THE BRIDGE

Takeshi Hirano

Takeshi Hirano

Takeshi is a Japanese tech blogger and a co-founder of The Bridge, and is also the CEO for bootupAsia, Inc. He started his career as a web designer.

Articles

Japan EdTech startup Atama Plus secures $46M+ series B round for global expansion

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See the original story in Japanese. Atama Plus, the Japanese startup offering AI-based learning materials for cram schools under the same name, announced Wednesday that it has fundraised about 5 billion yen (about $46.4 million US) in a series B round. In addition to existing investors such as DCM Ventures and JAFCO Group, participating investors include the Singapore Government-backed Temasek Holdings’ Pavilion Capital and US-based T. Rowe Price. This has brought the company’s funding sum to date up to about 8.2 billion yen (about $74.6 million). The learning platform allows users to shorten the time to acquire basic academic skills. It can detect where students are likely to get stuck during learning, so it can teach the teacher when they are likely to get stuck, enabling precise and efficient coaching. It is being used in more than 2,500 classrooms, including Japanese notable cram school chains like the Sundai Group and the Z-kai Group, as it is expected to have a high learning effect. In July of last year, the company began offering online mock exams, and in December, it launched a joint research group with Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto to link the company’s learning data to the university’s entrance exams….

The Atama Plus team
Image credit: Atama Plus

See the original story in Japanese.

Atama Plus, the Japanese startup offering AI-based learning materials for cram schools under the same name, announced Wednesday that it has fundraised about 5 billion yen (about $46.4 million US) in a series B round. In addition to existing investors such as DCM Ventures and JAFCO Group, participating investors include the Singapore Government-backed Temasek Holdings’ Pavilion Capital and US-based T. Rowe Price. This has brought the company’s funding sum to date up to about 8.2 billion yen (about $74.6 million).

The learning platform allows users to shorten the time to acquire basic academic skills. It can detect where students are likely to get stuck during learning, so it can teach the teacher when they are likely to get stuck, enabling precise and efficient coaching. It is being used in more than 2,500 classrooms, including Japanese notable cram school chains like the Sundai Group and the Z-kai Group, as it is expected to have a high learning effect.

In July of last year, the company began offering online mock exams, and in December, it launched a joint research group with Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto to link the company’s learning data to the university’s entrance exams. With the latest fund, the company aims to expand its business by increasing employees from the current 160 to 250.

Overseas investors joined the round for the first time

Image credit: Atama Plus

It is rare for foreign funds such as Temasek and T. Rowe Price to invest in privately held Japanese companies, but there have been a few cases in the past, including Studyst and SuperStudio (both from Pavilion Capital), and Freee and Sansan (both from T. Rowe Price).

Global investments (mostly in the US) in the first half of 2021 totaled $288 billion, up significantly from $110 billion in the same period last year. Among these investments, Temasek has invested in 47 companies in the first half of 2021 alone. Temasek invested in 47 companies in the first half of 2021 alone, while T. Rowe Price’s investments totaled $5 billion.

So, why haven’t they paid more attention to Japanese startups so far? As I heard from a local investor, typical overseas investors tend to evaluate deals based on market size. They simply evaluate companies based on their market cap, so the upside is Apple as their market cap hit $2.4 trillion as of this writing.

Manwhile, foreign investors are unlikely to invest in startups which cannot compete in the global arena. Conversely, these investors recognized that Atama Plus CEO Inada and his team could compete globally. In fact, Inada said that the reason for having foreign funds in this round is aiming for a global IPO.

Competing in the global market

The world’s most valued EduTech companies – Toppr (India), Byju’s (India) Yuanfudao (China), and Descoplica (Brazil)

According to Inada the global education market is estimated $3.8 trillion, while $226 billion in Japan alone including $9 billion for cram and prep schools. The Yano Research Institute’s report (forecast as of 2019) says that the market of cram schools, prep schools, language learning and qualification courses is estimated to be about $25.3 billion, with Benesse at the top of the industry with sales of about $4 billion while other businesses scattered across the country.

Meanwhile, as shown in the list of unicorns, Asian startups are making remarkable progress in the global education market. In particular, India’s Byju’s (valued at $16.5 billion) and China’s Yuanfudao (valued at $15.5 billion) may be definite rivals for Atama Plus in the global competition because both of the startups were founded back in 2017 when Atama Plus was so. By the way, Japanese largest education company Benesse is valued at about $2.4 billion (as of this writing).

Inada and his team’s idea wants to take a firm position as a top player by starting with cram and prep schools in Japan first (there about 50,000 schools nationwide), while at the same time expanding the business beyond cram and prep school materials, such as online mock exams and the joint project with Ritsumeikan. The platform used to have a problem taking a long time for onboarding, but now it has been streamlined and the introduction to cram and prep schools has become smoother than before.

Inada thinks that the education market in China and India is still under development, and the challenge there is offering better access to education rather than pursuing the quality of learning materials. The inflated valuations of education startups in these markets are much dependent on marketing-led growth but his company may have a better chance of winning the competition with the quality of products, he says.

Merpay’s Aoyagi joined the board

From left: Naoki Aoyagi (newly-appointed advisor for Atama Plus, CEO of Merpay), Daisuke Inada (Founder and CEO of Atama Plus)

Prior to the latest funding, Merpay CEO Naoki Aoyagi joined the advisory board of Atama Plus. Inada’s intention having him on the board is to learn how to compete in the global market. In the past decade, we haven’t seen that many tech entrepreneurs from Japan challenging the world.

Aoyagi is around Inada’s age, and his experience having startups like Gree and Merpay grown up to giants will certainly be very beneficial for Inada’s team. Atama Plus uses the funds to expand to 250 employees, and such a growth at a startups is the first-time experience for Inada even if he has worked at the education business unit at an enterprise like Mitsui & Co. Inada wants to property deal properly with growing pains that may occur in the future by learning from him in advance.

The company’s latest funding has a huge potential in terms of not only a rare case of funding for a Japanese startup from global institutional investors but also a case study of those looking at global expansion. We’ll keep our eyes on how they will fare from now on.

Translated by Masaru Ikeda

Japan’s Kaizen Platform, helping optimize website user experience, files for IPO

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See the original story in Japanese. Japanese startup Kaizen Platform, offering website user interface improvement solutions, announced on Wednesday that IPO application to the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) has been approved. The company will be listed on the TSE Mothers Market on December 22 with plans to offer 1,550,000 shares for public subscription and to sell 751,300 shares in over-allotment options for a total of 3,459,000 shares. The underwriting will be led by Mizuho securities while Kaizen’s ticker code will be 4170. Its share price range will be released on December 3 with bookbuilding scheduled to start on December 7 and pricing on December 11. According to the consolidated statement as of December 2019, they posted revenue of 1.3 billion yen (about $12.5 million) with an ordinary loss of 249 million yen ($2.8 million). Based on the estimated issue price of 1,100 yen (about $10.6), the company will be valued at about 16.9 billion yen ($162 million). Kaizen Platform founded a Delaware company with establishing its global headquarters in San Francisco as well its Japan branch in Tokyo in March to April of 2013, followed by launching a website optimization solution back in August of the same year. In addition…

See the original story in Japanese.

Japanese startup Kaizen Platform, offering website user interface improvement solutions, announced on Wednesday that IPO application to the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) has been approved. The company will be listed on the TSE Mothers Market on December 22 with plans to offer 1,550,000 shares for public subscription and to sell 751,300 shares in over-allotment options for a total of 3,459,000 shares. The underwriting will be led by Mizuho securities while Kaizen’s ticker code will be 4170.

Its share price range will be released on December 3 with bookbuilding scheduled to start on December 7 and pricing on December 11. According to the consolidated statement as of December 2019, they posted revenue of 1.3 billion yen (about $12.5 million) with an ordinary loss of 249 million yen ($2.8 million). Based on the estimated issue price of 1,100 yen (about $10.6), the company will be valued at about 16.9 billion yen ($162 million).

Kaizen Platform founded a Delaware company with establishing its global headquarters in San Francisco as well its Japan branch in Tokyo in March to April of 2013, followed by launching a website optimization solution back in August of the same year. In addition to offering website optimization solutions, the company launched the Kaizen Video service as part of the Kaizen Ad business.

Kaizen Platform established a Japanese company and its subsidiary Kaizen Platform USA in April ofo 2017. During this process, the founding company was dissolved in a merger with the US subsidiary, In addition, the company established a joint venture with NTT Ad called DX Catalyst, making it an equity-method affiliate by acquiring its 49% stake in April this year.

In addition to helping clients optimize their websites, the company is now focused on creating client’s video clips utilizing existing content for affordable rates and fast turnaround. They disclosed several KPIs they have achieved as of Q3 this year: 772 companies, 16,480 registered users (clients and professionals), and 2,124,000 yen as ARPU (average revenue per user).

Led by founder and CEO Kenji Sudo (32.43%), the company’s major shareholders include Eight Roads Ventures Japan (18.41%), GREE Ventures (now known as Strive, 9.39%), co-founder and CTO Toshimasa Ishibashi (8.11%), NTT Ad (7.29%), SBI Investment (4.59%), YJ Capital (3.82%), Colopl (3.05%), Dai Nippon Printing (2.88%), and GMO Venture Partners (1.91%).

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Japan’s Yappli, developer of drag-and-drop tool for building mobile apps, files for IPO

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See the original story in Japanese. Tokyo-based Yappli, the Japanese startup that provides a mobile app development platform under the same name, announced that IPO application to the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) has been approved. The company will be listed on the TSE Mothers Market on December 22 with plans to offer 350,000 shares for public subscription and to sell 726,600 shares in over-allotment options for a total of 4,495,000 shares. The underwriting will be led by Mizuho securities while Yappli’s ticker code will be 4168. Based on the estimated issue price of 2,960 yen (about $28.4) and a total number of 11,663,600 shares in the market including public subscription, the company will be valued at 34.5 billion yen ($330 million). Its share price range will be released on December 2 with bookbuilding scheduled to start on December 4 and pricing on December 10. According to the consolidated statement as of December 2019, they posted revenue of 1.71 billion yen ($16.4 million) with a net loss of 798 million yen ($7.6 million). The company was founded in February of 2013 under its original name of Fastmedia. It launched the Yappli no-code application development system which allows both app developers and…

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based Yappli, the Japanese startup that provides a mobile app development platform under the same name, announced that IPO application to the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) has been approved. The company will be listed on the TSE Mothers Market on December 22 with plans to offer 350,000 shares for public subscription and to sell 726,600 shares in over-allotment options for a total of 4,495,000 shares. The underwriting will be led by Mizuho securities while Yappli’s ticker code will be 4168.

Based on the estimated issue price of 2,960 yen (about $28.4) and a total number of 11,663,600 shares in the market including public subscription, the company will be valued at 34.5 billion yen ($330 million). Its share price range will be released on December 2 with bookbuilding scheduled to start on December 4 and pricing on December 10. According to the consolidated statement as of December 2019, they posted revenue of 1.71 billion yen ($16.4 million) with a net loss of 798 million yen ($7.6 million).

The company was founded in February of 2013 under its original name of Fastmedia. It launched the Yappli no-code application development system which allows both app developers and non-developers to develop their apps without programming skills.

Their revenue comes from initial support fee as well as monthly subscription consisting of a base usage fee, paid options, and billing based on the number of devices that receive push notifications through the app that users have developed. As of September 2020, the platform has been adopted to develop 527 apps while these apps have been downloaded about 65 million times in total. The platform’s churn rate has remained below 1% since December of 2016 and has been seeing 0.88% for the latest quarter.

Led by both Co-founder / CEO Yasufumi Ihara and Managing Director Masafumi Sano (20.75% respectively), the company’s major shareholders include YJ Capital (18.58%), Eight Roads Ventures Japan (10.02%), Globis Capital Partners (15.74%), Co-founder Masumi Kuroda (7.33%), Salesforce (3.71%), Itochu Technology Ventures (1.59%), and angel investor Shogo Kawada (0.42%).

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Livestreaming firm M17 appoints Infinity Venture Partners’ Hirofumi Ono as Global CEO

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See the original story in Japanese. 17 Media Japan, the local operating company of mobile livestreaming app 17 Live or ‘Ichinana’ also known as Livit in the English-speaking countries, announced today that Hirofumi Ono was appointed as Global CEO of its parent company M17 Entertainment Limited (M17). Focused on the Japanese market, M17 will be continually responsible for service operations in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, India, and other Asian countries. Former M17 CEO Joesph Phua will step down as CEO to become a non-executive chairman. Ono will also continue to serve 17 Media japan as its president. The Japanese operations of the livestreaming app was launched back in 2017 by Ono who has been backing M17 as one of investors – Co-founder & Managing Partner of Infinity Venture Partners. The app now has become an outstanding platform where singers and entertainers perform their live shows. It has acquired 45 million registrants as of November of 2019. Along with this, Ono announced that he will be stepping down from his role as managing director at Infinity Ventures in September. He was involved in launching the VC firm back in 2008 together with Akio Tanaka and Masashi Kobayashi. See also: Infinity Venture…

M17 Entertainment’s new Global CEO Hirofumi Ono
Image credit: M17 Entertainment

See the original story in Japanese.

17 Media Japan, the local operating company of mobile livestreaming app 17 Live or ‘Ichinana’ also known as Livit in the English-speaking countries, announced today that Hirofumi Ono was appointed as Global CEO of its parent company M17 Entertainment Limited (M17). Focused on the Japanese market, M17 will be continually responsible for service operations in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, India, and other Asian countries. Former M17 CEO Joesph Phua will step down as CEO to become a non-executive chairman. Ono will also continue to serve 17 Media japan as its president.

The Japanese operations of the livestreaming app was launched back in 2017 by Ono who has been backing M17 as one of investors – Co-founder & Managing Partner of Infinity Venture Partners. The app now has become an outstanding platform where singers and entertainers perform their live shows. It has acquired 45 million registrants as of November of 2019.

Along with this, Ono announced that he will be stepping down from his role as managing director at Infinity Ventures in September. He was involved in launching the VC firm back in 2008 together with Akio Tanaka and Masashi Kobayashi.

See also:

In addition to investing in ventures in Japan and the Greater China region, Ono has contributed to the growth of startups with his unique style of entrepreneurial involvement as a founding member of them. The startups he was involved in managing include Rekoo Japan (the company behind Sunshine Ranch), Jmty.jp (Japanese classifieds site), Groupon Japan, Farfetch Japan, and of course 17 Media Japan. He has also made a significant impact on the startup ecosystem as an investor, hosting Infinity Ventures Summit (IVS), one of the largest venture conferences in Japan, for 12 years.

Below is his open letter on his Facebook timeline. (sic)

It is my pleasure to announce that I will be graduating from Infinity Ventures(IV), which I have led with Akio since 2008, this September.

And I will be taking on the role of Global CEO at M17 Entertainment, Ltd(M17). that is portfolio company of IV and is the parent company of 17 Media Japan where I have been acting as CEO over 3 years.

After launching 17 Media Japan from zero and leading its growth to No. 1 in Japan, there was a strong request from Joseph Phua, Co-Founder of M17 Global and Chairman, for me to take over the global CEO position, and after discussions with Akio and Joseph Huang internally in IV. I decided that the best way for me is to graduate from IV and commit to M17 as CEO so that I can contribute to those who helped me a lot during my time in IV by leading M17 to further growth stage.

In the 12 years since launching IV from scratch, I have had the great opportunity to not only invest but also run many companies on my own like Rekoo Japan (Sunshine Farm), Groupon Japan, Jimoty, Farfetch Japan, and 17 Media Japan. And fortunately most of them made great success to be leading companies in that industries and brought successful exit.

I am particularly pleased that Jimoty that I had built literally from scratch completely on my own went public this year.

I have also been able to get involved in some of the big exits for IVP’s fund, such as Soracom, freee and some of great investment like Wealth Navi and YeahKa (listed in HK and worth over 3billion USD now).

M17 is now expanding widely in Japan, Taiwan, India, HK, the US and the Middle East, and I will continue to grow the company so that we can expand our live streaming business even further around the world.

I am looking forward to a longer relationship with you as a serial entrepreneur.

As for IV, IVS President Toshiaki Shimakawa has successfully hosted more than 1,000 guests in the first online IVS, and the IV Japan team will continue to strengthen its operations with keeping investing in Japan and leading IVS.

Also, I will continue to contribute to IVS LaunchPad as an advisor to the development of our startups.

Sorry for that long message.

I would like to have opportunity to say hello to you individually if I could.

Thanks
Hiro

Translated by Masaru Ikeda

Japan’s retail solution startup Hey secures $66M from Bain Capital, acquires Coubic

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See the original story in Japanese. Tokyo-based Hey, the Japanese tech firm behind payments startup and e-shop builder, announced today that it has secured series E round funding. Participating investors in this round are Bain Capital, Hong Kong-based Anatole, Goldman Saches, PayPal, YJ Capital (investment arm of Yahoo Japan) as well as World Innovation Lab (WiL). Hey has not disclosed the size of the entire round but their statement reveals Bain Capital alone will invest 7 billion yen (about $66 million) in this deal. Hey will use the funds to double its team from 200 to 400 staffers. Along with the funds, the company will acquire a full stake in Coubic, a Japanese startup behind scheduling and appointment booking solution under the same name. Coubic has recently integrated with “Reserve with Google”, which now allows consumers to make bookings or purchase tickets through Google Search and Maps from the local businesses using Coubic. Coubic has also recently integrated with Zoom in aim to help retailers offer online counseling or other learning services under the COVID-19 pandemic. Founded in October 2013 by ex-Googler Hiroshi Kuraoka, Coubic has now 2.5 million monthly active users and is serving more than 80,000 companies and…

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based Hey, the Japanese tech firm behind payments startup and e-shop builder, announced today that it has secured series E round funding.

Participating investors in this round are Bain Capital, Hong Kong-based Anatole, Goldman Saches, PayPal, YJ Capital (investment arm of Yahoo Japan) as well as World Innovation Lab (WiL). Hey has not disclosed the size of the entire round but their statement reveals Bain Capital alone will invest 7 billion yen (about $66 million) in this deal.

Hey will use the funds to double its team from 200 to 400 staffers.

Along with the funds, the company will acquire a full stake in Coubic, a Japanese startup behind scheduling and appointment booking solution under the same name. Coubic has recently integrated with “Reserve with Google”, which now allows consumers to make bookings or purchase tickets through Google Search and Maps from the local businesses using Coubic.

Coubic has also recently integrated with Zoom in aim to help retailers offer online counseling or other learning services under the COVID-19 pandemic.

Founded in October 2013 by ex-Googler Hiroshi Kuraoka, Coubic has now 2.5 million monthly active users and is serving more than 80,000 companies and individuals across over 180 business categories.

Here’s what Hey CEO Yusuke Sato says in an official statement:

I’ll never forget the words of a customer I got the other day. That’s from President Suzuki of Hamanoyu, who use our Stores platform to sell his traditional inn’s flagship menu of red bream fish boiled with soy sauce.

He said in his letter to us:

“The kitchen, which had been bereft of guests, has been revitalized by orders online from from all over the country. Our staffs were encouraged by the fact that there were customers who wanted to stay with us, and we felt anew that we had to take a stand for the customers who wanted to come back someday.”

We were reminded that what we can do is small in the face of a major disaster, but nevertheless, we could be a source of hope and vitality for those who are in such a difficult situation.

Through this funding and the acquisition (of Coubic), we will further accelerate the rollout of features for individuals and small and medium-sized businesses in response to the new normal, such as early withdrawal of sales proceeds, support for opening an online store, and simplified online lesson booking through integration with the Zoom video conferencing service, which we have released to address the challenges associated with the pandemic and business restraint measures.

Together with Hey team and our new colleagues from Coubic, we will contribute to creating a society supported by an economy driven by persistence, passion and fun, rather than just pursuing profit and scale.

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Japanese UX design firm Goodpatch files for IPO, pushing its valuation to $40M

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See the original story in Japanese. Tokyo-based user experience and interface (UX/UI) design agency Goodpatch announced today it has applied to be listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange and was approved. The company will be listed on the TSE Mothers Market on June 30with plans to offer 308,900 shares for public subscription and to sell about 98,900 shares in over-allotment options for a total of about 350,900 shares. The underwriting will be led by Daiwa Securities while Goodpatch’s ticker code will be 7351. Based on the estimated IPO price of 610 yen (about $5.7) a share, the company’s market valuation will be about 4.3 billion yen (about $40 million). Its share price range will be released on June 11 with bookbuilding scheduled to start on June 15 and pricing on June 19. According to the consolidated statement as of August 2019, they posted revenue of 1.41 billion yen (about $13.1 million) with an ordinary profit of 93 million yen (about $865,000). Goodpatch was founded in August of 2011. Prior to the company, CEO Naofumi Tsuchiya worked as an intern at San Francisco’s digital agency Btrax, and founded Goodpatch after returning home to Japan. The company’s name comes from the incubation…

Image credit Goodpatch

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based user experience and interface (UX/UI) design agency Goodpatch announced today it has applied to be listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange and was approved.

The company will be listed on the TSE Mothers Market on June 30with plans to offer 308,900 shares for public subscription and to sell about 98,900 shares in over-allotment options for a total of about 350,900 shares. The underwriting will be led by Daiwa Securities while Goodpatch’s ticker code will be 7351.

Based on the estimated IPO price of 610 yen (about $5.7) a share, the company’s market valuation will be about 4.3 billion yen (about $40 million).

Its share price range will be released on June 11 with bookbuilding scheduled to start on June 15 and pricing on June 19. According to the consolidated statement as of August 2019, they posted revenue of 1.41 billion yen (about $13.1 million) with an ordinary profit of 93 million yen (about $865,000).

Goodpatch was founded in August of 2011. Prior to the company, CEO Naofumi Tsuchiya worked as an intern at San Francisco’s digital agency Btrax, and founded Goodpatch after returning home to Japan. The company’s name comes from the incubation space Dogpatch Labs in San Francisco. Their prototyping tool Prott, which was officially launched in October of 2014, has been introduced in major IT companies, startups, design farms, and so on.

Led by founder and CEO Naofumi Tsuchiya, the company’s major shareholders include Digital Garage Group (21.4%, DG Lab and DG Ventures), Blue Rose (8.24%), SBI Investment (7.93%), and Salesforce Ventures (3.08%).

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Asia-focused EdTech startup Manabie raises $4.8M seed round from Japanese investors

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See the original story in Japanese. Singapore-based Manabie, the EdTech startup offering e-learning service in the Southeast Asian region, announced today that it has fundraised $4.8 million US in a seed round. This round was led by Tokyo-headquartered Genesia Ventures with participation from notable Japanese angel investors including: Keisuke Honda (Professional football player) Mochio Umeda (US-based IT consultant known for having introduced Web2.0 issues to Japan) Nobuhiro Ariyasu (Founder of Coach United) Yasukane Matsumoto (CEO of Raksul) Yoshinori Fukushima (Co-founder of Gunosy, CEO of LayerX) Masayuki Watanabe (Founder of Quipper) Shunsuke Oyu (Founder of Connehito) Details of Financial terms have not been disclosed. Earlier this month, the company published a Japanese article aiming to help teachers turn their classes into virtual ones while many schools are forced to be closed due to the COVIT-19 pandemic. Prior to the launch of Manabie back in April of 2019, the company’s CEO Takuya Honma previously co-founded UK-based EdTech startup Quipper which was subsequently acquired by Japanese human resources and internet service company Recruit Holdings (TSE:6098) back in 2015. Quipper has been helping thousands of schools in the world launch their classes online. Manabie is offering e-learning apps for elementary, junior high, and high…

See the original story in Japanese.

Singapore-based Manabie, the EdTech startup offering e-learning service in the Southeast Asian region, announced today that it has fundraised $4.8 million US in a seed round. This round was led by Tokyo-headquartered Genesia Ventures with participation from notable Japanese angel investors including:

  • Keisuke Honda (Professional football player)
  • Mochio Umeda (US-based IT consultant known for having introduced Web2.0 issues to Japan)
  • Nobuhiro Ariyasu (Founder of Coach United)
  • Yasukane Matsumoto (CEO of Raksul)
  • Yoshinori Fukushima (Co-founder of Gunosy, CEO of LayerX)
  • Masayuki Watanabe (Founder of Quipper)
  • Shunsuke Oyu (Founder of Connehito)

Details of Financial terms have not been disclosed. Earlier this month, the company published a Japanese article aiming to help teachers turn their classes into virtual ones while many schools are forced to be closed due to the COVIT-19 pandemic.

