THE BRIDGE

Startups

Meet the 5 newest startups from Movida Japan’s acceleration program

SHARE:

Tokyo-based startup accelerator Movida Japan, led by billionaire Taizo Son, today held its Demo Day unveiling five startups from the third batch of its acceleration program. They pitch their ideas in front of more than 150 people, including investors and media. Here’s a quick rundown on what they’ve been working on. Reep ¶ Pitched by: Hiromasa Yoshikane People take many daily snapshots with their smartphones, but they often forget to which social network or which file sharing service they’ve uploaded pictures. Reep.me aggregates your past snapshots from your many social network accounts, letting you easily see what you’ve shot an year ago for example. Their iPhone app is live as of today. Vise ¶ Pitched by: Keinichiro Nishioka Vise is an alternative document management platform to Google Docs or Microsoft Word. When you edit a document for a client, you may need to exchange it many times, revising the draft again and again. That process results in many revisions, often making it hard to keep track of the newest version. Vise has adopted the Markdown syntax, and its version control feature helps you manage revision history on a document. When you create a new version of your original document, a…

Tokyo-based startup accelerator Movida Japan, led by billionaire Taizo Son, today held its Demo Day unveiling five startups from the third batch of its acceleration program. They pitch their ideas in front of more than 150 people, including investors and media. Here’s a quick rundown on what they’ve been working on.

Reep

reep_logoPitched by: Hiromasa Yoshikane

People take many daily snapshots with their smartphones, but they often forget to which social network or which file sharing service they’ve uploaded pictures. Reep.me aggregates your past snapshots from your many social network accounts, letting you easily see what you’ve shot an year ago for example. Their iPhone app is live as of today.

Vise

3idea_logoPitched by: Keinichiro Nishioka

Vise is an alternative document management platform to Google Docs or Microsoft Word. When you edit a document for a client, you may need to exchange it many times, revising the draft again and again. That process results in many revisions, often making it hard to keep track of the newest version.

Vise has adopted the Markdown syntax, and its version control feature helps you manage revision history on a document. When you create a new version of your original document, a revision on the original document may be automatically reverted to the original as well. Other members sharing the document may also be notified about your revision.

They expect to launch a beta version in July.

vise_pitch

Michi

michimall_logoPitched by: Shun Nakazaki

With the idea of selling Japan-made products to overseas markets, Michi tests a variety of products and then post articles on a Facebook wall to find out what ones get the best response from their global audience. In this way, they’ve gained insights about user tastes, especially about popular nail art.

Many nail artists are working in the Japanese market, but after rapid growth they’re struggling to acquired more customers and revenue in the saturated domestic market. And that’s why they are now looking overseas.

Michi sells artificial nails designed by Japanese nail artists to overseas customers online. It creates a new revenue stream for nail artists whose sales have leveled off, and it allows foreign nail art lovers to buy cute Japanese designs. They’ve already acquire more than 330,000 likes on their Facebook fan page.

michimall_fbscreenshot

Street Academy

streetacademy_logoPicthed by: Takashi Fujimoto

StreetAcademy gives you a new way to learn. A survey says that Japanese people, ranging from thirty-somethings to seniors, is interested in teaching something to someone. This service provides them with an opportunity for teach.

By listing the thing that you can teach, you can then easily create a page announcing your lecture. Your profile is automatically imported from your Facebook profile, so you don’t need to enter everything from scratch. In terms of venues, lessons usually take place at coffee shops, co-working spaces, or even at a reserved room in a public bath site.

streetacademy_screenshot

U-Note

u-note_logoPicthed by Yuto Koide

There are many learning opportunities and events taking place in any given town. But most likely you’re not able to attend them all. And even if you could, it would cost a lot.

Typically event attendees take notes about what they’ve hear at events. Very often everyone is taking notes about the same stuff in a very similar way. It might be beneficial to share these notes with others who would have liked to attend the event.

The U-note app aims to give people lecture experience without actually real attending. The startup expects to acquire 5 million monthly page views by the end of this year. Its mobile app is available for Android, with an iOS version to follow soon.

u-note_pitch


taizoson_speaksThe accelerator’s CEO Taizo Son emphasized that these five presenters do not make up all the graduates from the third batch, because they’ve raised the bar for qualification to pitch at this Demo Day event. He urged the audience to assist (financially or otherwise) all the startups from the accelerator.

Movida Japan is now receiving applications for the next batch of its acceleration program. The deadline is next Monday, May 20th.

Japanese online learning platform Mana.bo raises $374,000 from CyberAgent Ventures and other investors

SHARE:

See the original story in Japanese. Tokyo-based online learning service startup Mana.bo has raised 38 million yen (approximately $374,000) in seed funding from several investors including CyberAgent Ventures. Mana.bo provides a virtual, private tutoring service, helping students learn with a platform that enables whiteboard sharing, as well as audio and photo sharing. The startup was chosen for inclusion in the third batch of the KDDI Mugen Labo incubation program, where it also won the smart device award. The startup is currently acquiring university students as tutors for the service, by partnering with so called ‘cram schools’ and prep schools. The service’s users include high school students and those preparing for university entrance exams. Mana.bo’s co-founder and CEO Katsuhito Mihashi told us they have already seen some positive results. We’ve been working with some companies including Benesse Corporation, one of the giants in the Japanese education business. We’re providing them with a white label version of our platform for high school students. We have been able to provide our platform even to small cram schools in suburban areas. So we believe this is right time to fundraise because we need intensify our marketing efforts and work on developing the service further….

manabo

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based online learning service startup Mana.bo has raised 38 million yen (approximately $374,000) in seed funding from several investors including CyberAgent Ventures.

Mana.bo provides a virtual, private tutoring service, helping students learn with a platform that enables whiteboard sharing, as well as audio and photo sharing. The startup was chosen for inclusion in the third batch of the KDDI Mugen Labo incubation program, where it also won the smart device award.

sample3-300x173The startup is currently acquiring university students as tutors for the service, by partnering with so called ‘cram schools’ and prep schools. The service’s users include high school students and those preparing for university entrance exams.

Mana.bo’s co-founder and CEO Katsuhito Mihashi told us they have already seen some positive results.

We’ve been working with some companies including Benesse Corporation, one of the giants in the Japanese education business. We’re providing them with a white label version of our platform for high school students. We have been able to provide our platform even to small cram schools in suburban areas. So we believe this is right time to fundraise because we need intensify our marketing efforts and work on developing the service further.

Mana.bo allows tutors to make money in exchange for their tutoring services. Cram school students can receive lectures from someone besides their regular teachers, and teachers have an opportunity to teach a variety of students. The startup aims to help students supplement their learning experiences with a quality education environment for low price.

sample2-300x174Mr. Mihashi explained that conventional education methods were typically one-sided, but that the growing penetration of online education services may change teachers’ roles.

Students often supplement their learning with knowledge found online, thus face-to-face teaching might be changing to a role of counseling or motivating students to learn. […] Online education services have great potential in provide individuals with more efficient ways to learn.

Looking at the edutech market in Japan, there are very few competitors right now. This is because there are very few successful models. In the US, Korea, and Europe, we can see more advanced examples in this space. The market is growing day by day. And the growth of the edutech market will provide benefits to students as well, because it contributes to the development of a high-profile education environment.

The service is currently offering its services only to its partners and test users, but it is preparing for its official launch when it will be available to all users. They expect to acquire 1 million users and 100,000 tutors in a year, and they also plan business expansion to Asian regions as well.

Japan’s Rebright Partners establishes a new fund focused on startups in Southeast Asia

SHARE:

Japanese seed investor Rebright Partners, led by veteran entrepreneur Takeshi Ebihara, recently formed a new investment fund focusing on the internet and mobile business in Southeast Asia. We caught up with Ebihara in a recent interview, and he explained what he’s aspiring to do with this new fund. Can you give us some general information about this new fund? The fund is focused on investing in startups in Southeast Asian regions. From our perspective, [we’re looking at] six countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, and Singapore. The fund’s limited partners are mainly Japanese individual investors or entrepreneurs with a proven track record, such as the founders of TSE-listed companies or those who have exited their companies. You are investing in Indonesian startups under Batavia Incubator, a joint venture with Indonesia’s Corfina Group. Is the new fund any different from your regular investments? Batavia Incubator aims to invest in immature but high potential startups in Indonesia, and what we’ve been doing under Batavia is something like incubative activities rather than investments. The new fund focuses on the entire Asian region, and invests in relatively promising startups run by experienced entrepreneurs. Have you yet invested in any startups with the new…

rebright_partners_logoJapanese seed investor Rebright Partners, led by veteran entrepreneur Takeshi Ebihara, recently formed a new investment fund focusing on the internet and mobile business in Southeast Asia.

We caught up with Ebihara in a recent interview, and he explained what he’s aspiring to do with this new fund.

Can you give us some general information about this new fund?

The fund is focused on investing in startups in Southeast Asian regions. From our perspective, [we’re looking at] six countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, and Singapore. The fund’s limited partners are mainly Japanese individual investors or entrepreneurs with a proven track record, such as the founders of TSE-listed companies or those who have exited their companies.

You are investing in Indonesian startups under Batavia Incubator, a joint venture with Indonesia’s Corfina Group. Is the new fund any different from your regular investments?

ebihara_vertical
Rebright Partners’
Takeshi Ebihara

Batavia Incubator aims to invest in immature but high potential startups in Indonesia, and what we’ve been doing under Batavia is something like incubative activities rather than investments. The new fund focuses on the entire Asian region, and invests in relatively promising startups run by experienced entrepreneurs.

Have you yet invested in any startups with the new fund?

Yes, we actually set up the fund about a couple of weeks ago, but we have already invested in two startups. One is Adskom, an ad tech startup in Indonesia founded by two experienced entrepreneurs. They will provide a supply-side platform (SSP) solution for managing real-time bidding on online ad networks. The other is a Singaporean startup, but we can’t disclose their name for now because they would like to announce it when their new service is live.

What’s unique about this new fund?

We can summarize the fund’s uniqueness in four points.

  1. Focusing on multiple markets in Southeast Asian regions. That’s why our investees are startups which will not be satisfied with doing business in just their home markets, but expects business expansion across the entire regions.
  2. We are expecting to invest in relatively promising startups, founded by well-experienced serial entrepreneurs who have many connections with local markets.
  3. We’re focused on markets where user acquisition cost is quite low. And that’s Southeast Asia for now. The user acquisition cost in the region is about one-tenth of that of the US or Japan. That’s why some US funds and angel investors are also interested in joining the fund.
  4. We focus on investing in internet services for consumers because this space will benefit from local people’s [growing] appetite for consuming digital content and merchandise.

Especially over the past few months, several Japanese VC firms have rapidly established new funds with the intention to investments in tech startups in the Southeast Asian market. We are hoping these efforts help the startup communities in Japan and Southeast Asia become closer than ever in their collaboration.

Japanese startup 30min launches new service for finding bargain apartments

SHARE:

See also the original story in Japanese. Japanese startup 30min (pronounced as ‘san zero minutes’) has introduced gourmet-focused information services including a new 30min mobile app and 30min ramen app. The startup was known for releasing these kind of apps previously in that space. However the market has been saturation with a wide variety of gourmet or restaurant related apps and services. This prompted the startup to consider a change to some other revenue model. Recently Japanese people enjoyed the Golden Week holiday, the longest annual holiday in Japan. But during that time 30min’s CTO Noriyuki Nonomura has been developing a new service to help people find bargain-priced second-hand apartments. It has now officially launched as a 30min service. Typically landlords or property investors can easily find relatively cheaper properties. But for average people, it can be really hard to do. This new bargain-priced apartment finder aggregates profiles from its partnering information providers, and shows you whether a listed property is a good or bad deal, comparing the average price in the area and the price per square meter. Factors like access to public transport and the age of the property are considered too. As for monetization, Nonomura explains that they…

See also the original story in Japanese.

Japanese startup 30min (pronounced as ‘san zero minutes’) has introduced gourmet-focused information services including a new 30min mobile app and 30min ramen app.

The startup was known for releasing these kind of apps previously in that space. However the market has been saturation with a wide variety of gourmet or restaurant related apps and services. This prompted the startup to consider a change to some other revenue model.

Recently Japanese people enjoyed the Golden Week holiday, the longest annual holiday in Japan. But during that time 30min’s CTO Noriyuki Nonomura has been developing a new service to help people find bargain-priced second-hand apartments. It has now officially launched as a 30min service.

30min-mansion

Typically landlords or property investors can easily find relatively cheaper properties. But for average people, it can be really hard to do. This new bargain-priced apartment finder aggregates profiles from its partnering information providers, and shows you whether a listed property is a good or bad deal, comparing the average price in the area and the price per square meter. Factors like access to public transport and the age of the property are considered too.

As for monetization, Nonomura explains that they have partnered with Suumo, a property information service by Recruit. 30min will receive affiliate fees by driving user traffic to the property information site.

Many people feel Japan’s economic situation is improving, and this might positively affect the property market. But even for folks who don’t intend to purchase a property, the app gives you a great bird’s eye view of the market.

Tokyo Otaku Mode and MTV81.com to partner on Japan entertainment news syndication

SHARE:

Japanese startup Tokyo Otaku Mode and MTV81.com (a MTV Japan website serving international audiences) have today announced a joint syndication deal which will see both parties publishing the other’s content. Tokyo Otaku Mode, who we have written about frequently on this site, is a distributor of content relating to Japanese subculture, including anime, manga, and even cosplay. But given that there is significant overlap in this Japanese otaku culture and Japan’s more broad entertainment culture, this partnership appears to be a very natural fit. With new music and entertainment content coming from MTV81, Otaku Mode now has richer offerings for its wide audience. As we’ve mentioned before, the startup has a massive following on Facebook with more than 11 million fans, so it’s certainly easy to see why such a syndication deal would be attractive for a relatively young publisher like MTV81. On the other side of the deal, MTV81 will publish “selected feeds” from Tokyo Otaku Mode’s news site relating to otaku entertainment news. Earlier in the year when we spoke to Tokyo Otaku Mode, they mentioned that a big challenge for the company would be trying to monetize its huge audience in some way. To that end, the…

at Tokyo Otaku Mode HQ
at Tokyo Otaku Mode HQ

Japanese startup Tokyo Otaku Mode and MTV81.com (a MTV Japan website serving international audiences) have today announced a joint syndication deal which will see both parties publishing the other’s content.

Tokyo Otaku Mode, who we have written about frequently on this site, is a distributor of content relating to Japanese subculture, including anime, manga, and even cosplay. But given that there is significant overlap in this Japanese otaku culture and Japan’s more broad entertainment culture, this partnership appears to be a very natural fit.

With new music and entertainment content coming from MTV81, Otaku Mode now has richer offerings for its wide audience. As we’ve mentioned before, the startup has a massive following on Facebook with more than 11 million fans, so it’s certainly easy to see why such a syndication deal would be attractive for a relatively young publisher like MTV81.

On the other side of the deal, MTV81 will publish “selected feeds” from Tokyo Otaku Mode’s news site relating to otaku entertainment news.

Earlier in the year when we spoke to Tokyo Otaku Mode, they mentioned that a big challenge for the company would be trying to monetize its huge audience in some way. To that end, the company is experimenting with e-commerce over on otakumode.com/shop. We still don’t have any details on how that’s going or when it might officially launch, as things are still in the pretty early stages.

Tokyo Otaku Mode is one of the rare Japanese startups that adopted an ambitious global vision from the outset, so we certainly hope to see them do well!

More than just eye candy: Videogram brings added value for video publishers

SHARE:

Recently Tokyo-based CinemaCraft, the startup company behind the clever paneled video presentation service Videogram, released its iOS application. The app delivers the same slick thumbnail panel interface that we previously saw from the Videogram web app, allowing users to understand at a glance what kind of content a given video contains. In terms of being an entertainment destination, the Videogram app has lots of fun content from providers like Hulu, Discovery Channel, Funny or Die, and even a Videogram picks section. But what I find most interesting about the service is the advantage that it holds for publishers, by measuring which thumbnails are the most active, and then automatically regenerating the tiled presentation based on that feedback. Once popular thumbnails are identified, publishers can then run ads next to them if they choose, thus optimizing the chances that a user might see them. CinemaCraft’s CEO Sandeep Casi told us a little more about this feature: The trending thumbnail can change on a daily/weekly basis depending on the user engagement. The pre-roll/mid-roll will move to the trending thumbnail such that there is some amount of assurance that ads will be consumed. This is much better than throwing an ad at the…

videogram-logo

Recently Tokyo-based CinemaCraft, the startup company behind the clever paneled video presentation service Videogram, released its iOS application. The app delivers the same slick thumbnail panel interface that we previously saw from the Videogram web app, allowing users to understand at a glance what kind of content a given video contains.

In terms of being an entertainment destination, the Videogram app has lots of fun content from providers like Hulu, Discovery Channel, Funny or Die, and even a Videogram picks section. But what I find most interesting about the service is the advantage that it holds for publishers, by measuring which thumbnails are the most active, and then automatically regenerating the tiled presentation based on that feedback.

Once popular thumbnails are identified, publishers can then run ads next to them if they choose, thus optimizing the chances that a user might see them. CinemaCraft’s CEO Sandeep Casi told us a little more about this feature:

The trending thumbnail can change on a daily/weekly basis depending on the user engagement. The pre-roll/mid-roll will move to the trending thumbnail such that there is some amount of assurance that ads will be consumed. This is much better than throwing an ad at the start of the video and hoping that consumer will not skip thought it.

Sandeep says me that his company also offers a white label Videogram solution which publishers can use on their own sites. And I expect this will be one of the most promising aspects of Videogram’s business. I understand that more developments are coming in the near future for the startup, so stay tuned for more on that front.

The startup certainly appears to be on the right track, with lots of positive developments since it accepted into the 500 Startups incubator program back in late 2012.

videogram1 videogram2

Japanese finance app Zaim rolls out slick web version, updates Android app with OCR

SHARE:

Read our Japanese article on Zaim’s new web interface Last week we mentioned that Japanese personal finance application Zaim had added OCR to its repertoire, allowing users to quickly scan receipts with their smartphone camera. And today that function has been added to the Zaim Android app as well. Today but my colleague Junya also noticed today that the web version of the Zaim service has finally dropped, with a pretty gorgeous interface. The main page gives you a general overview of your spending, showing totals for the current month, week, and day. There’s also a slick category breakdown of expenditures, plus a list of recent purchases in the sidebar. And while most people will use the smartphone apps for inputing purchases, the web version now also allows for purchase input as well. There is also a ‘history’ tab where you can get an more extensive look at recent purchases, as well as a ‘totals’ tab where you can view graphical and tabular summaries of spending. Currently this web version is only available in Japanese, although I would hope that like their apps that it becomes available in English later as well. There is no shortage of finance management options…

zaim-lead
Zaim’s new web interface

Read our Japanese article on Zaim’s new web interface

Last week we mentioned that Japanese personal finance application Zaim had added OCR to its repertoire, allowing users to quickly scan receipts with their smartphone camera. And today that function has been added to the Zaim Android app as well.

Today but my colleague Junya also noticed today that the web version of the Zaim service has finally dropped, with a pretty gorgeous interface. The main page gives you a general overview of your spending, showing totals for the current month, week, and day. There’s also a slick category breakdown of expenditures, plus a list of recent purchases in the sidebar. And while most people will use the smartphone apps for inputing purchases, the web version now also allows for purchase input as well.

zaim-calendar
Zaim web version, calendar view

There is also a ‘history’ tab where you can get an more extensive look at recent purchases, as well as a ‘totals’ tab where you can view graphical and tabular summaries of spending.

Currently this web version is only available in Japanese, although I would hope that like their apps that it becomes available in English later as well.

There is no shortage of finance management options in Japan. We also recently featured Moneytree, another handy app that helps you track your expenditures by importing bank and credit card billing updates.

Relux: A satisfaction-guaranteed online marketplace for Japanese inns

SHARE:

Many Japanese traditional-style inns, or ‘ryokan’, are known for their fine hospitality. And with the goal of helping you find the best ones, Relux, a high-class ryokan discovery service launched in beta back in February. It’s an initiative from Tokyo-based startup Loco Partners, who have so far secured 60 million yen (about $615,000) in funding from CyberAgent Ventures and Recruit Incubation Partners. There are existing websites that allows users to find and reserve different accomodations such as Jyaran or Rakuten Travel. And there are others that are geared more towards high-class hotels like Ikkyu. So what makes Relux different? Relux, whose name is a portmanteau of ‘relax’ and ‘luxury’, differentiates itself in three major ways: First, it is strictly a members-only service, with users in their 30s to 40s, many being doctors, lawyers, and top executives. Users apply for the membership using their Facebook credentials, when the site seems to extract information such as your college and career experiences from Facebook. The membership acceptance rate is somewhere around 20%. Another differentiator is that Relux guarantees the best rate for all offers they make on the site (in comparison to competitors). Relux also claims satisfation guaranteed (i.e. money back for dissatisfied customers)…

relux-toppage

Many Japanese traditional-style inns, or ‘ryokan’, are known for their fine hospitality. And with the goal of helping you find the best ones, Relux, a high-class ryokan discovery service launched in beta back in February. It’s an initiative from Tokyo-based startup Loco Partners, who have so far secured 60 million yen (about $615,000) in funding from CyberAgent Ventures and Recruit Incubation Partners.

There are existing websites that allows users to find and reserve different accomodations such as Jyaran or Rakuten Travel. And there are others that are geared more towards high-class hotels like Ikkyu. So what makes Relux different?

Relux, whose name is a portmanteau of ‘relax’ and ‘luxury’, differentiates itself in three major ways:

  1. First, it is strictly a members-only service, with users in their 30s to 40s, many being doctors, lawyers, and top executives. Users apply for the membership using their Facebook credentials, when the site seems to extract information such as your college and career experiences from Facebook. The membership acceptance rate is somewhere around 20%.
  2. Another differentiator is that Relux guarantees the best rate for all offers they make on the site (in comparison to competitors).
  3. Relux also claims satisfation guaranteed (i.e. money back for dissatisfied customers) and they say they are the first in the travel industry to have such a policy.

I had a chance to talk to the founder of Relux, Takaya Shinozuka, who elaborated on how the system works.

Our staff negotiates with ryokan to create exclusive travel plans for Relux. The average rate per person per night is 40,000 yen including dinner and breakfast. Our plans start from a minimum of 30,000 yen to 100,000 yen at the high end. What distiguishes Relux from other luxury travel discovery sites is that only we provide ‘high-satisfaction’ ryokan instead of just high-class ryokan.

The review of hotels takes into account recommendations by executives who use such accomodations more than 100 times a year, as well as thorough research of online and offline reviews, and actual usage or a visit by a Relux representative.

Only two months after its launch, the site is focused on gaining more members and increasing the number of ryokan available on the site. Relux hopes to introduce around 200 ryokans per year. Shinozuka adds:

It is amazing how many wonderful ryokans there are not just in Tokyo but all over Japan. It is our mission to spread the word about such culture first to the Japanese people but hopefully to the world in the near future. To that end, we will definitely release an English version of Relux at some point.

Osaka City Government establishes incubator and fund for local entrepreneurs

SHARE:

On Friday the Osaka City Government launched a startup incubation facility located just in front of the city’s largest railway terminal. The Osaka Innovation Hub is situated in the R&D center complex of Knowledge Capital, which was previously used as a cargo terminal for Japan’s national railway company. The facility has co-working spaces and 3D printing devices, and is exhibiting innovative scientific products such as a virtual fitting booth, or an android story-teller developed by notable scientist Hiroshi Ishiguro. It also organizes programs for aspiring entrepreneurs to learn more about starting a business, including letting them visit notable startups or incubation facilities in the San Francisco Bay Area. The facility is a part of the city’s startup incubation efforts, which were first announced last February. At that time there were a number of guests from VC firms from Japan and around the world, including 500 Startups’ Dave McClure and Sunbridge’s Allen Miner. Local governments in Japan are struggling because most new business and startups are very much concentrated in the Tokyo metropolitan area. So some municipal governments beyond the capital are exploring ways to accelerate their local economies, helping entrepreneurs set up in their regions. In addition to the incubator, the Osaka…

knowledgecapital
A cafe at Knowledge Capital (Photo: Kansai Walker)

On Friday the Osaka City Government launched a startup incubation facility located just in front of the city’s largest railway terminal. The Osaka Innovation Hub is situated in the R&D center complex of Knowledge Capital, which was previously used as a cargo terminal for Japan’s national railway company.

The facility has co-working spaces and 3D printing devices, and is exhibiting innovative scientific products such as a virtual fitting booth, or an android story-teller developed by notable scientist Hiroshi Ishiguro. It also organizes programs for aspiring entrepreneurs to learn more about starting a business, including letting them visit notable startups or incubation facilities in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The facility is a part of the city’s startup incubation efforts, which were first announced last February. At that time there were a number of guests from VC firms from Japan and around the world, including 500 Startups’ Dave McClure and Sunbridge’s Allen Miner.

Local governments in Japan are struggling because most new business and startups are very much concentrated in the Tokyo metropolitan area. So some municipal governments beyond the capital are exploring ways to accelerate their local economies, helping entrepreneurs set up in their regions. In addition to the incubator, the Osaka City Govenment is planning to form a startup fund in the range of 50 to 100 billion yen (approximately $50 million to $100 million) in partnership with private equity companies. They aim is to develop more than 100 business through this effort in the coming three years.

mayor_hashimoto
Mayor Toru Hashimoto aspires to create more startups from Osaka.

To providing the appropriate support for startups in the incubation facility, Silicon Valley-based Japanese venture capitalist Hiroshi Menjo and Evernote Japan’s CEO Hitoshi Hokamura joined the managing committee.

On a related note, local digital companies in the city will co-organize a hackathon event at the facility on May 11th, where the top prize winner can receive 500,000 yen rewards in cash. It is our honor to serve them as a media sponsor.

Meet the 9 startups from e27’s Japan satellite event

SHARE:

At e27’s Echelon satellite event in Tokyo yesterday, nine startups pitched their businesses in front of a panel of judges. The lineup of startups was pretty high quality, not only with startups from Japan but also from Korea, Taiwan, and beyond. Check out our overview of the pitches below to find out which idea walked away the winner. 1. Belladati ¶ Pitched by Martin Trgina, this is a business analytics service that helps companies visualize and analyse all sort of data. Belladati can connect to over 100 different sources of data for a client, including Twitter, Google, Oracle, or SAP, and “bring your data out of the dark,” exported to powerpoint, PDF, or embedded in your own apps. They have predefined templates for certain industries, so users don’t have to start from scratch if they don’t want to. The service is already being used by a number of prominent companies including Red Bull and Korea Telecom. It can be used as either a cloud solution or installed on-premise. 2. CloudDock ¶ This cloud enterprise solution was presented by Shigeta Okamoto, pitched as a sort of Dropbox for business. They want to isolate user data from the PC (things such as…

e27 Echelon Japan satellite event

At e27’s Echelon satellite event in Tokyo yesterday, nine startups pitched their businesses in front of a panel of judges. The lineup of startups was pretty high quality, not only with startups from Japan but also from Korea, Taiwan, and beyond. Check out our overview of the pitches below to find out which idea walked away the winner.

1. Belladati

Pitched by Martin Trgina, this is a business analytics service that helps companies visualize and analyse all sort of data. Belladati can connect to over 100 different sources of data for a client, including Twitter, Google, Oracle, or SAP, and “bring your data out of the dark,” exported to powerpoint, PDF, or embedded in your own apps. They have predefined templates for certain industries, so users don’t have to start from scratch if they don’t want to. The service is already being used by a number of prominent companies including Red Bull and Korea Telecom. It can be used as either a cloud solution or installed on-premise.

belladati
Belladati

2. CloudDock

This cloud enterprise solution was presented by Shigeta Okamoto, pitched as a sort of Dropbox for business. They want to isolate user data from the PC (things such as documents, pictures, music, etc.), so once you log into CloudDock on a Windows machine, you’ll see your files as normal, but with a small cloud icon on top of them, sort of like Dropbox puts a green check mark on files which have been synced. And when you access that file in an application, it’s quickly downloaded for use. But upon logging out of CloudDock, the data is no longer on that device. This service can be used on mobile as well.

The startup is targeting customers considering VDI systems, and so far they have already managed to sell over 9000 licenses in just two months since their launch in February.

clouddock
CloudDock

3. Conyac for Business

We’ve heard from Conyac a few times before, so regular readers are likely somewhat familiar with this service. Naoki Yamada pitched the startups offering for business, explaining that their crowdsourced translation solution can provide quick translations for businesses for a low price. As a typical business use case, he gave the example of a 10-slide powerpoint presentation, which was translated in five hours and cost $36. In comparison to competing services, Naoki explained that on their platform translators can be educated by more experienced translators, thus giving them an opportunity to improve themselves.

Conyac
Conyac

4. Million Moments

This app is a product from Sony Digital Network Applications (SDNA), a group that presentor Masato Kuninori describes as a team of ‘intrapreneurs’ who operate as a startup somewhat independent of its parent company Sony. This photo app was released about a year ago (I gave it a short review), which presents pictures in a magazine style reminiscient of Flipboard, with a great design and the ability to add labels to organize your photos. But I was curious to hear Kuninori describe one of their business models as becoming a B2B service, where they would create versions of Million Moments for various companies. He also noted that once they create a cloud service, they might try to use the labels that users add to photos, although he was somewhat vague on the details, unable to disclose too much.

Million Moments
Million Moments

5. Quick Language Learning

This Taiwanese startup offers a range of preschool and entertainment apps for kids, a sort of learning cirriculum in the form of fun games. Currently QLL has over 140 applications, with the goal of offering 300. To date they have seen 4.5 million downloads, 50,000 daily active users, the majority of which are from their home market of Taiwan. The business model is paid advertising in app, as well as licensed content. The company began one and a half years ago, but are now trying to expand abroad, eyeing the Japanese market as one of their next targets. Serkan Toto, one of the judges, asked about how the company planned to market their apps, and presentor Lulu Yeh explained that since they often have a few of their apps ranked very high in app stores, they can then cross promote their other offerings. It seems like a solid idea, and it will be interesting to see how they fare outside Taiwan.

Lulu from QLL
Lulu from QLL

6. Roam & Wander

This was another interesting games/entertainment offering for kids, a games and toy startup that was originally launched late last year. The company’s games offer physical stickers as a reward, which they say has worked really well in terms of getting kids excited about playing. For some kids who receive these stickers, it might be the first piece of physical mail they ever receive, so naturally they get quite excited. Typically Roam & Wander will send about 300 stickers a day, with a peak of about 700. But presentor Jason describes it as a viral gateway, and the cost of mailing has dropped a little as they have grown.

The startup also plans to bring their Tutu game character to life in the form of a doll that uses a smartphone as the characters face. Special capacitive touch toys are individually recognized by the application, allowing kids to give the doll a drink for example. They are hoping to soon launch a Kickstarter project in order to drum up some awareness about their product.

Roam & Wander
Roam & Wander

7. Zimly

The only Korean entry in attendance, Zimly is a startup that has been around for a few years now. But at the pitch event, it was presented as a solution to share video across devices, or as a way to watch videos together with friends. Currently the service shares video from PC to mobile, but they hope to make it from “any device to any device” soon. The previous version of Zimly has about two million users, and it is planned to move them over to this new version, and then increase the number of users.

Zimly
Zimly

8. DecoAlbum

While there’s no shortage of cute photo apps on the market, this one looks sort of promising. Decoalbum’s value proposition is to offer two of the typical cute photo app functions – photo decoration and photo collage – combined in a single app. Readers may remember that we recently featured the collage creation app Papelook, which had racked up more than 4 million downloads since its initial release back in mid–2011. DecoAlbum, which appears to have been on the app store since the middle of last year, boasts 1 million downloads, and the founders say that’s without any paid promotion. Their business model is printing photos, which they plan to do in cooperation with print service Tolot, as well as photo storage. They also mentioned plans to release stickers next month.

DecoAlbum
DecoAlbum

9. TopAdmit (Winner)

Another Taiwan-based service, TopAdmit offers the editing services of its team of 45+ English speaking editors. The pitched use case was a Japanese student who has written an application to a university abroad, but needs some editing to ensure the quality of the document. But TopAdmit also aspires to expand to provide editing of research papers and business editing. They charge 30 cents per English word, or a retainer feed of $500 per month. TopAdmit was judged the winner of the pitch event [1].

TopAdmit
TopAdmit

  1. Speaking as an editor, I’m curious to hear how they handle really awful submissions. I wonder what kind of back-and-forth communication, if any, occurs when a given sentence’s meaning is not clear.  ↩