THE BRIDGE

News

Japan’s luxury brand consignment app Reclo raises $34M to boost China expansion

SHARE:

See the original story in Japanese. Tokyo-based Active Sonar, the startup behind luxury brand consignment app Reclo, announced on Thursday that it has raised 3.6 billion yen (about $33.8 million US) from CITIC Capital, SBI Investment, and SBI Securities with loans from Mizuho Bank. Using the funds, the company will strengthen its China expansion. CITIC Capital is the asset management arm of Chinese largest financial conglomerate CITIC Group. Other details, such as the investment ratio of each investor and market cap, payment dates, were not diclosed. When you have a luxury brand item which is no longer needed, the Reclo platform allows you to ask experts for the appropriate value and price to sell it online. The platform will handle all other time-consuming processes such as selling the item, receiving payments from and shipping to the buyer so that all you have to do is just send the item to the platform. If you are not satisfied with the expert’s assessment, the platform would send you back your item for free. Unlike typical auction platforms or flea market apps, Reclo is not a C2C (consumer-to-consumer) marketplace and can prevent users from buying knock-off items which is often seen in the…

reclo-mobile-app
Reclo
Image credit: Active Sonar

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based Active Sonar, the startup behind luxury brand consignment app Reclo, announced on Thursday that it has raised 3.6 billion yen (about $33.8 million US) from CITIC Capital, SBI Investment, and SBI Securities with loans from Mizuho Bank. Using the funds, the company will strengthen its China expansion. CITIC Capital is the asset management arm of Chinese largest financial conglomerate CITIC Group. Other details, such as the investment ratio of each investor and market cap, payment dates, were not diclosed.

When you have a luxury brand item which is no longer needed, the Reclo platform allows you to ask experts for the appropriate value and price to sell it online. The platform will handle all other time-consuming processes such as selling the item, receiving payments from and shipping to the buyer so that all you have to do is just send the item to the platform.

reclo-on-taobao
Reclo’s Chinese version on Taobao

If you are not satisfied with the expert’s assessment, the platform would send you back your item for free. Unlike typical auction platforms or flea market apps, Reclo is not a C2C (consumer-to-consumer) marketplace and can prevent users from buying knock-off items which is often seen in the luxury second-hand market.

The company started the platform’s Chinese version last year, which greatly contributed to the growth of the transactions and doubling the company’s overall sales compared to last year. In addition, over half of the total transactions comes from outside Japan, with China accounting for 70%. With the further business expansion in China, the company set up a local subsidiary in Shanghai last year, planning to curating luxury items in addition to the consignment sales business.

See also:

Translated by Masaru Ikeda

Japan’s Gitai, developing robots replacing astronauts, secures $4.1M series A round

SHARE:

See the original story in Japanese. Tokyo-based Gitai, the Japanese telexistannce robotics startup for the space industry, announced on Tuesday that it has secured $4.1 million US in a series A round. The round is led by Spiral Ventures Japan with participation from DBJ Capital (the investment arm of the Japanese government-backed Development Bank of Japan), Japanese electric power development company J-Power, 500 Startups Japan (now known as Coral Capital). Among these investors, 500 Startups Japan follows their previous investment in the latter’s seed round (securing $1.25 million US) back in 2017. This brings the startup’s total funding to date up to over 600 million yen (over $5.6 million US) but it may reach up to 1 billion yen (about $9.4 million) by additional funding within this year since the current round is not yet closed. Gitai plans to use the funding to develop autonomous space robots which may replace astronauts in their missions as well as launching a vehicle carrying robots to the International Space Station which is scheduled in late 2020. Gitai was initially focused on the telexistence technology which connects an operator and a robot in two different locations, but later shifted its primary business to serving…

gitai-robot-6th-prototype
6th prototype robot
Image credit: Gitai

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based Gitai, the Japanese telexistannce robotics startup for the space industry, announced on Tuesday that it has secured $4.1 million US in a series A round. The round is led by Spiral Ventures Japan with participation from DBJ Capital (the investment arm of the Japanese government-backed Development Bank of Japan), Japanese electric power development company J-Power, 500 Startups Japan (now known as Coral Capital).

Among these investors, 500 Startups Japan follows their previous investment in the latter’s seed round (securing $1.25 million US) back in 2017. This brings the startup’s total funding to date up to over 600 million yen (over $5.6 million US) but it may reach up to 1 billion yen (about $9.4 million) by additional funding within this year since the current round is not yet closed.

Gitai plans to use the funding to develop autonomous space robots which may replace astronauts in their missions as well as launching a vehicle carrying robots to the International Space Station which is scheduled in late 2020.

Gitai was initially focused on the telexistence technology which connects an operator and a robot in two different locations, but later shifted its primary business to serving the space industry back in 2017. Earlier this year, the company announced it has appointed Yuto Nakanishi as COO. Nakanishi is a humanoid scientist/engineer and former CEO of Schaft, the Japanese robotics startup acquired by Google.

Boasting 300M+ consumer reach in Asia, Yoyo launches Popstar influencer platform

SHARE:

See the original story in Japanese. Manila-based Yoyo Holdings, the startup known for its PopSlide mobile rewards platform, announced on Monday that it has officially launched a micro influencer platform called PopStar. Since its quiet launch in a stealth mode back in July of last year, the platform has acquired more than 200,000 micro influencers in the Philippines and Indonesia, boasting an accumulated total of 300 million consumers following the influencers as the number of the platform’s marketing reach. The number of their influencers registered is ranked on the top in all across the Asian market where influencer marketing is specifically trending. As a reason why the company can attract such a huge number of influencers, Yoyo Holdings founder and CEO Yosuke Fukada pointed out they could leverage the PopSlide app which helped them reduce the marketing cost for acquiring influencers for PopStar as well as having built a system that allows them to easily manage the entire process from managing influencers to measuring campaign performances. Fukada also told us the story behind why Popstar was launched: Under the mission of allowing people to use mobile internet for free of charge, Yoyo was founded and then launched apps like PopSlide…

popstar-1st-anniversary-party
PopStar hosted a party in Manila in July, celebrated its 1st anniversary with about 100 influencers.
Image credit: Yoyo Holdings

See the original story in Japanese.

Manila-based Yoyo Holdings, the startup known for its PopSlide mobile rewards platform, announced on Monday that it has officially launched a micro influencer platform called PopStar. Since its quiet launch in a stealth mode back in July of last year, the platform has acquired more than 200,000 micro influencers in the Philippines and Indonesia, boasting an accumulated total of 300 million consumers following the influencers as the number of the platform’s marketing reach.

The number of their influencers registered is ranked on the top in all across the Asian market where influencer marketing is specifically trending. As a reason why the company can attract such a huge number of influencers, Yoyo Holdings founder and CEO Yosuke Fukada pointed out they could leverage the PopSlide app which helped them reduce the marketing cost for acquiring influencers for PopStar as well as having built a system that allows them to easily manage the entire process from managing influencers to measuring campaign performances.

Fukada also told us the story behind why Popstar was launched:

Under the mission of allowing people to use mobile internet for free of charge, Yoyo was founded and then launched apps like PopSlide and Candy. However, marketing condition have been changed a lot since our foundation seven years ago. Now that we see everyone using Ineternet and data charge cost has significantly dropped down.

In our team, we’ve been discussing how we can keep creating values to the society with PopSlide and Candy only. How can we make more impact? How can we create a service that bring people beyond Internet? Such thought inspired us to invent PopStar.

See also:

popstar-dashboard-audition_screenshot
The “Online Audition” function encourages influencers to submit their sample for a tryout.
Image credit: Yoyo Holdings (Image is partially modified.)

Yoyo has built a platform that helps them easily find influencers who are likely to better reach the appropriate target audience according to the subject of their clients in addition to encouraging these influencers to submit their sample for a tryout. Also, the platform’s dashboard can facilitate everything needed for influence marketing, including managing campaigns, creating performance reports for clients, invoicing to clients, and paying rewards to influencers. Leveraging all this, Yoyo claims that all campaign placements can be managed by just a few people in charge.

PopStar clients are vary from crypto exchange, credit card issuer, major drug store chain, underwear brand, to operator of children’s playground. With a variety of influencers, the platform can deal with many different types of products and services which requires it to reach a huge variety of audience.

popstar-one-stop-dashboard
Image credit: Yoyo Holdings

Fukada added:

PopSlide, the mobile rewards platform we’ve been offering since several years ago, is also boasting a high user retention rate. We cannot disclose exact numbers but I think it must be higher than that of typical popular mobile game titles. Wondering one of the reasons why PopStar is going well is we are a product company and are good at making products.

In contrast to celebrities’ push into leveraging digital media such as YouTube marketing effort, the micro influencer segment is still behind in visualizing its components because influencers can also a long-tail in the whole marketing industry.

If they can achieve a data-driven approach and performance improvement through systemization, there would get a huge business opportunity. Yoyo claims that they want to become the top player in this sector by 2020. Fukada didn’t mention whether a regional or global top but that probably means the global one.

Japan’s social gifting and e-voucher rewards platform Giftee files for IPO

SHARE:

See the original story in Japanese. Tokyo-based Giftee, the Japanese startup behind the platform allowing users to send friends an e-voucher which they can then redeem at selected retailers, announced on Friday that its IPO application to the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) has been approved. The company will be listed on the TSE Mothers Market on 20 September with plans to offer 800,000 shares for public subscription and to sell 658,000 shares in over-allotment options, for a total of 3.59 million shares. Nomura Securities will lead the underwriting. Its share price range will be released on 30 August with bookbuilding scheduled to start on 3 September and pricing on 9 September. According to the consolidated statement as of December 2018, they posted revenue of 1.12 billion yen (about $10.5 million) with an ordinary profit of 283 million yen ($2.7 million). Given that the tentative share price will be set at 1,250 yen and the company has issued a total of 24.03 million shares to date, their market cap is expected to be around 31 billion yen ($290 million). Founded in October of 2008, Giftee started the social gifting platform under the same name back in March of 2011. Subsequently the…

giftee-tealive-malaysia
In addition to its home turf of Japan, Giftee’s eGift system is now available in Malaysia.
Image credit: Giftee

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based Giftee, the Japanese startup behind the platform allowing users to send friends an e-voucher which they can then redeem at selected retailers, announced on Friday that its IPO application to the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) has been approved. The company will be listed on the TSE Mothers Market on 20 September with plans to offer 800,000 shares for public subscription and to sell 658,000 shares in over-allotment options, for a total of 3.59 million shares. Nomura Securities will lead the underwriting.

Its share price range will be released on 30 August with bookbuilding scheduled to start on 3 September and pricing on 9 September. According to the consolidated statement as of December 2018, they posted revenue of 1.12 billion yen (about $10.5 million) with an ordinary profit of 283 million yen ($2.7 million). Given that the tentative share price will be set at 1,250 yen and the company has issued a total of 24.03 million shares to date, their market cap is expected to be around 31 billion yen ($290 million).

Founded in October of 2008, Giftee started the social gifting platform under the same name back in March of 2011. Subsequently the company launched a B2B service called Giftee for Business back in April of 2016, which allows companies to send an e-voucher to their clients and now accounts for 62% of the total revenue. They formed a capital and business tie-up with Japanese credit card giant JCB and department store operator Marui Group.

Gifttee had attracted a total of 1.1 million users with its original consumer-focused service since its launch to December of 2018, which eventually reached 1.25 million users back in June this year. Led by founder and CEO Mutsumi Ota (20.46%), the company’s major shareholders include telco giant KDDI (15.46%) and VC firm Jafco (15.05%).

See also:

Translated by Masaru Ikeda

Japanese business chat tool developer Chatwork files for IPO

SHARE:

Kobe-headquartered Chatwork, the startup behind a cloud-based business chat tool under the same name, announced on Thursday that its IPO application to the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) has been approved. The company will be listed on the TSE Mothers Market on 24 September with plans to offer 600,000 shares for public subscription and to sell up to 1,270,500 shares in over-allotment options, for a total of 7.9 million shares. Daiwa Securities will lead the underwriting. Its share price range will be released on 29 August with bookbuilding scheduled to start on 2 September and pricing on 6 September. According to the consolidated statement as of December 2018, they posted revenue of 1.31 billion yen (about $12.3 million) with an ordinary loss of 186 million yen ($1.75 million) and a net loss of 110 million yen ($1.04 million). Chatwork, the company’s flagship service, is now being served to 2,747,000 users while 364,000 paying users among them are subscribing to its premium service (as of June this year). In addition, the company also sells antivirus products of Slovakian IT security company ESET. Founded in July of 2000 as EC Studio, the company raised 300 million yen (about $2.5 million) from GMO Venture…

chatwork_screenshots
Image credit: Chatwork

Kobe-headquartered Chatwork, the startup behind a cloud-based business chat tool under the same name, announced on Thursday that its IPO application to the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) has been approved. The company will be listed on the TSE Mothers Market on 24 September with plans to offer 600,000 shares for public subscription and to sell up to 1,270,500 shares in over-allotment options, for a total of 7.9 million shares. Daiwa Securities will lead the underwriting.

Its share price range will be released on 29 August with bookbuilding scheduled to start on 2 September and pricing on 6 September. According to the consolidated statement as of December 2018, they posted revenue of 1.31 billion yen (about $12.3 million) with an ordinary loss of 186 million yen ($1.75 million) and a net loss of 110 million yen ($1.04 million).

chatwork-office
Image credit: Chatwork

Chatwork, the company’s flagship service, is now being served to 2,747,000 users while 364,000 paying users among them are subscribing to its premium service (as of June this year). In addition, the company also sells antivirus products of Slovakian IT security company ESET.

Founded in July of 2000 as EC Studio, the company raised 300 million yen (about $2.5 million) from GMO Venture Partners in April of 2015, and subsequently 1.5 billion yen (about $12.8million) from GMO Venture Partners, Jafco, Shinsei Corporate Investment, and SMBC Venture Capital in January of 2016. Established in Osaka, they have moved their headquarters to Tanigami, the western part of Kobe City, as an effort to help making the mountainous area “another Silicon Valley”. They also have business operations in Tokyo and Osaka as well as a representative office in Taipei.

See also:

Japanese mobile analytics startup Repro sets up shop in Singapore for SEA expansion

SHARE:

See the original story in Japan. Tokyo-based Repro, the provider of mobile analytics tool under the same name, announced today that it has established a wholly-owned subsidiary in Singapore to strengthen business expansion into Southeast Asian (SEA) markets. The subsidiary, namely Repro Singapore Pte. Ltd., aims to cultivate the client base in Indonesia, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and among others, while it intends to employ five to ten people in each of these respective markets by the end of 2021. See also: Japan’s mobile analytics and marketing tool Repro gets $2.6 million to expand to US Japan’s mobile analytics company Repro secures $835,000 from DG Incubation, others Marking five years since its launch, the tool has been used by 6,500 companies across 59 countries in the world, which has been good enough for the startup to see the potential in the markets outside Japan. In the SEA market, which the startup will be focused on, the growing penetration of mobile devices has much contributed to promoting e-commerce and other online services among local people. The launch of the subsidiary was based on their conviction that there would be more demand in user-focused marketing measure in the region. Translated by Masaru…

repro-team-in-singapore
The Repro Singapore team
Image credit: Repro

See the original story in Japan.

Tokyo-based Repro, the provider of mobile analytics tool under the same name, announced today that it has established a wholly-owned subsidiary in Singapore to strengthen business expansion into Southeast Asian (SEA) markets. The subsidiary, namely Repro Singapore Pte. Ltd., aims to cultivate the client base in Indonesia, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and among others, while it intends to employ five to ten people in each of these respective markets by the end of 2021.

See also:

Marking five years since its launch, the tool has been used by 6,500 companies across 59 countries in the world, which has been good enough for the startup to see the potential in the markets outside Japan. In the SEA market, which the startup will be focused on, the growing penetration of mobile devices has much contributed to promoting e-commerce and other online services among local people. The launch of the subsidiary was based on their conviction that there would be more demand in user-focused marketing measure in the region.

Translated by Masaru Ikeda

News app developer Smartnews nabs $29M in series E, becomes Japan’s 3rd unicorn

SHARE:

See the original story in Japanese. Tokyo-based Smartnews, the developer of curated news app under the same name, announced on Monday that it has raised 3.1 billion yen (about $29.3 million) in a series E round. The round was led by Japan Post Capital with participation from Japan Co-Invest Limited Partnership, SMBC Venture Capital (SMBC-VC), and Development Bank of Japan (DBJ) according to CrunchBase. Japan Co-Invest, SMBC-VC and DBJ also joined the startup’s series D round back in July of 2016. The latest round brought the total funding to date up to 12.2 billion yen ($115.4 million US). With this funding, the market cap of Smartnews reached $1 billion US and joined the unicorn club. According to CB Insights, the company is the third Unicorn from Japan following AI startup Preferred Networks and Liquid Group which runs a crypto exchange called Liquid by Quoine. (C2C commerce startup used to be a unicorn but went public last year.) Smartnews launched its curated news app in the US back in October of 2014. After nearly five years since then, the company now sees more than 20 million active users in Japan and the US. In particular, the number of users in the…

smartnews-logo
Image credit: The Bridge

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based Smartnews, the developer of curated news app under the same name, announced on Monday that it has raised 3.1 billion yen (about $29.3 million) in a series E round. The round was led by Japan Post Capital with participation from Japan Co-Invest Limited Partnership, SMBC Venture Capital (SMBC-VC), and Development Bank of Japan (DBJ) according to CrunchBase. Japan Co-Invest, SMBC-VC and DBJ also joined the startup’s series D round back in July of 2016. The latest round brought the total funding to date up to 12.2 billion yen ($115.4 million US).

With this funding, the market cap of Smartnews reached $1 billion US and joined the unicorn club. According to CB Insights, the company is the third Unicorn from Japan following AI startup Preferred Networks and Liquid Group which runs a crypto exchange called Liquid by Quoine. (C2C commerce startup used to be a unicorn but went public last year.)

Smartnews launched its curated news app in the US back in October of 2014. After nearly five years since then, the company now sees more than 20 million active users in Japan and the US. In particular, the number of users in the US grew five times in a year, and Parse.ly put Smartnews in the 10th rank in traffic sources bringing users to English-language news outlets. Smartnews will use the funds to accelerate the growth in the US market and strengthen the team for global expansion.

As part of global expansion effort, Smartnews appointed Ken Kutaragi, former CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment, as an external director back in June while Youlin Li, former Head of News Feed Infrastructure at Facebook, joined the team as Vice President of Engineering, Backend System and Foundation back in May. The company has presence in six locations in the world: Tokyo, San Francisco, New York City, Palo Alto, Fukuoka, and Shanghai. Going forward, they will strengthen hiring engineers, product managers, data scientists and other talents.

See also:

Japanese startup Nature raises $4.7M to grow smart AC control business globally

SHARE:

See the original story in Japanese. Japanese startup Nature develops an IoT product for smart air-conditioner named Nature Remo. The company announced on Thursday that it has fundraised 500 million yen (about $4.7 million US) from Energy & Environment Investment and Japanese internet company DeNA (TSE:2432). The investment from DeNA will be replaced with the one from Delight Ventures, which was recently introduced as the investment arm of DeNA. For Nature, this follows their 100 million yen ($9.5 million US) funding from Daiwa Corporate Investment back in February of last year but the funding round is unknown. Nature was founded in Boston by Haruumi Shiode who previously worked for Mitsui & Co. and later obtained an MBA at Harvard University. Nature Remo allows users to turn on their air conditioner at home before they arrive by using their mobile, integrate with Google Home and Amazon Echo to control a TV set and room lights, and even develop a third-party service from scratch via API (application programming interface). Nature Remo was introduced back in 2016, and subsequently succeeded in raising a total of 22 million yen from three crowdfunding campaigns at Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and Makuake. In 2018, the firm started selling…

nature-team
The Nature team
Image credit: Nature

See the original story in Japanese.

Japanese startup Nature develops an IoT product for smart air-conditioner named Nature Remo. The company announced on Thursday that it has fundraised 500 million yen (about $4.7 million US) from Energy & Environment Investment and Japanese internet company DeNA (TSE:2432). The investment from DeNA will be replaced with the one from Delight Ventures, which was recently introduced as the investment arm of DeNA. For Nature, this follows their 100 million yen ($9.5 million US) funding from Daiwa Corporate Investment back in February of last year but the funding round is unknown.

Nature was founded in Boston by Haruumi Shiode who previously worked for Mitsui & Co. and later obtained an MBA at Harvard University. Nature Remo allows users to turn on their air conditioner at home before they arrive by using their mobile, integrate with Google Home and Amazon Echo to control a TV set and room lights, and even develop a third-party service from scratch via API (application programming interface).

Nature Remo was introduced back in 2016, and subsequently succeeded in raising a total of 22 million yen from three crowdfunding campaigns at Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and Makuake. In 2018, the firm started selling the product at Amazon, as well as electronics retail stores such as Bic Camera or Kojima, allowing general users other than early adopters to purchase. They have been seeing a steady growth by launching a suite bundling Nature Remo mini with Google Home Mini as a starter kit for smart home beginners this year. We were told that more than 10,000 Nature Remo items have been sold to date.

The company will use the funds to double their team size to strengthen engineering, sales and customer support. Expecting to launch a new home solution called Nature Remo E within this year, they are foraying into energy management business. They will bring their all headquarters functions back to Japan for better global business expansion.

See also:

Japan’s Ground, developing AI and robotics for intelligent logistics, secures $16.2M

SHARE:

See the original story in Japanese. Tokyo-based Ground, the Japanese startup developing artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics solutions specifically focused on offering intelligent logistics, announced on Friday that it has secured up to 1.71 billion yen (about $16.2 million US) in the latest round. This round was led by Japanese state-owned investment company INCJ with participation from Sony (Sony Innovation Fund), Saphire Capital, JA Mitsui Leasing, IMM Investment (Korea), and IMM INvestment Group Japan. Of these, INCJ has agreed to invest up to 1 billion yen (about $9.5 million US) in the logistics startup. Ground was founded in April of 2015 by Hiratomo Miyata who previously led the respective logistics arms of Japanese e-commerce giants Askul and Rakuten. The startup has formed a capital and business tie-up with Japanese office furniture maker Okamura (TSE:7944) in addition to Frameworx, the logistics-focused subsidiary of Japanese largest homebuilder Daiwa House Industry (TSE:1925). The funding at this time follows 1 billion yen (about $9.5 million US) funding from Daiwa House Industry back in June of 2017. The company has developed a platform that combines robots and AI software to optimize logistics operations including picking in warehouse. Leveraging a customer database to help understand consumer…

ground-amr-robot
AMR, Ground’s autonomous collaborative robot for the logistics industry
Image credit: Ground

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based Ground, the Japanese startup developing artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics solutions specifically focused on offering intelligent logistics, announced on Friday that it has secured up to 1.71 billion yen (about $16.2 million US) in the latest round. This round was led by Japanese state-owned investment company INCJ with participation from Sony (Sony Innovation Fund), Saphire Capital, JA Mitsui Leasing, IMM Investment (Korea), and IMM INvestment Group Japan. Of these, INCJ has agreed to invest up to 1 billion yen (about $9.5 million US) in the logistics startup.

Ground was founded in April of 2015 by Hiratomo Miyata who previously led the respective logistics arms of Japanese e-commerce giants Askul and Rakuten. The startup has formed a capital and business tie-up with Japanese office furniture maker Okamura (TSE:7944) in addition to Frameworx, the logistics-focused subsidiary of Japanese largest homebuilder Daiwa House Industry (TSE:1925). The funding at this time follows 1 billion yen (about $9.5 million US) funding from Daiwa House Industry back in June of 2017.

rock-thailand-vol1-ground-2
Image credit: Ground

The company has developed a platform that combines robots and AI software to optimize logistics operations including picking in warehouse. Leveraging a customer database to help understand consumer behavior, the platform adopts machine learning to allow users to predict how many products should be manufactured and will be sold, thereby improving the overall efficiency of their logistics operations. The platform is unique in terms of offering all at once: both hardware-powered (robotics) and software-driven (AI) approaches.

Ground participated in Rock Thailand, the cross-market open innovation initiative co-hosted by the Japanese Embassy to Thailand and Thailand’s major conglomerate Charoen Pokphand Group (CP) earlier this year, where the startup suggested the possibility of overseas business expansion. They will use the funds to strengthen hiring talents for business expansion as well as research and development of new technologies in the logistics sector.

Synspective nabs $100M in 17 months since founding, targets 6 mini-sats launch by 2022

SHARE:

See the original story in Japanese. Tokyo-based aerospace startup Synspective announced today that it has secured 8.67 billion yen (about $80 million US) in a series A round. This follows their previous round securing 300 million yen (about $2.8 million US) from uTokyo Innovation Platform (uTokyoIPC), Jafco and among other investors back in December. Alongside with their past funding from Abies Ventures, a deeptech-focused fund led by Japanese renowned entrepreneur/investor Taizo Son, the latest round brought the startup’s funding to 10.9 billion yen (about $100 million US). Japanese space business consultancy CSP Japan reported this is the fastest record in terms of securing such a large amount funds in such a short period since the launch of a company. Investors participating in this round are as follows (Jafco, uTokyoIPC, and Abies Ventures have participated in the previous round). The latest round is led by aSTART, which launched $46 space tech fund earlier this year and has participated in series C and D rounds for Astroscale, a Japanses startup known for its space-debris removal technology. aSTART Shimizu Corporation (TSE:1803, Japanese major construction company) Jafco (TSE:8595, investment company) uTokyo Innovation Platform (uTokyoIPC) Keio Innovation Initiative (KII, investment arm of Keio University) Abies…

synspective-founders-investors-team
Synspective’s founders and investors participating in this round
Image credit: Masaru Ikeda

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based aerospace startup Synspective announced today that it has secured 8.67 billion yen (about $80 million US) in a series A round. This follows their previous round securing 300 million yen (about $2.8 million US) from uTokyo Innovation Platform (uTokyoIPC), Jafco and among other investors back in December.

Alongside with their past funding from Abies Ventures, a deeptech-focused fund led by Japanese renowned entrepreneur/investor Taizo Son, the latest round brought the startup’s funding to 10.9 billion yen (about $100 million US). Japanese space business consultancy CSP Japan reported this is the fastest record in terms of securing such a large amount funds in such a short period since the launch of a company.

Investors participating in this round are as follows (Jafco, uTokyoIPC, and Abies Ventures have participated in the previous round). The latest round is led by aSTART, which launched $46 space tech fund earlier this year and has participated in series C and D rounds for Astroscale, a Japanses startup known for its space-debris removal technology.

  • aSTART
  • Shimizu Corporation (TSE:1803, Japanese major construction company)
  • Jafco (TSE:8595, investment company)
  • uTokyo Innovation Platform (uTokyoIPC)
  • Keio Innovation Initiative (KII, investment arm of Keio University)
  • Abies Ventures
  • Innovations and Future Creation (investment arm of Tokyo Institute of Technology)
  • Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and Banking
  • Fuyo General Lease (TSE:8424)
  • Mori Trust (real estate developer owning many commercial buildings in Japanese major cities)
  • SBI Investment (SBI AI & Blockchain)
  • Mizuho Capital
synspective-series-a-round-motoyuki-arai
Synspective CEO Motoyuki Arai
Image credit: Masaru Ikeda

Synspective was founded in February of 2018 by CEO Motoyuki Arai and co-founder/managing director Seiko Shirasaka (Shirasaka is a professor at System Design and Management, Keio University). Arai was previously working for an American accounting firm while attending the University of Tokyo where he obtained a PhD for Technology Management for Innovation. Subsequently, he was involved in assisting Saudi Arabia to implement renewable energy systems as well as working with the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry to help Japanese companies expand into this region.

Synspective is building a constellation system for earth observation mini-satellites employing Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and integrates SAR data with a variety of ground truth data. Using machine learning and other engineering techniques, the startup extracts meaning and context from the data to provide solutions to meet clients’ problems.

Developing a SAR mini-satellite requires a high degree of difficulty in engineering while SAR data processing does special expertise. The company has enables these challenges by placing research teams and data scientists in both departments of satellite development and satellite image analysis, alongside with assistance from mini-satellite developers engineers participating in ImPACT, a disruptive technologies development initiative by the Japanese Cabinet Office.

Synspective thinks their use case include developing mining resources, monitoring infrastructure construction and fraud in developing countries, and preventing disaster damage. The company announced in April that it has agreed to Arianespace regarding the launch of the former’s mini-satellite StriX-α.

synspective-sar-comparison
Comparison of conventional earth observation satellites and Synspective’s StriX.
Image credit: Masaru Ikeda

At the press briefing today, CEO Arai revealed that the company plans to launch one satellite by 2020, six satellites by 2022, and then 25 satellites later on. He said six satellites in operation enables on-demand earth observation at least one time a day for 99 cities with an over-one million population in Asia while 25 satellites in operation can cover 292 cities in the same population scale worldwide. They claim that the latest funding secures the cost for up to the launch of six satellites by 2022 and solution development.

In this space, we have seen active Japanese startups including SAR satellite developer iQPS and satellite image analyzer Sigma-SAR.

See also: