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Japan virtual YouTuber management agency raises $6.6 million to expand globally

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See the original story in Japanese. Tokyo-based Cover, the startup offering management production services of VTubers (short for “virtual YouTubers”), announced on Thursday that it has raised 700 million yen (about $6.6 million US) in the latest round. The series of the round has not been specified yet. The funding comes from Hakuhodo DY Ventures, i-nest capital, Chiba Dojo, Dimension, SMBC Venture Capital, angel investors in addition to existing investors including Strive (previously known as GREE Ventures). The amount also includes loans from Mizuho Bank. For the startup, this follows their seed round funding back in August of 2017 (approx. 30 million yen from Mizuho Capital, TLM, and angel investors) and their series A round back in June of 2018 (approx. 200 million yen from GREE Ventures, OLM Ventures, and Mizuho Capital). The latest rounds brought their total funding sum up to about 1 billion yen (about $940 million). The company runs a VTuber agency business called Hololive Production which allows entertainers to perform a fictitious character using VR-based 3D avatars. In the agency, nearly 50 VTubers in Japan and overseas are attrarcting a total of more than 15 million fans through these performers’ livestreaming channels on YouTube and China’s…

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based Cover, the startup offering management production services of VTubers (short for “virtual YouTubers”), announced on Thursday that it has raised 700 million yen (about $6.6 million US) in the latest round. The series of the round has not been specified yet.

The funding comes from Hakuhodo DY Ventures, i-nest capital, Chiba Dojo, Dimension, SMBC Venture Capital, angel investors in addition to existing investors including Strive (previously known as GREE Ventures). The amount also includes loans from Mizuho Bank.

For the startup, this follows their seed round funding back in August of 2017 (approx. 30 million yen from Mizuho Capital, TLM, and angel investors) and their series A round back in June of 2018 (approx. 200 million yen from GREE Ventures, OLM Ventures, and Mizuho Capital). The latest rounds brought their total funding sum up to about 1 billion yen (about $940 million).

The company runs a VTuber agency business called Hololive Production which allows entertainers to perform a fictitious character using VR-based 3D avatars. In the agency, nearly 50 VTubers in Japan and overseas are attrarcting a total of more than 15 million fans through these performers’ livestreaming channels on YouTube and China’s Bilibili.

In recent years, the company has been helping the VTubers expand their activities beyond streaming channels. Vtuber Tokino Sora successfully debuted with a Japanese major label last year while another Vtubers, such as Hoshimachi Suisei, Shirakami Fubuki, and Houshou Marine, started their radio shows earlier this year.

The company says it will use the funds to strengthen VTuber management business in Japan and overseas, promote virtual live performances, and develop other Extended Reality-based services. The company has already started offering VTuber management production services in China and Indonesia as well as rolling out auditions in several English-speaking countries.

Founded back in 2016 by Motoaki Tanigo who previously ran the restaurant curation app 30min. (pronounced ‘sun zero minute’), the company was graduated from notable startup accelerators like Incubate Camp 8th, TECH LAB PAAK’s 7th batch, and Tokyo VR Startups’ 2nd batch.

Japanese FinTech startup Moneytree secures series C round funding from Fidelity

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Tokyo-based Moneytree, a startup that provides a personal finance app and a cloud-based accounting service, announced on Tuesday that it has secured series C round funding from Fidelity International. Details of financial terms have not been disclosed. Given that the company claims that the latest round brought their total funding sum up to 3.1 billion yen (about $29 million US), however, it is estimated to be around several to tens of millions in US dollars following the following past rounds: Seed round in 2013: 150 million yen ($1.5 million) funding from DG Incubation and angel investors. Series A round in 2015: Unknown amount funding led by Salesforce.com with participation from Mizuho Capital, Mitsubishi UFJ Capital, and SMBC Venture Capital. Series B round in 2017: 1 billion yen ($9 million) funding led by SBI Investment with participation from Mizuho Capital, SMBC Venture Capital, Salesforce Ventures, Fukuoka Technology Partners, Hiroshima Venture Capital, Senshu Ikeda Capital, and the UK’s leading asset management company Baillie Gifford. Venture round in 2019: Unknown amount funding from Mitsubishi UFJ Innovation Partners, Sony Financial Ventures, and NTT Data. Since the launch of a personal finance management app under the same name back in 2013, the FinTech startup has…

Image credit: Moneytree

Tokyo-based Moneytree, a startup that provides a personal finance app and a cloud-based accounting service, announced on Tuesday that it has secured series C round funding from Fidelity International.

Details of financial terms have not been disclosed. Given that the company claims that the latest round brought their total funding sum up to 3.1 billion yen (about $29 million US), however, it is estimated to be around several to tens of millions in US dollars following the following past rounds:

  • Seed round in 2013: 150 million yen ($1.5 million) funding from DG Incubation and angel investors.
  • Series A round in 2015: Unknown amount funding led by Salesforce.com with participation from Mizuho Capital, Mitsubishi UFJ Capital, and SMBC Venture Capital.
  • Series B round in 2017: 1 billion yen ($9 million) funding led by SBI Investment with participation from Mizuho Capital, SMBC Venture Capital, Salesforce Ventures, Fukuoka Technology Partners, Hiroshima Venture Capital, Senshu Ikeda Capital, and the UK’s leading asset management company Baillie Gifford.
  • Venture round in 2019: Unknown amount funding from Mitsubishi UFJ Innovation Partners, Sony Financial Ventures, and NTT Data.

Since the launch of a personal finance management app under the same name back in 2013, the FinTech startup has been attracting individual users with convenient functions like integrating with their bank and credit card accounts.

The company subsequently introduced the Moneytree Work platform for business use, followed by introducing an API service called MT Link back in 2015, which allows users to aggregate transactions from bank, credit card, e-wallet, and point rewards accounts. It expanded into the Australian market back in 2017.

via PR TIMES

Kyoto AI startup Hacarus secures series B funding from Osaka Gas, animal pharma firm

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Kyoto-headquartered AI startup Hacarus announced on Friday that it has secured series B round funding from Osaka Gas (TSE:9532), DS Pharma Animal Health, and Kyogin Lease & Capital. Details of financial terms have not been disclosed but the amount of the funding is estimated millions of US dollars according to a source familiar with the matter. This round follows Hacrus’ series A round raising 270 million yen (about $2.5 million) back in 2018. Kyogin Lease & Capital, one of the investors in this round, participated in the startup’s seed round raising 100 million yen (about $930,000) back in 2016 and 2017. Since 2017, Hacarus has been developing AI services for industrial and medical use leveraging the Sparse Modeling method, a scientific modeling approach for AI that can accurately uncover a big picture from a small amount of information. The method is good at elucidating causal relationships between data sets, which greatly help people improve interpreting results and decisions made by AI. In August, Hacarus and Osaka Gas agreed to jointly develop an AI system to help 155 Daigas Group companies – subsidiaries and affiliates of Osaka Gas – streamline their business operations, and to consider joint development of AI and…

Hacarus and DS Pharma Animal Health jointly exhibited at Medical IT Expo Osaka in February.
Image credit: Hacarus

Kyoto-headquartered AI startup Hacarus announced on Friday that it has secured series B round funding from Osaka Gas (TSE:9532), DS Pharma Animal Health, and Kyogin Lease & Capital. Details of financial terms have not been disclosed but the amount of the funding is estimated millions of US dollars according to a source familiar with the matter.

This round follows Hacrus’ series A round raising 270 million yen (about $2.5 million) back in 2018. Kyogin Lease & Capital, one of the investors in this round, participated in the startup’s seed round raising 100 million yen (about $930,000) back in 2016 and 2017.

Since 2017, Hacarus has been developing AI services for industrial and medical use leveraging the Sparse Modeling method, a scientific modeling approach for AI that can accurately uncover a big picture from a small amount of information. The method is good at elucidating causal relationships between data sets, which greatly help people improve interpreting results and decisions made by AI.

In August, Hacarus and Osaka Gas agreed to jointly develop an AI system to help 155 Daigas Group companies – subsidiaries and affiliates of Osaka Gas – streamline their business operations, and to consider joint development of AI and IoT solutions for these companies’ customers. The investment from Osaka Gas is aimed at strengthening such cooperative relationships.

In June, Hacarus agreed with DS Pharma Animal Health to collaborate over AI-based analytics service leveraging animal biometrics. As a first step, the two companies have jointly developed an AI service for collecting and analyzing electrocardiogram (ECG) data for animals, and have shown prototypes at Medica, the world’s largest medical device trade fair as well as other medical exhibitions in Japan. With all these actions, the two companies say they could find business synergy and decide to make a capital tie-up.

10 crisis initiatives for startups

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This guest post is authored by Mark Bivens. Mark is a Silicon Valley native and former entrepreneur, having started three companies before “turning to the dark side of VC.” He is a venture capitalist that travels between Paris and Tokyo (aka the RudeVC). You can read more on his blog at http://rude.vc or follow him @markbivens. The Japanese translation of this article is available here. A fair bit of ink has been spilled with VC recommendations to startups on how to best confront the business challenges catalyzed by the covid-19 crisis. In fact, it’s practically compulsory writing for any VC on social media these days. Rather than write yet another of one of those posts, I’m taking a different angle. The preponderance of the various VC tips permeating the ether these days — worthwhile as they are — tend to be fairly prescriptive in nature. So, in complement to all that good wisdom out there and rather than preach from the perch of my Peloton®, I’m going to highlight some best practices from the people on the front lines of this economic crisis, i.e. our portfolio company CEOs. Here is an extract of some of the most concrete and actionable…

mark-bivens_portrait

This guest post is authored by Mark Bivens. Mark is a Silicon Valley native and former entrepreneur, having started three companies before “turning to the dark side of VC.” He is a venture capitalist that travels between Paris and Tokyo (aka the RudeVC). You can read more on his blog at http://rude.vc or follow him @markbivens. The Japanese translation of this article is available here.


Image credit: Pxfuel

A fair bit of ink has been spilled with VC recommendations to startups on how to best confront the business challenges catalyzed by the covid-19 crisis. In fact, it’s practically compulsory writing for any VC on social media these days.

Rather than write yet another of one of those posts, I’m taking a different angle. The preponderance of the various VC tips permeating the ether these days — worthwhile as they are — tend to be fairly prescriptive in nature. So, in complement to all that good wisdom out there and rather than preach from the perch of my Peloton®, I’m going to highlight some best practices from the people on the front lines of this economic crisis, i.e. our portfolio company CEOs. Here is an extract of some of the most concrete and actionable ideas which have been initiated by a variety of our investments. [I have restricted my own comments to brackets.] Hopefully some of these initiatives will inspire ideas that are more directly relevant to your own unique situations.

  1. Anticipating that things will get worse before they get better. Erring on the side of abundant caution and taking measures early even if they seem excessively prudent.
  2. Holding candid discussions with their investors, early and often, to find out whether they have the capacity, the will, and the dry powder to provide some bridge financing in the event that things do get worse.
  3. Providing their employees the tools to work from home. Not all of them rock the same home office crib that the CEO does. Those who could afford it have given their employees a “work-from-home stipend” to enable them to purchase the equipment they need to be productive. [Not only is the productivity boost covering the expense, but I have a feeling that the staff loyalty they generate from moves like this will probably prove priceless
  4. Designating to each employee a special additional role during the crisis [hat tip to Eric Ries for this idea], for example
  • A person who contacts suppliers, customers, and partners purely to check in on their well-being
  • A point person to keep up with the evolving dynamic of local government subsidies for which the startup might be eligible
  • A person who posts any good news on a regular basis about covid-19 developments
  • A person to ensure there’s adequate supply of hand sanitizer in the office
  • [an initiative like this brings several benefits: it gives every employee a clear responsibility; it aligns employees with the problem-solving mission; it relieves much of the burden on the CEO (if you haven’t learned how to delegate yet, now would be a good time, and quick); it enhances productivity; etc.]
  1. Giving themselves some time (usually two weeks) to brainstorm with all staff on how to creatively generate more short-term revenue, free of ideological mindset constraints. [if you’re product purists, could you provide some services ? are there any work-for-hire opportunities ? could you monetize some of your company’s talents or technologies in a different way ?]
  2. Over-communicating with transparency and candor to all employees about the potential financial challenges
  3. Leading by example first, by postponing 100% of their own salary and then asking employees to postpone 50% of theirs. In the event that layoffs are absolutely necessary, finding the most humane manner possible to do them [extending option exercise periods, offering to re-hire, granting use of facilities, etc.]
  4. Postponing fees to external board members [exploring the postponement of such fees could hardly be considered offensive if you have already established a relationship of transparent communication with your board.]
  5. Pursuing every possible government aid available [government-backed loans, partial unemployment subsidies, tax deferrals, etc.]
  6. Generally extending the same level of transparency to their suppliers, sharing openly their financial predicament and exploring potential flexibility in payment terms [I know of one startup who told their landlord with sincere apologies that they will temporarily need to stop paying rent for a few months, were prepared to accept the consequences, and genuinely hope that the landlord understands their situation.]

[On a related note, I recall one CFO from a portfolio company in the distant past who found himself forced to navigate crises on almost a bi-annual basis. I’m going to dedicate a whole future post to this individual one day. One of his most creative ideas when in a cash crunch was to approach each supplier with a proposition of flipping a coin: heads he pays them within 30 days; tails he postpones payment for 60 days. I love trotting out this anecdote every time a startup manager tells me that they’re in a cash crisis and they’ve tried absolutely everything. “Have you really tried everything? If you haven’t flipped coins with your suppliers yet, then you haven’t tried absolutely everything,“ I like to respond.]

A healthy company culture will be one of your greatest assets to navigate this crisis. Leverage it.

‘Virtual YouTuber’ startup Activ8 secures $9.3M series C funding for global expansion

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See the original story in Japanese. Tokyo-based Activ8 (pronounced ‘activate’), the Japanese startup behind the Upd8 (pronounced ‘update’) ‘Virtual YouTuber’ supporting project, announced on Wednesday that it has raised about 1 billion yen (about $9.3 million US) in a series C round. Participating investors include leading manga publisher Shogakukan, design-related solutions provider Too, talent agency Horipro, and others. No details on financial terms have been disclosed. For Activ8, this follows their previous $5.4 million funding from Makers Fund and Gumi back in 2018. The startup was founded back in September of 2016, subsequently graduated from the 3rd batch of the Tokyo XR Startups accelerator back in December of 2018. They have been focused on supporting and nurturing ‘Virtual YouTubers’ through the Upd8 project since then. Notable ‘Virtual YouTubers’ belonging to the project include Kizuna Ai (Love-chan), Kashikomari, and Fukuya Master. Active8 says that they will use the funds to accelerate developing content business centered on developing a virtual reality (VR) live performance system in addition to global business expansion. Based on the partnership with Too, one of the investors participating in this round, the startup will offer systems and services for VR live performance as well as developing new products…

Image credit: Activ8

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based Activ8 (pronounced ‘activate’), the Japanese startup behind the Upd8 (pronounced ‘update’) ‘Virtual YouTuber’ supporting project, announced on Wednesday that it has raised about 1 billion yen (about $9.3 million US) in a series C round.

Participating investors include leading manga publisher Shogakukan, design-related solutions provider Too, talent agency Horipro, and others. No details on financial terms have been disclosed. For Activ8, this follows their previous $5.4 million funding from Makers Fund and Gumi back in 2018.

The startup was founded back in September of 2016, subsequently graduated from the 3rd batch of the Tokyo XR Startups accelerator back in December of 2018. They have been focused on supporting and nurturing ‘Virtual YouTubers’ through the Upd8 project since then. Notable ‘Virtual YouTubers’ belonging to the project include Kizuna Ai (Love-chan), Kashikomari, and Fukuya Master.

Active8 says that they will use the funds to accelerate developing content business centered on developing a virtual reality (VR) live performance system in addition to global business expansion. Based on the partnership with Too, one of the investors participating in this round, the startup will offer systems and services for VR live performance as well as developing new products in collaboration with virtual talents.

The new platform, tentatively named Spectacle, is still under development with an aim to offer next-gen VR content for multi-devices. Turning high-end graphics into VR live performance to be delivered via real-time streaming, it pursues offering users with the value experiencing music live performance with higher user experience even for VR users as well as YouTuber viewers.

Below is an example created using the platform:

Japan’s TimeTree, shared calendar app for couples, raises $18M

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See the original story in Japanese. Tokyo-based TimeTree (previously known as Jubilee Works), the startup behind shared calendar app for couples under the same name, announced in late December that it has raised about 1.96 billion yen (about $17.9 million) in the latest round. Participating investors are Seoul-based Stonebridge Ventures, Persol Innovation Fund (investment arm of Tokyo-based human resource services company Persol Holdings=TSE:2181), and Orient Corporation (TSE:8585). This follows their venture round (raising undisclosed amount) back in December of 2018, series A round (raising $4.6 million) back in August of 2017, and seed round (raising $1.9 million) back in October of 2016. The TimeTree app allows users to share their calendar with their family members, loved ones, friends and colleagues. It surpassed 20 million registered users in December, planning to launch TimeTree Ads, the ad network which can target users based on their schedule, as well as the TimeTree API that enables an easy integration with other apps for input and output schedule data.

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based TimeTree (previously known as Jubilee Works), the startup behind shared calendar app for couples under the same name, announced in late December that it has raised about 1.96 billion yen (about $17.9 million) in the latest round.

Participating investors are Seoul-based Stonebridge Ventures, Persol Innovation Fund (investment arm of Tokyo-based human resource services company Persol Holdings=TSE:2181), and Orient Corporation (TSE:8585). This follows their venture round (raising undisclosed amount) back in December of 2018, series A round (raising $4.6 million) back in August of 2017, and seed round (raising $1.9 million) back in October of 2016.

The TimeTree app allows users to share their calendar with their family members, loved ones, friends and colleagues. It surpassed 20 million registered users in December, planning to launch TimeTree Ads, the ad network which can target users based on their schedule, as well as the TimeTree API that enables an easy integration with other apps for input and output schedule data.

Japanese exoskeleton developer Innophys raises $32.4M

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See the original story in Japanese. Japanese startup developing Innophys announced in late December that it has secured 3.53 billion yen (about $32.4 million US) in the latest round. Participating investors are HI-LEX Corporation (TSE:7279), Fidelity International, Brother Industries (TSE:6448), Future Venture Capital, Nac (TSE:9788), Towa Pharmaceutical (TSE:4553), Tokai (TSE:9729), Bic Camera (TSE:3048), and among others. The company has developed an exoskeleton suit that charges by squeezing a hand pump to fill pressurized air-powered ‘muscles’ that are then used to augment the worker’s natural strength. Allowing users to reduce the burden on the waist when lifting a person or a heavy object, and doing other tasks in a half-crouching position, it can help prevent their back pain and improve working conditions. The Muscle Suit series has sold a total of 5,000 models since its first release back in 2014. via PR Times

Image credit: Innophys

See the original story in Japanese.

Japanese startup developing Innophys announced in late December that it has secured 3.53 billion yen (about $32.4 million US) in the latest round. Participating investors are HI-LEX Corporation (TSE:7279), Fidelity International, Brother Industries (TSE:6448), Future Venture Capital, Nac (TSE:9788), Towa Pharmaceutical (TSE:4553), Tokai (TSE:9729), Bic Camera (TSE:3048), and among others.

The company has developed an exoskeleton suit that charges by squeezing a hand pump to fill pressurized air-powered ‘muscles’ that are then used to augment the worker’s natural strength. Allowing users to reduce the burden on the waist when lifting a person or a heavy object, and doing other tasks in a half-crouching position, it can help prevent their back pain and improve working conditions. The Muscle Suit series has sold a total of 5,000 models since its first release back in 2014.

via PR Times

Smart driving assistant developer Drivemode acquired by Honda R&D

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See the original story in Japanese. Honda R&D, the research and development-focused subsidiary of the Japanese automotive giant, announced on Monday that it has acquired full stake in Drivemode, the US-based startup developing smart driving assistant technology, for an undisclosed sum. The two companies will join forces to develop connect mobility services at Digital Solution Center, a newly developed facility in Honda R&D. They have been working together since 2015 sice the Honda Xcelerator open innovation program. Since its launch back in 2014, Drivemode secured seed funding from Tokyo-based Incubate Fund and then launched an Android app under the same name which allows drivers to control their cars without watching the screen of the app. Prior to launching Drivemode, the startup’s founder Yokichi Koga previously worked at a Boston-based VC as a director and then car-sharing startup Zipcar as an advisor.  

drivemode_featuredimage

See the original story in Japanese.

Honda R&D, the research and development-focused subsidiary of the Japanese automotive giant, announced on Monday that it has acquired full stake in Drivemode, the US-based startup developing smart driving assistant technology, for an undisclosed sum.

The two companies will join forces to develop connect mobility services at Digital Solution Center, a newly developed facility in Honda R&D. They have been working together since 2015 sice the Honda Xcelerator open innovation program.

Since its launch back in 2014, Drivemode secured seed funding from Tokyo-based Incubate Fund and then launched an Android app under the same name which allows drivers to control their cars without watching the screen of the app.

Prior to launching Drivemode, the startup’s founder Yokichi Koga previously worked at a Boston-based VC as a director and then car-sharing startup Zipcar as an advisor.

 

Japanese AI-powered cancer detection startup raises $43M in series B round

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See the original story in Japanese. Tokyo-based AI Medical Service, the Japanese startup developing the AI-powered technology to detect cancerous lesions from endoscopic footage, announced on Friday that it has secured about 4.6 billion yen (about $43 million US) in a series B round. Participating investors in this round are: Globis Capital Partners(GCP) WiL Sparx Group Sony Innovation Fund by IGV(Managed by Innovation Growth Ventures, the joint venture of Sony and Daiwa Capital Holdings) Japan Lifeline (cardiovascular medical device manufacturer, TSE:7575) Japan Post Capital Aflac Ventures Ryoyo Electro (semiconductor trader, TSE:8068) SMBC Venture Capital Daiwa Corporate Investment An unnamed angel investor For the company, this follows their previous funding (series A round) worth 1 billion yen back in August of last year and brought their funding sum up to 6.2 billion yen (about $58 million US). Established by physician Dr.TOmohiro Tada, AI Medical Service has been developing an AI-powered diagnostic system for cancer detection. A survey says only 31% even among medical doctors can correctly determine the presence or absence of gastric cancer symptoms from endoscopic footage. With help from more than a few medical doctors, the company can improve the AI engine because of using hundreds of thousands of…

incubate-camp-10th-ai-medical-1

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based AI Medical Service, the Japanese startup developing the AI-powered technology to detect cancerous lesions from endoscopic footage, announced on Friday that it has secured about 4.6 billion yen (about $43 million US) in a series B round.

Participating investors in this round are:

  • Globis Capital Partners(GCP)
  • WiL
  • Sparx Group
  • Sony Innovation Fund by IGV(Managed by Innovation Growth Ventures, the joint venture of Sony and Daiwa Capital Holdings)
  • Japan Lifeline (cardiovascular medical device manufacturer, TSE:7575)
  • Japan Post Capital
  • Aflac Ventures
  • Ryoyo Electro (semiconductor trader, TSE:8068)
  • SMBC Venture Capital
  • Daiwa Corporate Investment
  • An unnamed angel investor

For the company, this follows their previous funding (series A round) worth 1 billion yen back in August of last year and brought their funding sum up to 6.2 billion yen (about $58 million US).

Established by physician Dr.TOmohiro Tada, AI Medical Service has been developing an AI-powered diagnostic system for cancer detection. A survey says only 31% even among medical doctors can correctly determine the presence or absence of gastric cancer symptoms from endoscopic footage. With help from more than a few medical doctors, the company can improve the AI engine because of using hundreds of thousands of high-definition endoscopic images to let it learn better. The engine now can detect with high accuracy the presence of Helicobacter Pylori bacteria, which is known to be the major cause of stomach cancer.

In 2017, the company won the top award at Beyond Next Ventures’ Brave accelerator program in the pre-incorporated startup segment. They also won the Best Growth and Judge awards at Incubate Camp 10th back in August of 2017, followed by winning the TechCrunch Japan award at the 10th Batch Demo Day of Recruit’s Tech Lab Paak accelerator.

The company uses the funds to promote clinical trials, expand the pipeline, hire talents, make more investments, aiming to accelerate the development of real-time endoscope AI and to get an approval of medical regulatory for it.

Japan’s “flying car” developer SkyDrive snags $14M, expects manned test flight this year

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See the original story in Japanese. Tokyo-based SkyDrive, the Japanese drone startup spun off from the Cartivator volunteer group consisting of aircraft, drone and automotive engineers, announced on Monday that it has secured 1.5 billion yen (about $13.9 million US). The investment round is unknown but participating investors are Drone Fund, Z Corporation (investment arm of Yahoo Japan), Strive, Itochu Technology Ventures, and Energy & Environment Investment. Drone Fund and Z Corporation have participated in the startup’s past rounds. The company claims that the latest round brought their funding sum up to 2 billon yen (about $18.5 million US). Coinciding with the funding, Tatso Tsutsumi, General Partner of Strive, will join the board of SkyDrive as an outside director. The starutp will use the funds to speed up developing their drone to conduct a test flight within this year. See also: Japan startup unveils manned hoverbike, expecting it to fly above public roads SkyDrive’s so-called “flying car” is an electrically-powered, vertical take-off and landing pilotless aircraft. As a new trend in the mobility industry, the drone is expected to be used for taxi service in cities, means for transportation in remote islands and mountainous areas, emergency transport in the event…

skydrive-team
The SkyDrive team
Image credit: SkyDrive

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based SkyDrive, the Japanese drone startup spun off from the Cartivator volunteer group consisting of aircraft, drone and automotive engineers, announced on Monday that it has secured 1.5 billion yen (about $13.9 million US). The investment round is unknown but participating investors are Drone Fund, Z Corporation (investment arm of Yahoo Japan), Strive, Itochu Technology Ventures, and Energy & Environment Investment.

Drone Fund and Z Corporation have participated in the startup’s past rounds. The company claims that the latest round brought their funding sum up to 2 billon yen (about $18.5 million US). Coinciding with the funding, Tatso Tsutsumi, General Partner of Strive, will join the board of SkyDrive as an outside director. The starutp will use the funds to speed up developing their drone to conduct a test flight within this year.

See also:

SkyDrive’s so-called “flying car” is an electrically-powered, vertical take-off and landing pilotless aircraft. As a new trend in the mobility industry, the drone is expected to be used for taxi service in cities, means for transportation in remote islands and mountainous areas, emergency transport in the event of a diaster. Compared to conventional air crafts, the drone is cost-effective, makes lower noise but requires a smaller space for take-off and landing.

SkyDrive was qualified as a finalist in the Tokyo Startup Gateway 2014 startup incubator, and then won the 5th place at the Launch Pad pitch competition at Infinity Ventures Summit 2015 Spring in Miyazaki. We have learned that the company secured funds from Drone Fund’s 2nd fund earlier this year.

Translated by Masaru Ikeda