Zeals is an equity-method affiliate of Freakout Holdings (TSE: 6094) and has developed AI-powered marketing bots for e-commerce companies and others. The company announced on Thursday that it has secured 5 billion yen (over $38 million US) in its latest round. Participating investors are the Japanese government-backed JIC Venture Growth Investments, Z Venture Capital, Japan Post Capital, and Salesforce Ventures. The sum includes debt financing from Mizuho nank and Mitsui UFJ Bank.
Zeals was founded in April of 2014 with developing conversational robot software as its core business. In May of 2017, the company officially launched the Fanp chatbot management tool, but later pivoted to interactive advertising using chatbots. Prior to the latest round, they secured a seed round in January of 2015, a Series A round in May of 2017, a Series B round in January of 2018, an extended Series B round in April of 2019, and 1.8 billion yen in April of 2021. The latest round brought their funding sum up to date to over 7.65 billion yen (over $59 million US) including debt.
Zeals’ solution allows users to purchase products while conversing with a chatbot, and has been introduced to approximately 400 companies with a total of 4.3 million end users, which has contributed to analyzing 450 million conversation data sets (as of March of 2021). Leveraging the asset of these data sets, it enables user-oriented communication and supports clients’ marketing strategies.
Zeals’ IPO filing application to the Tokyo Stock Exchange Mothers was approved in November, however, the company soon postponed listing procedures due to deteriorating funding trends resulting from changes in U.S. monetary policy, IPO market trends, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The company said it would make a new decision on when to resume the procedures after assessing trends.
In his recent “Note” post, Masahiro Shimizu, founder and CEO of Zeals, revealed that the company’s team has tripled in size from before the COVID-19 pandemic to about 300 people, including about 100 engineers, 80% of whom are foreigners. The company plans to focus on product development, NLG (natural language generation) development, and global expansion, aiming to deliver chatbot-based commerce solutions to 100 million monthly active users by 2030.