offering promotion services targeting the Greater China and Southeast Asian markets.

Fun! Japan is an online community for “Japan freaks” consisting of 4.4 million followers and 760,000 members living in the Asian market. It aims to help Japanese companies expand into Asia or invite more visitors from the region by developing touchpoints with consumers, measuring the performance of online promotional activities,or building up a long-term relationship with locals. The partnership with Fun! Japan will allow BitStar to offer their clients looking into these markets by helping them launch their campaigns with performance measurement.

Some of our readers may recall that we covered BitStar (known as Bizcast at that time) in September of 2015 for the first time. But it seems like there have been many changes in the influencer marketing industry since then, gradually but drastically.

TV broadcasters initially tended to rival online video services like YouTube due to fears that the latter may take disposable time from consumers (for enjoying watching TV shows). But since data covering consumer reactions is not enough with conventional media companies, there’s an increasing number of them partnering or integrating with emerging services including influencer marketing. Taku Watanabe, CEO and Founder of BitStar, thinks a service provider offering three functions at a time: media creation, production and ad agency — all of which used to be separately operated but vertically integrated in the past — can eventually win the game.

Because of such reasons, it seems like BitStar is diversifying its business lines. In addition to online fan club service Costar, quantitative analysis platform Influencer Power Ranking (IPR) and multichannel network for virtual YouTubers, the company is now planning to produce new products in partnership with brand communities, fan communities and TV broadcasters. Although online video media has been getting extremely popular in recent years, if a media company is accepted by an audience in design or format, they are likely to be imitated later on. This is why BitStar thinks it’s very important to have more companies work together.

Comprising of 75 employees as of March of 2018, BitStar raised an undisclosed sum of seed round funding from East Ventures back in 2014, estimated several million US dollars in a series A round from Colopl back in August of 2016, and about $2.7 million in a series B round from Global Brain back in July of 2017, in addition to an undisclosed sum from TBS Innovation Partners and ABC Dream Ventures — investment arms of leading Japanese broadcasters respectively — back in October of 2017.

Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy