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Japan’s Factbase unveils cryptocurrency market forecast platform at Blockchain Expo

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See the original story in Japanese. Tokyo-basedFactbase announced a cryptocurrency-focused market forecast platform called Signal at Blockchain Expo, which just finished in Santa Clara, US last week. Coinciding with this announcement, the company began accepting pre-registration for use of the service. Factbase was founded in November by Osaka University alumni Yusuke Takahashi and other members. The team recognized that distribution flow of news updates and other elements likely to produce price fluctuations in cryptocurrencies are totally different from those for legal currencies. The Signal platform provides two functions: a web-based dashboard called Signal Board offering market forecast and analysis, and a notification service called Signal Alerts which lets users know via the LINE messaging app when an event likely to greatly impact price fluctuation of a cryptocurrency occurs. Takahashi explained: For example, presidents of Bank of Japan never tweet about banking policy or strategy. In contrast, information distributed online is likely to reflect price fluctuation of cryptocurrecies, and the information flow of it is also unique. Most of this kind of information is publicly available online, which usually gets bigger and bigger thorugh communities of mining users and others, and eventually snowball into big news with huge impact. […] Hence,…

CEO Yusuke Takahashi stands in the center of the Factbase team.
Image credit: Factbase

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-basedFactbase announced a cryptocurrency-focused market forecast platform called Signal at Blockchain Expo, which just finished in Santa Clara, US last week. Coinciding with this announcement, the company began accepting pre-registration for use of the service.

Factbase was founded in November by Osaka University alumni Yusuke Takahashi and other members. The team recognized that distribution flow of news updates and other elements likely to produce price fluctuations in cryptocurrencies are totally different from those for legal currencies. The Signal platform provides two functions: a web-based dashboard called Signal Board offering market forecast and analysis, and a notification service called Signal Alerts which lets users know via the LINE messaging app when an event likely to greatly impact price fluctuation of a cryptocurrency occurs.

Takahashi explained:

For example, presidents of Bank of Japan never tweet about banking policy or strategy. In contrast, information distributed online is likely to reflect price fluctuation of cryptocurrecies, and the information flow of it is also unique. Most of this kind of information is publicly available online, which usually gets bigger and bigger thorugh communities of mining users and others, and eventually snowball into big news with huge impact. […]

Hence, anyone can gain access to information resources which may alter the trend of cryptocurrencies, but it’s hard to organize this kind of information and understand its context because of too much miscellaneous information being included. The Signal platform leverages big data and artificial intelligence to help users organize it and understand the context more accurately.

Factbase CEO Yusuke Takahashi presents the Signal platform at Blockchain Expo
Image credit: Factbase
The Factbase team demos the Signal platform in their booth at Blockchain Expo.
Image credit: Factbase

In view of other areas where publicly disclosed information is likely to alter market trends, when a listed company announces their financial statement, hedge funds and institutional investors first sell or buy the company’s shares based on it, and then individual investors follow, which eventually leads to price fluctuations for the market.

In contrast to legal currencies or stock prices, not only the mechanisms behind securing values but also those leading to price fluctuations have become decentralized for cryptocurrencies. For cryptocurrency investors, keeping their eyes on announcements from Federal Reserve Bank or Bank of Japan by watching CNBC or reading the Nikkei would not suffice upon catching market trends. It is here the Signal platform can create a niche opportunity that can provide investors a new value.

Screenshots of Signal Board
Image credit: Factbase

The Signal platform curates timelines and posts by crawling Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, GitHub and other websites, and analyzes them from different viewpoints using Natural Language Processing to see whether each article has a positive or negative context. They will initially start with Bitcoin out of many cryptocurrency options. Generally speaking, it’s difficult to distinguish between news updates on Bitcoin and those on Bitcoin Cash, but we were told that the company’s technology can realize it by leveraging their proprietary algorithm.

We are currently focused on curating, organizing and analyzing information. We are planning to start publishing reports in partnership with cryptocurrency-focused market analysts. In addition, we intend to publish a sort of “Cryptocurrency market index” based on calculation using our proprietary algorithm. […]

Our mission is to offer optimized collecting information on cryptocurrency investment by forecasting a fluctuation in prices.

A screenshot of Signal Alert
Image credit: Factbase

Going forward the company plans to introduce a so-called “development index” for every cryptocurrency. Since the ecosystem of cryptocurrencies is a real mix of wheat and chaff, these indexes will help cryptocyrrency investors understand, for example, which ICO (initial coin offering) campaigns are well organized or plain irresponsible. The team aims to acquire a million users in two years from now, planning to expand the service into English and Korean languages.

Factbase has secured a seed funding from multiple unnamed angel investors. Takahashi says the company is hiring data analysts, data scientists and “engineers who are likely to feel ecstasy upon collecting information” for further service development of the platform.

Translated by “Tex” Pomeroy

Tokyu railway’s 3rd accelerator program showcases 6 startups to collaborate with

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See the original story in Japanese. Japanese railway company Tokyu (TSE:9005) held a Demo Day of its startups accelerator Tokyu Accelerator Program 3rd batch in October in Tokyo. In this finals pitch, six teams as finalists plus six teams selected as excellent services gave Lightning Talks. Tokyu Accelerator Program has a feature of giving opportunities for test marketing to participant startups by utilizing Tokyu Group’s resources. Last year’s 2nd batch was managed by Tokyu, Spiral Ventures (ex. IMJ Investment Partners), Connected Design and Tokyo Agency, and from this batch, Tokyu Media Communications, Tokyu Recreation, Tokyu Sports System plus Tokyu Research Institute had newly joined the management. The program collected participants in 10 areas: transportation / urban development / lifestyle and service / advertisement and promotion / IoT (Internet of Things) smart home / inbound travel / entertainment / sports / healthcare / direct marketing. 28 teams had passed through interview process from among 138 applicants, and six teams remained as finalists. The six finalists had taken part in the program over five months from the kick-off of 3rd batch this April until this day. They will spend all of 2017 for brush up of their services, in order to commence…

See the original story in Japanese.

Japanese railway company Tokyu (TSE:9005) held a Demo Day of its startups accelerator Tokyu Accelerator Program 3rd batch in October in Tokyo. In this finals pitch, six teams as finalists plus six teams selected as excellent services gave Lightning Talks.

Tokyu Accelerator Program has a feature of giving opportunities for test marketing to participant startups by utilizing Tokyu Group’s resources. Last year’s 2nd batch was managed by Tokyu, Spiral Ventures (ex. IMJ Investment Partners), Connected Design and Tokyo Agency, and from this batch, Tokyu Media Communications, Tokyu Recreation, Tokyu Sports System plus Tokyu Research Institute had newly joined the management.

The program collected participants in 10 areas: transportation / urban development / lifestyle and service / advertisement and promotion / IoT (Internet of Things) smart home / inbound travel / entertainment / sports / healthcare / direct marketing. 28 teams had passed through interview process from among 138 applicants, and six teams remained as finalists.

The six finalists had taken part in the program over five months from the kick-off of 3rd batch this April until this day. They will spend all of 2017 for brush up of their services, in order to commence full-scale marketing from January of 2018 with Tokyu Group’s support.

In the event, all teams were examined by four items of novelty / affinity / potential growth / feasibility. The reviewers were as follows:

  • Toshihisa Adachi (Special Advisor, Japan Venture Capital Association)
  • Yuma Saito (General Manager, Deloitte Tohmatsu Venture Support)
  • Yuji Horiguchi (CEO / Partner, Spiral Ventures)
  • Toshiyuki Ichiki (Managing Director / Manager of Lifestyle and Service Business, Tokyu)
  • Isao Watanabe (Senior Managing Director, Tokyu) – chief reviewer

Tokyu Award: WAmazing by WAmazing

Prize money: 1.09 million yen (about $9,600)

WAmazing is an information portal for foreign visitors to Japan through use of free SIM cards. The team had won B Dash Camp 2017 Spring in Fukuoka.

WAmazing has so far set up vending machines to provide free SIM cards at Narita International Airport, Chubu Centrair International Airport and Kansai Airport, and will next month add Sendai International Airport to where their operation is entrusted to Tokyu Group. The team regards Hong Kong and Taiwan as its first targeting market to reach and also plans to advance into mainland China next year. The number of installed SIM cards exceeded 50,000 as of this October and is expected to surpass 150,000 by next March.

The team defines Tokyu’s commutation ticket users as “railway customers” being involved in transportation / shopping / residence along Tokyu railway, and said it aims to turn visitors  to Japan using WAmazing SIM card into new railway customers through cooperation with Tokyu Group.

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Shibuya Award: Minchalle by A10lab

Prize money: 428,000 yen (about $3,800)

A10 Lab provides an app Minchalle that motivates those who are  prone to drop out from various activities. The app allows users to anonymously cheer up each others with the same challenges to improve themselves such as diet, rising early or training muscles. It encourages them to become habituated with team chat and photo sharing which certifies achievement of their goals.

The mean success rate of habituation with Minchalle is 69% which is eight times higher than the one by single challenge, and the app shows a high continuous use ratio at 46% a half year after the date of starting use. The team monetizes the app by B2B (business-to-business), charging for advertisement or official habituation support, and B2C (business-to-customer) charging for additional / premium functions.

The team had been born out from Sony’s Seed Acceleration Program and fundraised 66 million yen (about $580,000) from Sony, Dai-ichi Kangyo Credit Cooperative, Future Venture Capital, Globe Advisors and Yukihiro Yoshida in its seed round. It was chosen to the acceleration program of Aoyama Startup Acceleration Center (ASAC) 4th batch and the Nomura Holdings’ accelerator program Voyager 1st batch, in addition to Incubate Camp 10th.

NewWork Award: Player! by ookami

Supplemental prize: use rights of the Tokyu’s shared office network NewWork for four members

Ookami provides a sports social app Player! enabling more entertaining sports game watching utilizing online community. It is specified as a stealth matter so that the details of its service revealed in the Demo Day cannot be disclosed in this article.

See also:

NewWork Award: Ecbo Cloak by Ecbo

Supplemental prize: use rights of the Tokyu’s share office network NewWork for four members

Ecbo had not participated in the 3rd batch but gave a Lightning Talk. The details of its service are omitted here.

See also:

Silent Log Analytics by Rei Frontier

Rei Frontier provides a marketing service called Silent Log Analytics enabling a new type of activity analysis by analyzing customers’ location information with artificial intelligence (AI). Companies want to know about customers and customers want companies to make optimized proposal for each, but in reality, sometimes the problem occurs where products that were purchased offline are recommended online.

To solve this, Silent Log Analytics acquires 37,000 users’ activity data per day, obtaining their consent. Using smartphone-mounted GPS and sensors, it determines users’ condition or social attribute. Rei Frontier gathers information and owns the accumulated knowledge that only requires 3% power consumption. The team aims to optimize recommendation or customer notification by not sending entertainment information during work or not sending business information after work.

Through cooperation with Tokyu Card, the team proposed an analysis system for relationship between users’ activity and credit card use history by providing its auto-diary function. It also said it can notify the condition of each user’s destination in advance based on location and activity information, and can promote the optimized activity. With Tokyu Bus, the team showed a plan of promotion / effect measurement for Bus-mo! (free ride campaign of Tokyu Bus) users having similar background by jointly analyzing the users’ activity.

Futakotamagawa Award: Full Dive Novel by My Dearest

Prize money: 250,000 yen (about $2,500)

Full Dive Novel provides a virtual experience of becoming a hero of the story to users who read novels in virtual reality (VR) space. My Dearest has an advantage of making story nature-rich VR contents such as novels or videos by gathering editors and creators, while many of the VR content include games lacking good yarns. The team takes on creation / sales of its own content at first, and aims to make a universal developer kit enabling users to create VR content themselves and construct a platform capable of trading content in the future.

In Japan, with the low penetration rate of VR hardware, My Dearest proposed an expansion of location VR through cooperation with Tokyu Recreation. It emphasized the provision of location VR especially for nerdettes, and will consider optimized content / use time for females through test-marketing at 109 Cinemas in Tokyo. In addition, the team implied a possibility of making VR content featuring areas around Tokyu railway lines.

Switch Office by Hitokara Media

Hitokara Media provides an office relocation support Switch Office that matches persons moving into / out of fully-furnished offices. With this platform, users can drastically reduce restitution cost / interior arrangement costs during office relocation. Company users who want to move out leaving all furnishings behind may apply for Switch Office with the current offices’ information while company users who want to move in are examined and will be allowed to check / inquire / view privately the office.

As for cooperation with Tokyu, Hitokara Media proposes a  realization of closer environment for offices and residences. If offices could be established in urban residential areas such as Sangenjaya or Musashi Kosugi, various merits would be generated for companies, employees and Tokyu’s rail operations. The team exhibited office leasing plans utilizing real estate asset along Tokyu railway lines combining Hitokara Media’s office production know-how targeting startups, for example, by leasing a station-front property near academic institutions, availing an office environment where companies can easily attract interns and part-timers may be expected.

Translated by Taijiro Takeda
Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy

Japanese referral recruitment platform Refcome secures $1.8 million funding round

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See the original story in Japanese. Tokyo-based Refcome, the Japanese startup behind a referral recruitment platform under the same name, announced earlier this month that it has raised 205 million yen (about $1.8M US) in the latest round. This round was led by Itochu Technology Ventures (ITV) with participation from Beenext, Anri, and Draper Nexus. This follows funding from Movida Japan when the company was established, and the 50 million yen fundraised in the seed round back in October of 2016. Beenext, Anri, and Draper Nexus are follow-ons from the last round while this is the first investment in Refcome for ITV. Refcome had been operating under the company name of Combinator since its foundation. Coinciding with the funding this time, the company has been rebranded into Refcome to match with the name of the service. The company was founded in March of 2014 with launching a web service called Combinator, aiming to help startups find their potential employees leveraging social graph integration. In January of 2016 the company had a change of direction and started the trial operation of the Recome referral recruitment platform, followed by its official roll-out back in July of the same year. The platform is…

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based Refcome, the Japanese startup behind a referral recruitment platform under the same name, announced earlier this month that it has raised 205 million yen (about $1.8M US) in the latest round. This round was led by Itochu Technology Ventures (ITV) with participation from Beenext, Anri, and Draper Nexus. This follows funding from Movida Japan when the company was established, and the 50 million yen fundraised in the seed round back in October of 2016. Beenext, Anri, and Draper Nexus are follow-ons from the last round while this is the first investment in Refcome for ITV.

Refcome had been operating under the company name of Combinator since its foundation. Coinciding with the funding this time, the company has been rebranded into Refcome to match with the name of the service.

The company was founded in March of 2014 with launching a web service called Combinator, aiming to help startups find their potential employees leveraging social graph integration. In January of 2016 the company had a change of direction and started the trial operation of the Recome referral recruitment platform, followed by its official roll-out back in July of the same year.

The platform is focused on helping companies strengthen their referral recruiting effort. It is characterized by its focus on performance measurement in addition to providing general ATS (Applicant Tracking System) functions such as a hiring page. In February of this year, the company unveiled the Refcome Engage platform, aiming to help companies lower their employee turnover rate by analyzing employee satisfaction.

The company has not disclosed how many companies are using the service, but according to Refcome’s CEO Takumi Shimizu told The Bridge that the total number of registered employees of companies using the service has expanded from 2,700 at the start of service to 30,000, making the current number more than 10 times what it was originally. The company claims that the monthly user growth rate (MoM growth) is about 20% while the monthly recurring revenue (MRR) has reached 15 times as much as when the service started.

In addition, compared to immediately after the launch one year ago, Shimizu discussed how the use of Refcome is changing.

  • Changes in the user industries: Previously, there were many cases of use by IT ventures. But now, it is used in the recruitment for dispatch companies, where staff members call other staff, exemplary cases such as veterinarians recruiting other veterinarians to work in veterinary hospitals increased. It is also being used by real estate and apparel business operators.
  • Change in the recruitment phase: Before, 15% recruitment for new graduates, 10% part-time recruitment. But now, 10% recruitment for new graduates, 40% for part-time employment and temporary recruitment and 50% for mid-career recruitment.

As a more interesting trend, Refcome is used by staffing agencies for recruiting part-time workers for companies like Hanamaru Udon (noodle restaurant chain), Don Quixote (discount chain store), and Daimaru (department store), but the high tendency to call upon friends by Chinese and Indian users of Refcome is remarkable. According to Shimizu, in China and India calling friends to your workplace is a daily act, and the company is analyzing whether such cultural backgrounds may have an influence.

So far, Refcome has win the top at the 9th Incubate Camp in 2016, the runner-up at the B Dash Camp 2016 Fall in Sapporo pitch finals, and also won the IBM Blue Hub Award at TechCrunch Tokyo 2016.

Using the funds, the company will enlarge the team from 10 to 13 persons. Because there is use from various industries, the company will increase the staff supporting customer success according to the user’s business needs, and strengthen marketing activities. Also, in the medium to long term time span, the company plans to advance the development of new services with special attention to expanding functions that include not only cultivating a human resource pool for acquiring new employees but also talent management for retaining existing employees.

Translated by Amanda Imasaka
Edited by Masaru Ikeda

Bangkok-based Flare pays drivers in the heavy traffic city to wrap their car in ads

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See the original story in Japanese. In Bangkok, Thailand, there is a community made up of Japanese serial entrepreneurs. While being enthusiastic about their own startups management, they are also devoted to intermediary activities between startup communities in Japan and Thailand. Kazuki Kamiya moved to Thailand in November of 2013, and established a Skype-based Thai language school in May of 2014. Later, he engaged in managing crowdsourced translation / interpretation and business portal website, and now has newly started an on-demand real business. Bangkok-based Flare, Kamiya’s newest startup, officially launched a car advertising service under the same name last week, which pairs drivers willing to wrap their car with companies looking for a unique way to advertise. The team provides the service within Thailand for the time being, and will consider expansion into other market in accordance with its business growth. The Flare users owning automobiles log onto the service via a mobile app available for iOS / Android, and selects a desired one from among campaigns offered by advertisers. After applying for the campaign through uploading photos of the auto and driver license, wrapper comes and wraps the auto in the ad. The GPS information of driving record while…

See the original story in Japanese.

In Bangkok, Thailand, there is a community made up of Japanese serial entrepreneurs. While being enthusiastic about their own startups management, they are also devoted to intermediary activities between startup communities in Japan and Thailand. Kazuki Kamiya moved to Thailand in November of 2013, and established a Skype-based Thai language school in May of 2014. Later, he engaged in managing crowdsourced translation / interpretation and business portal website, and now has newly started an on-demand real business.

Kazuki Kamiya

Bangkok-based Flare, Kamiya’s newest startup, officially launched a car advertising service under the same name last week, which pairs drivers willing to wrap their car with companies looking for a unique way to advertise. The team provides the service within Thailand for the time being, and will consider expansion into other market in accordance with its business growth.

The Flare users owning automobiles log onto the service via a mobile app available for iOS / Android, and selects a desired one from among campaigns offered by advertisers. After applying for the campaign through uploading photos of the auto and driver license, wrapper comes and wraps the auto in the ad. The GPS information of driving record while putting the ad will be sent to Flare via the app. Each campaign budget is set by advertisers in advance and when an auto with the ad drives on a busy main street on a weekend, the budget will be greatly spent. Conversely, the budget will be spent less in local areas having minimal traffic under Flare’s charge system. Advertisers can confirm the spending pace of the budget or the progress of the campaign via the dashboard.

From 15 years ago, BTS (Bangkok Skytrain) and subway lines were opened in Thailand. I often use public transportation in Bangkok and did not know that Bangkok is ranked as the world’s second worst traffic city as announced annually by the Dutch car navigation company TomTom. Of course, clean up traffic congestion is important but Kamiya took advantage of the situation and created Flare from the idea of “a service to reduce drivers’ stress” during the world’s second most jammed traffic.  Since its pre-launch a month ago, more than 500 autos have signed up with Flare.

Auto with campaign wrapping
Auto with campaign wrapping

Interestingly, Flare users can earn more than expected. An average Flare driver earns 3,000 to 5,000 Baht (about $90 to $150) in a month. The monthly per capita GDP of Thailand is about $490 and the drivers can earn 1/4 to 1/5 of the average monthly income. This amount is equivalent to the rent of a standard apartment house in Thailand even if spending a part of the income as auto maintenance costs. Without requiring additional labor, this service makes these citizens life comfortable.

Kamiya commented on Flare’s vision:

Some drivers of Grab or UberX are using our app too. We will launch Flare available for tuk-tuk and bike taxi in addition to private cars!

Dashboard image for advertiser

In the world, there are some similar services: San Francisco-based Wrapify conducts business in 10 cities in the U.S., while Carvertise based in Wilmington, Delaware and Sti-car based in Jakarta, Indonesia carry on such activities. There are currently no competition in Thailand, but car-sharing service majors such as Grab or Uber may enter this field for the purpose of providing an additional income source to user drivers in the future. It is worth keeping an eye on how Flare will acquire the market as a pioneer.

Flare had fundraised from some of the Japanese angel investors in its angel round but it must not be a too distant future for it to undertake additional fundraising with a view of the market growth because it is common for startups in Thailand to expand their service into other Asian countries due to the small size of domestic market. Currently, the ad wrapping is offered only to autos driving in Thailand and the team will invite advertisers from Japanese companies conducting business in Thailand as well.

Translated by Taijiro Takeda
Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy

From Monozukuri Hub Meetup: The Power of Storytelling

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This is a guest post by Joey Ho Nihei, a volunteer supporter for Kyoto-based hardware startup accelerator Makers Boot Camp as well as a student from National University of Singapore (Department of Global Studies). The accelerator holds the Monozukuri Hub Meetup event in Kyoto on a monthly basis. Additionally, all photos in this article were taken by professional photographer Kengo Osaka. Makers Bootcamp is Japan’s leading hardware accelerator and the organizer of the wildly successful Monozukuri Hub meetups. These meetups aim to build, support and inspire a community of makers by acting as a platform for international collaboration and knowledge exchange. In the latest edition of 2016 Monozukuri Hub meetup titled “The Power of Storytelling”, Makers Bootcamp has brought together some of the tech industry’s most seasoned storytellers, investors and start-up founders for an evening packed with insights on how to build and leverage on compelling stories for startups. This meetup largely revolved around the theme of how powerful and effective storytelling is quintessential to startups in every single way — from picking investor’s initial interest to effectively projecting a startup’s value to consumers. Simply put, storytelling is a powerful tool that must be harnessed by startups in order to secure not only investments…

Joey Ho Nihei

This is a guest post by Joey Ho Nihei, a volunteer supporter for Kyoto-based hardware startup accelerator Makers Boot Camp as well as a student from National University of Singapore (Department of Global Studies). The accelerator holds the Monozukuri Hub Meetup event in Kyoto on a monthly basis.

Additionally, all photos in this article were taken by professional photographer Kengo Osaka.


Makers Bootcamp is Japan’s leading hardware accelerator and the organizer of the wildly successful Monozukuri Hub meetups. These meetups aim to build, support and inspire a community of makers by acting as a platform for international collaboration and knowledge exchange.

In the latest edition of 2016 Monozukuri Hub meetup titled “The Power of Storytelling”, Makers Bootcamp has brought together some of the tech industry’s most seasoned storytellers, investors and start-up founders for an evening packed with insights on how to build and leverage on compelling stories for startups.

This meetup largely revolved around the theme of how powerful and effective storytelling is quintessential to startups in every single way — from picking investor’s initial interest to effectively projecting a startup’s value to consumers. Simply put, storytelling is a powerful tool that must be harnessed by startups in order to secure not only investments but also its survival.

Three main perspectives dominated the evening’s presentations: the perspectives of the story consultant, the investor and the startups. The beauty of this meetup was in seeing the storytelling process from these closely related yet distinct perspectives.

The evening was kicked-off by Sabrina Sasaki from Makers Bootcamp who succinctly introduced the art of storytelling and its significance to a startup’s growth to get everyone warmed up for the magic that was about to happen in the following presentations. Her presentation served as an easily digestible introduction to those unacquainted to the art of storytelling (myself included). One key message that she conveyed in her presentation was how stories play a crucial role in a startup’s marketing and how it is no less important than building a revolutionary product.

Björn Eichstädt, Managing Partner, Storymaker

The first speaker for the evening, Storymaker‘s Björn Eichstädt, offered the perspective of the consultant, sharing snippets from his vast experiences managing a story-oriented communications consulting, PR and digital communications firm. He spoke about how having a powerful story to communicate a company’s identity and value is increasingly important in a world constantly bombarded with a multitude of information, and how originality (instead of jumping onto trends) is the only real way ahead. One of his sharings that left a particular impression on his audience was when he drew parallels between a story and dashi (Japanese soup stock), saying “a story is just like dashi – it can only be made with the right ingredients, and this dashi can be expressed in so many different ways. If customers and the media like it, they will retell it”.

See also:

James Riney, Head of 500 Startups Japan

James Riney, Head of 500 Startups Japan, followed Björn’s sharing by presenting the investor’s perspective to story-telling: What are investors really looking out for when they listen to pitches? One theme that he constantly emphasised on was the need for simplicity when presenting their idea and value and the need to earn trust and confidence quickly in the little bit of time they have to present to investors. The best way to do this, he advices, is to highlight the key strengths of the startup either in terms of traction, team, target market, media coverage or fundings from highly sought-after investors and funds. Simply put, all you need to do is to convey “why this? why now? And why you?”  and just KISS (Keep-it-simple-stupid). He also highlighted the importance of keeping things simple when startups ask for funding — just share with investors how much you need, what you will use it for, and how long this is going to last you.

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The second half of the presentations saw Atsushi Nakanishi (AT) and Shota Takase sharing the stories of Dfree and Blincam respectively. Their stories were living proof of how startups can effectively leverage on powerful stories in order to propel their startups forward.

Atsushi Nakanishi, CEO of Dfree

Dfree CEO Atsushi Nakanishi has pooped his pants before — and he’s not ashamed to share it with the world because that was exactly what inspired the world’s first wearable device that aims to maintain every human’s dignity by using ultrasound to monitor changes in the body to predict toilet timings. His product’s vision to create “a world where nobody has to soil their pants” was as revolutionary as the way he presented his story — he began by asking the audience if “anyone pooped their pants before?” ensuing in a roar of laughter. Such personal, relatable anecdotes peppered with embarrassing examples have proven to be a key element in storytelling which values originality and surprise elements. To close his presentation, he shared Dfree’s future trajectories — a trajectory that would vastly change the way everyone lives in the future by “predicting everything” from toilet timings, appetites, menstrual cycles, aging and even one’s lifespan.

