Digital Base Capital launches proptech fund, raising from Japanese real estate gurus

Shun Sakurai, Founder of Digital Base Capital
Image credit: PropTech Japan

See the original story in Japanese.

Digital Base Capital, Japan’s first VC firm focused on the PropTech (property technology) vertical, announced it launch on Friday. The firm was founded by Shun Sakurai who established a startup community called PropTech Japan and has been acting as the Secretary General of FinTech Association of Japan. With this announcement, he’s leaving his make-a-living-job at the think tank of NTT Data to more focus on managing the VC firm and the proptech startup community.

The new firm also launches a proptech-fosucsed fund valued up to 1 billion yen (about $9.4 million US), raises funds from Yoshimo Ito, the founder of Japan’s proptech leading startup Itanji, as well as Heiwa Real Estate (TSE:8803) which is well known for owning the Tokyo Stock Exchange Building and offering properties in the Tokyo Financial District for FinTech statups under the brand of FinGate. More institutional and individual investors are expected to join but their names have not yet been disclosed.

PropTech is a coined word made of ‘property’ and ‘technology’, but Sakurai does not think PropTech is a fully convertible word of Property Technology. In his point of view, even RegTech startups aiming to tackle regulatory pain points and some Fintech startups should be included in this category. From his experience that he has long been engaged in supporing FinTech startups, Sakurai pointed out an interesting characteristic seen in this sector.

In the FinTech sector, it’s common that trends from Europe and US usually arrives in Japan 5 to 7 years later.On the contrary, Since PropTech has been just popped up anywhere on the planet, there’s little gap beween inside and outside of Japan.

In other words, PropTech startups outside Japan are experiencing the same challenge as Japanese startups, so it may be an emerging sector where Japanese startups can find business opportunities in the global market as well. According to Sakurai, there are about 200 FinTech startups in Japan while the number of PropTech startups is less than 100 now. In view of how the FinTech startup sector have been growing in the past few years, it is highly possible that more and more PropTech startups will be emerging soon.

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PropTech Japan exhibits a booth at Future PropTech 2019 in London.
Image credit: PropTech Japan

The structure of reflow of funds in the PropTech sector has been gradually formed in Japan; GA Technologies acquired Itandi after five years from the former’s launch, and Itandi poured their money into the fund this time. For your information, GA Technologies also formed an open innovation inititative called GA X-Tech Base at WeWork Iceberg in Harajuku last year. He says that WeWork- and Airbnb-like flexible environment concept which instantly makes you free from location constraint will come to the residential sector pretty soon.

He added:

The status quo of the PropTech sector is definitely different from when FinTech emerged in some points: WeWork’s presence and Softbank Vision Fund’s massive investment.

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PropTech Japan has formed a community of about 850 people from startups or large enterprises. The community plans to hood a conference on oroptech in commemoration of the launch of Digital Base Capital and its fund where about 20 up-and-coming startups deliver their pitch while one-third to half of of them are expected be invited from outside Japan. For more details, check out their websites or social media accounts.

Translated by Taijiro Takeda
Edited by Masaru Ikeda