AnyMind Group acquires Tokyo-based cross-border marketing firm Engawa

From left: AnyMind Group CEO Kosuke Sogo, Engawa CEO Takanobu Ushiyama
Image credit: Masaru Ikeda

See the original story in Japanese.

AnyMind Group (previously known as AdAsia Holdings), the startup developing and offering AI-based marketing solutions in Japan and other Asian countries, announced on Friday that it will take a full stake in cross-border marketing company Engawa, a subsidiary of Japanese PR and marketing firm Sunny Side Up (TSE: 2180). The price of the acquisition is not disclosed. Upon this, Engawa’s president and CEO Takanobu Ushiyama join the board of directors of AnyMind’s Japanese subsidiary AnyMind Japan. For Anymind, this will be the seven startup acquisition.

Engawa was established in 2015 as a wholly owned subsidiary of Sunny Side Up, and then secured funding form Japanese ad production company TYO (subsequently merged with other ad production company AOI Pro. back in 2017). Engawa has been consisted of the team of Tokyo Weekender, an English-language news publication founded back in 1970, and the members from Sunny Side Up. The company has been helping SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) rooted in local regions through partnership with local governments across Japan. According to Japanese company database Initial, Engawa was valued at 680 million yen (about $6 million) as of the post-series A round back in September of 2018.

In August 2019, AnyMind established a joint venture and Asia-focused influencer marketing agency called AnyUp with Sunny Side Up’s subsidiary Sunny Side Partners. AnyMind says potential synergies in business and human resources encouraged them to acquire Engawa. For the time being, it is expected that the acquisition will help AnyMind better reach their solutions to Engawa’s more than 700 clients such as small manufacturers and local producers across the country.

In an interview with Bridge, Engawa’s Ushiyama says,

When we think about how to maximize the potential for business growth in cross-border marketing, we believe that AnyMind is an ideal partner because of its huge digital assets. Since the further growth of Engawa is beneficial to our former parent company Sunny Side Up, the acquisition talks went went smoothly.

Kosuke Sogo, CEO of AnyMind, added,

AnyMind has a growing client base among large enterprises, but we have not yet been able to reach out to local governments and manufacturers in Japan where you will typically need a long-term and face-to-face-based sales effort. Engawa has many clients from small manufacturers and local producers across the country, which is extremely attractive for us.

In the field of influencer marketing, both AnyMind and Engawa have their own influencer network in Southeast Asia and China, respectively, and will be able to operate them in an integrated manner and add them to each other’s client proposal menus. AnyMind Japan, the Japanese subsidiary of AnyMind, has more than 100 employees, and Ushiyama’s addition to AnyMind Japan’s board of two managing directors (CEO Sogo plus Junki Kitajima, CEO of Grove, whose company was acquired by AnyMind earlier last year) is expected to strengthen the management structure.

Last year, AnyMind launched its out-of-home (OOH) ad business by rolling out digital signage across Tokyo’s Haneda International Airport, which will be the first milestone to build a network of digital signage in regional airports across the country. In view of helping strengthen the promotion and marketing solutions for local companies through Engawa, the expansion of this digital signage ad network all across regional airports in Japan will be also a tail wind for both companies.