Japan Foodie raises $9.2M to help foreign visitors connect with more local attractions

Japan Foodie
Image credit: Japan Foodie

See the original story in Japanese.

Japan Foodie, the Tokyo startup offering a mobile app for international visitors to Japan, announced on Monday that it has secured a total of 1.01 billion yen (almost $9.2 million US) in the latest round led by Norinchukin Bank, the Japanese state-run cooperative bank for developing agriculture and forestry businesses.

This follows the company’s pre-series A round back in June when they fundraised 130 million yen (about $1.2 million US) from several investors including Ikuo Nishioka (President of Innovation Research Laboratory, formerly Chairman of Intel Japan), Xiaohang Yuan (Partner at MS Capital), Kotaro Chiba (renowned angel investor), Naoki Shimada (CEO of P&E Directions), Yusuke Tanaka (Executive Officer at Yahoo Japan, Chairman of Cross C), as well as Legend Partners. The latest funding is estimated as a series A round, and it appears that multiple existing angel investors also participated in this round.

Image credit: Masaru Ikeda

In a nutshell, Japan Foodie provides the following three functions for international visitors through a mobile app under the same name.

  • Media: Introducing carefully selected eating and drinking establishments in Japan
  • Reservation: Allowing users to make reservations and advance payments in 4 languages
  • Mobile payments: Supporting 15 different QR code-based and NFC-based mobile payments

In addition to attracting customers, it has the ability to prevent no-shows, as well as collect consumer behavior data from users along with location data and construct a database that effectively guides customers to establishments and realizes successful promotional campaigns for restaurants.

Pitching at the Tokyo Star Bank’s Foreign Entrepreneur Business Contest’s Demo Day earlier this month
Image credit: Masaru Ikeda

The company recently participated in Tokyo Star Bank’s Foreign Entrepreneur Business Contest’s Demo Day where it revealed that in addition to serving restaurants, it will expand the business into other areas such as transportation, accommodation, shopping, and activities resulting in the one stop service for the entire inbound tourism industry. In the future, with the rise in inbound tourism and the prospective visitors to the 2020 Olympics, the company can expect to see an even larger increase in users.

Japan Foodie was selected to participate in the acceleration course of the JR East Railway Company’s Acceleration Program last year. Additionally, it was adopted into the Tokyo Metro Accelerator 2017 run by Creww, during its field trial the company succeeded in attracting inbound tourists from subway stations to restaurants, followed by winning the Alliance Award at Keikyu Accelerator 2018 run by 01Booster.

Translated by Amanda Imasaka
Edited by Masaru Ikeda