This is a guest post authored by “Tex” Pomeroy. He is a Tokyo-based writer specializing in ICT and high technology.
1776 Challenge Cup － Regional Competition in Tokyo was held for the first time in Japan yesterday. Five winners from 23 “pitchers” at this year’s competition were chosen so they can be provided airfare and more to take part in the global 1776 pitch. The main Challenge Cup round is being held in Washington, DC this June.
Also, this venue was selected as a stage for the announcement of a partnership agreement between 1776 and Japan Innovation Network (JIN: an organization looking to promote as the name suggests innovation by the Japanese), a sponsor of this endeavor by the US company. Hiro Nishiguchi, Executive Managing Director of JIN, attended the session, as did a representative of the American Embassy.
The winners were, by alphabetical order, Dot from Seoul, Horsepower from Manila, local favorite Molcure (Tokyo), Pickatale from Beijing and Skootar from Bangkok, reflecting well the Tokyo round’s participant demographics. In review it should be noted that the quality and content of pitches － in this writer’s opinion especially those from Beijing including those not selected as a winner, like Alesca Life and GeiLi Giving － were very high at this event.
Dot makes a smartwatch that outputs Braille Text. Horsepower is a Fintech targeting freelancers and small/midsized firms (SMEs) for bill settlements. Pickatale’s a digital picturebook for kids. Molcure handles antibody discovery services. And Skootar links local reliable scooter messengers’ on-demand services to SMEs.
The panel of judges comprised Managing Director David Zipper from 1776 (which, for those unfamiliar with this VC firm, is based in the US capital city and has a focus on startups); Takashi Tsutsumi, CEO and Founder of Learning Entrepreneur’s Lab; James Riney, Partner at 500 Startups Japan; Tetsuji Kasahara, Head of Patient Care and Monitoring Solution at Philips (one of the Challenge Cup sponsors); and, Ryosuke Koyama from Business Model Innovation Association.