THE BRIDGE

Startups

Japan’s ‘For Startups’, exec and talent search service for startups, files for IPO

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See the original story in Japanese. Tokyo-based ‘For Startups‘, the company offering an executive and talent search service for Japanese startups in addition to the Startup DB database platform, announced today that IPO application to the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) has been approved. The company will be listed on the TSE Mothers Market on March 13 with plans to offer 200,000 shares for public subscription and to sell 120,000 shares in over-allotment options for a total of about 600,000 shares. The underwriting will be led by Nomura Securities while the company’s ticker code will be 7089. Based on the estimated IPO price of 1,520 yen (about $13.8) a share, the company’s market valuation will be about 4.7 billion yen (about $42.8 million). Its share price range will be released on February 21 with bookbuilding scheduled to start on February 26 and pricing on March 3. According to the consolidated statement as of March 2019, they posted revenue of 1.045 billion yen (about $9.5 million) with an ordinary profit of 274 million yen (about $2.5 million). In order to strengthen an executive and talent search service focused on startups, the company was spun off from Saint Media (now known as Willof…

For Startups’ Headquarters
Image credit: For Startups

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based ‘For Startups‘, the company offering an executive and talent search service for Japanese startups in addition to the Startup DB database platform, announced today that IPO application to the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) has been approved.

The company will be listed on the TSE Mothers Market on March 13 with plans to offer 200,000 shares for public subscription and to sell 120,000 shares in over-allotment options for a total of about 600,000 shares. The underwriting will be led by Nomura Securities while the company’s ticker code will be 7089.

Based on the estimated IPO price of 1,520 yen (about $13.8) a share, the company’s market valuation will be about 4.7 billion yen (about $42.8 million).

Its share price range will be released on February 21 with bookbuilding scheduled to start on February 26 and pricing on March 3. According to the consolidated statement as of March 2019, they posted revenue of 1.045 billion yen (about $9.5 million) with an ordinary profit of 274 million yen (about $2.5 million).

In order to strengthen an executive and talent search service focused on startups, the company was spun off from Saint Media (now known as Willof Work) and launched back in September of 2016 under their previous name of Net Jinzaibank. Their main shareholders include Willgroup (92%, TSE:6089, Willof Work’s parent company) and For Startups’ CEO Yuichiro Shimizu (8%).

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Translated by Masaru Ikeda

Japanese consulting matchmaking platform VisasQ files for IPO

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See the original story in Japanese. Tokyo-based VisasQ (VQ), the Japanese startup behind a consulting matchmaking platform under the same name, announced today that IPO application to the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) has been approved. The company will be listed on the TSE Mothers Market on March 10 with plans to offer 500,000 shares for public subscription and to sell about 426,400 shares in over-allotment options for a total of about 2.3 million shares. The underwriting will be led by Mizuho Securities while VQ’s ticker code will be 4490. Based on the estimated IPO price of 2,100 yen (about $19.4) a share, the company’s market valuation will be about 17 billion yen (about $156.6 million). Its share price range will be released on February 19 with bookbuilding scheduled to start on February 20 and pricing on February 27. According to the consolidated statement as of February 2019, they posted revenue of 614 million yen (about $5.7 million) with an ordinary profit of 24 million yen (about $221,000). See also: Circuit board design tool ‘Quadcept’ wins Innovation Weekend Grand Finale in Tokyo Launched back in March of 2010 under the previous name of Walkntalk, VQ has been offering an online matchmaking…

Image credit: VisasQ

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based VisasQ (VQ), the Japanese startup behind a consulting matchmaking platform under the same name, announced today that IPO application to the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) has been approved.

The company will be listed on the TSE Mothers Market on March 10 with plans to offer 500,000 shares for public subscription and to sell about 426,400 shares in over-allotment options for a total of about 2.3 million shares. The underwriting will be led by Mizuho Securities while VQ’s ticker code will be 4490.

Based on the estimated IPO price of 2,100 yen (about $19.4) a share, the company’s market valuation will be about 17 billion yen (about $156.6 million).

Its share price range will be released on February 19 with bookbuilding scheduled to start on February 20 and pricing on February 27. According to the consolidated statement as of February 2019, they posted revenue of 614 million yen (about $5.7 million) with an ordinary profit of 24 million yen (about $221,000).

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VQ CEO EIko Hashiba

Launched back in March of 2010 under the previous name of Walkntalk, VQ has been offering an online matchmaking platform where companies can get consultation and advice from appropriate professionals (the company call them ‘advisors’) according to their expertise. It’s mainly used for industrial research and market analysis.

VQ Interview, one of the products that VQ’s representative first analyzes a client’s request and then link up to an appropriate professional, has received 44,000 orders from clients as of December 2019, which accounts for 80% of the total orders across their entire product line. The company has 86,000 registered professionals in 500 different business sectors and 423 clients (as of 2020 Q3).

Led by founder and CEO Eiko Hashiba (59.33%), the company’s major shareholders include VC firm DCM (14.19%), Venture United (11.13%), CyberAgent Capital (7.22%), DBJ Capital (2.83%), Mizuho Capital (2.83%), Naoki Aoyagi (0.91%), and CTO Soshi Hanamura (0.78%).

Translated by Masaru Ikeda

Curama, Japan’s answer to Thumbtack, secures $36M from Nissay Capital, others

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See the original story in Japanese. Tokyo-based Minma (derived from ‘Minna no Market’ meaning ‘the market for everyone’ in Japanese), the Japanese startup behind an online service that matches customers with local professionals, announced today that it has raised 4 billion yen (about $36 million US) in the latest round. This comes from Nissay Capital, Globis Capital Partners, Innovation Growth Ventures (managed by Sony and Daiwa Capital Holdings), and Zenrin Datacom (a subsidiary of Japan’s largest map publisher) in funding as well as Japan Finance Corporation in loans. The startup has been matching customers with local professionals since its launch back in 2011, currently lists over 200 types of services in categories like house cleaning, housekeeping, on-location photo shooting, home appliance installation, and renovation. As of December end, over 33,000 stores are live on the Curama marketplace where users can compare these providers by user reviews and pricing to make a choice and book it online. The company disclosed Nissay Capital, one of the investors participating in the latest round, has poured funds in both series A and B (in 2017) rounds. The sum of funding in past rounds are undisclosed but the company shows 909.48 million yen (about $8.3…

Yusuke Hamano, CEO of Minma
Image credit: Takeshi Hirano, Bridge

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based Minma (derived from ‘Minna no Market’ meaning ‘the market for everyone’ in Japanese), the Japanese startup behind an online service that matches customers with local professionals, announced today that it has raised 4 billion yen (about $36 million US) in the latest round. This comes from Nissay Capital, Globis Capital Partners, Innovation Growth Ventures (managed by Sony and Daiwa Capital Holdings), and Zenrin Datacom (a subsidiary of Japan’s largest map publisher) in funding as well as Japan Finance Corporation in loans.

The startup has been matching customers with local professionals since its launch back in 2011, currently lists over 200 types of services in categories like house cleaning, housekeeping, on-location photo shooting, home appliance installation, and renovation. As of December end, over 33,000 stores are live on the Curama marketplace where users can compare these providers by user reviews and pricing to make a choice and book it online.

Curama
Image credit: Minma

The company disclosed Nissay Capital, one of the investors participating in the latest round, has poured funds in both series A and B (in 2017) rounds. The sum of funding in past rounds are undisclosed but the company shows 909.48 million yen (about $8.3 million US) as capital stock and legal capital surplus in their corporate website as of this writing.

Minma uses the funds to increase brand awareness, develop new products, invest in relevant startups, as well as hiring and educating talents globally. The company says they have completed investing in an unnamed startup developing a chat service. Partnering with this round’s investor Zenrin Datacom, Minma plans to create a new category on the marketplace, improve functionality and user experience for store owners, and bring themselves to a higher level of marketing sophistication.

In an interview with Bridge back in 2018, Minma CEO Yusuke Hamano said he could see no noticeable competitor at that time. Looking at each of verticals close to what the marketplace lists in categories, we can find several potential competitors in a broad sense, such as Reform Guide graduating from Asahi Shimbun Media Lab’s accelerator, photographer client matchmaking startup aMi, P2P sharing economy startup Anytimes, memento disposer/pest-control firm matchmaking platform Ocomari, and recently-IPO’d Jimoty. US-based unicorn Thumbtack raised $120 million in a series H round last year.

Japanese online classifieds startup Jimoty files for IPO

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See the original story in Japanese. Tokyo-based Jimoty, the Japanese startup behind online classifieds site under the same name, announced in late December that the IPO application to the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) has been approved. Jimoty provides listings in a wide range of categories, including items for sale, job listings, services, and events. The company will be listed on the TSE Mothers Market on Feb 7 with plans to offer 50,000 shares for public subscription and to sell 190,600 shares in over-allotment options for a total of 1,220,700 shares. The underwriting will be led by Daiwa Securities while Jimoty’s ticker code will be 7082. Its share price range will be released on January 22 with bookbuilding scheduled to start on January 23 and pricing on January 29. According to the consolidated statement as of December 2018, they posted revenue of 935.89 million yen (about $9 million) with an ordinary profit of 7.06 million yen (about $64,000). Led by Opt Holdings (30.68%), their major shareholders include NTT Docomo (16.22%), Infinity Venture Partners (14.23%), Proto Corporation (10.71%), Energy & Environment Investment (9.51%), Jimoty CEO Takahiro Kato (8.71%), Lifull (4.29%), Japan Best Rescue System (2.14%), and Seibu Shinkin Capital. See also: Japanese…

Jimoty Headquarters in Tokyo
Image credit: Jomoty

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based Jimoty, the Japanese startup behind online classifieds site under the same name, announced in late December that the IPO application to the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) has been approved. Jimoty provides listings in a wide range of categories, including items for sale, job listings, services, and events.

The company will be listed on the TSE Mothers Market on Feb 7 with plans to offer 50,000 shares for public subscription and to sell 190,600 shares in over-allotment options for a total of 1,220,700 shares. The underwriting will be led by Daiwa Securities while Jimoty’s ticker code will be 7082.

Its share price range will be released on January 22 with bookbuilding scheduled to start on January 23 and pricing on January 29. According to the consolidated statement as of December 2018, they posted revenue of 935.89 million yen (about $9 million) with an ordinary profit of 7.06 million yen (about $64,000).

Led by Opt Holdings (30.68%), their major shareholders include NTT Docomo (16.22%), Infinity Venture Partners (14.23%), Proto Corporation (10.71%), Energy & Environment Investment (9.51%), Jimoty CEO Takahiro Kato (8.71%), Lifull (4.29%), Japan Best Rescue System (2.14%), and Seibu Shinkin Capital.

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Translated by Masaru Ikeda

Japan’s TimeTree, shared calendar app for couples, raises $18M

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See the original story in Japanese. Tokyo-based TimeTree (previously known as Jubilee Works), the startup behind shared calendar app for couples under the same name, announced in late December that it has raised about 1.96 billion yen (about $17.9 million) in the latest round. Participating investors are Seoul-based Stonebridge Ventures, Persol Innovation Fund (investment arm of Tokyo-based human resource services company Persol Holdings=TSE:2181), and Orient Corporation (TSE:8585). This follows their venture round (raising undisclosed amount) back in December of 2018, series A round (raising $4.6 million) back in August of 2017, and seed round (raising $1.9 million) back in October of 2016. The TimeTree app allows users to share their calendar with their family members, loved ones, friends and colleagues. It surpassed 20 million registered users in December, planning to launch TimeTree Ads, the ad network which can target users based on their schedule, as well as the TimeTree API that enables an easy integration with other apps for input and output schedule data.

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based TimeTree (previously known as Jubilee Works), the startup behind shared calendar app for couples under the same name, announced in late December that it has raised about 1.96 billion yen (about $17.9 million) in the latest round.

Participating investors are Seoul-based Stonebridge Ventures, Persol Innovation Fund (investment arm of Tokyo-based human resource services company Persol Holdings=TSE:2181), and Orient Corporation (TSE:8585). This follows their venture round (raising undisclosed amount) back in December of 2018, series A round (raising $4.6 million) back in August of 2017, and seed round (raising $1.9 million) back in October of 2016.

The TimeTree app allows users to share their calendar with their family members, loved ones, friends and colleagues. It surpassed 20 million registered users in December, planning to launch TimeTree Ads, the ad network which can target users based on their schedule, as well as the TimeTree API that enables an easy integration with other apps for input and output schedule data.

Japanese exoskeleton developer Innophys raises $32.4M

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See the original story in Japanese. Japanese startup developing Innophys announced in late December that it has secured 3.53 billion yen (about $32.4 million US) in the latest round. Participating investors are HI-LEX Corporation (TSE:7279), Fidelity International, Brother Industries (TSE:6448), Future Venture Capital, Nac (TSE:9788), Towa Pharmaceutical (TSE:4553), Tokai (TSE:9729), Bic Camera (TSE:3048), and among others. The company has developed an exoskeleton suit that charges by squeezing a hand pump to fill pressurized air-powered ‘muscles’ that are then used to augment the worker’s natural strength. Allowing users to reduce the burden on the waist when lifting a person or a heavy object, and doing other tasks in a half-crouching position, it can help prevent their back pain and improve working conditions. The Muscle Suit series has sold a total of 5,000 models since its first release back in 2014. via PR Times

Image credit: Innophys

See the original story in Japanese.

Japanese startup developing Innophys announced in late December that it has secured 3.53 billion yen (about $32.4 million US) in the latest round. Participating investors are HI-LEX Corporation (TSE:7279), Fidelity International, Brother Industries (TSE:6448), Future Venture Capital, Nac (TSE:9788), Towa Pharmaceutical (TSE:4553), Tokai (TSE:9729), Bic Camera (TSE:3048), and among others.

The company has developed an exoskeleton suit that charges by squeezing a hand pump to fill pressurized air-powered ‘muscles’ that are then used to augment the worker’s natural strength. Allowing users to reduce the burden on the waist when lifting a person or a heavy object, and doing other tasks in a half-crouching position, it can help prevent their back pain and improve working conditions. The Muscle Suit series has sold a total of 5,000 models since its first release back in 2014.

via PR Times

Japan’s Space Market, on-demand venue rental marketplace, files for IPO

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Tokyo-based Space Market, offering a marketplace of unused or idle venues for on-demand rental use, announced today that the IPO application to the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) has been approved. The company will be listed on the TSE Mothers Market on December 20 with plans to offer 520,000 shares for public subscription and to sell about 269,200 shares in over-allotment options for a total of about 1,274,700 shares. The company’s valuation is expected to reach 5.8 billion yen ($53.3 million) through the IPO. Their ticker code will be 4487. Space Market lists unused or idle venues and allows users to pick one to rent on demand for business or private needs such as corporate meetings, shareholder meetings, training courses, photo shooting of costume players, and other events. The company adds 5% charge on the price in the venue listing for users while it takes 30% commission from venue owners when their deal is made between them and users. According to the consolidated statement as of December 2018, they posted revenue of 578.2 million yen (about $5.3 million) with an ordinary loss of 271.9 million yen ($2.5 million). Led by founder and CEO Dausuke Shigematsu and his asset management company Double…

Space Market CEO Daisuke Shigematsu

Tokyo-based Space Market, offering a marketplace of unused or idle venues for on-demand rental use, announced today that the IPO application to the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) has been approved.

The company will be listed on the TSE Mothers Market on December 20 with plans to offer 520,000 shares for public subscription and to sell about 269,200 shares in over-allotment options for a total of about 1,274,700 shares. The company’s valuation is expected to reach 5.8 billion yen ($53.3 million) through the IPO. Their ticker code will be 4487.

Space Market lists unused or idle venues and allows users to pick one to rent on demand for business or private needs such as corporate meetings, shareholder meetings, training courses, photo shooting of costume players, and other events. The company adds 5% charge on the price in the venue listing for users while it takes 30% commission from venue owners when their deal is made between them and users.

According to the consolidated statement as of December 2018, they posted revenue of 578.2 million yen (about $5.3 million) with an ordinary loss of 271.9 million yen ($2.5 million).

Led by founder and CEO Dausuke Shigematsu and his asset management company Double Pines (47.63%), the company’s major shareholders include Opt Ventures (10.64%), CyberAgent Capital (6.57%), My Navi (2.86%), Orix (2.18%), and Mizuho Capital (1.75%), Tokyo Tatemono (1.46%), XTech (1.46%), and Docomo Innovation Fund (1.46%).

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Japanese crowdsourcing startup Lancers files for IPO

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See the original story in Japanese. Tokyo-based Lancers, the Japanese startup providing a major crowdsourcing platform under the same name, announced on Wednesday that the IPO application to the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) has been approved. The company will be listed on the TSE Mothers Market on December 16 with plans to offer 2,270,000 million shares for public subscription and to sell up to 1,100,600 shares in over-allotment options, for a total of 5,067,400 shares. Daiwa Securities will lead the underwriting. Its share price range will be released on November 17 with bookbuilding scheduled to start on November 29 and pricing on December 6. According to the consolidated statement as of March 2019, they posted revenue of 2.52 billion yen (about $23.2 million) with an ordinary loss of 93 million yen ($854,000), serving 33,000 companies in Japan while unit sales per client reaches 194,000 yen (about $1,780). See also: Can crowdsourcing startups change Japan’s employment landscape? Lancers CEO Yosuke Akiyoshi on obstacles facing crowdsourcing in Japan Japanese crowdsourcing startup Lancers launches matchmaking platform for regional businesses Since its launch back in 2008, the company has been offering a platform allowing companies outsource tasks to freelancers. The traditional concept of crowdsourcing…

Lancers CEO Yosuke Akiyoshi

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based Lancers, the Japanese startup providing a major crowdsourcing platform under the same name, announced on Wednesday that the IPO application to the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) has been approved. The company will be listed on the TSE Mothers Market on December 16 with plans to offer 2,270,000 million shares for public subscription and to sell up to 1,100,600 shares in over-allotment options, for a total of 5,067,400 shares. Daiwa Securities will lead the underwriting.

Its share price range will be released on November 17 with bookbuilding scheduled to start on November 29 and pricing on December 6. According to the consolidated statement as of March 2019, they posted revenue of 2.52 billion yen (about $23.2 million) with an ordinary loss of 93 million yen ($854,000), serving 33,000 companies in Japan while unit sales per client reaches 194,000 yen (about $1,780).

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Since its launch back in 2008, the company has been offering a platform allowing companies outsource tasks to freelancers. The traditional concept of crowdsourcing has been that someone in a remote location helps you finish minor tasks at an affordable rate. But platforms like Lancers are being used for more, serving as a primary income stream for some.

Led by CEO Yosuke Akiyoshi (62.47%), the company’s major shareholders include Globis Capital Partners (15.62%), KDDI (5.95%), Persol Holdings (5.38%), GMO Venture Partners (3.05%), Shinsei Bank (2.3%), and Gree Ventures (1.18%, now known as Strive).

Japan’s Money Forward acquires SaaS comparison startup Smartcamp for $18M

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See the original story in Japanese. Tokyo-based Money Forward (TSE:3994), the Japanese company providing cloud-based accounting solutions, announced on Monday that it will take a 72.3% stake in Smartcamp, the Japanese startup behind the Boxil SaaS comparison site and the Bales inside sales support service, for about 2 billion yen, or $18.3 million US. Smartcamp eventually made an exit by joining the Money Forward group. Founded back in June of 2014, Smartcamp launched Boxil back in May of 2015 by pivoting from their previous Sket service through participating twice in Incubate Camp, an annual 2-day bootcamp program by Incubate Fund offering budding entrepreneurs with mentoring opportunities. As of October, the company boasted 1 million monthly page views and more than 120,000 registered users with bringing over 30,000 potential users to SaaS providers. Smartcamp launched a service called Bales back in September of 2017, which allows SaaS providers to outsource their sales operations to the startup. In August, they launched another new service called Biscuit, a cloud-based customer relationship management tool for inside sales. Through these services, the company has successfully been offering marketing channels for over 100 third parties. Meanwhile, Money Forward has been acquiring approximately a startup an year…

Money Forward President & CEO Yosuke Tsuji (right), Smartcamp CEO Satoshi Furuhashi (left)
Image credit: Money Forward

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based Money Forward (TSE:3994), the Japanese company providing cloud-based accounting solutions, announced on Monday that it will take a 72.3% stake in Smartcamp, the Japanese startup behind the Boxil SaaS comparison site and the Bales inside sales support service, for about 2 billion yen, or $18.3 million US. Smartcamp eventually made an exit by joining the Money Forward group.

Founded back in June of 2014, Smartcamp launched Boxil back in May of 2015 by pivoting from their previous Sket service through participating twice in Incubate Camp, an annual 2-day bootcamp program by Incubate Fund offering budding entrepreneurs with mentoring opportunities. As of October, the company boasted 1 million monthly page views and more than 120,000 registered users with bringing over 30,000 potential users to SaaS providers.

Smartcamp launched a service called Bales back in September of 2017, which allows SaaS providers to outsource their sales operations to the startup. In August, they launched another new service called Biscuit, a cloud-based customer relationship management tool for inside sales. Through these services, the company has successfully been offering marketing channels for over 100 third parties.

Meanwhile, Money Forward has been acquiring approximately a startup an year to expand their business, including acquiring Klavis, the Japan-/Singapore-based startup behind accounting and book-keeping software Streamed, as well as knowledgelabo, the Osaka-based startup behind cloud-based business management analytics tool Manageboard.

With the acquisition, Money Forward can boost customer acquisition effort for their product series leveraging Smartcamp’s marketing intelligence while Smarcamp aims to attract more users for their products leveraging Money Forward’s vast network and customer base.

Smart driving assistant developer Drivemode acquired by Honda R&D

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See the original story in Japanese. Honda R&D, the research and development-focused subsidiary of the Japanese automotive giant, announced on Monday that it has acquired full stake in Drivemode, the US-based startup developing smart driving assistant technology, for an undisclosed sum. The two companies will join forces to develop connect mobility services at Digital Solution Center, a newly developed facility in Honda R&D. They have been working together since 2015 sice the Honda Xcelerator open innovation program. Since its launch back in 2014, Drivemode secured seed funding from Tokyo-based Incubate Fund and then launched an Android app under the same name which allows drivers to control their cars without watching the screen of the app. Prior to launching Drivemode, the startup’s founder Yokichi Koga previously worked at a Boston-based VC as a director and then car-sharing startup Zipcar as an advisor.  

drivemode_featuredimage

See the original story in Japanese.

Honda R&D, the research and development-focused subsidiary of the Japanese automotive giant, announced on Monday that it has acquired full stake in Drivemode, the US-based startup developing smart driving assistant technology, for an undisclosed sum.

The two companies will join forces to develop connect mobility services at Digital Solution Center, a newly developed facility in Honda R&D. They have been working together since 2015 sice the Honda Xcelerator open innovation program.

Since its launch back in 2014, Drivemode secured seed funding from Tokyo-based Incubate Fund and then launched an Android app under the same name which allows drivers to control their cars without watching the screen of the app.

Prior to launching Drivemode, the startup’s founder Yokichi Koga previously worked at a Boston-based VC as a director and then car-sharing startup Zipcar as an advisor.