See also:

Shota Takase, CEO & Founder of Blincam

The last presentation for the evening was by Shota Takase, CEO & Founder of Blincam. Blincam’s story started by coincidence at a Startup Weekend session and has since been fueled by Shota’s strong desire capture natural and beautiful photographs of his family. The key inspiration behind Blincam was how Shota could never take candid photographs of his daughter because she would always make funny faces at the camera when she knew her photo was being taken. This desire to capture candid, beautiful pictures of our own children resonated with many people and this vision-turned-startup was what Blincam was all about: A wearable, hands-free camera that captures candid pictures with a blink of an eye. Shota then carried on to share every step of his journey from starting up in a garage all the way to securing a whopping 2640% of funding in Makuake and another 150% in Indiegogo just recently.

See also:

This event saw some of the most insightful stories and had some of the industry’s most seasoned storytellers and listeners (investors). Makers Bootcamp would once again like to extend our warmest regards to every single person who participated and we hope this meetup enriched you as much as it did for us! We hope to see everyone again soon!

Click here if you would like to check the presentation deck from all speakers, with detailed information about each one.

Comiru, cloud platform for cram schools and students’ families, wins Open Network Lab’s Demo Day

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See the original story in Japanese. Tokyo-based startup incubator Open Network Lab held the demo day for the 13th batch of their Seed Accelerator Program last month. 88 teams from Japan and the rest of the world applied for this batch (22 of these from abroad), with 5 teams selected to undergo a 3-month mentoring and support program. It should be noted that, from the 5 teams, 1 team disbanded before making it to the demo day, and 1 other team failed to meet the conditions set forth internally by Open Network Labs, resulting in 3 teams making pitches on demo day. In the previous demo day events by Open Network Lab the evaluation format was often based on a vote by key mentors as well as an audience. This time around, the winner was chosen based on examinations only by the following five judges: Kaoru Hayashi (President and CEO, Digital Garage) Tomoya Sasaki (Incubation Senior Marketing Director, DG Incubation / President & CEO, Open Network Lab) Masayuki Sarukawa (Managing Director, DG Incubation) Shonosuke Hata (President & CEO, Kakaku.com) Atsuhiro Murakami (Managing Director, Kakaku.com) Best Team Award winner: Comiru by Poper Comiru is an app that facilitates communication between cram…

onlab-13th-batch-demoday-all-presenters

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based startup incubator Open Network Lab held the demo day for the 13th batch of their Seed Accelerator Program last month. 88 teams from Japan and the rest of the world applied for this batch (22 of these from abroad), with 5 teams selected to undergo a 3-month mentoring and support program. It should be noted that, from the 5 teams, 1 team disbanded before making it to the demo day, and 1 other team failed to meet the conditions set forth internally by Open Network Labs, resulting in 3 teams making pitches on demo day.

In the previous demo day events by Open Network Lab the evaluation format was often based on a vote by key mentors as well as an audience. This time around, the winner was chosen based on examinations only by the following five judges:

  • Kaoru Hayashi (President and CEO, Digital Garage)
  • Tomoya Sasaki (Incubation Senior Marketing Director, DG Incubation / President & CEO, Open Network Lab)
  • Masayuki Sarukawa (Managing Director, DG Incubation)
  • Shonosuke Hata (President & CEO, Kakaku.com)
  • Atsuhiro Murakami (Managing Director, Kakaku.com)

Best Team Award winner: Comiru by Poper

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Comiru is an app that facilitates communication between cram schools and parents. Founder Shingo Kurihara, after a stint with Sumitomo 3M, went on to work as a web marketer for Opt (TSE:2389), followed in 2012 by a position as a lecturer in a cram school in Tokyo’s suburb of Saitama, all together forming a unique career. Through his 4 years of experience as a cram school teacher, information was managed using an analog system, meaning all paperwork, even progress reports that were handed to parents, were hand written onto paper. Thus, Kurihara became keenly aware of the negative effects this had on work efficiency. Cram school teachers and parents had already directed their attention to the fact that this is the digital age, so he devised a method to thoroughly digitize business processes and parent communication for cram schools. The average cram school instructor spends 70% of their working hours on tasks such as contacting parents, managing grades, class preparation, etc., but through the use of Comiru the team proposes it is possible to compress the time it takes to complete tasks outside of teaching hours to one tenth of what they have been.

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During the pitch the team demo-ed that users who are cram school instructors can easily send quick emails to parents by using templates. They also gave an example using one of the most important jobs teachers must complete outside of the class: collecting the content of students’ report cards from schools, and how it could be completed within five minutes. It is also possible for parents to use their smartphones to respond to communications, and with the introduction of Comiru the recovery rate for collecting necessary data improved greatly from 40% to 90%.

Within half a year since their official release they have signed contracts with 21 one cram school companies, with the ID base responsible for managing cram school students reaching more than 2,000 users (with a price of 200 yen or about $2 US per month per student). As opposed to chain cram schools, they are targeting privately managed small-scale “strong cram schools” popular among parents and students. In the future, they will continue to not only provide communication support between cram schools and parents and operational support for teachers, but also aim to increase sales by providing information about courses to parents and teachers in the form of advertisements based on the data accumulated in accordance with the rise in users.

The judges evaluation was generally high since Comiru already has paying users and are able to validate user input, and also because of the idea that this service was born due to Kurihara having an outsider’s point of view (and would have been difficult for people who have been in the cram school world exclusively to understand). At their demo booth they introduced a feature that allows schools to use the FeliCa NFC (near field communication) technology to manage the arrivals and departures of students on a dashboard. This is useful in determining a child’s safety because notifications can be sent to a parents’ smartphones when students arrive at and depart from the school.

Foxsy by Xpresso

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When talking about dating apps, Tinder is usually the first to come to mind. But, even in the US where Tinder is based, it has been reported that after using Tinder less than 0.1% of user pairs actually meet. According to Jin (Hitoshi) Tanaka of Xpresso, this low conversion rate is to due to the overwhelming low level of men taking action (amount of outgoing information) compared to the anticipated level of women seeking men (amount of information). In general women seek over 50 items of information about their potential male partners, including their profiles, personality information, and pictures, etc. A majority of men, on the other hand, do not understand what information women are looking for, or in many cases feel it is cumbersome and do not fill out their profiles.

Foxsy is a dating bot that supports encounters between men and women and is capable of cooperating with message apps such as Facebook Messenger, Kik, and Line. In the app, every user is requested to input his/her information based on questions from the bot. Using that information the bot introduces a female user to a male user. The bot asks questions about common topics, thereby activating communication between the male and female users. Thanks to this feature, from the start of the conversation until actually meeting face-to-face, the percentage of user pairs has risen to 40% with Foxsy.

Tanaka, having used Tinder more than 1,500 times, takes an interesting guerrilla-style user acquisition technique, and he declares that Foxsy has attracted users from Tinder. The number of users has reached 500 in the few months since launching, and it has led to 305 established matches. When referring to future aspirations, Tanaka said Foxsy can be used not only for dating support, but also for events, business, travel, etc. providing a variety of day-to-day opportunities by supplementing information and processes to encourage people to meet.

Senso by Appledore

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Appledore was established by Tiffany Pang, previously a software engineer at the food delivery service Instacart, and Joh Cadengo, previously a software engineer for the P2P car sharing service Getaround. By making full use of image recognition technology and GIS (geographic information systems) they developed Outreach Grid as a means to assist the homeless by facilitating the sharing of information between social workers, police, public support institutions, and city hall, etc. As a means of shifting their focus, or perhaps as an additional alternative service, they pitched a separate project, Senso, during this demo day.

Senso uses emotion analysis as an advertising effectiveness measurement tool. With both Pang and Cadengo specializing in emotion recognition and computer vision, by measuring to what degree viewers felt emotion and relief they can understand whether the advertising and contents made an impression. Marketers can then analyze performance which leads to the creation of even better results. In fact, advertising campaigns are unable to meet expectations to increase performance, and the majority suspend their campaigns before making it to the end of the planned period of implementation. In using Senso, users can upload a test ad to the platform, measure the feelings of the testers who saw the ad, and marketers can choose the ad that made the largest emotional impact.

Unlike the slightly similar services, such as TVision Insights, etc. Senso does not apply only to TV audiences, but they have developed a system that through video analysis can measure how engaged viewers are. Even for ads where conversion cannot be measured, for example, CPV (cost-per-view) and CPC (cost-per-click) ads, they quantitatively analyze the extent of viewers’ levels of engagement, perhaps leading to the birth of completely performance-based billing for ads.

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According to Open Network Lab’s Program Director Takayoshi Matsuda, with the completion of this 13th batch, Open Network Lab has produced 75 startups in total. In July Digital Garage (TSE:4819), along with Kakaku.com (TSE:2371) and Credit Saison (TSE:8253), began running a research organization for open innovation called DG Lab, and at this event guests from 40 VC firms and 30 companies watched on from the audience likely opening doors for follow-on investments and business collaborations.

In conjunction with the demo day for the 13th batch, they have begun accepting applications for the 14th batch. For teams participating in the 3 month batch, Open Network Lab provides up to 10 million yen (nearly $100,000 US) for running costs. In addition to providing free use of their facilities in Daikanyama, Kamakura, and San Francisco for one year, they plan to offer mentoring by the management of startups that previously graduated from Open Network Lab’s Seed Accelerator Program. The application deadline for the 14th batch is noon on November 28th.

Translated by Amanda Imasaka
Edited by Masaru Ikeda

Japan’s cloud-based personnel management tool SmartHR secures $5M from WiL, others

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This is the abridged version from our original article in Japanese. Tokyo-based Kufu, the company behind cloud-based personnel management platform SmartHR, announced today that it has fundraised about 500 million yen (about $5 million) in the latest round. This round was led by WiL (World Innovation Lab) with participation from Beenext and 500 Startups Japan as well as three angel investors: Kotaro Chiba (co-founder of Japanese mobile gaming developer Colopl), Yu Akasaka (CEO and co-founder of Japanese dating app developer Eureka) and Jun Nishikawa (COO and co-founder of Eureka). The company plans to use the fund to expand the team of 20 people to 35 people. See also: Japan’s Eureka, developer of dating and couple apps, acquired by Match Group According to Kufu CEO Shoji Miyata, Akasaka and Nishikawa (of Eureka) were the first paying enterprise user for SmartHR while they and Chiba have been playing a mentor-like role for Kufu who has had no angel investor aboard his company. Founded in January of 2013, the company fundraised the first funding from Tokyo-based startup accelerator Open Network Lab, followed by a $300,000 seed funding in July of last year as well as a $400,000 additional seed funding from East Ventures,…

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Kufu CEO Shoji Miyata

This is the abridged version from our original article in Japanese.

Tokyo-based Kufu, the company behind cloud-based personnel management platform SmartHR, announced today that it has fundraised about 500 million yen (about $5 million) in the latest round. This round was led by WiL (World Innovation Lab) with participation from Beenext and 500 Startups Japan as well as three angel investors: Kotaro Chiba (co-founder of Japanese mobile gaming developer Colopl), Yu Akasaka (CEO and co-founder of Japanese dating app developer Eureka) and Jun Nishikawa (COO and co-founder of Eureka).

The company plans to use the fund to expand the team of 20 people to 35 people.

See also:

According to Kufu CEO Shoji Miyata, Akasaka and Nishikawa (of Eureka) were the first paying enterprise user for SmartHR while they and Chiba have been playing a mentor-like role for Kufu who has had no angel investor aboard his company.

Founded in January of 2013, the company fundraised the first funding from Tokyo-based startup accelerator Open Network Lab, followed by a $300,000 seed funding in July of last year as well as a $400,000 additional seed funding from East Ventures, DG Incubation (the incubation arm of Japanese internet service company Digital Garage) and Beenext in January of this year.

While Kufu had been engaged in entrusted system development for a time being since launch, their cloud-based management tool SmartHR was unveiled in November of 2015 and became a smash hit. The company claims that the tool has acquired 1,700 corporate users in nine months since launch.

The fee pricing depends on how many employees a corporate user wants to manage using the platform. Miyata declined to disclose how many people they are dealing with through the platform as a whole, but he said that they are adjusting pricing plans so that a corporate user can use it for about $5 per employee.

Starting off at Open Network Lab, Kufu has been sweeping many startup competitions in Japan, with such winnings as gaining the top prize at TechCrunch Tokyo, B Dash Camp as well as Infinity Ventures Summit.

Based on the market size of cloud-based accounting services in Japan, Kufu estimates there are about 200,000 potential enterprise users for SmartHR. Despite the high user persistency rate of 98%, it’s true that the company is receiving feedback from some small businesses that do not think the service is beneficial, so they still have to keep working to improve it.

Translated by Masaru Ikeda
Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy

Withfluence sets up influencer management platform to ease regional marketing in Asia

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See the original story in Japanese. Tokyo-based Withfluence officially launched an influencer marketing management platform geared toward the Asian market under the same name on the 24th of August. For companies wishing to implement influencer marketing, Withfluence provides complete support from campaign planning and negotiation with influencers into execution and finally performance measurement through its dashboard system. Becoming the facilitator of influencer marketing in Asia It is true there are many influencer market platforms in existence so to more easily understand where Withfluence fits in we can borrow from CEO and Co-founder Hiroyuki Okamoto and broadly classify the current environment. The following list includes famous platforms both within and outside of Japan. Managed Campaigning services: Tagpic, 3Minute, ENGN etc. Influencer marketplaces: Rooster etc. Matching platform between contracters and influencers: Bizcast, iConcast, Spirit, Fambit etc. Influencer management SaaS (For in-house influencer management for enterprises): Traacker, TapInfluence etc. Now in Japan an overwhelming number of management campaign services are increasing their shares, and with the demand from Japanese firms for influencer marketing aimed at Asian markets high, Okamoto first attempted to create a matching service to connect Japan and the world with influencers in the Asian market. Certainly, the same structure is…

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Image credit: Withfluence

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based Withfluence officially launched an influencer marketing management platform geared toward the Asian market under the same name on the 24th of August. For companies wishing to implement influencer marketing, Withfluence provides complete support from campaign planning and negotiation with influencers into execution and finally performance measurement through its dashboard system.

Becoming the facilitator of influencer marketing in Asia

It is true there are many influencer market platforms in existence so to more easily understand where Withfluence fits in we can borrow from CEO and Co-founder Hiroyuki Okamoto and broadly classify the current environment. The following list includes famous platforms both within and outside of Japan.

Now in Japan an overwhelming number of management campaign services are increasing their shares, and with the demand from Japanese firms for influencer marketing aimed at Asian markets high, Okamoto first attempted to create a matching service to connect Japan and the world with influencers in the Asian market. Certainly, the same structure is working for 99designs and designclue, among others, in the world of design crowdsourcing.

However, Okamoto notes in the world of marketing, with clients using relatively detailed terms and English not being a native language in Asia, as well as differing conceptions of business ideals, it is difficult to expand into a cross border matching service. Withfluence, being in between a management campaign and a marketplace, thus seeks to also be a facilitator. Withfluence’s team members across Vietnam (covering Vietnam, Thailand, and Singapore), Taiwan, and Hong Kong comprehensively search for influencers of marketing companies, serve as a tool for communication between influencers, and improve the success rate of marketing campaigns in an effort to assist their clients.

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Withfluence’s dashboard
Image credit: Withfluence

The dashboard of the Withfluence platform shows each influencer’s frequently used hashtags, their number of followers, and changes in their engagement rate, among other features, in a chronological timeline format. It becomes possible to see “influencer doping” (when an influencer “buys” their followers or engagements, most do not lead to conversions) as well. Currently the dashboard is compatible with influencers using Instagram, and in the very near future will become compatible with Facebook users.

Okamoto elaborated:

Actually, type “Influencer Marketing” and “Asia” into Google and Withfluence already appears as the third result. A possible outcome being, even before the official launch, many inquiries have flooded in from the US and Europe. Based on the largest number of inquiries, Taiwan is so far the most popular target market for influencer marketing.

Helping brands and entertainment companies manage global social media marketing

The development of Withfluence has led to a number of related services being born

First, there is the social media multi-language operation. Previously introduced on The Bridge, Japanese pastry start-up Bake is making the most of social media to expand their brand around the world, and in order to unify their branding the team uses separate social media accounts in different languages and marketplaces from their headquarters in Tokyo. With Withfluence, representatives from Bake can simply post messages in Japanese; the contents then gets translated into the desired languages and uploaded to the corresponding social media accounts. So to speak, it becomes the social media version of WOVN.io, known for its translation of websites. Withfluence’s staff around the world then check the machine generated translations, with unsupported languages outsourced to human-powered translation service Gengo.

Se also:

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Withfluence’s dashboard
Image credit: Withfluence

Additionally, Withfluence supports the multi-language expansion of artists and talent for major entertainment companies across social media, as well as displays the aforementioned influencer’s number of followers and changes in engagement rate in a timeline format that is easy to track. This information then corresponds to the popularity ranking on the online mediasphere. Until now, the reference index for deciding the guarantee fee for artists and talent was based on the viewing rate on mass media released by companies like Video Research and Nielsen. Withfluence provides the world with a new tool, giving us the ability to see each artist’s individual degree of influence with special attention to their online influence.

Withfluence indicates the posts that can increase followers and engagement rate, then be used by entertainment companies to advice their artists for better marketing. Making use of these functions, casting agencies and others are expecting to dive into the pool of influencers in their search for fresh talent.

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On Tuesday, Withfluence Okamoto unveiled his influencer marketing platform at AdTech Tokyo International at Sophia University.

Withfluence was founded in May of 2016 by Hiroyuki Okamoto (CEO), who was previously running media and ad companies in Vietnam, along with Keiichi Honma (CTO) having developed web services and a translation app for foreign visitors to Japan. Before Withfluence, Okamoto and Honma developed a Thailand-based instant e-commerce platform described as an “Asian version” of Shopify, but after attending the 12th batch of Open Network Lab’s Accelerator Program shifted their attention to the launch of Withfluence.

From now, the Withfluence team plans to focus on acquisition of clients both within and outside of Japan, in addition to generating funding during a seed round before the year is out.

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L to R: Withfluence CEO Hiroyuki Okamoto, CTO Keiichi Honma

Translated by Amanda Imasaka
Edited by Masaru Ikeda

ST Booking gains $200K in seed funding to bring more students from Asia to Japan

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See the original story in Japanese. Tokyo- / Taipei-based ST Booking (previously known as Hakodate Ventures), the startup offering an education services marketplace under the same name, announced today that it has fundraised $200,000 in a seed round from several investors including Singapore-based Beenext and Tokyo-based IF Angel. ST Booking was founded in September 2015 by Shota James Morikawa, a former associate at East Ventures as well as a former director at Japanese startup Hyper8. In addition to Morikawa as CEO, Tiffany Wu, vice president at Taiwanese angel/seed fund Pinehurst Advisors, and Mark Hsu, co-founder of Pinehurst, joined the company as founding members. ST Booking is a matching platform for connecting Southeast Asian students wishing to study abroad to Japanese educational institutions. Tying up with 60 language schools or business colleges in Japan, and more than 1,100 agencies in Taiwan, Thailand or Vietnam, ST Booking approaches with both B2B via agencies and B2C by directly acquiring students. The recent Japanese government effort to attract 300,000 international students a year by 2020 is having a positive impact on the service. It monetizes with a “results reward” model; educational institutions will be charged 15 to 25% commission of the school fees. In…

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See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo- / Taipei-based ST Booking (previously known as Hakodate Ventures), the startup offering an education services marketplace under the same name, announced today that it has fundraised $200,000 in a seed round from several investors including Singapore-based Beenext and Tokyo-based IF Angel.

ST Booking was founded in September 2015 by Shota James Morikawa, a former associate at East Ventures as well as a former director at Japanese startup Hyper8. In addition to Morikawa as CEO, Tiffany Wu, vice president at Taiwanese angel/seed fund Pinehurst Advisors, and Mark Hsu, co-founder of Pinehurst, joined the company as founding members.

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Shota James Morikawa delivered his pitch at B Dash Camp 2016 Spring in Fukuoka in March 2016. (Image credit: ST Booking)

ST Booking is a matching platform for connecting Southeast Asian students wishing to study abroad to Japanese educational institutions. Tying up with 60 language schools or business colleges in Japan, and more than 1,100 agencies in Taiwan, Thailand or Vietnam, ST Booking approaches with both B2B via agencies and B2C by directly acquiring students.

The recent Japanese government effort to attract 300,000 international students a year by 2020 is having a positive impact on the service. It monetizes with a “results reward” model; educational institutions will be charged 15 to 25% commission of the school fees. In the future, it aims to develop a CRM to optimize sponsorship relations with companies for employment after graduation or the study abroad processes.

Mark Hsu, one of the aforementioned founding members, is known as an investor in startups but also has been running a business called Envision Recruit, helping educational institutions market their services in Taiwan and other countries. His vast network and deep experience in this sector will be greatly beneficial to operating the ST Booking business. Furthermore, thanks to the Vietnamese educational ministry’s decision adding Japanese as the first foreign language to learn at elementary schools, the local rush to study Japanese is on a rise. While Singapore-incorporated ST Booking has offices in Tokyo and Taiwan, their team members appear to be busy traveling around the entire Southeast Asian region for sales and marketing.

ST Booking aims to use the fund to launch new services, increase brand awareness and enhance network building with more agencies in the region.

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The ST Booking team members discuss with each other at an office in Vietnam. CEO Morikawa sits in the middle while co-founder Hsu stands on the left. Image credit: ST Booking

Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy

Taiwan’s SkyREC, analytics tool for real stores, wins Slush Asia 2016 pitch finals

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See the original story in Japanese. Slush Asia website casinoceske.com took place on May 13th and 14th at the Makuhari Messe exhibition halls in Chiba. Among 60 nominees fiercely competing during the 2-day event, Taiwan-based SkyREC — which is developing an analytics platform for real stores — won this year’s startup pitch competition. Taiwanese startups won for two consecutive years following Slush Asia 2015 last year. Top award winner: SkyREC (Taiwan) Supplemental awards: Premium support worth 1 million yen from Google, 55,000 miles point from Japan Airlines, legal services worth $15,000 from the law firm Orrick and 1 million yen in cash from Autodesk SkyREC is a Google Analytics for real stores, allows users to understand how many times and also how long wherein the store customers have been gathing at the most. It will demonstrate a great capability in finding customer flow lines, hot-selling items as well as unpopular items with 12 different core analytics solutions. At a certain store in Taiwan, it could improve in-store customer traffic 10% and monthly revenue 18% after three months since implementing the SkyREC solution. Since its launch in December of 2015, the solution has been adopted by 400 stores, planning to be…

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See the original story in Japanese.

Slush Asia

took place on May 13th and 14th at the Makuhari Messe exhibition halls in Chiba. Among 60 nominees fiercely competing during the 2-day event, Taiwan-based SkyREC — which is developing an analytics platform for real stores — won this year’s startup pitch competition. Taiwanese startups won for two consecutive years following Slush Asia 2015 last year.

Top award winner: SkyREC (Taiwan)

Supplemental awards: Premium support worth 1 million yen from Google, 55,000 miles point from Japan Airlines, legal services worth $15,000 from the law firm Orrick and 1 million yen in cash from Autodesk

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SkyREC is a Google Analytics for real stores, allows users to understand how many times and also how long wherein the store customers have been gathing at the most. It will demonstrate a great capability in finding customer flow lines, hot-selling items as well as unpopular items with 12 different core analytics solutions.

At a certain store in Taiwan, it could improve in-store customer traffic 10% and monthly revenue 18% after three months since implementing the SkyREC solution. Since its launch in December of 2015, the solution has been adopted by 400 stores, planning to be deployed into 64,000 stores under 30 brands. This startup was born out of the 11th batch of Taiwan’s AppWorks accelerator.

Recruit Strategic Partners award winner: Giroptic (France)

Supplemental awards: 500,000 yen in cash and one-year free rent until September 2016 of TECH LAB PAAK co-working space in Shibuya, Tokyo

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Giroptic has developed a camera device which enables capture of 360-degree motion pictures with three micro cameras and three microphones but without any software. In addition to Nokia’s Ozo exhibited in the Slush Asia venue at this time, images captured by three cameras are stitched into one 360-degree video stream in real time with an onboard chip. It can be livestreamed via Wi-Fi too.

Typical use cases include projecting images using a virtual reality-enabled head-mounted display (HMD) or browsing on desktop but users can swipe it directly or horizontally towards where they want to look at. It can be also attached to a light bulb socket and work as a 360-degree CCTV camera which enables image transmissions via Wi-Fi in real time. The team has received about 4,000 pre-orders at a Kickstarter campaign in France. Giroptic has 48 employees in France and San Francisco, and is currently funded at $6.1 million.

PR Times award winner: Meleap (Japan)

Supplemental awards: One-year complimentary use of press release distribution from PR Times

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Meleap has developed a sports game environment called Hado, leveraging a combination of several technologies such as spatial perception, smartphone-based HMD and motion sensors. It virtually reproduces decorated rooms and townscapes for up to 10 users upon enjoying games or exercises. They will start with a B2B (business-to-business) model serving leisure and recreational service providers.

See also:


The following two finalists could receive no award but were attracting much attention from an audience and judges:

Vectr (Taiwan)

Vectr is a one-stop graphic design platform that has been integrated with markup editor, prototyping tool and other several functions. With a professional account paying $25 monthly fee, users can use create documents making the most of templates, icons, fonts, stock photos, logs and illustration patterns provided on the platform. It also has editors and libraries for animated content, audios and videos as well.

Users can also sell their templates, icons, fonts, stock photos, logos and illustration patterns to other users through a marketplace. The company will take 30% of the price as a commission when the purchase is made.

MoBagel (Taiwan)

By collecting usage of IoT (Internet of Things) or “connected” home appliances, MoBagel provides consumer electronics manufacturers with business intelligence through a dashboard screen. It will help manufacturers understand usage or customer behaviors of their products. With this solution, manufacturers can grab statistics about how frequently their products are being used or demographics of their user base. Through the analysis, manufacturers can gain user insights that will definitely be useful for future product developments such as considering a suitable lifetime of batteries installed in their products.

Having partnered with Softbank, Philips, Panasonic and other consumer electronics companies, the company also secured $1 million in a seed round from 500 Startups, CyberAgent Ventures, SingTel’s Innov8 incubation initiative and Club Clover.

Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy