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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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5 months after postponed IPO, AI-powered marketing bot developer Zeals secures $38M+

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Zeals is an equity-method affiliate of Freakout Holdings (TSE: 6094) and has developed AI-powered marketing bots for e-commerce companies and others. The company announced on Thursday that it has secured 5 billion yen (over $38 million US) in its latest round. Participating investors are the Japanese government-backed JIC Venture Growth Investments, Z Venture Capital, Japan Post Capital, and Salesforce Ventures. The sum includes debt financing from Mizuho nank and Mitsui UFJ Bank. Zeals was founded in April of 2014 with developing conversational robot software as its core business. In May of 2017, the company officially launched the Fanp chatbot management tool, but later pivoted to interactive advertising using chatbots. Prior to the latest round, they secured a seed round in January of 2015, a Series A round in May of 2017, a Series B round in January of 2018, an extended Series B round in April of 2019, and 1.8 billion yen in April of 2021. The latest round brought their funding sum up to date to over 7.65 billion yen (over $59 million US) including debt. Zeals’ solution allows users to purchase products while conversing with a chatbot, and has been introduced to approximately 400 companies with a total…

Image credit: Zeals

Zeals is an equity-method affiliate of Freakout Holdings (TSE: 6094) and has developed AI-powered marketing bots for e-commerce companies and others. The company announced on Thursday that it has secured 5 billion yen (over $38 million US) in its latest round. Participating investors are the Japanese government-backed JIC Venture Growth Investments, Z Venture Capital, Japan Post Capital, and Salesforce Ventures. The sum includes debt financing from Mizuho nank and Mitsui UFJ Bank.

Zeals was founded in April of 2014 with developing conversational robot software as its core business. In May of 2017, the company officially launched the Fanp chatbot management tool, but later pivoted to interactive advertising using chatbots. Prior to the latest round, they secured a seed round in January of 2015, a Series A round in May of 2017, a Series B round in January of 2018, an extended Series B round in April of 2019, and 1.8 billion yen in April of 2021. The latest round brought their funding sum up to date to over 7.65 billion yen (over $59 million US) including debt.

Zeals’ solution allows users to purchase products while conversing with a chatbot, and has been introduced to approximately 400 companies with a total of 4.3 million end users, which has contributed to analyzing 450 million conversation data sets (as of March of 2021). Leveraging the asset of these data sets, it enables user-oriented communication and supports clients’ marketing strategies.

Zeals’ IPO filing application to the Tokyo Stock Exchange Mothers was approved in November, however, the company soon postponed listing procedures due to deteriorating funding trends resulting from changes in U.S. monetary policy, IPO market trends, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The company said it would make a new decision on when to resume the procedures after assessing trends.

In his recent “Note” post, Masahiro Shimizu, founder and CEO of Zeals, revealed that the company’s team has tripled in size from before the COVID-19 pandemic to about 300 people, including about 100 engineers, 80% of whom are foreigners. The company plans to focus on product development, NLG (natural language generation) development, and global expansion, aiming to deliver chatbot-based commerce solutions to 100 million monthly active users by 2030.

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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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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 Rapyuta Robotics secures $51M in series C round

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Tokyo-, Bangalore-, and Zurich-based Rapyuta Robotics announced last week that it has raised 6.415 billion yen in the latest round, which Crunchbase says appears to be a series C round. This round was led by Goldman Sachs with participation from other unnamed investors. This follows their Series B round (raising JPY 700 million=$5.6 million through Series B1 + Series B2) that closed in July of 2020. The latest round brought their estimated funding sum up to date to 8.9 billion yen (about $70 million). Spun off from ETH Zurich, Rapyuta Robotics was founded in 2014 in Tokyo by CEO Gajan Mohanarajah who earned a master’s degree at Tokyo Institute of Technology followed by Ph.D at ETH Zurich. The company has developed Raputa.io, a cloud-based robotics platform for integrated operation and management of various robots from multiple manufacturers, as well as Raputa PA-AMR (pick assist-autonomous mobile robot) for logistics operations. The company plans to use the funds from the latest round to invest in marketing, partner training, and research and development to strengthen promoting the cloud platform and to accelerate the development of the picking robot solution. In conjunction with the funding, the company launched a promotional campaign which allows logistics…

Rapyuta PA-AMR
Image credit: Rapyuta Robotics

Tokyo-, Bangalore-, and Zurich-based Rapyuta Robotics announced last week that it has raised 6.415 billion yen in the latest round, which Crunchbase says appears to be a series C round. This round was led by Goldman Sachs with participation from other unnamed investors. This follows their Series B round (raising JPY 700 million=$5.6 million through Series B1 + Series B2) that closed in July of 2020. The latest round brought their estimated funding sum up to date to 8.9 billion yen (about $70 million).

Spun off from ETH Zurich, Rapyuta Robotics was founded in 2014 in Tokyo by CEO Gajan Mohanarajah who earned a master’s degree at Tokyo Institute of Technology followed by Ph.D at ETH Zurich. The company has developed Raputa.io, a cloud-based robotics platform for integrated operation and management of various robots from multiple manufacturers, as well as Raputa PA-AMR (pick assist-autonomous mobile robot) for logistics operations.

The company plans to use the funds from the latest round to invest in marketing, partner training, and research and development to strengthen promoting the cloud platform and to accelerate the development of the picking robot solution. In conjunction with the funding, the company launched a promotional campaign which allows logistics businesses, including small and medium-sized warehouses, to use the picking robot on a testing basis to check productivity improvement for low pricing.

via PR Times

double jump.tokyo raises $23M to accelerate blockchain game development

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See the original story in Japanese. Tokyo-based double jump.tokyo, the Japanese startup developing blockchain games and NFT business, announced on Thursday that it has secured approximately 3 billion yen (about $23.1 million) to develop blockchain games and to strengthen human resources to develop games leveraging intellectual properties (IP). Investors participating in this round include: Access Ventures Amber Group Arriba Studio Circle Ventures Com2uS Group Dentsu Ventures Fenbushi Capital Infinity Ventures Crypto JAFCO Jump Crypto Next Web capital PKO Investments Polygon Ventures Protocol Labs Wemade Venture Capital Z Venture Capital The company is well known for its global smash-hit blockchain game title My Crypto Heroes. Since its launch back in April of 2018, the company has been promoting blockchain game development support programs, cross-sector projects with various domestic and international NFT-related businesses as well as leading discussions with regulatory authorities in Japan. In March, the company announced its investment in and business partnership with ForN, the company behind YGG Japan, the Japanese entity of the NFT (non-fungible token)-based global game guild DAO (decentralized autonomous organization) Yield Guild Games (YGG). Our readers may recall that the company successfully sold two street NFTs from Japanese comic title Eren the Southpaw for as much…

Hironobu Ueno, CEO of double.jump.tokyo

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based double jump.tokyo, the Japanese startup developing blockchain games and NFT business, announced on Thursday that it has secured approximately 3 billion yen (about $23.1 million) to develop blockchain games and to strengthen human resources to develop games leveraging intellectual properties (IP).

Investors participating in this round include:

  • Access Ventures
  • Amber Group
  • Arriba Studio
  • Circle Ventures
  • Com2uS Group
  • Dentsu Ventures
  • Fenbushi Capital
  • Infinity Ventures Crypto
  • JAFCO
  • Jump Crypto
  • Next Web capital
  • PKO Investments
  • Polygon Ventures
  • Protocol Labs
  • Wemade Venture Capital
  • Z Venture Capital

The company is well known for its global smash-hit blockchain game title My Crypto Heroes. Since its launch back in April of 2018, the company has been promoting blockchain game development support programs, cross-sector projects with various domestic and international NFT-related businesses as well as leading discussions with regulatory authorities in Japan.

In March, the company announced its investment in and business partnership with ForN, the company behind YGG Japan, the Japanese entity of the NFT (non-fungible token)-based global game guild DAO (decentralized autonomous organization) Yield Guild Games (YGG). Our readers may recall that the company successfully sold two street NFTs from Japanese comic title Eren the Southpaw for as much as 332,300 ASTR (approximately $64,000) last week.

Regarding the latest funding, their CEO Hironobu Ueno says in his company’s statement,

This funding is a manifestation of our investors’ appreciation and expectation for our steady accumulation of the large-scale achievement in blockchain games and IP-based NFT content since the dawn of time in this space.

To promote the joint development of IP-based blockchain games with major game companies, the funds will be used to invest in products, partners, and DAO projects, which help strengthen and grow our group in the upcoming mass adoption phase of the blockchain game 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.

Central prefecture of Aichi kicks off prep for Japan’s entrepreneurial superhub

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See the original story in Japanese. Japan’s Aichi Prefecture, located in the very center of the archipelago, held a kick-off event for PRE-STATION Ai, the preparation initiative for their startup hub and community STATION-Ai which will be totally rolled out in 2024 in Nagoya. Nagoya is the prefecture’s capital and most populous neighborhood, and also known as the country’s third largest city. This is based on the strategy which the prefecture formulated in 2018 to help bring more startups from the central Chubu Region. With a total floor area of approximately 23,000 square meters, the 7-story hub is scheduled to be completed in 2024 in south of Tsurumai Park of Nagoya. In reponse to the prefecture decision to entrust SoftBank for managing the facility and community, the telco and investment giant established a special-purpose subsidiary called STATION Ai last year. Until the official launch of the hub, the prefecture will have been conducting PRE-Station Ai, the preparation initiative, at WeWork Global Gate Nagoya for the next two years. Launched last year, it selected 85 startups (43 in-person and 42 work-from-home participating teams) its FY22 batch this year followed by letting 34 startups graduate from its previous FY21 batch last year….

Teams selected for PRE-STATION Ai’s FY22 batch with Hideaki Omura (Governor of Aichi Prefecture) on center right and Hirotaka Sahashi (CEO of STATION Ai) on center left). They took mask off for photo.
Image credit: Masaru Ikeda

See the original story in Japanese.

Japan’s Aichi Prefecture, located in the very center of the archipelago, held a kick-off event for PRE-STATION Ai, the preparation initiative for their startup hub and community STATION-Ai which will be totally rolled out in 2024 in Nagoya. Nagoya is the prefecture’s capital and most populous neighborhood, and also known as the country’s third largest city.

This is based on the strategy which the prefecture formulated in 2018 to help bring more startups from the central Chubu Region. With a total floor area of approximately 23,000 square meters, the 7-story hub is scheduled to be completed in 2024 in south of Tsurumai Park of Nagoya. In reponse to the prefecture decision to entrust SoftBank for managing the facility and community, the telco and investment giant established a special-purpose subsidiary called STATION Ai last year.

Until the official launch of the hub, the prefecture will have been conducting PRE-Station Ai, the preparation initiative, at WeWork Global Gate Nagoya for the next two years. Launched last year, it selected 85 startups (43 in-person and 42 work-from-home participating teams) its FY22 batch this year followed by letting 34 startups graduate from its previous FY21 batch last year. They expect to qualify 140 startups by the end of this year, aiming to have 1,000 startups be based in the hub by 2029, five years after its official launch.

(As a side note, Station F, the Paris-based entrepreneurial hub which STATION Ai is modeled after, has revealed that 1,034 startups consisting of 4,882 people had been resided there during its first year of 2017.)

This is an area reserved for selected teams for this year’s PRE-STATION Ai batch in WeWork Global Gate Nagoya. You can see Nagoya station skyscrapers through the windows.
Image credit: Masaru Ikeda

The prefecture says it’s offering over 200 startup support program centering on the aforementioned strategy, having partnered with Station F, the University of Texas at Austin, Tsinghua University-affiliated Tus Holdings for supporting global expansion, building cross-border community as well as sharing practices for better incubation. The initiative has appointed experienced entrepreneurs as supervisors / community managers to support budding startups and entrepreneurs.

The Japanese government has selected several cities in the central Chubu region as as “Global Hub Cities, including Aichi Prefecture, Nagoya City, and Hamamatsu City. The prefecture launched a local VC firm network to help investors and entrepreneurs better connect each others. Startup Guide, the global brand of startup local ecosystem guides, published its Nagoya edition last year in association with Nagoya City and the Chubu Region Innovation Promotion Organization, which made Nagoya become the second Japanese city covered by the publication after Tokyo. In the region, local universities has been jointly organizing an entrepreneurship program called Tongali to encourage their students to launch startups.

Conceptual drawing at completion of STATION-ai.
Image credit: Startup Promotion Section, Bureau of Economy and Industry, Aichi Prefectural Office