THE BRIDGE

Startups

Japan’s QD Laser, developer of retinal scanning displays, files for IPO

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Japanese startup QD Laser, the developer of retinal scanning displays called the Retissa series, announced on Monday that IPO application to the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) has been approved. The company will be listed on the TSE Mothers Market on February 5 of 2021 with plans to offer 9,451,800 shares for public subscription and to sell 2,033,900 shares in over-allotment options for a total of 4,107,600 shares. The underwriting will be led by SMBC Nikko securities while QD Laser’s ticker code will be 6613. Based on the estimated issue price of 275 yen (about $2.65), the company will be valued at 9.51 billion yen (about $91.7 million). Its share price range will be released on January 20 with bookbuilding scheduled to start on January 21 and pricing on January 27. According to the consolidated statement as of March 2020, they posted revenue of 756.63 million yen ($7.3 million) with an ordinary loss of 1.23 billion yen ($11.8 million). QD Laser was established in 2006 as a spin-off from Fujitsu Laboratories where QD Laser’s founder and CEO Mitsuru Sugawara was previously quantum dot lasers. Using the company’s technology, images can be directly delivered onto the device wearer’s retina from a laser…

Retissa Display II
Image credit: QD Laser

Japanese startup QD Laser, the developer of retinal scanning displays called the Retissa series, announced on Monday that IPO application to the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) has been approved. The company will be listed on the TSE Mothers Market on February 5 of 2021 with plans to offer 9,451,800 shares for public subscription and to sell 2,033,900 shares in over-allotment options for a total of 4,107,600 shares. The underwriting will be led by SMBC Nikko securities while QD Laser’s ticker code will be 6613.

Based on the estimated issue price of 275 yen (about $2.65), the company will be valued at 9.51 billion yen (about $91.7 million). Its share price range will be released on January 20 with bookbuilding scheduled to start on January 21 and pricing on January 27. According to the consolidated statement as of March 2020, they posted revenue of 756.63 million yen ($7.3 million) with an ordinary loss of 1.23 billion yen ($11.8 million).

QD Laser was established in 2006 as a spin-off from Fujitsu Laboratories where QD Laser’s founder and CEO Mitsuru Sugawara was previously quantum dot lasers. Using the company’s technology, images can be directly delivered onto the device wearer’s retina from a laser projector built inside the frame, and has the potential to improve the quality of life (QoL) of the visually impaired who are not totally blind but are forced to live in a blurred world. It is also expected to be applied to augmented reality and smart glasses.

Led by Japanese computer manufacturing giant Fujitsu (26.64% through their three funds, TSE:6702), the company’s major shareholders include Tokyo Century (TSE:8439, 13.02%), Mitsui & Co. Global Investment (12.45%), Axa Life Insurance (6.80%), QD Laser’s Sugawara (5.17%), Beyond Next Ventures (2.67%), Daiichi Life Insurance, Realtech Fund (2.66%), DG Ventures (2.36%), and Nikko-SBI Innovation Fund (2.36%).

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Japan’s Kaizen Platform, helping optimize website user experience, files for IPO

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See the original story in Japanese. Japanese startup Kaizen Platform, offering website user interface improvement solutions, announced on Wednesday that IPO application to the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) has been approved. The company will be listed on the TSE Mothers Market on December 22 with plans to offer 1,550,000 shares for public subscription and to sell 751,300 shares in over-allotment options for a total of 3,459,000 shares. The underwriting will be led by Mizuho securities while Kaizen’s ticker code will be 4170. Its share price range will be released on December 3 with bookbuilding scheduled to start on December 7 and pricing on December 11. According to the consolidated statement as of December 2019, they posted revenue of 1.3 billion yen (about $12.5 million) with an ordinary loss of 249 million yen ($2.8 million). Based on the estimated issue price of 1,100 yen (about $10.6), the company will be valued at about 16.9 billion yen ($162 million). Kaizen Platform founded a Delaware company with establishing its global headquarters in San Francisco as well its Japan branch in Tokyo in March to April of 2013, followed by launching a website optimization solution back in August of the same year. In addition…

See the original story in Japanese.

Japanese startup Kaizen Platform, offering website user interface improvement solutions, announced on Wednesday that IPO application to the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) has been approved. The company will be listed on the TSE Mothers Market on December 22 with plans to offer 1,550,000 shares for public subscription and to sell 751,300 shares in over-allotment options for a total of 3,459,000 shares. The underwriting will be led by Mizuho securities while Kaizen’s ticker code will be 4170.

Its share price range will be released on December 3 with bookbuilding scheduled to start on December 7 and pricing on December 11. According to the consolidated statement as of December 2019, they posted revenue of 1.3 billion yen (about $12.5 million) with an ordinary loss of 249 million yen ($2.8 million). Based on the estimated issue price of 1,100 yen (about $10.6), the company will be valued at about 16.9 billion yen ($162 million).

Kaizen Platform founded a Delaware company with establishing its global headquarters in San Francisco as well its Japan branch in Tokyo in March to April of 2013, followed by launching a website optimization solution back in August of the same year. In addition to offering website optimization solutions, the company launched the Kaizen Video service as part of the Kaizen Ad business.

Kaizen Platform established a Japanese company and its subsidiary Kaizen Platform USA in April ofo 2017. During this process, the founding company was dissolved in a merger with the US subsidiary, In addition, the company established a joint venture with NTT Ad called DX Catalyst, making it an equity-method affiliate by acquiring its 49% stake in April this year.

In addition to helping clients optimize their websites, the company is now focused on creating client’s video clips utilizing existing content for affordable rates and fast turnaround. They disclosed several KPIs they have achieved as of Q3 this year: 772 companies, 16,480 registered users (clients and professionals), and 2,124,000 yen as ARPU (average revenue per user).

Led by founder and CEO Kenji Sudo (32.43%), the company’s major shareholders include Eight Roads Ventures Japan (18.41%), GREE Ventures (now known as Strive, 9.39%), co-founder and CTO Toshimasa Ishibashi (8.11%), NTT Ad (7.29%), SBI Investment (4.59%), YJ Capital (3.82%), Colopl (3.05%), Dai Nippon Printing (2.88%), and GMO Venture Partners (1.91%).

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Japanese energy switching startup Enechange files for IPO

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See the original story in Japanese. Tokyo-based Enechange, the Japanese startup offering an electricity and gas switching platform for consumers under the same name, announced on Wednesday that IPO application to the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) has been approved. The company will be listed on the TSE Mothers Market on December 23 with plans to offer 50,000 shares for public subscription and to sell 57,000 shares in over-allotment options for a total of 330,000 shares. The underwriting will be led by Mizuho securities while Enechange’s ticker code will be 4169. Based on the estimated issue price of 520 yen (about $5), the company will be valued at 2.99 billion yen (about 28.7 million). Its share price range will be released on December 3 with bookbuilding scheduled to start on December 7 and pricing on December 11. According to the consolidated statement as of December 2019, they posted revenue of 1.27 billion yen ($12.2 million) with an ordinary loss of 238 million yen ($2.3 million). Enechange was co-founded in April 2015 by serial entrepreneurs CEO Yohei Kiguchi COO Ippei Arita. The company offers a price comparison site for electricity, a phone service where customer representatives can assist consumers to choose the…

Image credit: Enechange

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based Enechange, the Japanese startup offering an electricity and gas switching platform for consumers under the same name, announced on Wednesday that IPO application to the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) has been approved. The company will be listed on the TSE Mothers Market on December 23 with plans to offer 50,000 shares for public subscription and to sell 57,000 shares in over-allotment options for a total of 330,000 shares. The underwriting will be led by Mizuho securities while Enechange’s ticker code will be 4169.

Based on the estimated issue price of 520 yen (about $5), the company will be valued at 2.99 billion yen (about 28.7 million). Its share price range will be released on December 3 with bookbuilding scheduled to start on December 7 and pricing on December 11. According to the consolidated statement as of December 2019, they posted revenue of 1.27 billion yen ($12.2 million) with an ordinary loss of 238 million yen ($2.3 million).

Enechange was co-founded in April 2015 by serial entrepreneurs CEO Yohei Kiguchi COO Ippei Arita. The company offers a price comparison site for electricity, a phone service where customer representatives can assist consumers to choose the best electricity provider, as well as offering energy providers with cloud-based platforms such as EMAP (digital marketing SaaS) and SMAP (smartmeter-powered SaaS).

Led by CEO Kiguchi (23.86%), the company’s major shareholders include COO Arita (10.08%), Yasuyuki Ueno (8.00%), B Dash Ventures (7.62%), Energy Station Company Limited (7.61%), Bonds Investment Group (4.57%), EPCO (TSE:2311, 3.81%), Daiwa Energy Infrastructure (3.43%) and Spiral Capital (3.05%).

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Japanese robo-advisory startup WealthNavi files for IPO valued at over $470M

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See the original story in Japanese. Tokyo-based WealthNavi, the company offering a technology-based asset management service under the same name, announced that IPO application to the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) has been approved. The company will be listed on the TSE Mothers Market on December 22 with plans to offer 2.5 million shares for public subscription and to sell 1,559,400 shares in over-allotment options for a total of 13,094,300 shares. The underwriting will be led by SBI securities while WealthNavi’s ticker code will be 7342. Based on the estimated issue price of 1,100 yen (about $10.5), the company will be valued at 49.5 billion yen (about $474.5 million). Its share price range will be released on December 3 with bookbuilding scheduled to start on December 7 and pricing on December 11. According to the consolidated statement as of December 2019, they posted revenue of 1.55 billion yen ($14.8 million) with an ordinary loss of 2.06 billion yen ($19.7 million). WealthNavi was founded back in April of 2015 by CEO Kazuhisa Shibayama who previously worked at finance ministries of Japan and UK respectively after graduating from the University of Tokyo. After leaving the public sector, he joined McKinsey to risk and…

Image credit: WealthNavi

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based WealthNavi, the company offering a technology-based asset management service under the same name, announced that IPO application to the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) has been approved. The company will be listed on the TSE Mothers Market on December 22 with plans to offer 2.5 million shares for public subscription and to sell 1,559,400 shares in over-allotment options for a total of 13,094,300 shares. The underwriting will be led by SBI securities while WealthNavi’s ticker code will be 7342.

Based on the estimated issue price of 1,100 yen (about $10.5), the company will be valued at 49.5 billion yen (about $474.5 million). Its share price range will be released on December 3 with bookbuilding scheduled to start on December 7 and pricing on December 11. According to the consolidated statement as of December 2019, they posted revenue of 1.55 billion yen ($14.8 million) with an ordinary loss of 2.06 billion yen ($19.7 million).

WealthNavi was founded back in April of 2015 by CEO Kazuhisa Shibayama who previously worked at finance ministries of Japan and UK respectively after graduating from the University of Tokyo. After leaving the public sector, he joined McKinsey to risk and asset management projects for institutional investors.

The robo-advisory service provides a fully-automated asset management platform so that users can enjoy long-term and diversified investments. The company has now acquired 340,000 accounts and managed assets worth over 310 billion yen ($3.0 billion). The company was ranked in 10 of the most valued private companies in Japan by Nikkei last year.

WealthNavi is well known for having raised funds from more than 20 VC firms. Led by CEO Shibayama (24.84%), the company’s major shareholders include SBI Holdings and SBI Investment (13.5%), GREE Ventures (9.18%, now known as Strive), Infinity Venture Partners (6.39%, now known as Infinity Ventures), and Global Brain (5.96%, Global Brain also joins co-investment with Sony Financial Ventures), DBJ Capital (2.80%), and UTokyo Innovation Platform (2.40%).

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Japanese e-commerce analytics startup Plaid files for IPO

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Tokyo-based Plaid, the Japanese startup offering a real-time data analysis of website visitors and mobile app users called Karte, announced that IPO application to the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) has been approved. The company will be listed on the TSE Mothers Market on December 17 with plans to offer 1,522,000 shares for public subscription and to sell about 716,000 shares in over-allotment options for a total of 12,817,000 shares. The underwriting will be led by Mizuho securities while Plaid’s ticker code will be 4165. Based on the estimated issue price of 1,400 and a total number of 14,339,000 shares in the market including public subscription, the company will be valued at 51.7 billion yen (about $500 million). Its share price range will be released on November 30 with bookbuilding scheduled to start on December 1 and pricing on December 4. According to the consolidated statement as of September 2020, they posted revenue of 2.94 billion yen (about $28.3 million) with an ordinary profit of 678.7 million yen (about $6.5 million). The company was founded in October of 2011 by Kenta Kurahashi who previously worked at Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten. Having set e-commerce consulting and app development as their original business…

Plaid’s headquarters in Tokyo
Image credit: Plaid

Tokyo-based Plaid, the Japanese startup offering a real-time data analysis of website visitors and mobile app users called Karte, announced that IPO application to the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) has been approved. The company will be listed on the TSE Mothers Market on December 17 with plans to offer 1,522,000 shares for public subscription and to sell about 716,000 shares in over-allotment options for a total of 12,817,000 shares. The underwriting will be led by Mizuho securities while Plaid’s ticker code will be 4165.

Based on the estimated issue price of 1,400 and a total number of 14,339,000 shares in the market including public subscription, the company will be valued at 51.7 billion yen (about $500 million). Its share price range will be released on November 30 with bookbuilding scheduled to start on December 1 and pricing on December 4. According to the consolidated statement as of September 2020, they posted revenue of 2.94 billion yen (about $28.3 million) with an ordinary profit of 678.7 million yen (about $6.5 million).

The company was founded in October of 2011 by Kenta Kurahashi who previously worked at Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten. Having set e-commerce consulting and app development as their original business focus at first, the company launched the Karte analytics platform back in March of 2015 which has now become a main cash cow. The platform allows companies to collect and analyze behavioral data of their visitors and loyal users by integrating into websites and mobile apps. Using these collected and analyzed resources, companies can conduct personalized marketing strategy in communicating with users via website, mobile app, e-mail, Line and other chat tools.

Their SaaS business has been steadily growing, with a three-year average annual growth rate of 70.3% in sales from September of 2017 to September of 2020. In addition to e-retailers in the fashion and health beauty industry (5.9%), the Karte has attracted many other service owners from finance, insurance, settlement, human resources services, real estate, and media portal websites, which resulted in acquiring 710 websites and 474 companies as their users in total as of September.

Led by founder and CEO Kurahashi (29.65%), the company’s major shareholders include CPO Naoki Shibayama (19.78%), Eight Roads Capital Advisors (15.89%), Femto Growth Capital (14.9% through two different funds), Google (3.60%), CTO Yuki Makino (1.52%), operating officer Hiroyuki Shimizu, Mitsui & Co. (1.26%), and Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Venture Capital (1.26%).

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Japan’s handmade item C2C startup Creema files for IPO

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Tokyo-based Creema, the Japanese startup behind C2C (consumer-to-consumer) marketplace for handmade items under the same name, announced that IPO application to the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) has been approved. The company will be listed on the TSE Mothers Market on November 27 with plans to offer 113,000 shares for public subscription and to sell about 167,200 shares in over-allotment options for a total of 1,559,700 shares. The underwriting will be led by SBI securities while Creema’s ticker code will be 4017. Based on the estimated IPO price of 3,250 yen (about $31) a share, the company’s market valuation will be about 19.8 billion yen (about $189.1 million). Its share price range will be released on November 19 with bookbuilding scheduled to start on November 11 and pricing on November 18. According to the consolidated statement as of February 2020, they posted revenue of 1.49 billion yen (about $14.2 million) with an ordinary profit of 70.6 million yen (about $674,000). Creema was founded in 2009 by Kotaro Marubayashi, who worked as a manager for a subsidiary of Japanese Internet service company Septeni Holdings after engaging in the music industry when he was attending Keio University. The company launched the handmade item…

Creema Store in Sapporo
Image credit: Creema

Tokyo-based Creema, the Japanese startup behind C2C (consumer-to-consumer) marketplace for handmade items under the same name, announced that IPO application to the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) has been approved.

The company will be listed on the TSE Mothers Market on November 27 with plans to offer 113,000 shares for public subscription and to sell about 167,200 shares in over-allotment options for a total of 1,559,700 shares. The underwriting will be led by SBI securities while Creema’s ticker code will be 4017.

Based on the estimated IPO price of 3,250 yen (about $31) a share, the company’s market valuation will be about 19.8 billion yen (about $189.1 million).

Its share price range will be released on November 19 with bookbuilding scheduled to start on November 11 and pricing on November 18. According to the consolidated statement as of February 2020, they posted revenue of 1.49 billion yen (about $14.2 million) with an ordinary profit of 70.6 million yen (about $674,000).

Creema was founded in 2009 by Kotaro Marubayashi, who worked as a manager for a subsidiary of Japanese Internet service company Septeni Holdings after engaging in the music industry when he was attending Keio University. The company launched the handmade item marketplace back in 2010.

It has over 200,000 professional and semi-professional creators selling over 10 million original craft items. In order to increase engagement with sellers and buyers, the company also hosts an annual large-scale showcase event and has flagship stores in several cities across Japan.

Led by founder and CEO Marubayashi (31.89%), the company’s major shareholders include Global Capital Partners (13.7% through two funds), KDDI (11.9% through two funds), Animarism Group (9.1%, Marubayashi’s asset management company), Global Brain (7.1%), and Yuki Ohashi (6.92%, Creema co-founder and managing director).

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Japan’s Medmain nabs over $10M to expand AI-powered telepathology diagnostic system

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See the original story in Japanese. Fukuoka-based Medmain, the Japanese MedTech startup behind the PidPort telepathology solutions and the Medteria cloud for medical students, announced on Monday that it has secured 1.1 billion yen (about $10 million US) through the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) that Hike Ventures has set up for this round. The company has not mentioned the stage of the rounud but it’s believed as a series A round. The latest round follows the 100 million yen funding back in August 2018, and brought the total sum of funding to date up to 1.2 billion yen (about 11.3 million US). Participating investors in this round are Fukuoka Wajiro Hospital Group, IHW Group from International University of Health and Welfare (IUHW), QTnet, Hike Ventures, Innovations and Future Creation, Deepcore, Dogan Beta as well as unnamed angel investors. Deepcore and Dogan Beta participated in the previous round. SPVs have advantages for startups, including lowering the time and effort required to raise funds, and some of our readers may recall that Japanese HRTech startup SmartHR used this scheme for their Series B round. Medmain said it adopted the scheme this time to streamline raising a large sum of funding from multiple…

The Medmain team, CEO Osamu Iizuka stands on the center.
Image credit: Medmain

See the original story in Japanese.

Fukuoka-based Medmain, the Japanese MedTech startup behind the PidPort telepathology solutions and the Medteria cloud for medical students, announced on Monday that it has secured 1.1 billion yen (about $10 million US) through the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) that Hike Ventures has set up for this round. The company has not mentioned the stage of the rounud but it’s believed as a series A round. The latest round follows the 100 million yen funding back in August 2018, and brought the total sum of funding to date up to 1.2 billion yen (about 11.3 million US).

Participating investors in this round are Fukuoka Wajiro Hospital Group, IHW Group from International University of Health and Welfare (IUHW), QTnet, Hike Ventures, Innovations and Future Creation, Deepcore, Dogan Beta as well as unnamed angel investors. Deepcore and Dogan Beta participated in the previous round.

SPVs have advantages for startups, including lowering the time and effort required to raise funds, and some of our readers may recall that Japanese HRTech startup SmartHR used this scheme for their Series B round. Medmain said it adopted the scheme this time to streamline raising a large sum of funding from multiple investors including hospital managements.

The Fukuoka Wajiro Hospital Group has 24 medical institutions and seven medical education institutions in Japan, while the IHW Group from IUHW is made of medical, educational, and welfare groups with about 60 facilities nationwide. With the participation of these groups, the company intends to accelerate product development involving the clinical environment.

The PidPort functions.
Image credit: Medmain

Medmain is the first startup born out of Kyushu University’s officially approved club activity for encouraging entrepreneurship. PidPort, one of the startup’s flagship products, leverages deep learning and proprietary computer vision technology to enable quick and accurate pathology diagnosis.

In partnership with the Kyushu University School of Medicine and Kyushu University Hospital, the company has been using supercomputers to conduct high-speed learning for artificial intelligence (AI). Launching the alpha version back in winter in 2018 followed by the official version in February this year, it is conducting joint research with over 50 medical institutions in Japan.

Medical care and computer vision are considered to be a good match. Among many medical applications (e.g., radiological and endoscopic images), the company has chosen pathology as a focus because it believed this area was particularly behind in digitalization. In pathology, a doctor takes tissue samples from a patient’s body and a pathologist uses a microscope to check them. Medmain provides pathologists with an environment so that they can remotely complete this process by checking scanned images. In addition, the more images and learning data are collected, the more precise diagnosis the platform can provide. This may contribute to solving the delay in diagnosis due to the shortage of pathologists.

PidPort viewer’s image
Image credit: Medmain

Because of the restrictions of medical-related laws, PidPort is used only on a research basis at this point in Japan, but it is used for actual medical diagnosis in other countries. In countries and regions where pathologists are scarce, pathologists in Japan have provided consultation and advice to a local doctor based on images of the latter’s patient’s tissue using the platform.

In addition, the spread of the novel coronavirus has restricted the movement people including even pathologists, but the platform allows pathologists to make diagnoses online without traveling multiple hospitals, which becomes a good opportunity to advance digital pathology.

Medmain plans to use the funds to enhance its AI algorithms, investing in image scanning equipment in addition to hiring talents for global business expansion effort. In Japan, the AI-powered diagnostic function is currently limited to research use due to legal restrictions, so the company will highlight the potential of remote pathological diagnosis leveraged by digital scanning and cloud storage functions for domestic sales.

Japan startup Styler partners with Tencent to help fashion retailers adapt to pandemic changes

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See the original story in Japanese. Tokyo-based Styler, the Japanese startup offering an O2O (offline to online) support service for fashion and apparel stores called Facy, announced in late July that it has partnered with Tencent Cloud, the cloud service division of Chinese tech giant Tencent. Styler had been running the Facy app as a way to drive potential customers from online to offline fashion retailers. However, the company recognized that the expanding pandemic will significantly influence consumer purchasing behavior and decided to evolve the business into supporting Online merges with Offline (OMO) effort where retailers can seemly integrate user experience at their e-commerce site and brick-and-mortar stores. Pandemic accelerates fashion retailers’ shift to digital operations While fashion e-commerce represents a large proportion of the overall e-commerce market (around 20% of the total in terms of market size), it is yet difficult to completely take over all real store sales. Similar to what tech conferences and events are challenging amid the pandemic, one of the problems here is how to give consumers serendipity on online shopping. Unlike giving users recommendations using a collaborative filtering-based engine, it may be difficult for online platforms to give users a chance meeting with the…

Image credit: Tencent Cloud / Styler

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based Styler, the Japanese startup offering an O2O (offline to online) support service for fashion and apparel stores called Facy, announced in late July that it has partnered with Tencent Cloud, the cloud service division of Chinese tech giant Tencent.

Styler had been running the Facy app as a way to drive potential customers from online to offline fashion retailers. However, the company recognized that the expanding pandemic will significantly influence consumer purchasing behavior and decided to evolve the business into supporting Online merges with Offline (OMO) effort where retailers can seemly integrate user experience at their e-commerce site and brick-and-mortar stores.

Pandemic accelerates fashion retailers’ shift to digital operations

While fashion e-commerce represents a large proportion of the overall e-commerce market (around 20% of the total in terms of market size), it is yet difficult to completely take over all real store sales. Similar to what tech conferences and events are challenging amid the pandemic, one of the problems here is how to give consumers serendipity on online shopping.

Unlike giving users recommendations using a collaborative filtering-based engine, it may be difficult for online platforms to give users a chance meeting with the brands they have never met before while sales associates at real stores can do it.

Image credit: Alibaba

In China in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic, we saw many sales associates at fashion stores setting up lights and tripods to to introduce and sell their products via live video streaming. For fashion brands, it would be difficult to integrate a typical live commerce app with their own customer-facing app while Tencent Cloud’s solutions apparently makes it easier.

Tencent Cloud’s solutions allow stores and customers to interact with each other while seeing each other’s faces through mobiles. The same technology has been adopted to Telelive, CyberAgent subsidiary Cyber Pal’s platform for holding fan meetings online, as well as Ignis’s dating service’s video call app.

Styler plans to introduce Tencent Cloud’s solutions to fashion brands, aiming to help them better implement the OMO into their environment. These solutions allow brands not only offer seamlessly their front-end customer experience online and offline but also to support back-end operations such as integrated inventory management of online and offline sales as well as optimized inventory operations across multiple real stores.

Image credit: Tencent Cloud

In the ever-changing fashion industry, fashion stores often come and go at shopping malls thanks to the growing prominence of direct-to-consumer(D2C) brands. Tencent Cloud’s solutions allow shopping malls to keep their store directory signage updated at all times simply by importing CAD data indicating tenant locations within the mall building. To ensure the practicality of the solution, Styler plans to conduct Proof of Concept trials with Tokyu Land Corporation (TSE:3289) which is known for operating a number of shopping malls in Tokyo.

More D2C brands focusing on online sales are expected to enter the market in the future. In view of having a lot of ups and downs, their real stores’ character don’t fit a typical long-term lease contract for shopping malls. Even in such a tough environment, keeping offering retention opportunities at real stores to brands is a big challenge for shopping malls.

Styler CEO Tsubasa Koseki explained in a recent interview with Bridge.

Leveraging Tencent Cloud’s solution, Styler is being focused on helping brands make their communication and inventory management available in a digital manner. As there is no significant player in Japan with knowledge that straddles between online and offline sales, I think Styler can take an overwhelming lead in this area.

Facy wants to be lifestyle-focused super app

Image credit: Styler
Image credit: Styler

In addition to offering the OMO solutions to fashion brands, Styler is working on upgrading their own flagship Facy app so that brands can easily catch up with the OMO trend. The completely newer version is expected to be out this fall.

We are currently benchmarking super apps like Southeast Asia’s Grab (turned from a ride-hailing app), China’s Meituan (previously known as a restaurant discovery/group buying site), and Columbia-born Rapii

Koseki continued:

Unlike these apps targeted at commodity consumers, Facy wants to be a lifesytle-focused OMO app serving those looking at mid-range priced products. We’re moving forward under the strategy symbolized by two keywords: New Retail and Luxury. Going forward, we’ll be also expanding into other categories like cosmetics and furniture.

In Japan, I think that tech giants like Line and Rakuten as well as other payments apps are probably trying to be a super app, but they have yet less variety in service offerings like what Grab, Meituan, and Rappi are doing. Hence, the Facy app has the potential to dominate this market in Japan if they can succeed in expanding their service offerings.

Japan’s Monstar Lab raises $40M to focus on developing take-away apps for US restaurants

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Tokyo-headquartered Monstar Lab, the Japanese company sourcing app developments around the world, announced today that it has raised a total of 4.2 billion yen (about $40 million US) in the latest round. Participating investors are Japan Post Capital, Dentsu Digital Fund, Saudi Arabia’s Alpha Al Imteyaz, Serverworks (TSE:4434), FFG Venture Business Partners, Shimane Central Shinkin Bank and Skylight Consulting. The secured amount includes debt financing from financial institutions. Shimane Central Shinkin Bank also participated in the previous round back in November of 2017. The company said it will use the funds to further expand its digital consulting business globally as well as enhance marketing and product development to increase the value it provides to its clients. This follows the previous round securing approximately 2.4 billion yen back in February of last year. This round’s stage is unspecified but it seems the seventh funding round as far as we know in our effort of reporting. In April of last year, Monstar Lab acquired New York-based digital product and mobile app developer Fuzz Productions which is best known for having developed ordering systems for Shake Shack and other restaurants. In August of 2017, Monstar Lab acquired Danish software company Nodes, which is…

Image credit: Monstar Lab

Tokyo-headquartered Monstar Lab, the Japanese company sourcing app developments around the world, announced today that it has raised a total of 4.2 billion yen (about $40 million US) in the latest round. Participating investors are Japan Post Capital, Dentsu Digital Fund, Saudi Arabia’s Alpha Al Imteyaz, Serverworks (TSE:4434), FFG Venture Business Partners, Shimane Central Shinkin Bank and Skylight Consulting. The secured amount includes debt financing from financial institutions. Shimane Central Shinkin Bank also participated in the previous round back in November of 2017.

The company said it will use the funds to further expand its digital consulting business globally as well as enhance marketing and product development to increase the value it provides to its clients.

This follows the previous round securing approximately 2.4 billion yen back in February of last year. This round’s stage is unspecified but it seems the seventh funding round as far as we know in our effort of reporting.

In April of last year, Monstar Lab acquired New York-based digital product and mobile app developer Fuzz Productions which is best known for having developed ordering systems for Shake Shack and other restaurants. In August of 2017, Monstar Lab acquired Danish software company Nodes, which is known for developing a number of food delivery apps like Careem Now in the Middle East region. According to Nikkei, the company has been focusing on ordering systems for restaurants in North America, but due to the growing demand for take-away apps because of COVID-19, the company plans to establish a development base in Latin America, where engineering labor costs are cheaper, to make offensive sales efforts in the North American market.

Monstar Lab currently operates in 26 cities in 15 countries around the world, including Europe, the US and Asia. The company with its subsidiaries have about 1,200 employees.

via PR Times

Japanese smart lock Akerun secures $33M to realize keyless society

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See the original story in Japanese. Tokyo-based Photosynth, the Japanese startup developing and offering smart lock Akerun as well as cloud-based room-entry access control system, unveiled the Akerun Access Intelligence, an access authentication platform to realize a keyless society, as well as a new service called the Akerun visitor management system. The company also plans to conduct a Proof of Concept trial with Japanese leading real estate developer Mitsui Fudosan (TSE:8801). Meanwhile, the company announced that it has secured funding in the latest round led by The Norinchukin Bank with participation from NTT Docomo Ventures, 31Ventures, Line Ventures, Toppan Printing, BSP Group, Scrum Ventures, Joyo Sangyo Kenkyujo, Globis Capital Partners, and others. In this round, The company obtained 3.5 billion yen (about $33 million) in equity funding as well as loans from Shinsei Bank, Japan Finance Corporation, Mizuho Bank, Joyo Bank, and others. This brought the company’s funding sum up to 5 billion yen (about $47.3 million). Along with this, Tatsuya Otsubo of The Norinchukin Bank is appointed as an ouside director for Photosynth. The company will use the funds to promote research and development of the authentication platform as well as strengthening customer support and sales. The Akerun service…

The Akerun Visitor Management system installed at Mitsui Fudosan’s office entrance
Image credit: Photosynth

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based Photosynth, the Japanese startup developing and offering smart lock Akerun as well as cloud-based room-entry access control system, unveiled the Akerun Access Intelligence, an access authentication platform to realize a keyless society, as well as a new service called the Akerun visitor management system.

The company also plans to conduct a Proof of Concept trial with Japanese leading real estate developer Mitsui Fudosan (TSE:8801).

Meanwhile, the company announced that it has secured funding in the latest round led by The Norinchukin Bank with participation from NTT Docomo Ventures, 31Ventures, Line Ventures, Toppan Printing, BSP Group, Scrum Ventures, Joyo Sangyo Kenkyujo, Globis Capital Partners, and others.

In this round, The company obtained 3.5 billion yen (about $33 million) in equity funding as well as loans from Shinsei Bank, Japan Finance Corporation, Mizuho Bank, Joyo Bank, and others. This brought the company’s funding sum up to 5 billion yen (about $47.3 million).

Along with this, Tatsuya Otsubo of The Norinchukin Bank is appointed as an ouside director for Photosynth. The company will use the funds to promote research and development of the authentication platform as well as strengthening customer support and sales.

The Akerun service improves convenience and security of keyless entry leveraging a cloud-based connected smart lock system. The Akerun room-entry access control system for business has been installed to 4,500 companies to date.

Akerun Access Intelligence is a new concept to put all the keys used in our daily lives into the cloud. In this scheme, users can associate their unique identity used in real life, such as NFC transit card, smartphone, employee ID and entrance pass with their digital entity such as e-mail address and phone number, and then register all them in to the cloud. This allows users to gain access to various spaces such as their office, building and home with just a single ID.

Image credit: Photosynth

In addition, the company announced the Akerun Visitor Management System, a cloud-based management platform to develop this concept in concrete terms. Large office buildings had often set up security gates and reception areas for access restrictions where visitors are usually asked to present their ID as well as fill in their name and the name of the company they are visiting in the form. However, this procedure was time-consuming for visitors, the forms collected by the receptionist needed to be re-input to manage digitally, and visual check of ID is not so much reliable.

To solve these problems, Photosynth developed the Akerun Visitor Management System, which can be installed into existing security gates so that guests can get entry approval using their NFC transit card. Combined with the Akerun room-entry access control system, the Visitor Management system allows not only visitors but also employees gain access to the locations that every user ID / key set approves. Photosynth will conduct a proof-of-concept trial using these systems with Mitsui Fudosan at the latter’s new office in Nihombashi, Tokyo. Mitsui Fudosan has been using the Akerun for some time now, which led to this collaboration.

via PR TIMES

Translated by Masaru Ikeda