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Japan’s Smartround raises from Peter Thiel-led fund to help startups manage equity

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Tokyo-based Smartround, a Japanese startup helping startups and investors manage their funding and investments respectively, announced today that it has secured 100 million yen (about $933,000) in a pre-series A round based on J-KISS, a simple term sheet framework for a convertible instrument for early startups to obtain initial financing. Participating investors in this round include FF APAC Scout, Justin Waldron, and Matias de Tezanos. FF APAC Scout is Peter Thiel-led Founders Fund’s APAC region-focused scout fund, which allows serial entrepreneurs / angel investors to back new entrepreneurs, similarly to Japan Angel Fund and Sequoia Capital’s scout fund in terms of the scheme. Zynga co-founder Justin Waldron is well known in Japan for having invested in language learning startup Lang-8 while Matias de Tezanos is a serial entrepreneur and has experienced seven exits as an investor. Since the company secured over $513,000 from more than 20 Japanese angel investors in a seed round back in March last year, the latest round suggests another massive backing from angel investors but is centered on the Inner Circle in Silicon Valley this time around. Jeff Lonsdale, who’s in charge of the investment at FF APAC Scout, said in a statement: Japan is one…

Image credit: Smartround

Tokyo-based Smartround, a Japanese startup helping startups and investors manage their funding and investments respectively, announced today that it has secured 100 million yen (about $933,000) in a pre-series A round based on J-KISS, a simple term sheet framework for a convertible instrument for early startups to obtain initial financing. Participating investors in this round include FF APAC Scout, Justin Waldron, and Matias de Tezanos.

FF APAC Scout is Peter Thiel-led Founders Fund’s APAC region-focused scout fund, which allows serial entrepreneurs / angel investors to back new entrepreneurs, similarly to Japan Angel Fund and Sequoia Capital’s scout fund in terms of the scheme. Zynga co-founder Justin Waldron is well known in Japan for having invested in language learning startup Lang-8 while Matias de Tezanos is a serial entrepreneur and has experienced seven exits as an investor.

Since the company secured over $513,000 from more than 20 Japanese angel investors in a seed round back in March last year, the latest round suggests another massive backing from angel investors but is centered on the Inner Circle in Silicon Valley this time around.

Jeff Lonsdale, who’s in charge of the investment at FF APAC Scout, said in a statement:

Japan is one of the largest economies in the world with some of the most productive and innovative workers. We should expect many more strong companies to emerge from this ecosystem and Smartround is well positioned to help create this future.

Some of our readers may recall that Lonsdale expressed his extraordinary expectations for the globalization of Japanese startups in the future at Tech in Asia Tokyo 2018.

Smartround is a cloud-based platform serving startups and their backer VCs. It offers entrepreneurs with comprehensive resources for managing their businesses such as capital policy, business management, company introduction, library, and other functions while it enables investors to track their portfolio performance online. The Smartround team appears to consider US startups like Carta and Pully as the benchmark in their growth strategy.

Smartround was founded back in May of 2018. Prior to Smartround, Masaru Sunny Sunagawa, the startup’s founder and CEO, previously worked at a trading company and a VC firm followed by launching Location Value which was later acquired by NTT Docomo back in 2014.

Regarding what the latest funds is used for, Sunagawa said in a statement:

In the midst of the ongoing turmoil caused by COVID-19, Japanese startups leading the next generation are forced to navigate a difficult path. […]

We are grateful to all of our investors who share our philosophy and ideals and are willing to back us under this circumstance, and we will continue to improve our services and expand our business globally. In particular, we would like to take advantage of this funding experience to evolve our service so that Japanese startups can raise funds from overseas investors.

Plimes secures $1.4M seed round, helps hospitals monitor swallowing ability of elderly patients

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See the original story in Japanese. Plimes, a healthcare startup spun-off from the University of Tsukuba in Japan, announced in late March that it has raised nearly $1.4 million US in a seed round from robotics venture Cyberdyne (TSE: 7779), a fellow University of Tsukuba native for the startup. Plimes is also allying with Cyberdyne to accelerate the development and market expansion of their product. In general, people’s swallowing ability decreases with age, which puts the elderly at risk of aspiration and in turn increases the chance of pneumonia and/or death. Physicians may choose to alter the diet of patients with the decreased ability to swallow by switching them from solid food to mashed pastes, or in some cases patients may require gastrostomy for direct nutrients. Gokuri, the startup’s product, is a medical support device designed to improve the quality of life (QoL) for such eldery people. The device routinely measures whether or not swallowing is normal from the sound picked up using a microphone attached to a user’s neck, and it aims to improve the efficiency of user rehabilitation. The ability to accuratly monitor swallowing increases the possibility that the user can regain the power to eat and enjoy…

Plimes founders – From left: CCO Atsushi Nitasaka, COO Tomoya Shimokakimoto, CEO Kenji Suzuki, CTO Dushyantha Jayatilake
Image credit: Plimes

See the original story in Japanese.

Plimes, a healthcare startup spun-off from the University of Tsukuba in Japan, announced in late March that it has raised nearly $1.4 million US in a seed round from robotics venture Cyberdyne (TSE: 7779), a fellow University of Tsukuba native for the startup. Plimes is also allying with Cyberdyne to accelerate the development and market expansion of their product.

In general, people’s swallowing ability decreases with age, which puts the elderly at risk of aspiration and in turn increases the chance of pneumonia and/or death. Physicians may choose to alter the diet of patients with the decreased ability to swallow by switching them from solid food to mashed pastes, or in some cases patients may require gastrostomy for direct nutrients.

Gokuri, the startup’s product, is a medical support device designed to improve the quality of life (QoL) for such eldery people. The device routinely measures whether or not swallowing is normal from the sound picked up using a microphone attached to a user’s neck, and it aims to improve the efficiency of user rehabilitation. The ability to accuratly monitor swallowing increases the possibility that the user can regain the power to eat and enjoy tasty solid foods.

The Gokuri swallowing monitoring device
Image credit: Plimes

This is seed funding for the Plimes team after 10 years since they started basic research at the University of Tsukuba and the University Hospital of Tsukuba back in 2010 (not yet incorporated at that time). Funding was made possible by Gokuri’s high level of accuracy, 97.3% or more, with regards to measuring normal and abnormal swallowing conditions, and the establishment of a business model using hospitals as sales channels. The current business model assumes that hospitals will adopt the solution to improve medical services for patients.

Plimes COO/Co-founder Atsushi Nitasaka says,

For example, hospitals don’t want to see any patient with a brain tumor is cured by surgery but goes on to die of aspiration pneumonia the first time he ate. […]

During the process of starting development and advancing the product market fit, we realized that there is a need for doctors to monitor the patients’ diet. However, doctors cannot be continuously looking after them. This is where our solution can help. Our business model supports hospitals with their goal of discharging patients quickly.

In collaboration with Kyotango City in Kyoto, Tarumizu City in Kagoshima, and Fukuoka Prefecture, and other local governments, the company has been conducting practical tests with elderly participants at local medical facilities. Plimes feels that Japanese startups are uniquely skilled at developing solutions for aging societies, and since aging is a social issue common to developed countries, they have started global business expansion. Plimes is currently conducting demo tests in the US, Germany, and Denmark.

The Gokuri swallowing monitoring device
Image credit: Plimes

In line with the latest funding, Plimes will begin recruitment of skilled team members for each speciality: testing for swallowing, monitoring studies, medical device development, business development, speech therapy, cloud application development, and AI technology. Cyberdene, one of the investors in thiis round, has its hands in health and medical related business, so we can expect to see emerging synergy. Plimes will receive widespread support from Cyberdyne for engineering, back office functions, and the development of sales channels.

Plimes was adopted into the Japan Science and Technology Agency’s startup business “JST Start” initiative back in 2015 followed by being incorporated in 2018. Additionally, the company has had excellent results at numerous startup events and initiatives, including receiving the IP Bridge Award at the Asian Entrepreneurship Award 2018 and winning the 2nd “Startup Accelerator Tsukuba” Demo Day.

Translated by Amanda Lynn
Edited by Masaru Ikeda

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.

Japan’s Cinnamon AI secures $12M in series C round, appoints chairman

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Updated on Thursday at 9:30am: Kaji’s title was adjusted following the company’s latest announcement that he was approved as a managing director of the executive board at their shareholders meeting. Japanese startup Cinnamon AI (previously known as Cinnamon), developing a document reading engine and a voice recognition solution leveraging their proprietary AI technologies, announced today that it has secured 1.3 billion yen (about $12 million US) from D4V and Pegasus Tech Ventures in a series C round. The amount includes loans from Sumitomo Mitsui Bank, Japan Fiance Corporation, and Shoko Chukin Bank. D4V, one of the investors participating in this round, has already invested in the startup via transfer of stocks from an unnamed existing investor in an angel round back in 2018. The latest round follows the startup’s series B round closed in January of 2019 with securing $13.7 million. At this opportunity, the company announced it has changed its corporate identity into Cinnamon AI (The registered corporate name remains unchanged). The company announced yesterday that it has appointed Yoshimitsu Kaji, the former Chief Marketing Innovator (CMI) of Accenture Japan and Professor at Globis University’s Graduate School of Management, as the chairman and executive officer. The company claims that…

Image credit: Cinnamon AI

Updated on Thursday at 9:30am: Kaji’s title was adjusted following the company’s latest announcement that he was approved as a managing director of the executive board at their shareholders meeting.

Japanese startup Cinnamon AI (previously known as Cinnamon), developing a document reading engine and a voice recognition solution leveraging their proprietary AI technologies, announced today that it has secured 1.3 billion yen (about $12 million US) from D4V and Pegasus Tech Ventures in a series C round. The amount includes loans from Sumitomo Mitsui Bank, Japan Fiance Corporation, and Shoko Chukin Bank.

D4V, one of the investors participating in this round, has already invested in the startup via transfer of stocks from an unnamed existing investor in an angel round back in 2018. The latest round follows the startup’s series B round closed in January of 2019 with securing $13.7 million.

At this opportunity, the company announced it has changed its corporate identity into Cinnamon AI (The registered corporate name remains unchanged).

Cinnamon AI’s newly-appointed chairman Yoshimitsu Kaji

The company announced yesterday that it has appointed Yoshimitsu Kaji, the former Chief Marketing Innovator (CMI) of Accenture Japan and Professor at Globis University’s Graduate School of Management, as the chairman and executive officer. The company claims that this is a part of the company’s effort to enhance corporate governance.

Flax Scanner, the RPA (robotics process automation) class 2 solution using the company’s own document reading engine Cinnamon AI, is widely used for handling documents such as contracts, resumes, sales progress reports, medical charts, handwritten application forms, real estate property information, receipts, etc. Rossa Voice, another flagship product from the company, is a voice dictation solution based on an automated word correction technology used for Flax Scanner.

The company uses the funds to hire highly-skilled human resources (especially those with high expertise in AI), solidify its organizational structure in Japan, Vietnam, and Taiwan, enhance its AI core technologies and user interfaces, and strengthen R&D investments in new areas such as speech recognition and natural language processing.

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

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

See the original story in Japanese.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Translated by Masaru Ikeda

‘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:

Seiko Epson launches $46.5M startup fund

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Abridged from our original post on the Japanese edition. Tokyo-based VC firm Global Brain announced today that it has launched a new fund in partnership with Epson X (pronounced ‘cross’) Investment, EXI for short, the investment arm of Japanese electronics giant Seiko Epson (TSE:6724). EXI holds a 99% stake in the fund worth 5 billion yen ($46.5 million US). Epson Group unveiled a mid-range business plan towards their long-term corporate vision called Epson 25 last year, which addresses their open innovation strategy to leverage resources centered on the company’s flagship inkjet technology. The fund is a part of such efforts. In response to our question about what’s behind establishing the fund, Global Brain told us that Seiko Epson wants to push forward and accelerate their investment flows by separating business investment and corporate venture capital functions. Our readers may recall that Global Brain recently announced a new fund in partnership with Japanese logistics giant Yamato Holdings.

Seiko Epson’s Hino Office in Tokyo
CC BY-SA 3.0

Abridged from our original post on the Japanese edition.

Tokyo-based VC firm Global Brain announced today that it has launched a new fund in partnership with Epson X (pronounced ‘cross’) Investment, EXI for short, the investment arm of Japanese electronics giant Seiko Epson (TSE:6724). EXI holds a 99% stake in the fund worth 5 billion yen ($46.5 million US).

Epson Group unveiled a mid-range business plan towards their long-term corporate vision called Epson 25 last year, which addresses their open innovation strategy to leverage resources centered on the company’s flagship inkjet technology. The fund is a part of such efforts.

Image credit: Seiko Epson

In response to our question about what’s behind establishing the fund, Global Brain told us that Seiko Epson wants to push forward and accelerate their investment flows by separating business investment and corporate venture capital functions.

Our readers may recall that Global Brain recently announced a new fund in partnership with Japanese logistics giant Yamato Holdings.

Japan logistics giant Yamato sets up $46.5M fund to work with startups

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Abridged from our original post on the Japanese edition. Tokyo-based VC firm Global Brain announced on Tuesday that it has formed a new fund together with Japanese logistics giant Yamato Holdings (TSE:9064). The fund is named Kuroneko Innovation Fund and worth 5 billion yen, or $46.5 million US. With an aim to promote digital transformation in the logistics industry, the fund is focused on investing in Japanese and foreign startups with technologies and business models evolving logistics and supply chain management. The fund’s ticket size is from 50 million yen to hundreds of million yen (from $460,000 to several million US dollars) while investees can also leverage resources owned by Yamato Holdings and its group companies. Yamato Holdings has partnered with C2C (consumer-to-comsumer) marketplace app Mercari as well as Japanese e-commerce platform Base, giving their sellers better user experience by integrating with logistics solutions. Yamato Holdings published a grand design calling for business structure reform earlier this year, suggesting that the fund is a part of such efforts.

From left: Global Brain CEO Yasuhiko Yurimoto, Yamato Holdings President Yutaka Nagao
Image credit: Yamato Holdings

Abridged from our original post on the Japanese edition.

Tokyo-based VC firm Global Brain announced on Tuesday that it has formed a new fund together with Japanese logistics giant Yamato Holdings (TSE:9064). The fund is named Kuroneko Innovation Fund and worth 5 billion yen, or $46.5 million US.

With an aim to promote digital transformation in the logistics industry, the fund is focused on investing in Japanese and foreign startups with technologies and business models evolving logistics and supply chain management.

The fund’s ticket size is from 50 million yen to hundreds of million yen (from $460,000 to several million US dollars) while investees can also leverage resources owned by Yamato Holdings and its group companies.

Yamato Holdings has partnered with C2C (consumer-to-comsumer) marketplace app Mercari as well as Japanese e-commerce platform Base, giving their sellers better user experience by integrating with logistics solutions.

Yamato Holdings published a grand design calling for business structure reform earlier this year, suggesting that the fund is a part of such efforts.

From Yamato’s grand design. (Click to enlarge.)
Image credit: Yamato Holdings

Asia-focused KK Fund helps Thai startups meet investors virtually in face of COVID-19 troubles

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Singapore-based KK Fund, the VC firm backed by many Japanese companies and focused on investing in seed stage internet and mobile startups across Southeast Asia, is launching their first Meet Your Match Thailand ​session with the aim to help match investors with Thailand-based startups in light of the uncertain situation due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. In order to support the startup ecosystem, KK Fund claims it has signed up with more than 20 investors to participate in this initiative to connect Thai startups with potential investors. Participating investors include Vertex Ventures, Sumitomo Corporation, PTT, Denso, Krungsri Finnovate, Colopl Next, CyberAgent Capital, Monk’s Hill Ventures, Insignia Ventures Partners, Beacon Venture Capital, Sequoia Capital, and other outstanding Thai and Japanese firms. In the face of the global coronavirus pandemic, more than a few startup founders in the world are struggling with meeting up with potential founders because of urgent need of funding or further sustainable business development. As a reason why KK Fund decided to focus on helping Thai entrepreneurs rather than other startup ecosystem, the VC firm’s general partner Koichi Saito says he got inspired by the initiative which the Japanese trade and economy ministry recently rolled out in Bangkok….

Singapore-based KK Fund, the VC firm backed by many Japanese companies and focused on investing in seed stage internet and mobile startups across Southeast Asia, is launching their first Meet Your Match Thailand ​session with the aim to help match investors with Thailand-based startups in light of the uncertain situation due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

In order to support the startup ecosystem, KK Fund claims it has signed up with more than 20 investors to participate in this initiative to connect Thai startups with potential investors. Participating investors include Vertex Ventures, Sumitomo Corporation, PTT, Denso, Krungsri Finnovate, Colopl Next, CyberAgent Capital, Monk’s Hill Ventures, Insignia Ventures Partners, Beacon Venture Capital, Sequoia Capital, and other outstanding Thai and Japanese firms.

In the face of the global coronavirus pandemic, more than a few startup founders in the world are struggling with meeting up with potential founders because of urgent need of funding or further sustainable business development. As a reason why KK Fund decided to focus on helping Thai entrepreneurs rather than other startup ecosystem, the VC firm’s general partner Koichi Saito says he got inspired by the initiative which the Japanese trade and economy ministry recently rolled out in Bangkok. Saito has participated in several summits hosted by the ministry with an aim to connect the two countries in tech and startup field.

If you run a startup in Thailand and want to grab this opportunity, simply submit you application through the Google form link by April 10 so that you can get in touch with potential investors who may be interested in your business or idea. Upon successful matching, an online session over Zoom will be arranged by the investor with the startup.

In Japan, Moneyforward Synca, the Tokyo-based consultancy focused on helping startups raise investments or sell through an IPO or M&A deal, has launched a similar scheme with more than 20 local VC firms with an aim to prevent founders from stagnating fundraising.