Prior to the launch of Manabie back in April of 2019, the company’s CEO Takuya Honma previously co-founded UK-based EdTech startup Quipper which was subsequently acquired by Japanese human resources and internet service company Recruit Holdings (TSE:6098) back in 2015. Quipper has been helping thousands of schools in the world launch their classes online.

Manabie is offering e-learning apps for elementary, junior high, and high school students as well as running learning centers in the Southeast Asian region, especially in Vietnam for now.

The company plans to use the funds to expand their business into all across Vietnam in addition to offering extensive support for educational institutions in Japan which are in urgent need of making their classes online in face of the pandemic-caused temporarily closure.

Translated by Masaru Ikeda

Japan’s ‘For Startups’, exec and talent search service for startups, files for IPO

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See the original story in Japanese. Tokyo-based ‘For Startups‘, the company offering an executive and talent search service for Japanese startups in addition to the Startup DB database platform, announced today that IPO application to the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) has been approved. The company will be listed on the TSE Mothers Market on March 13 with plans to offer 200,000 shares for public subscription and to sell 120,000 shares in over-allotment options for a total of about 600,000 shares. The underwriting will be led by Nomura Securities while the company’s ticker code will be 7089. Based on the estimated IPO price of 1,520 yen (about $13.8) a share, the company’s market valuation will be about 4.7 billion yen (about $42.8 million). Its share price range will be released on February 21 with bookbuilding scheduled to start on February 26 and pricing on March 3. According to the consolidated statement as of March 2019, they posted revenue of 1.045 billion yen (about $9.5 million) with an ordinary profit of 274 million yen (about $2.5 million). In order to strengthen an executive and talent search service focused on startups, the company was spun off from Saint Media (now known as Willof…

For Startups’ Headquarters
Image credit: For Startups

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based ‘For Startups‘, the company offering an executive and talent search service for Japanese startups in addition to the Startup DB database platform, announced today that IPO application to the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) has been approved.

The company will be listed on the TSE Mothers Market on March 13 with plans to offer 200,000 shares for public subscription and to sell 120,000 shares in over-allotment options for a total of about 600,000 shares. The underwriting will be led by Nomura Securities while the company’s ticker code will be 7089.

Based on the estimated IPO price of 1,520 yen (about $13.8) a share, the company’s market valuation will be about 4.7 billion yen (about $42.8 million).

Its share price range will be released on February 21 with bookbuilding scheduled to start on February 26 and pricing on March 3. According to the consolidated statement as of March 2019, they posted revenue of 1.045 billion yen (about $9.5 million) with an ordinary profit of 274 million yen (about $2.5 million).

In order to strengthen an executive and talent search service focused on startups, the company was spun off from Saint Media (now known as Willof Work) and launched back in September of 2016 under their previous name of Net Jinzaibank. Their main shareholders include Willgroup (92%, TSE:6089, Willof Work’s parent company) and For Startups’ CEO Yuichiro Shimizu (8%).

See also:

Translated by Masaru Ikeda

Japanese consulting matchmaking platform VisasQ files for IPO

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See the original story in Japanese. Tokyo-based VisasQ (VQ), the Japanese startup behind a consulting matchmaking platform under the same name, announced today that IPO application to the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) has been approved. The company will be listed on the TSE Mothers Market on March 10 with plans to offer 500,000 shares for public subscription and to sell about 426,400 shares in over-allotment options for a total of about 2.3 million shares. The underwriting will be led by Mizuho Securities while VQ’s ticker code will be 4490. Based on the estimated IPO price of 2,100 yen (about $19.4) a share, the company’s market valuation will be about 17 billion yen (about $156.6 million). Its share price range will be released on February 19 with bookbuilding scheduled to start on February 20 and pricing on February 27. According to the consolidated statement as of February 2019, they posted revenue of 614 million yen (about $5.7 million) with an ordinary profit of 24 million yen (about $221,000). See also: Circuit board design tool ‘Quadcept’ wins Innovation Weekend Grand Finale in Tokyo Launched back in March of 2010 under the previous name of Walkntalk, VQ has been offering an online matchmaking…

Image credit: VisasQ

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based VisasQ (VQ), the Japanese startup behind a consulting matchmaking platform under the same name, announced today that IPO application to the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) has been approved.

The company will be listed on the TSE Mothers Market on March 10 with plans to offer 500,000 shares for public subscription and to sell about 426,400 shares in over-allotment options for a total of about 2.3 million shares. The underwriting will be led by Mizuho Securities while VQ’s ticker code will be 4490.

Based on the estimated IPO price of 2,100 yen (about $19.4) a share, the company’s market valuation will be about 17 billion yen (about $156.6 million).

Its share price range will be released on February 19 with bookbuilding scheduled to start on February 20 and pricing on February 27. According to the consolidated statement as of February 2019, they posted revenue of 614 million yen (about $5.7 million) with an ordinary profit of 24 million yen (about $221,000).

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VQ CEO EIko Hashiba

Launched back in March of 2010 under the previous name of Walkntalk, VQ has been offering an online matchmaking platform where companies can get consultation and advice from appropriate professionals (the company call them ‘advisors’) according to their expertise. It’s mainly used for industrial research and market analysis.

VQ Interview, one of the products that VQ’s representative first analyzes a client’s request and then link up to an appropriate professional, has received 44,000 orders from clients as of December 2019, which accounts for 80% of the total orders across their entire product line. The company has 86,000 registered professionals in 500 different business sectors and 423 clients (as of 2020 Q3).

Led by founder and CEO Eiko Hashiba (59.33%), the company’s major shareholders include VC firm DCM (14.19%), Venture United (11.13%), CyberAgent Capital (7.22%), DBJ Capital (2.83%), Mizuho Capital (2.83%), Naoki Aoyagi (0.91%), and CTO Soshi Hanamura (0.78%).

Translated by Masaru Ikeda

Japanese online classifieds startup Jimoty files for IPO

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See the original story in Japanese. Tokyo-based Jimoty, the Japanese startup behind online classifieds site under the same name, announced in late December that the IPO application to the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) has been approved. Jimoty provides listings in a wide range of categories, including items for sale, job listings, services, and events. The company will be listed on the TSE Mothers Market on Feb 7 with plans to offer 50,000 shares for public subscription and to sell 190,600 shares in over-allotment options for a total of 1,220,700 shares. The underwriting will be led by Daiwa Securities while Jimoty’s ticker code will be 7082. Its share price range will be released on January 22 with bookbuilding scheduled to start on January 23 and pricing on January 29. According to the consolidated statement as of December 2018, they posted revenue of 935.89 million yen (about $9 million) with an ordinary profit of 7.06 million yen (about $64,000). Led by Opt Holdings (30.68%), their major shareholders include NTT Docomo (16.22%), Infinity Venture Partners (14.23%), Proto Corporation (10.71%), Energy & Environment Investment (9.51%), Jimoty CEO Takahiro Kato (8.71%), Lifull (4.29%), Japan Best Rescue System (2.14%), and Seibu Shinkin Capital. See also: Japanese…

Jimoty Headquarters in Tokyo
Image credit: Jomoty

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based Jimoty, the Japanese startup behind online classifieds site under the same name, announced in late December that the IPO application to the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) has been approved. Jimoty provides listings in a wide range of categories, including items for sale, job listings, services, and events.

The company will be listed on the TSE Mothers Market on Feb 7 with plans to offer 50,000 shares for public subscription and to sell 190,600 shares in over-allotment options for a total of 1,220,700 shares. The underwriting will be led by Daiwa Securities while Jimoty’s ticker code will be 7082.

Its share price range will be released on January 22 with bookbuilding scheduled to start on January 23 and pricing on January 29. According to the consolidated statement as of December 2018, they posted revenue of 935.89 million yen (about $9 million) with an ordinary profit of 7.06 million yen (about $64,000).

Led by Opt Holdings (30.68%), their major shareholders include NTT Docomo (16.22%), Infinity Venture Partners (14.23%), Proto Corporation (10.71%), Energy & Environment Investment (9.51%), Jimoty CEO Takahiro Kato (8.71%), Lifull (4.29%), Japan Best Rescue System (2.14%), and Seibu Shinkin Capital.

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Translated by Masaru Ikeda