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LA-based Tippsy raises $1.6M, operating subscription-based tasting club of Japanese sake

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Los Angeles-based startup Tippsy operates Tippsy Sake Club, offering a subscription-based tasting kit to Japanese sake fans in the US. The company announced on Thursday that it has secured about 200 million yen (about $1.6 million US) in a pre-series A round. This round was led by W ventures with participation from Deepcore, KSK Angel Fund (the investment vehicle of Japanese football player Keisuke Honda), Zynga co-founder Justin Waldron, and several unnamed Japanese angel investors. This follows their seed funding last year when the company secured $500,000 from DG Ventures, Silicon Valley-based deeptech-focused TSVC, San Francisco-based StratMinds, and others. DG Ventures operates Open Network Lab’s Seed Accelerator Program in Tokyo where Tippsy was selected and participated in the program’s 20th batch last year. The latest round brought the company’s funding sum up to date to 260 million yen (about $2.1 million). Tippsy was founded in 2018 by Genki Ito who has a 10-year experience of marketing Japanese sake products at a Japanese food importer in the US. Tippsy brings its members tasting kits of mini bottles from a selection of 400 varieties of sake for $99 for three months on a subscription basis. Japanese sake has been recently gaining popularity…

Tippsy’s tasting kit of mini bottles
Image credit: Tippsy

Los Angeles-based startup Tippsy operates Tippsy Sake Club, offering a subscription-based tasting kit to Japanese sake fans in the US. The company announced on Thursday that it has secured about 200 million yen (about $1.6 million US) in a pre-series A round. This round was led by W ventures with participation from Deepcore, KSK Angel Fund (the investment vehicle of Japanese football player Keisuke Honda), Zynga co-founder Justin Waldron, and several unnamed Japanese angel investors.

This follows their seed funding last year when the company secured $500,000 from DG Ventures, Silicon Valley-based deeptech-focused TSVC, San Francisco-based StratMinds, and others. DG Ventures operates Open Network Lab’s Seed Accelerator Program in Tokyo where Tippsy was selected and participated in the program’s 20th batch last year. The latest round brought the company’s funding sum up to date to 260 million yen (about $2.1 million).

Genki Ito
Image credit: Tippsy

Tippsy was founded in 2018 by Genki Ito who has a 10-year experience of marketing Japanese sake products at a Japanese food importer in the US. Tippsy brings its members tasting kits of mini bottles from a selection of 400 varieties of sake for $99 for three months on a subscription basis. Japanese sake has been recently gaining popularity in the US, especially among millennials, and 99% of the club’s members are Americans.

Despite the boom in sake, it has some challenges in sales and marketing. First, even if you find good sake at a restaurant, it’s hard to find the place to buy it in the US for drinking at home. Detailed descriptions on sake bottles and on the brewer’s website are written in Japanese, which the average Americans cannot read. Furthermore, there are also restrictions to sell sake products based on the direct-to-consumer model due to laws created during the Prohibition Era. In addition, because the supply chain of alcohol drinks is fragmented, there is no culture for sake brewers or manufacturers to educate their brands to retailers.

Tippsy’s website showcases a number of Japanese sake products with characteristics.
Image credit: Tippsy

Tippsy has been focusing on brand communication, including storytelling for each brewery, to introduce the differences in taste to American consumers who are less familiar with Japanese sake. It now introduces over 400 sake brands and has received over 5,000 product reviews from members and others. By sending a mini-bottle of different sake brands each time, the club allows members to discover new brands as well as a direct marketing channel for brewers allowing them to reach their potential fans.

Tippsy works with a logistics partner with a license to distribute alcohol drinks directly to consumers throughout the US, building close relationships with members consuming sake products. Having been collecting details from breweries and providing them to users, the company plans to provide feedback on members’ preferences to breweries for better marketing and product development in the future. The Tippsy team includes a graduate of Sake School of America, the largest sake tasting school in the US, aiming to strengthen its effort to help consumers more learn about Japanese sake.

In the space close to Tippsy’s business, our readers may recall Cool Japan has invested $10 million in Winc, a US-based e-retailer and wholesaler of wine products, aiming to help cultivate the demand of Japanese sake in North America. The company achieved a postponed IPO on the New York Stock Exchange last year, with a current market cap of just under $43 million.

Moi, Japanese startup behind mobile streaming app TwitCasting, files for IPO

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See the original story in Japanese. Moi Corporation, the company behind Japanese mobile live streaming app TwitCasting, announced last week that its IPO application to list on the Tokyo Stock Exchange had been approved. The company will be listed on the TSE Growth Market on April 27 with plans to offer 1,041,800 shares for public subscription and to sell 354,200 shares in over-allotment options for a total of 1,320,000 shares. The underwriting will be led by SBI Securities while Moi’s ticker code will be 5031. Its share price range will be released on April 19 with bookbuilding scheduled to start on April 12 and pricing on April 18. According to the consolidated statement as of January 2021, they posted revenue of 4.939 billion yen ($39.5 million) with an ordinary profit of 195 million yen ($1.6 million). Based on the estimated issue price of 470 yen (about $3.8), the company will be valued at 6.2 billion yen ($49.5 million). The TwitCating app was originally launched as a side project of Akamatsu’s previous startup Sidefeed. In 2012, the project was split off as a new company called Moi from Sidefeed in 2012. The service has attracted more than 10 million users by…

Image credit: Moi Corporation

See the original story in Japanese.

Moi Corporation, the company behind Japanese mobile live streaming app TwitCasting, announced last week that its IPO application to list on the Tokyo Stock Exchange had been approved. The company will be listed on the TSE Growth Market on April 27 with plans to offer 1,041,800 shares for public subscription and to sell 354,200 shares in over-allotment options for a total of 1,320,000 shares. The underwriting will be led by SBI Securities while Moi’s ticker code will be 5031.

Its share price range will be released on April 19 with bookbuilding scheduled to start on April 12 and pricing on April 18. According to the consolidated statement as of January 2021, they posted revenue of 4.939 billion yen ($39.5 million) with an ordinary profit of 195 million yen ($1.6 million). Based on the estimated issue price of 470 yen (about $3.8), the company will be valued at 6.2 billion yen ($49.5 million).

The TwitCating app was originally launched as a side project of Akamatsu’s previous startup Sidefeed. In 2012, the project was split off as a new company called Moi from Sidefeed in 2012. The service has attracted more than 10 million users by 2015, and then the cumulative number of its registered users hit 33.6 million in the end of July of 2021. The app allows users to livestream their performances and shows as well as monetize them.

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Moi says that 60% of the app’s users are 24 years old or younger while more than half of them are female (62%). The company is making money through selling points which users purchase and redeem for items to liven up their shows or extend the time limit of livestreaming. The sales of the points account for 96% of the company’s total revenue, having seen a steady growth – 1.224 billion yen ($9.8 million) in 2019, 2.319 billion yen ($18.5 million) in 2020, and 5.28 billion yen($42.2 million)i n 2021.

Led by Yosuke Akamatsu (59.7%), the company’s major shareholders include East Ventures (17.15%), Mandela Capital Limited (4.61%), Global Brain (4.14%), and SBI AI & Blockchain Fund (4.14%).

Japan’s Synspective raises $96M+ in series B, making constellation of 30 SAR minisats

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Synspective is building a constellation system for earth observation mini-satellites employing Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and integrates SAR data with a variety of ground truth data. The Japanese startup announced today that it has secured 11.9 billion yen (over $96 million US) in a Series B round from investors as well as loans from Shoko Chukin Bank and Mitsubishi UFJ Bank. This follows the company’s Series A round back in July of 2019, and brought their sum of funding to date up to 22.8 billion yen (about $185 million US) . Participating investors in the latest round are as follows. Sompo Japan Insurance Mori Trust Nomura Sparx Investment Pavilion Capital Sparks Innovation for Future JAFCO Group (TSE: 8595) Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Investment SBI Group Nikon-SBI Innovation Fund Shinsei Corporate Investment Group Japan Post Capital aSTART Environmental Energy Investment Abies Ventures Mizuho Capital Of these, aSTART, Jafco Group, Abies Ventures, Mori and Last, and SBI Group (formerly as SBI Investment) have participated in previous rounds. Synspective was founded in February of 2018 by CEO Motoyuki Arai and co-founder/managing director Seiko Shirasaka (Shirasaka is a professor at System Design and Management, Keio University). Arai was previously working for an American accounting firm…

Synspective’s second SAR satellite launched on March 1, 2022 from the Onenui Station launch site on the Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand.
Image credit: Synspective

Synspective is building a constellation system for earth observation mini-satellites employing Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and integrates SAR data with a variety of ground truth data.

The Japanese startup announced today that it has secured 11.9 billion yen (over $96 million US) in a Series B round from investors as well as loans from Shoko Chukin Bank and Mitsubishi UFJ Bank.

This follows the company’s Series A round back in July of 2019, and brought their sum of funding to date up to 22.8 billion yen (about $185 million US) . Participating investors in the latest round are as follows.

  • Sompo Japan Insurance
  • Mori Trust
  • Nomura Sparx Investment
  • Pavilion Capital
  • Sparks Innovation for Future
  • JAFCO Group (TSE: 8595)
  • Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Investment
  • SBI Group
  • Nikon-SBI Innovation Fund
  • Shinsei Corporate Investment Group
  • Japan Post Capital
  • aSTART
  • Environmental Energy Investment
  • Abies Ventures
  • Mizuho Capital

Of these, aSTART, Jafco Group, Abies Ventures, Mori and Last, and SBI Group (formerly as SBI Investment) have participated in previous rounds.

Synspective CEO Motoyuki Arai
Image credit: Masaru Ikeda

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

Synspective is building a constellation system for earth observation mini-satellites employing SAR and integrates SAR data with a variety of ground truth data. Using machine learning and other engineering techniques, the startup extracts meaning and context from the data to provide solutions to meet clients’ problems. In September of 2020, the conpany launched “Land Displacement Monitoring,” which enables millimeter-scale ground deformation monitoring over wide areas based on image analysis of SAR satellites.

The company says the latest funding allows them to further accelerate the construction of its constellation of 30 SAR satellites and its data analysis technology.

Startups in this vertical, particularly in Japan, include SAR satellite developers such as iQPS and Sigma-SAR. The former closed its Series B round in February with 4.9 billion yen (about $40 million US) in funding, which brought their cumulative sum of funding up to 8.25 billion yen (about $67 million US).

via PR Times

Japan Lead VC Radar – A glance of the most active lead VCs in 2021 (Infographic)

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This guest post is authored by Mark Bivens. Mark is a Silicon Valley native and former entrepreneur, having started three companies before “turning to the dark side of VC.” He is a venture capitalist that travels between Paris and Tokyo (aka the RudeVC). He is the Managing Partner of Shizen Capital (formerly known as Tachi.ai Ventures) in Japan. You can read more on his blog at http://rude.vc or follow him @markbivens. The Japanese translation of this article is available here. The infographic we published last month proved popular. Some of the most encouraging feedback we received came from abroad, where foreign investors in the venture asset class expressed appreciation for visibility into Japan’s most active VC Funds. Even domestically, it appears that many local startup founders in Japan find our VC sector here equally opaque, and hence applauded this new transparency. This collective feedback has inspired us to peel back one more layer of the onion: identifying Japan’s most active Lead VC funds. What defines a Lead VC? Quite simply, a Lead VC in a startup is the first venture capital fund to commit to a startup’s fundraising round. The Lead VC structures the investment round, establishes the terms and…

mark-bivens_portrait

This guest post is authored by Mark Bivens. Mark is a Silicon Valley native and former entrepreneur, having started three companies before “turning to the dark side of VC.”

He is a venture capitalist that travels between Paris and Tokyo (aka the RudeVC). He is the Managing Partner of Shizen Capital (formerly known as Tachi.ai Ventures) in Japan. You can read more on his blog at http://rude.vc or follow him @markbivens. The Japanese translation of this article is available here.


The infographic we published last month proved popular. Some of the most encouraging feedback we received came from abroad, where foreign investors in the venture asset class expressed appreciation for visibility into Japan’s most active VC Funds. Even domestically, it appears that many local startup founders in Japan find our VC sector here equally opaque, and hence applauded this new transparency.

This collective feedback has inspired us to peel back one more layer of the onion: identifying Japan’s most active Lead VC funds.

What defines a Lead VC?

Quite simply, a Lead VC in a startup is the first venture capital fund to commit to a startup’s fundraising round. The Lead VC structures the investment round, establishes the terms and valuation in a term sheet, and sets the schedule for transaction closing. In Western markets, the Lead VC often represents the largest check in the round, though not necessarily, and this is far less common in Japan.

Japan Lead VC Radar 2021

Accordingly, the Japan Lead VC Radar, 2021 edition depicted below, reflects the number of investments by led by Japan’s independent VC funds into domestic startups in 2021. In a future post I will elaborate on why we believe this is an important tool for Japan’s growing venture ecosystem. Feel free to contact us for any requested corrections.

Click to enlarge.

Evolving wheelchairs, LifeHub’s next-gen mobility can move even over bumps or stairs

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See the original story in Japanese. Tokyo-based LifeHub, the Japanese startup developing a chair-type mobility that can stretch its legs to move in bipedal motion like human, announced on Tuesday that it has secured 100 million yen (about $870,000) from CyberAgent Capital and Incubate Fund in a seed round. This follows their previous pre-seed round securing 30 million yen (about $260,000) from Incubate Fund. LifeHub was launched back in 2021 by three founders. Having been fascinated with building robots since he was a child, CEO Hiroshi Nakano studied robotics and drones at university, and later worked at one of the world’s largestcomputer-aided engineering vendor where he was involved in mobility development and research. CTO Kazuhiro Nomiya designs and develops biomechanics and artificial muscles while CSO Yasuhiro Arakawa specializes in control systems and autonomous driving. The company advocates human augmentation. Unlike conventional wheelchairs, Transella, their flagship product, is able to crouch, stand up, climb over steps, and ride escalators. The mobility is mainly comprised of parts made in Japan which excels in miniaturization technology. It can solve the problems of conventional wheelchairs because of its extended mobility of not only horizontal but also vertical range of movement. Toru Akaura, one of…

From left: Toru Akaura (Incubate Fund), Hiroshi Nakano (LifeHub), Hirofumi Kondo (CyberAgent Capital)

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based LifeHub, the Japanese startup developing a chair-type mobility that can stretch its legs to move in bipedal motion like human, announced on Tuesday that it has secured 100 million yen (about $870,000) from CyberAgent Capital and Incubate Fund in a seed round. This follows their previous pre-seed round securing 30 million yen (about $260,000) from Incubate Fund.

LifeHub was launched back in 2021 by three founders. Having been fascinated with building robots since he was a child, CEO Hiroshi Nakano studied robotics and drones at university, and later worked at one of the world’s largestcomputer-aided engineering vendor where he was involved in mobility development and research. CTO Kazuhiro Nomiya designs and develops biomechanics and artificial muscles while CSO Yasuhiro Arakawa specializes in control systems and autonomous driving.

The company advocates human augmentation. Unlike conventional wheelchairs, Transella, their flagship product, is able to crouch, stand up, climb over steps, and ride escalators. The mobility is mainly comprised of parts made in Japan which excels in miniaturization technology. It can solve the problems of conventional wheelchairs because of its extended mobility of not only horizontal but also vertical range of movement.

The conceptual image of Transella
Image credit: LifeHub

Toru Akaura, one of the representative partner at Incubate Fund, decided to invest in the mobility startup’s first funding round (pre-seed round). He says,

I couldn’t believe it when I heard a lot of ideas from Nakano-san for the first time. But he passionately said “We can do it,” so I bet 30 million yen on them. And his team created the half-size prototype. I’m very much in love with their ability to make things happen.

Hirofumi Kondo, President and CEO of CyberAgent Capital participating in the latest round, first met LifeHub’s Nakano last year at Incubate Camp, an annual entrepreneurship bootcamp program organized by Incubate Fund. In the event, Kondo mentored Nakano and then won the third place of the Capitalist Award which lets entrepreneurs evaluate capitalists as mentors. Kondo says,

Still in a seed round, so we decided our investment based on not only technical or business advantage but also on his personal character. We can help make their business global.

Kondo introducing LifeHub’s Nakano as mentors at Incubate Camp 14th.
Image credit: Masaru Ikeda

LifeHub is not the first robotics startup aiming to assist people’s movements, but many of conventional solutions are not suitable for daily use due to cumbersome wearing or installation process. Because of its shape, the mobility device can be used by anyone by simply sitting down to move even on stairs, steep slopes, and rough roads, so it must have a huge need all over the world. The company plans to use the funds to develop a full-scale model of the product by this spring but the global semiconductor shortage may impact their schedule or force them to push it back.

The company is about to set its business model, likely starting with a high-function wheelchair for the elderly and physically challenged. In the future, they are aiming to make it used for climbing stairs, autonomous driving, sharing mobility services for business-to-business use as well as global business expansion. For now, the company plans to offer a unit of the wheelchair for 1.5 million yen (about $13,000) for purchase, or 10,000 yen (about $86) per month on a subscription basis for nursing care, but the price may vary greatly as they have completed no full-scale prototype yet.

Nakano delivers his pitch at Incubate Camp 14th.
Image credit: Masaru Ikeda

We’ve seen more than a few startups developing smart wheelchairs, mobility devices, and robots for transportation, but LifeHub’s mobility clearly takes a different approach in terms of moving like a vehicle as well as human bipedal movement. Based on the potential of the technology and the business, Akaura and Kondo praised Nakano, saying that he might be “Elon Mask from Japan”.

Akaura concluded our conversation with saying,

This will be a world-class product. I believe that Nakano has the potential to lead the world from Japan.

Japanese Web3 entrepreneurs join forces to launch accelerator, raises $10M in funding

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See the original story in Japanese. Singapore-based Next Web Capital (NeW) announced on Tuesday that it has secured $10 million in funding from WiL (World Innovation Lab) and crypto exchange Bitbank in addition to the launch of an accelerator aiming to support entrepreneurs in the Web3 and crypto space. The firm supports global Web3.0 protocols, aiming to co-create new projects with entrepreneurs from Japan. The firm was founded by seven Japanese entrepreneurs – Sota Watanabe (CEO, Stake Technologies / Founder, Astar Network), Shun Ishikawa (COO, Astar Network), Kei Seki (Fund Manager, Astar Network), Yudai Suzuki (Co-founder, Fracton Ventures), Toshihiko Kamei (Co-founder, Fracton Ventures), Naoki Akazawa (Co-founder, Fracton Ventures), and Yusuke Obinata (Web3 Foundation). NeW plans to support entrepreneurs starting their business in the new ecosystem based on cryptos and blockchain. Specifically speaking, the firm provides mentoring by its founders and other members, share their experience in addition to offering financial support by actively participating in the DAO (decentralized autonomous organization) and other ecosystems. They also plan to use SAFT (Simple Agreement for Future Tokens) to raise funds for participating entrepreneurs. Expressing his expectations, Masaya Kubota, Partner at WiL, says, In encouraging more and more Japanese startups to expand into the…

See the original story in Japanese.

Singapore-based Next Web Capital (NeW) announced on Tuesday that it has secured $10 million in funding from WiL (World Innovation Lab) and crypto exchange Bitbank in addition to the launch of an accelerator aiming to support entrepreneurs in the Web3 and crypto space. The firm supports global Web3.0 protocols, aiming to co-create new projects with entrepreneurs from Japan.

The firm was founded by seven Japanese entrepreneurs – Sota Watanabe (CEO, Stake Technologies / Founder, Astar Network), Shun Ishikawa (COO, Astar Network), Kei Seki (Fund Manager, Astar Network), Yudai Suzuki (Co-founder, Fracton Ventures), Toshihiko Kamei (Co-founder, Fracton Ventures), Naoki Akazawa (Co-founder, Fracton Ventures), and Yusuke Obinata (Web3 Foundation).

NeW plans to support entrepreneurs starting their business in the new ecosystem based on cryptos and blockchain. Specifically speaking, the firm provides mentoring by its founders and other members, share their experience in addition to offering financial support by actively participating in the DAO (decentralized autonomous organization) and other ecosystems.

Founders of New Web Capital

They also plan to use SAFT (Simple Agreement for Future Tokens) to raise funds for participating entrepreneurs. Expressing his expectations, Masaya Kubota, Partner at WiL, says,

In encouraging more and more Japanese startups to expand into the global market, I am glad that such young and talented members have joined forces. We want to push them and hope that they will become role models and create a new image of entrepreneurs in the Web3 world.

Toshihiko Kamei, one of the co-founder of NeW, says

For entrepreneurs, especially in the Web3 and crypto space, it’s important to start their business globally from Day 1. Seeing global projects by Japanese entrepreneurs such as Astar Network, UXD Protocol and InsureDAO, more and moe Japanese entrepreneurs are taking on global challenges but the the number of them is still limited.

While technologies, domains, and regulations in each country are changing at a rapid pace, Web 3.0 entrepreneurs are blazing new trails. Our intention to encourage more entrepreneurs from Japan has led us this initiative. The seven of us expect to become role models for Web 3.0 entrepreneurs by being at the forefront of the world ourselves, and also doing our best to support them so that they can become the next role models for entrepreneurs who are willing to take on the world.

It is yet to be decided whether NeW will hold an event-driven acceleration program like more than a few existing accelerators have been doing. If you are interested in joining the program, you should directly contact anyone of the founders or e-mail them through their website.

Japan VC Radar – A glance of the most active VCs in 2021 (Infographic)

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This guest post is authored by Mark Bivens. Mark is a Silicon Valley native and former entrepreneur, having started three companies before “turning to the dark side of VC.” He is a venture capitalist that travels between Paris and Tokyo (aka the RudeVC). He is the Managing Partner of Shizen Capital (formerly known as Tachi.ai Ventures) in Japan. You can read more on his blog at http://rude.vc or follow him @markbivens. The Japanese translation of this article is available here. We’ve mentioned this before: the venture ecosystem in Japan is on the rise! Now we have some supporting evidence. The Japan VC Radar indicates the most active VC funds in Japan last year. Based on data sourced from Startup DB or the funds directly, the Japan VC Radar depicts the number of new domestic investments in 2021 by Japan’s independent VC funds (note: please feel to contact us for any corrections).

mark-bivens_portrait

This guest post is authored by Mark Bivens. Mark is a Silicon Valley native and former entrepreneur, having started three companies before “turning to the dark side of VC.”

He is a venture capitalist that travels between Paris and Tokyo (aka the RudeVC). He is the Managing Partner of Shizen Capital (formerly known as Tachi.ai Ventures) in Japan. You can read more on his blog at http://rude.vc or follow him @markbivens. The Japanese translation of this article is available here.


We’ve mentioned this before: the venture ecosystem in Japan is on the rise! Now we have some supporting evidence. The Japan VC Radar indicates the most active VC funds in Japan last year.

Based on data sourced from Startup DB or the funds directly, the Japan VC Radar depicts the number of new domestic investments in 2021 by Japan’s independent VC funds (note: please feel to contact us for any corrections).

(Click to enlarge)

Japan’s free insurance startup Warrantee files for IPO on NASDAQ

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Osaka-headquartered Warrantee, the Japanese startup offering free insurance services in the US and Singapore, has publicly filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for its initial public offering (IPO), according to a source close to the company. We were told that the company plans to trade under the symbol WRNT on the NASDAQ. Warrantee declined to further comment when contacted by Bridge despite admitting the news is true. Generally speaking, profiles of companies are available on the SEC website just after their IPO application is accepted, but Warrantee’s one does not appear there as of this writing. According to a person familiar with IPO applications  in the U.S., the SEC search and retrieval function is not applied for foreign companies until the listing is approved. If the schedule follows SEC’s convention, financial terms are expected to become clear in April followed by the IPO in May as long as everything goes well. Founded back in October of 2013 by CEO Yusuke Shono, Warrantee started its business with helping consumers turn product warranties into digital followed by foraying into the on-demand insurance market in 2017 in collaboration with insurance companies. Subsequently the company started offering free or low-cost on-demand…

Yusuke Shono
Image credit: Warrantee

Osaka-headquartered Warrantee, the Japanese startup offering free insurance services in the US and Singapore, has publicly filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for its initial public offering (IPO), according to a source close to the company. We were told that the company plans to trade under the symbol WRNT on the NASDAQ. Warrantee declined to further comment when contacted by Bridge despite admitting the news is true.

Generally speaking, profiles of companies are available on the SEC website just after their IPO application is accepted, but Warrantee’s one does not appear there as of this writing. According to a person familiar with IPO applications  in the U.S., the SEC search and retrieval function is not applied for foreign companies until the listing is approved. If the schedule follows SEC’s convention, financial terms are expected to become clear in April followed by the IPO in May as long as everything goes well.

Founded back in October of 2013 by CEO Yusuke Shono, Warrantee started its business with helping consumers turn product warranties into digital followed by foraying into the on-demand insurance market in 2017 in collaboration with insurance companies. Subsequently the company started offering free or low-cost on-demand insurance services in the US and Singapore where state-run affordable and universal health insurance systems are less common unlike Japan.

Warrantee’s core team is located in Tokyo and Osaka, but they also have offices in Singapore, New York City, and Silicon Valley. In our coverage last year, someone anonymous involved in the company suggested the possibility of an IPO in the US via a SPAC (Special Purpose Acquisition Company). However, the effort is not via a SPAC but a direct one.

Regarding recent NASDAQ listings by Japanese firms, our readers may recall Medirom, the operator of the Re.Ra.Ku massage chain, went public in December of 2020. The youngest Japanese entrepreneur having succeeded in IPO on NASDAQ was Yo Matsushima, who listed his company Crayfish (now known as e-Machi Town) on both the U.S. market and the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s Mothers market in 2000 at his age of 26. 36-year-old Warrantee’s Shono appears to be the youngest Japanese entrepreneur ever to go public his company on NASDAQ only.

This is a developing story and may be updated for further details.

Misaky Tokyo secures $1M to bring innovative Japanese confectionery to more Americans

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See the original story in Japanese. Los Angeles-based Cashi Cake, the startup behind Misaky Tokyo and other D2C-focused Japanese confectionery brands, announced on Wednesday that it has secured 120 million yen (about $1 million) in the first tranche of its seed round. Participating investors include Chiba Dojo Fund, Coconala Skill Partners (CSP), Headline Asia in addition to angel investors including Hiromi Okuda and Shin Murakami. This follows two angel rounds when the startup received 60 million yen (about $600,000) in total from ISGS Investment Works, Jun Nishikawa, Kazuma Yamauchi, Kotaro Tamura, Yoichiro Hirano, Heart Catch and others. The latest tranche brought their total funding sum up to 180 million yen (about $1.6 million). The company will use the funds to expand confectionery manufacturing capacity as well as strengthening the development effort of a seaweed drink brand. Founded by Alyssa Miky in September of 2019, Cashi Cake uses a proprietary technology to process seaweed agar to develop high-end Japanese confectionery products. After serving the Academy Awards and Emmy Awards eve as a vendor, her company has collaborated with Kim Kardashian’s fragrance brand KKW and been featured in the Bon Appétit food magazine. The company has 310,000 followers on its Tiktok account.

Alissa Miky, Founder and CEO of Cashi Cake

See the original story in Japanese.

Los Angeles-based Cashi Cake, the startup behind Misaky Tokyo and other D2C-focused Japanese confectionery brands, announced on Wednesday that it has secured 120 million yen (about $1 million) in the first tranche of its seed round. Participating investors include Chiba Dojo Fund, Coconala Skill Partners (CSP), Headline Asia in addition to angel investors including Hiromi Okuda and Shin Murakami.

This follows two angel rounds when the startup received 60 million yen (about $600,000) in total from ISGS Investment Works, Jun Nishikawa, Kazuma Yamauchi, Kotaro Tamura, Yoichiro Hirano, Heart Catch and others. The latest tranche brought their total funding sum up to 180 million yen (about $1.6 million). The company will use the funds to expand confectionery manufacturing capacity as well as strengthening the development effort of a seaweed drink brand.

Founded by Alyssa Miky in September of 2019, Cashi Cake uses a proprietary technology to process seaweed agar to develop high-end Japanese confectionery products. After serving the Academy Awards and Emmy Awards eve as a vendor, her company has collaborated with Kim Kardashian’s fragrance brand KKW and been featured in the Bon Appétit food magazine. The company has 310,000 followers on its Tiktok account.

2022 predictions from insightful investors

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This guest post is authored by Mark Bivens. Mark is a Silicon Valley native and former entrepreneur, having started three companies before “turning to the dark side of VC.” He is a venture capitalist that travels between Paris and Tokyo (aka the RudeVC). He is the Managing Partner of Shizen Capital (formerly known as Tachi.ai Ventures) in Japan. You can read more on his blog at http://rude.vc or follow him @markbivens. The Japanese translation of this article is available here. Years ago I started publishing an annual list of technology predictions from global venture capitalists. By design, I deliberately prioritize VCs beyond the usual Silicon Valley household names, whose voices were not necessarily heard on the world stage. For this season’s set of predictions, I am again pleased to be able to give the floor to an all-female cast of investors, who in my opinion are poised to make a disproportionately positive impact on the venture ecosystem this year. May 2022 bring us further enlightenment. Happy new year ! –mark Yumiko Murakami — MPower Partners, Japan ESG investments, which showed record growth in 2021, will continue to gain momentum in 2022. At the same time, criticism of greenwashing will increase,…

mark-bivens_portraitThis guest post is authored by Mark Bivens. Mark is a Silicon Valley native and former entrepreneur, having started three companies before “turning to the dark side of VC.”

He is a venture capitalist that travels between Paris and Tokyo (aka the RudeVC). He is the Managing Partner of Shizen Capital (formerly known as Tachi.ai Ventures) in Japan. You can read more on his blog at http://rude.vc or follow him @markbivens. The Japanese translation of this article is available here.


Years ago I started publishing an annual list of technology predictions from global venture capitalists. By design, I deliberately prioritize VCs beyond the usual Silicon Valley household names, whose voices were not necessarily heard on the world stage.

For this season’s set of predictions, I am again pleased to be able to give the floor to an all-female cast of investors, who in my opinion are poised to make a disproportionately positive impact on the venture ecosystem this year.

May 2022 bring us further enlightenment. Happy new year !

–mark

Yumiko Murakami — MPower Partners, Japan

ESG investments, which showed record growth in 2021, will continue to gain momentum in 2022. At the same time, criticism of greenwashing will increase, and the quality of ESG investments will be questioned in 2022.

ESG has so far been focused on listed companies. This year, ESG will begin to be introduced to the private market in earnest.

Tonna Obaze — Harlem Capital, NYC, USA

I believe the world will continue its Web3 evolution with blockchain technology, cryptocurrency, & NFTs. However this year, the focus will not be awareness but more mass adoption. I’m excited to see new players emerge who make Web3 accessible for everyone — those who communicate concepts in plain language to help the “non expert” understand and those who build infrastructure to make onboarding seamless. Once upon a time, only few had access to computers and even fewer had them within their homes — Apple sought out to change that and make computers accessible to everyone. Time will tell who will step up and do the same for Web3.

Emiko Takeda — Monex Climate Impact, Japan

I personally expect a lot of interesting innovation in sustainable food. For instance, I see projects which transform empty sea urchins, traditionally a scourge of algae vital to sea life and a headache for fishermen, into highly-prized sea urchins for sushi based on an all-natural alimentation program. Another example is a project producing delicious plant-based cheese alternatives from sticky rice by employing koji malt often used in Japan for fermentation of miso and sake.

Abi Mohamed—Tech Nation, UK

2021 was a remarkable year for European startups, with a record $100B of capital invested, 100 new unicorns (Atomico Report 2021), but there was still a lack of investment in underrepresented founders, the biggest disparity was towards founders who self identifies as Black. We still saw incredible funding deals to UK Black founders, i.e. Marshmallow and AudioMob. My prediction for 2022 is that we will see more UK Black founders being funded by micro/solo funds, ex-founder turned angel investors or international institutional funds.

Mai Iida — D4V, Japan

2021 saw the rise in new content driven by individuals and communities (think NFTs, EdTech cohort programs, Japan’s “Oshikatsu” or fan activities in pop culture, etc). The diversification of opportunities has put creators in a strong position to pick and choose what is best for them. People are also revisiting their way of work and life, such as the “Great Resignation” in the US, choosing a career that suits their lifestyle best. In 2022 I look forward to seeing these two trends merging – we may see more people choosing novel ways of work, treating their hobbies just as seriously as their so-called “actual” jobs. This is an interesting and hot area for startups to contribute their innovative ideas.