See the original story in Japanese.
Japan’s Recruit Holdings (TSE:6098) earlier this month held a Demo Day for the 12th batch of Tech Lab Paak, the startup accelerator based in Shibuya, Tokyo.
11 teams gave 3-minute pitches presenting their six-months’ results since joining the program. In addition, 6 teams made 1-minute pitches (1 team was absence) and thereby it became a big pitch event totaling 17 teams.
Below, we introduce what kind of services were or are going to be born out from Tech Lab Paak, with a focus on prizewinners. The following were judges for the pitch competition.
- Yohei Sawayama (Managing Partner, 500 Startups Japan)
- Madoka Sawa (Director, Microsoft Technology Lab., Microsoft Japan)
- Ken Nishimura (Journalist / ex. Editor-in-Chief, TechCrunch Japan)
- Goushi Yamaguchi (COO, ProtoStar)
- Hiroshi Hata (Principal Manager of Startup Business Development Department , Amazon Web Service)
- Ayumi Iwamoto (Chief, Tech Lab Paak)
Tech Lab Paak has been managed for three and a half years since its launch in December of 2014, but it is going to be closed at the end of June. The accelerator program is also scheduled to be terminated with this 12th batch. Yoichi Aso, the first head of the venue and the program, had left Recruit this April and started two business of Alpha Drive and Genome Clinic.
Tech Lab Paak Award winner: Residential facility in space by Outsense
Supplemental prize: AppleStore gift cards worth 30,000 yen
Outsense is developing technologies for constructing residential facility in space utilizing three-dimensional developable structure like Origami (Japanese folding papercraft). As the space development moves ahead globally and manned activities on the moon are expected to begin in around 2030, the team tackles designing of residential facility, mockup creation or business development.
Unlike the conventional residential facilities on the moon, Outsense devised a concept of a roofed house design and is applying for a patent on that technology. The team has been improving functions of the facility not only for the maintenance of life but also for a space to live a comfortable life.
Microsoft Award winner: Kazamidori
Supplemental prize: king crab 1.5kg
Kazamidori offers solutions for general problems related to infant education. To provide an environment where anyone can receive a proper educational opportunity regardless of birth or background, the team takes on research and development of a data-driven and socially implementable infant education method. The team approaches to infant education from three angles: giving advice about caring of children domestically, improving work efficiency at nursery schools or kindergartens and reforming social systems through lobbying of governmental authorities. The research part is planned to be conducted as a non-profit organization (NPO) set apart from its main body of business.
Kazamidori is going to launch an infant educational media soon. In the end, the team plans to manage its own nursery school bringing together the knowledge acquired from all business sectors but thinks it is not easy to achieve the exit in its all business sectors at once due to the size of the business theme ranging over various area, so that it is considering a way to pay return to investors as exiting each business one by one.
500 Startups Japan Award: TOLETTA by Hachitama
Supplemental prize: Matsusaka beef and Kobe beef set
Hachitama develops Toletta, the IoT (Internet of Things) toilet for cat capable of checking up urologic diseases. It cleans cat excrement automatically, identifies each cat by image recognition and records usage information including weight, urine quantity or urination / defecation frequency. When any abnormal findings are detected, the information will be sent to their owners’ app. The team monetizes its service based on three factors: device / smartphone app, periodic purchase of recognized organic cat food and online consultation.
The most common cause of cats’ death is kidney failure and Hachitama aims to prolong cats’ lifespan by enabling the owners to realize their cats’ initial symptoms such as polyuria or weight loss. Coincidentally, Sharp had also recently unveiled a similar smart cat toilet product, but Hachitama aims to maintain priority by establishing diversified business strategy leveraging cooperation with pet food / insurance companies and database about cats / owners.
Hachitama was founded in 2015 (the company name was Pet Board Healthcare then). It succeeded in a crowdfunding campaign at Green Funding and was subsequently chosen for Morinaga Accelerator 2016 which is managed / supported by 01booster and Tokyo Accelerator which is managed by Dai-ichi Kangyo Credit Cooperative. After that, the team raised a total of 40 million yen (about $380,000) from Morinaga, Kanshin Mirai Fund (managed by Dai-ichi Kangyo Credit Cooperative), Actcall and 01booster, in addition to obtaining the subordinated loan from Japan Finance Corporation. The team won the Monozukuri Hardware Cup competition in March and was recently invited to the Global Hardware Cup 2018 competition in Pittsburgh as a finalist.
ProtoStar Award / Audience Award winner: Kimakuri by BloomScheme
Supplemental prizes: pair of meal tickets of Cuisine[s] Michel Troisgros / Champagne Taittinger 6,000 ml
BloomSheme develops a virtual try-on service named Kimakuri. It solves fashion users’ worries that they do not know whether clothes suit their faces or body types just by seeing magazine photos and it is bothersome to go shop to try them on but takes time to order the clothes from e-commerce websites.
On Kimakuri, users upload their face photos and input body type data in advance. The face photos are translated into 3D model and it shows a try-on image in the well-fitted style to the body type with each user’s face when a user chooses any clothes. The team plans to support single item changing in an outfit and 360-degree imaging in the future.
Users can share try-on images on social network services and can access e-commerce sites directly from Kimakuri allowing them to purchase the items. The team allows end-users to use the service for free and is considering monetization by charging fashion operators for account use, coordinate listing fee or website guidance fee. The team also considers adding a coordinate suggestion by a professional stylist as a premium function in the future. The team is applying for a patent for the system and plans to launch the closed beta at the end of June.
Nishimura Award winner: Ostrich antibody food science by VitaLonga
Supplemental prize: three meal tickets at boat-style restaurant (Yakatabune)
VitaLonga is a nutraceuticals (nutrition+pharmaceuticals) startup focusing on technology to use antibodies acquired from ostriches into food. The ostrich antibodies are much cheaper, resident to heat and stable to acid / alkali than general antibodies, so that they can be easily to added to food. By introducing ostrich antibodies against pollen allergen or influenza virus into food, various disease preventing effects can be expected.
Since antibodies delivered via invasive methods are considered as drugs, clinical trials are required to be given marketing approval. On the other hand, since food comprising antibodies are treated as additives which act only from taking by mouth until discharging from the body, the market introduction may be easier. The antibodies are separated from ostrich egg york and has low possibility of causing side effects. The team begins with the food additives and has been considering the application to health functional food or pharmaceuticals in the future.
AWS Award winner: AI for security camera analysis by VAAK
Supplemental prize: Amazon gift cards worth 30,000 yen
VAAK develops crime prevention solution analyzing security camera images by AI (artificial intelligence). The total damage due to shoplifting is estimated to be 13 trillion yen (about $120 billion) in the world and 500 billion yen (about $4.5 billion) in Japan annually at least, and it is hard to fully stop just by introducing watchdog persons or prevention gates. The team utilizes existing security cameras or video recorders to provide cheap and efficient crime prevention measures.
This system analyzes shop visitors’ behavior scenario based on past crime data and shop visiting patterns such as their severe facial expression or furtive manner and notifies shop managers that shoplifting is likely to happen 60 seconds before that happens. The system is applicable to suspicious person countermeasure or accident prevention, as well as to automatic settlement service without the cashier using the same technology. VAAK announced it had raised 50 million yen (about $450,000) from an undisclosed venture capital this April.
Translated by Taijiro Takeda
Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy