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StarBurst is the Tokyo-based seed accelerator managed by ProtoStar. The accelerator held its 5th Demo Day in Tokyo in late August, and eight teams gave pitches in the event.
According to Yusuke Kurishima, CCO of ProtoStar, the total number of startups turned out from the accelerator is 114 (it does not match the number of teams that gave pitches in the past Demo Days) and the total amount that they have funraised is 7.62 billion yen (about $68 million) as of August 25th.
This article introduces the services and the pitch contents of the eight teams including prize winners. The judges for the pitch competition were as follows. The sponsor prizes were given based on each company’s judgment result.
- Tetujiro Nakagaki, Draper Nexus Ventures
- Yukihiro Yoshida, Island Crea / Outside Director of Prototar
- Goushi Yamaguchi, COO of Protostar
Top Prize / Awesome Award by Framgia / Ernst & Young ShinNihon Award: Smasell by Wefabrik
- Amazon gift card worth 30,000 yen by ProtoStar
- Comlimientary invitation to Hanoi, Vietnam by Framgia
- Free use right for 3 months of EY E-learning service by Ernst & Young ShinNihon
Wefabrik provides Smasell, the B2B (business to business) trading platform for dead stock of apparel products. It allows purchasers to buy products at lower prices than market prices and exhibitors to reduce the disposal cost without asking industrial waste disposers. In the world, 23 billion deadstock wears are disposed annually, and the team aims to solve the cost / time / environmental load problems through the reduction of the disposal amount. As merits of B2B service, purchasers can demand samples for exhibitors or negotiate the price on the platform.
Since launch back in summer of 2017, the number of registered business operators has exceeded 1,500 including major apparel makers, general merchandise stores, discount stores and department stores. The platform allows quick purchase as well as payment by introducing a mega-bank’s escrow service and has been establishing a global logistics scheme jointly with a major distribution company to support cross-border trading. The team aims to raise some 500 million yen (about $4.5 million) by next February and has been looking for local agencies as its business support area to expand into.
2nd Place / Net Protections Award: Alice.style by PeaceTecLab
- Amazon gift card worth 10,000 yen by ProtoStar
- Use right of account service including NP Late Payment free of fixed charge By Net Protections
PeaceTecLab develops the C2C (commerce to commerce) sharing platform Alice.style, which allows individual / enterprise users to lend out products to individual users and carries out matching optimization based on its own algorithm. The team is led by Rieko Muramoto, who served Jiji Press and held various positions such as professor, School of Business Administration at Senshu University or Chairperson of Gala, and after that involved in the foundation of the video distribution service BeeTV at Avex Digital. Hitomi Sato, Muramoto’s colleague at BeeTV, was appointed COO of the team.
Alice.style links a borrower to a lender having a certain product to provide use experience without owning it in various situations: to experience a product which a borrower pressed the like switch on SNS, to experience a premium product before purchase, or to lease bulky product which cannot be used every day. Enterprise users can also use the platform as a channel to increase their business opportunity by making consumers to recognize and purchase their products. This service targets female in 20 to 40, and the team plans to expand its business nature into various style such as the subscription rental or the household appliance lease service in the future.
3rd Place / 31 Ventures Award: BeLiving by Tokyo Hearth
- Amazon gift card worth 10,000 yen by ProtoStar
- 10 tickets of Art Aquarium 2018 by 31 Ventures
The rate of vacancy of rental houses in Tokyo is 34.3% (according to real estate research company TAS), while 39.3% of rental house owners refuse foreigner move-ins. There are some background factors with this gap: differences in language or culture, absence of guarantor in Japan, need of contract / payment based on paper document, or lack of furnished apartment. BeLiving, the apartment rental platform developed by Tokyo Hearth, enables foreigners living in or visiting Japan to rent houses easily and provides owners to improve their occupancy rate.
Utilizing the Explanation of Important Matters Using IT related to leasing transactions, the service started full-scale operation in Japan last year, BeLiving lowering the hurdle of rent contract for foreigners by providing various functions such as customer collection online, online guarantee (guaranteed by Tokyo Hearth) and interview recordings with translation.
The team took the market-in type approach which is the merchandise design based on a concept of ideal living style, not the product-out type launching products to meet the existing demand, and therefore their renovated share-house or community space also gained popularity.
The team has been conducting PoC (proof of concept) with Daito Trust Construction and creating a community space within a Nomura Securities-owned building in Shinjuku Ward after won the Demo Day of the Nomura’s accelerator program VOYAGER 2nd batch.
ENTX Award: Spoby by CuvEyes
- mora card worth 10,000 yen and ENTX T-shirts
CuvEyes focuses on the synergy of healthcare and entertainment, aiming to solve health problems targeting consumers, as well as management problems targeting government / enterprises, plus social problems.
This February, the team launched Spoby, the app allowing users to be sponsored by enterprises through gamificated exercise, directed at user’s performance itself without common advertisement insertion of sports products using celebrities. The app was ranked first of the free app ranking of AppStore twice.
In Spoby, users can acquire the ‘sweat jewel’ like sapphire / ruby / emerald / crystal according to exercise quantity or type, recognized by acceleration sensor and GPS of their smartphone. The enterprise users wanting to promote their products can set the sweat jewel conditions for rewards to be satisfied according to their targeting user layer. When a user satisfies the condition, enterprise user pays 500 yen ($4.5)per person as sponsorship fee.
The app supports a function to create news featuring users themselves. Its sponsors currently include Suntory, Kao, Keihan Electric Railway, JINS, Nestle, JTB and Chinese restaurant chain Osaka Osho.
IBM BlueHub Award: SpaceR by SpaceR
- free use right of IBM Cloud by IBM BlueHub
SpaceR develops an connected locker for delivery use unlockable by smartphone. Conventional smart lockers require long deprecation period due to the high cost, so that they are installed at limited spots such as stationfronts. The spread of open-type delivery boxes which can be used by multiple transportation companies has not been advancing well in Japan due to the cost and specification limitations also. SpaceR approaches these problems from the aspect of IoT (Internet of Things) introduction for lockers.
Users can use this IoT locker for free for the first two hours and be charged 240 yen ($2.1) every 6 hours, and the revenue is shared among landowner, SPACER and maintenance operator. If private shops installed the locker at storefront, they can transfer products outside business hours, so that improvement of convenience and sales can be expected in addition to the usage fee. The team has been conducting PoC at Tokyo Nihonbashi Tower, Central Library of Kinki University, Chiba University Hospital and Soshigaya Okura Shopping Street, cultivating new installment spots.
Audience Award: Tlunch by Mellow
- Amazon Echo by Amazon Web Services
Tlunch is the food truck platform to match truck owners with shop setting up places such as vacant space of buildings. The platform ties up with owners of 80 buildings located in Roppongi, Akasaka or Yokohama, and 400 food trucks had used it. It is troublesome for truck owners to negotiate with each building owner for shop set-up, and Tlunch carries out all of the processes on behalf.
Tlunch charges 15% of the sales to food trucks as commission fee, and 5% will be paid to building owners. Tlunch arranges different food trucks at the same place each day of a week to avoid users’ boring, and also provides sales analysis / shop setting management system or customer collection app to truck owners. As a result, it achieved 144% growth rate of the sales for each food truck compared with the previous year.
Tlunch aims to diversify its business by expanding the service coverage to the nail salon or market field other than food, and has started providing trucks with massage service since this July. The team won the startup catapult of ICC Summit Fukuoka 2018 held this February.
The following two teams were highly evaluated by the judges and the audience but unfortunately missed prizes.
Shuuumatu-Worker by Shuuumatu-Worker
Shuuumatu-Worker is the staff agency service for side business workers who work 10 to 15 hours in a week. As the Japanese social situation promoting the parallel career or the work style reform provided tailwind for the service, the number of registered users is 3,500 and the cumulative number of clients reached 121 since its launch in July of 2017.
On the other hand, the one-year operation of the service focusing on side business revealed some problems: workers’ skills in main job are sometimes not well-received in side business, motivation management is important due to the limitation of work time, or company users lack know-how of the side business worker management. The team is going to publish ‘guidance for utilization of side business workers having immediate fighting strength’ summarizing the acquired know-hows.
Souco by Souco
Enterprises generally stock a certain amount of products in their own storage to handle with the gap of supply and demand or quick delivery, but the demand of products changes significantly due to the influences of season, climate, or social situation. When the amount of stock exceeded the storage capacity, enterprises have to rent external storages but need to inquire about each storage specifications by telephone and exchange documents concerning contract or cost estimation. In addition, there are many limitations in the use condition of each storage such as minimum use period, minimum use area or payment of deposit.
Souco built an online database of storages which matches storage lenders and borrowers. It simplified all required processes and enabled to start using storage easily within three days from application at the shortest even in short-term / small-lot use. Additionally, it reduced the rental cost by an average of 30% by introducing flexible contract content. Since its launch, the total area of dealt storage exceeded 200,000 tsubo (about 660,000 square meters) and the number of registered user companies is almost reaching 100. The team aims for business development in China and ASEAN countries in the future.
Translated by Taijiro Takeda
Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy