Curama, Japan’s answer to Thumbtack, secures $36M from Nissay Capital, others

Yusuke Hamano, CEO of Minma
Image credit: Takeshi Hirano, Bridge

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based Minma (derived from ‘Minna no Market’ meaning ‘the market for everyone’ in Japanese), the Japanese startup behind an online service that matches customers with local professionals, announced today that it has raised 4 billion yen (about $36 million US) in the latest round. This comes from Nissay Capital, Globis Capital Partners, Innovation Growth Ventures (managed by Sony and Daiwa Capital Holdings), and Zenrin Datacom (a subsidiary of Japan’s largest map publisher) in funding as well as Japan Finance Corporation in loans.

The startup has been matching customers with local professionals since its launch back in 2011, currently lists over 200 types of services in categories like house cleaning, housekeeping, on-location photo shooting, home appliance installation, and renovation. As of December end, over 33,000 stores are live on the Curama marketplace where users can compare these providers by user reviews and pricing to make a choice and book it online.

Image credit: Minma

The company disclosed Nissay Capital, one of the investors participating in the latest round, has poured funds in both series A and B (in 2017) rounds. The sum of funding in past rounds are undisclosed but the company shows 909.48 million yen (about $8.3 million US) as capital stock and legal capital surplus in their corporate website as of this writing.

Minma uses the funds to increase brand awareness, develop new products, invest in relevant startups, as well as hiring and educating talents globally. The company says they have completed investing in an unnamed startup developing a chat service. Partnering with this round’s investor Zenrin Datacom, Minma plans to create a new category on the marketplace, improve functionality and user experience for store owners, and bring themselves to a higher level of marketing sophistication.

In an interview with Bridge back in 2018, Minma CEO Yusuke Hamano said he could see no noticeable competitor at that time. Looking at each of verticals close to what the marketplace lists in categories, we can find several potential competitors in a broad sense, such as Reform Guide graduating from Asahi Shimbun Media Lab’s accelerator, photographer client matchmaking startup aMi, P2P sharing economy startup Anytimes, memento disposer/pest-control firm matchmaking platform Ocomari, and recently-IPO’d Jimoty. US-based unicorn Thumbtack raised $120 million in a series H round last year.