THE BRIDGE

Masaru Ikeda

Masaru Ikeda

Masaru started his career as a programmer/engineer, and previously co-founded several system integration companies and consulting firms. He’s been traveling around Silicon Valley and Asia exploring the IT industry, and he also curates event updates for the Tokyo edition of Startup Digest.

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ChatBook, developing chatbot and marketing automation tool, acquired by Monex Group

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We just learned that Japanese startup ChatBook, providing the automated marketing solution under the same name utilizing chatbot, has been acquired by Japan’s leading FinTech conglomerate Monex Group(TSE:8698). Monex acquired all stakes in ChatBook for an undisclosed sum. Chatbook’s most recent funding was a pre-series A round in December of 2019 (securing 100 million yen, about $920,000 in the exchange rate at the time) where Monex Ventures, the VC arm of Monex Group, participated in the investment. Japanese startup database Initial reported ChatBook was valued at 712 million yen (about $6.6 million) at the time. Chatbook was co-founded in September of 2016 (named Hect as its start) by Maiko Kojima who formerly worked for Prime Again (now known as Prime) as CFO/COO. The firm has been chosen for various accelerator programs so far; the first batch of the Code Public program in 2016, Accelerate course of FbStart which is a developer support program by Facebook in 2017 and the first batch of AI Accelerator organized by the major job information provider Dip (TSE:2379). ChatBook uses chatbots compatible with social media like Facebook, Line, and Instagram to lure potential customers and link them to sales activities in conjunction with customer relation…

Image credit: Monex Goup, ChatBook

We just learned that Japanese startup ChatBook, providing the automated marketing solution under the same name utilizing chatbot, has been acquired by Japan’s leading FinTech conglomerate Monex Group(TSE:8698). Monex acquired all stakes in ChatBook for an undisclosed sum.

Chatbook’s most recent funding was a pre-series A round in December of 2019 (securing 100 million yen, about $920,000 in the exchange rate at the time) where Monex Ventures, the VC arm of Monex Group, participated in the investment. Japanese startup database Initial reported ChatBook was valued at 712 million yen (about $6.6 million) at the time.

Chatbook was co-founded in September of 2016 (named Hect as its start) by Maiko Kojima who formerly worked for Prime Again (now known as Prime) as CFO/COO. The firm has been chosen for various accelerator programs so far; the first batch of the Code Public program in 2016, Accelerate course of FbStart which is a developer support program by Facebook in 2017 and the first batch of AI Accelerator organized by the major job information provider Dip (TSE:2379).

Image credit: ChatBook

ChatBook uses chatbots compatible with social media like Facebook, Line, and Instagram to lure potential customers and link them to sales activities in conjunction with customer relation management tools. While there are several marketing solutions using chatbots in Japan, Chatbook has a high affinity with sales activities for long-legged and rigid business solutions for enterprises.

In this sector, some of our readers may recall that Japanese startup Zeals, developing and offering the Fanp chatbot-based solution for e-commerce retailers, had planned to list on the TSE Mothers market but subsequently decided postpone it due to negative factors such as changes in US monetary policy, IPO market trends, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The company recently announced that it has secured 5 billion yen (about $38 million) in May.

Through this acquisition, Monex will invest its management resources in Chatbook, while promoting further business expansion by providing multifaceted support such as sales channel expansion and funding, and will return Chatbook’s human resources, mainly engineers, and the knowledge and know-how gained through business expansion to the Monex. The company will also aim to enhance the digital marketing capabilities of the Monex Group companies by returning to the Monex Group the human resources of Chatbook, mainly engineers, as well as the knowledge and expertise gained through business expansion.

Through this acquisition, Monex expects to invest its management resources in Chatbook while promoting further business expansion by providing support for cultivating sales channels and funding. In addition, the acquisition will also enable the FinTech group to enhance the digital marketing capabilities of each of its subsidiaries by incorporating ChatBook’s human resources, mainly engineers, as well as the knowledge and expertise.

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Japan’s Caster, offering WFH jobs for freelance workers, expanding into Germany, UAE

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Japanese WFH (work-from-home) jobs offering startup Caster, headquartered in the country’s western prefecture of Miyzaki, announced on Friday that it will be expanding into Germany and United Arab Emirates (UAE). The company plans to set up a local office in Berlin and Dubai within this year. Since its launched back in September of 2014, the company offers online assistance service in the categories like secretarial, human resources, accounting, translation, and other corporate tasks for startups and enterprises. The company had 1,500 remote staffers registered as of June while more than 3,000 companies have used the service so far. The company said that it has chosen Germany as its first step for global expansion because the country’s social environment and workforce are similar to those in Japan, which helps the company take advantage of their experience and schemes. With offices in Germany and the UAE, Caster plans to accelerate its expansion effort into the entire European region. The company has already begun recruiting local employees in Berlin and the rest of Germany on the the Japan-Germany Industrial Association website. In February, Caster announced that it has secured 1.3 billion yen (about $11.5 million US in the exchange rate at the time)…

Image credit: Caster

Japanese WFH (work-from-home) jobs offering startup Caster, headquartered in the country’s western prefecture of Miyzaki, announced on Friday that it will be expanding into Germany and United Arab Emirates (UAE). The company plans to set up a local office in Berlin and Dubai within this year.

Since its launched back in September of 2014, the company offers online assistance service in the categories like secretarial, human resources, accounting, translation, and other corporate tasks for startups and enterprises. The company had 1,500 remote staffers registered as of June while more than 3,000 companies have used the service so far.

The company said that it has chosen Germany as its first step for global expansion because the country’s social environment and workforce are similar to those in Japan, which helps the company take advantage of their experience and schemes. With offices in Germany and the UAE, Caster plans to accelerate its expansion effort into the entire European region. The company has already begun recruiting local employees in Berlin and the rest of Germany on the the Japan-Germany Industrial Association website.

In February, Caster announced that it has secured 1.3 billion yen (about $11.5 million US in the exchange rate at the time) in a Series D round, which brought their funding sum up to around 3 billion yen (about $21.5 million US in the exchange rate at the time) on an estimation basis. The Initial startup database estimates the company is valued over 12.3 billion yen (about $89 million US).

Japan’s free insurance startup Warrantee to commence trading on NASDAQ

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We reported earlier this year that Osaka-headquartered Warrantee, the Japanese startup offering free insurance services in the US and Singapore, has publicly filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for its initial public offering (IPO) on NASDAQ. We recently learned the application has been approved by SEC. According to the regulator’s database EDGAR, the company has received SEC’s Notice of Effectiveness dated June 30. The company’s stock will be traded under its ticker code WRNT while it’s uncertain when the trading begins. Based on past cases, the trading will start within half to one month after the approval. We confirmed that Bloomberg has already set up a page showing Warrantee’s quotes. Meanwhile, Warrantee has posted a document titled Public Notice of Board of Directors’ Resolution on Issuance of Shares for Subscription on their website, which details the subscription and payment for the underlying shares and the shares subject of the Over-Allotment Option. Founded back in October of 2013 by CEO Yusuke Shono, Warrantee started its business with helping consumers turn product warranties into digital followed by foraying into the on-demand insurance market in 2017 in collaboration with insurance companies. Subsequently the company started offering free or low-cost on-demand…

Yusuke Shono
Image credit: Warrantee

We reported earlier this year that Osaka-headquartered Warrantee, the Japanese startup offering free insurance services in the US and Singapore, has publicly filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for its initial public offering (IPO) on NASDAQ. We recently learned the application has been approved by SEC.

According to the regulator’s database EDGAR, the company has received SEC’s Notice of Effectiveness dated June 30. The company’s stock will be traded under its ticker code WRNT while it’s uncertain when the trading begins. Based on past cases, the trading will start within half to one month after the approval. We confirmed that Bloomberg has already set up a page showing Warrantee’s quotes.

Meanwhile, Warrantee has posted a document titled Public Notice of Board of Directors’ Resolution on Issuance of Shares for Subscription on their website, which details the subscription and payment for the underlying shares and the shares subject of the Over-Allotment Option.

Founded back in October of 2013 by CEO Yusuke Shono, Warrantee started its business with helping consumers turn product warranties into digital followed by foraying into the on-demand insurance market in 2017 in collaboration with insurance companies.

Subsequently the company started offering free or low-cost on-demand insurance services in the US and Singapore where state-run affordable and universal health insurance systems are less common unlike Japan.

We have contacted Warrantee for further details but haven’t yet received any response as of this writing. This is a developing story and may be updated in the future.

Japanese SaaS startup Nulab files for IPO

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Fukuoka-headquartered startup Nulab, offering various SaaS (software as a service) such as BackLog, Cacoo and Typetalk, announced on Tuesday that its IPO application to list on the Tokyo Stock Exchange had been approved. The company will be listed on the TSE Growth Market on June 28 with plans to offer 510,300 shares for public subscription and to sell 290,800 shares in over-allotment options for a total of 1,429,000 shares. The underwriting will be led by SMBC Nikko Securities while Nulab’s ticker code will be 5033. Based on the company’s estimated issue price is 2,130 yen (about $16.8) per share, its market cap is approximately 13.74 billion yen (about $108 million). Its share price range will be released on June 10 with bookbuilding scheduled to start on June 13 and pricing on June 17. The final public offering price will be determined on June 20. According to its consolidated statement as of March of 2021, the company posted revenue of 1.94 billion yen ($15.3 million) with an ordinary loss of 8.52 million yen ($67,000). Since its launch back in March of 2004 by CEO Masanori Hashimoto and others, Nulab has been offering cloud-based solutions helping companies and individuals improve their productivity….

The Nulab team on the rooftop of its headquarters in Fukuoka, Japan
Image credit: Nulab

Fukuoka-headquartered startup Nulab, offering various SaaS (software as a service) such as BackLog, Cacoo and Typetalk, announced on Tuesday that its IPO application to list on the Tokyo Stock Exchange had been approved. The company will be listed on the TSE Growth Market on June 28 with plans to offer 510,300 shares for public subscription and to sell 290,800 shares in over-allotment options for a total of 1,429,000 shares. The underwriting will be led by SMBC Nikko Securities while Nulab’s ticker code will be 5033.

Based on the company’s estimated issue price is 2,130 yen (about $16.8) per share, its market cap is approximately 13.74 billion yen (about $108 million). Its share price range will be released on June 10 with bookbuilding scheduled to start on June 13 and pricing on June 17. The final public offering price will be determined on June 20. According to its consolidated statement as of March of 2021, the company posted revenue of 1.94 billion yen ($15.3 million) with an ordinary loss of 8.52 million yen ($67,000).

Since its launch back in March of 2004 by CEO Masanori Hashimoto and others, Nulab has been offering cloud-based solutions helping companies and individuals improve their productivity. In addition to its headquarters in Fukuoka, the company is actively expanding both domestically and internationally, and now has development and marketing teams in New York, Singapore, and Amsterdam as well as several Japanese cities.

Led by CEO Hashimoto (25.42%), the company’s major shareholders include co-founder / director / head of NY office Shinsuke Tabata (25.34%), Alioth (24.01%), Now (4.93%), Nulab’s ESOP (employee stock ownership plan, 4.48%), East Ventures (4.3% through two funds), XTech Ventures (2.74%), and Shinsei Capital Partners (1.46%).

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Asia-focused fintech startup Opn becomes Japan’s 5th unicorn after $120M funding

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Tokyo- and Bangkok-based fintech startup Opn (formerly Omise, formerly Synqa) announced on Monday that it has secured $120 million US in a Series C+ round. Reuters reported that this round made the company become Japan’s 5th unicorn. A unicorn refers to a startup with a value of over $1 billion. Investors in the latest round are JIC Venture Growth Investments, Mitsubishi UFJ Bank, and Mars Growth Capital (jointly operated by Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and Israel-based fintech company Liquidity Capital). The startup was founded in 2013 by CEO Jun Hasegawa and COO Ezra Don Harinsut. Among disclosed funding updates, their previous round was made in June 2020 and secured $80 million from several Toyota Motor-affiliated companies and SCB 1OX, the startup investment arm of Siam Commercial Bank in Thailand. Opn’s clients include Toyota Motor and Thai duty-free giant King Power. The company claims that it serves more than 7,000 merchants, mainly in Japan and Southeast Asia, including McDonald’s and Toyota Motor. See also: Omise secures series B++ round funding from Global Brain, Mitsui Fudosan, SMDV Omise, Global Brain to build global network of co-working spaces for blockchain startups Japan’s Global Brain establishing fund to invest in blockchain tech, jointly with…

Opn founders: CEO Jun Hasegawa on right, COO Ezra Don Harinsut on left
Image credit: Opn

Tokyo- and Bangkok-based fintech startup Opn (formerly Omise, formerly Synqa) announced on Monday that it has secured $120 million US in a Series C+ round. Reuters reported that this round made the company become Japan’s 5th unicorn. A unicorn refers to a startup with a value of over $1 billion.

Investors in the latest round are JIC Venture Growth Investments, Mitsubishi UFJ Bank, and Mars Growth Capital (jointly operated by Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and Israel-based fintech company Liquidity Capital).

The startup was founded in 2013 by CEO Jun Hasegawa and COO Ezra Don Harinsut. Among disclosed funding updates, their previous round was made in June 2020 and secured $80 million from several Toyota Motor-affiliated companies and SCB 1OX, the startup investment arm of Siam Commercial Bank in Thailand.

Opn’s clients include Toyota Motor and Thai duty-free giant King Power. The company claims that it serves more than 7,000 merchants, mainly in Japan and Southeast Asia, including McDonald’s and Toyota Motor.

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Japanese startup studio and consulting firm Ignition Point acquired by Dentsu

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See the original story in Japanese. Tokyo-headquartered Ignition Point, offering digital transformation support for enterprises as well as startup studio functions, has been acquired by Dentsu Group (TSE: 4324). The firm will become a consolidated subsidiary of the ad giant. Financial terms for the acquisition has not yet been disclosed. Upon the acquisition, Ignition Point will soon begin collaborating with Dentsu Japan Network, the Japanese business operating company of the ad conglomerate, strengthening its business in the areas of business transformation (BX) and digital transformation (DX). Ignition Point was established in 2014 by Kazuhiro Aoyagi, a former Deloitte Tohmatsu Consulting employee. After the acquisition, Aoyagi stepped down as president while Takafumi Suemune, former executive vice president and COO, became the new president. See also: DANX wants to roll out ‘pop-up’ and on-demand diners across Japan using food trucks Japan’s Pontely gives free DNA test for pet shop dogs, prevents future abandons, culls

Photograph by Dick Thomas Johnson
Used under the CC BY 2.0 license.

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-headquartered Ignition Point, offering digital transformation support for enterprises as well as startup studio functions, has been acquired by Dentsu Group (TSE: 4324). The firm will become a consolidated subsidiary of the ad giant. Financial terms for the acquisition has not yet been disclosed.

Upon the acquisition, Ignition Point will soon begin collaborating with Dentsu Japan Network, the Japanese business operating company of the ad conglomerate, strengthening its business in the areas of business transformation (BX) and digital transformation (DX).

Ignition Point was established in 2014 by Kazuhiro Aoyagi, a former Deloitte Tohmatsu Consulting employee. After the acquisition, Aoyagi stepped down as president while Takafumi Suemune, former executive vice president and COO, became the new president.

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Minto secures $5M+; partners with Kakao Piccoma to boost web3, webtoon businesses

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Our readers may recall that Japanese sticker character production Quan has merged with cartoonist agency Wwwaap to launch a new company called Minto. We reported that this merger will allow Quan to distribute Wwwaap’s creators’ works and third-party content through Quan’s vast region-wide network in Asia while Wwwaap will be able to expand its sales channels. In addition to their own characters, Quon will be able to play a trader role in the distribution of third-party content. We wrote that the wave of webtoons originating in Korea had spread to the Japanese market, and that Kakao Japan (rebranded into Kakao Piccoma in November of 2021), the company behind the Piccoma digital comics platform, has surpassed 800 billion yen valuation (over $6 billion US) based on the success seizing that trend. It wasn’t clear whether Kakao Piccoma was a competitor or a friend for Minto as of that writing, but now it appears that the two companies have decided to join forces. Minto annoounced today that it has raised secured 660 million yen (over $500 million US) from Kakao Piccoma in addition to existing investors like Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Capital, Mizuho Capital, and OLM Ventures (the investment arm of Imagica Group)….

Piccoma mobile comic app, Minto Characters
Image credit: Kakao Piccoma, Minto

Our readers may recall that Japanese sticker character production Quan has merged with cartoonist agency Wwwaap to launch a new company called Minto. We reported that this merger will allow Quan to distribute Wwwaap’s creators’ works and third-party content through Quan’s vast region-wide network in Asia while Wwwaap will be able to expand its sales channels. In addition to their own characters, Quon will be able to play a trader role in the distribution of third-party content.

We wrote that the wave of webtoons originating in Korea had spread to the Japanese market, and that Kakao Japan (rebranded into Kakao Piccoma in November of 2021), the company behind the Piccoma digital comics platform, has surpassed 800 billion yen valuation (over $6 billion US) based on the success seizing that trend. It wasn’t clear whether Kakao Piccoma was a competitor or a friend for Minto as of that writing, but now it appears that the two companies have decided to join forces.

Minto annoounced today that it has raised secured 660 million yen (over $500 million US) from Kakao Piccoma in addition to existing investors like Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Capital, Mizuho Capital, and OLM Ventures (the investment arm of Imagica Group). This follows Minto’s previous round (probably a Series B round) back in February of 2010, and brought their funding sum up to date to 1.46 billion yen ($11.2 million US).

When Minto was born after the acquisition, some readers may have sensed the possibility that the company would expand into the Web3 business from their new brand. In February, the company appointed Minoru Yanai, who has been involved in several Web3 businesses, as a business development manager. For Minto, the funding will allow them to more closely work with Kakao Piccoma not only in webtoon but also many Web3 business development because the latter’s parent company has more than a few web3 subsidiaries in Korea such as Meta Bora (developing Web3 protocol Bora) and Ground X (developing the Klaytn blockchain).

Minto started collaborating with Kakao Piccoma five years ago to distribute Minto’s stickers on the KakaoTalk messaging app, which later led to the great success of Minto’s characters in Korea. Minto has also begun co-producing webtoons with Kakao Piccoma. Also, in advertising and marketing using webtoons, Minto’s former wwwaap team’s ability to use comics for social networking marketing will be well served.

Minto has been selling original NFTs, collaborating with the company’s CryptoCrystal NFT project, and exhibiting NFTs created from the company’s creator network on the Sandbox metaverse platform since last year. In April, the company also started selling NFTs featuring their original characters as well as other content from popular creators on the LINE NFT marketplace.

In this particular space, some of our readers may recall Tokyo-based Rocket Staff, acquired by anime retail giant Animate last year, has been developing webtoon businesses in the Japanese market.

Japan’s virtual YouTuber management agency Anycolor files for IPO

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Tokyo-based Anycolor, the Japanese startup behind the VTubers (short for “Virtual YouTubers”) group Nijisanji, announced on Thursday that its IPO application to list on the Tokyo Stock Exchange had been approved. The company will be listed on the TSE Growth Market on June 8 with plans to offer 30,000 shares for public subscription and to sell 174,600 shares in over-allotment options for a total of 1,114,000 shares. The underwriting will be led by Daiwa Securities and Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities while Anycolor’s ticker code will be 5032. Based on the company’s estimated issue price is 1,490 yen (about $11.5) per share, its market cap is approximately 44.6 billion yen (about $344 million). Its share price range will be released on May 23 with bookbuilding scheduled to start on May 24 and pricing on May 30. The final public offering price will be determined on May 31. According to its consolidated statement as of April of 2021, the company posted revenue of 7.63 billion yen ($58.5 million) with an ordinary profit of 1.45 billion yen ($11.2 million). Anycolor was founded in 2017 by CEO Riku Tazumi under its previous name of Ichikara. After participating in a long-term internship at Tokyo-based…

Image credit: Anycolor

Tokyo-based Anycolor, the Japanese startup behind the VTubers (short for “Virtual YouTubers”) group Nijisanji, announced on Thursday that its IPO application to list on the Tokyo Stock Exchange had been approved. The company will be listed on the TSE Growth Market on June 8 with plans to offer 30,000 shares for public subscription and to sell 174,600 shares in over-allotment options for a total of 1,114,000 shares. The underwriting will be led by Daiwa Securities and Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities while Anycolor’s ticker code will be 5032.

Based on the company’s estimated issue price is 1,490 yen (about $11.5) per share, its market cap is approximately 44.6 billion yen (about $344 million). Its share price range will be released on May 23 with bookbuilding scheduled to start on May 24 and pricing on May 30. The final public offering price will be determined on May 31. According to its consolidated statement as of April of 2021, the company posted revenue of 7.63 billion yen ($58.5 million) with an ordinary profit of 1.45 billion yen ($11.2 million).

Anycolor was founded in 2017 by CEO Riku Tazumi under its previous name of Ichikara. After participating in a long-term internship at Tokyo-based web solution provider GaiaX, he took a leave of absence of Waseda University to launch the company. Subsequently he launched Nijisanji in 2018 followed by rebranding the company into Anycolor in May of 2021.

According to Japanese web access analysis startup UserLocal, the Nijisanji group is comprised of over 110 VTubers who are followed by 39 million subscribing viewers on their YouTube channels. Anycolor’s expanded support for the VTubers has improved the quality of their video clips, which contributed to increasing viewing time and subscribing viewers on YouTube, eventually the revenue from live streaming. The company is also focused on merchandising fan goods as well as receiving orders for influencer marketing campaigns from companies.

Led by CEO Tazumi (43.11%), the company’s major shareholders include LC Fund (a fund of China’s Legend Capital, 10.29%), HODE HK (Hong Kong-based subsidiary of Chinese video giant Bilibili, 7.34%), Skyland Ventures (6.91%), Sony Music Entertainment (5.14%), Ken Honda (Founder of Freakout Holdings, 4.61%), Shinya Tsurui (Anycolor’s CFO, 3.00%), and Influencer Investment Holdings (subsidiary of Adways, 3.50%).

Japan’s Manabie raises $12M in series A round to build “ERP for schools”

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Japanese startup Manabie has been developing a digital transformation platform for teaching and administration tasks at educational institutions. The company announced on Wednesday that it has secured about 1.5 billion yen (about $12 million US) from Globis Capital Partners (GCP), Chiba Dojo Fund, and Genesia Ventures in a Series A round. This follows angel and seed rounds (raising $4.8 million in total) announced in April of 2020 and an extended seed round ($3 million) in March of 2021. The latest round brought the company’s funding sum up to date to about 2.2 billion yen (about $17 million). Manabie was founded in January 2020 by Takuya Homma (now CEO of Manabie), who previously founded UK startup Quipper, which was acquired by Recruit for 4.8 billion yen (about $39 million) in 2015, and had been involved in operating Recruit’s “Study Suppli” app in Japan through the PMI (Post-merger Integration) process. Manabie is focused on digitalizing educational institutions in contrast to Quipper which had been helping people gain access to education. Honma told us that there’s no major differences in teaching and school operations between countries or regions. While Quipper had been operating in Asian countries, Manabie is currently being used predominantly in…

Image credit: Manabie

Japanese startup Manabie has been developing a digital transformation platform for teaching and administration tasks at educational institutions. The company announced on Wednesday that it has secured about 1.5 billion yen (about $12 million US) from Globis Capital Partners (GCP), Chiba Dojo Fund, and Genesia Ventures in a Series A round.

This follows angel and seed rounds (raising $4.8 million in total) announced in April of 2020 and an extended seed round ($3 million) in March of 2021. The latest round brought the company’s funding sum up to date to about 2.2 billion yen (about $17 million).

Manabie was founded in January 2020 by Takuya Homma (now CEO of Manabie), who previously founded UK startup Quipper, which was acquired by Recruit for 4.8 billion yen (about $39 million) in 2015, and had been involved in operating Recruit’s “Study Suppli” app in Japan through the PMI (Post-merger Integration) process. Manabie is focused on digitalizing educational institutions in contrast to Quipper which had been helping people gain access to education.

Image credit: Manabie

Honma told us that there’s no major differences in teaching and school operations between countries or regions. While Quipper had been operating in Asian countries, Manabie is currently being used predominantly in Japan, in addition to Asia. In Japan, the government’s GIGA School Initiative has helped bring the digitalization to compulsory education schools to some extent, but there are still challenges for higher education and private cram schools, according to the company.

The Manabie system can be called ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system for educational institutions. More than 100 engineers in eight countries are engaged in the development. Honma expects to use the funds from the latest round to expand the engineering team to about twice as many. The COVID-19 pandemic pushes forward SaaS adoption in the education space, and the company intends to leverage this momentum for further growth.

AI Communis closes angel round, helps YouTubers reach different language audience

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Singapore-based AI Communis, the startup behind the platform integrating speech recognition and natural language processing technologies, announced on Monday that it has raised $300,000 US in an extended angel round. Participating investors are Tokyo-based VC The Seed, Chinese and Taiwanese multi-channel networks (agents managing influencers), Japanese angel investors who are familiar with YouTube-related businesses in addition to existing investors. This follows the 1st close of the company’s angel round back in September of 2021 when they secured $500,000 US. Keep raising funds, they expect to secure a seed round by the end of 2022. AI Communis was founded in April of 2020 by Nobuhiko Suzuki, who has been dealing with the business of translating, adding subtitles, and editing video clips. These multilingulization processes, especially needed for global marketing, had been handled manually for a long time, but the significantly improved accuracy of automation tools such as Amazon Transcribe, DeepL, Google Translate has recently made it possible to be mostly automated. The company launched a web app called Auris last year, which allows users to handle a series of tasks such as translation, subtitling, and video editing in a cloud environment. Leveraging the app, the company plans to launch a new…

Auris
Image credit: AI Communis

Singapore-based AI Communis, the startup behind the platform integrating speech recognition and natural language processing technologies, announced on Monday that it has raised $300,000 US in an extended angel round. Participating investors are Tokyo-based VC The Seed, Chinese and Taiwanese multi-channel networks (agents managing influencers), Japanese angel investors who are familiar with YouTube-related businesses in addition to existing investors.

This follows the 1st close of the company’s angel round back in September of 2021 when they secured $500,000 US. Keep raising funds, they expect to secure a seed round by the end of 2022.

AI Communis was founded in April of 2020 by Nobuhiko Suzuki, who has been dealing with the business of translating, adding subtitles, and editing video clips. These multilingulization processes, especially needed for global marketing, had been handled manually for a long time, but the significantly improved accuracy of automation tools such as Amazon Transcribe, DeepL, Google Translate has recently made it possible to be mostly automated.

The company launched a web app called Auris last year, which allows users to handle a series of tasks such as translation, subtitling, and video editing in a cloud environment. Leveraging the app, the company plans to launch a new business where crowdsourced gig workers help influencers and company marketers turn their video clips into any of 10 Asian languages.

Such video multilingualization is in great demand among YouTubers and companies who want to expand themselves and their products globally. The service is not yet fully operational and the demand is greater than the company originally expected, but it will take only about a week to deliver an output with adding translated subtitles after receiving the material source.

AI Communis has a wide range of delivery formats. Some YouTubers have asked the company to not only turn their clips into foreign languages, but also to manage different language channels under their YouTube account and to make efforts to increase viewership. The company raised investments from MCN and YouTuber businesses in the latest round to learn from them more about how to increase viewer engagement on social media.

The Auris platform currently supports 10 languages: English, Chinese (Mandarin), Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Tagalog, Indonesian, Hindu, and Malay. This means that in terms of population alone, Auris can streamline the development of content that can help YouTubers and marketers reach more than one-third of the world’s total population.

The platform had about 100 users in November, two months after the beta launch, but since then it has rapidly grown to 1,000 users in January 2022, 3,000 users in March, 8,000 users by the end of March, and now about 10,000 users. Perhaps it’s because of the demand from influencers, KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders), or even attracted potential gig workers using the tool.

AI Communis is based at BLOCK 71, a Singaporean startup hub where NUS (National University of Singapore), Singtel, and other organizations are running their accelerators respectively. The location attracts prospective entrepreneurs and interns from all over Southeast Asia, which is conducive to startups developing multilingual services. They will also perhaps contribute greatly to the development of AI Communis’ business.