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Japan’s Clear, study notes organizer app, gets $880K to help fresh grads find right job

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See the orioginal story in Japanese. Japan’s Arcterus, providing educational services including a notebook-sharing app named Clear, announced on Friday that it has fundraised 100 million yen in a series C round. Participating investors consist of a fund by Shinsei Bank and Shinsei Corporate Investment in addition to Zoshinkai Holdings, a leading Japanese company behind correspondence education service and cram school chains. With the series A round back in July of 2015 and the series B round back in November of 2016, this round brings the EdTech startup their total equity funding to about 400 million yen (about $3.5 million US).   Arcterus was founded in 2010 October by Goichiro Arai (CEO) who has held various posts including Resort Business Manager at Japanese resort development / management major Hoshino Resort together with Yoshiki Shiraishi (COO/CFO) who was Arai’s classmate at Keio Business School. Clear, launched in December of 2013, allows notebooks sorted by subject or educational unit to be shared with other users and is available for Android, iOS and web. After five years from launch, the app has marked 2.2 million downloads, over 1 million monthly active users, and about 250,000 shared study notes online, boasting its popularity in…

Goichiro Arai, CEO of Arcterus
Image credit: Masaru Ikeda

See the orioginal story in Japanese.

Japan’s Arcterus, providing educational services including a notebook-sharing app named Clear, announced on Friday that it has fundraised 100 million yen in a series C round. Participating investors consist of a fund by Shinsei Bank and Shinsei Corporate Investment in addition to Zoshinkai Holdings, a leading Japanese company behind correspondence education service and cram school chains. With the series A round back in July of 2015 and the series B round back in November of 2016, this round brings the EdTech startup their total equity funding to about 400 million yen (about $3.5 million US).

 

Arcterus was founded in 2010 October by Goichiro Arai (CEO) who has held various posts including Resort Business Manager at Japanese resort development / management major Hoshino Resort together with Yoshiki Shiraishi (COO/CFO) who was Arai’s classmate at Keio Business School.

Clear, launched in December of 2013, allows notebooks sorted by subject or educational unit to be shared with other users and is available for Android, iOS and web. After five years from launch, the app has marked 2.2 million downloads, over 1 million monthly active users, and about 250,000 shared study notes online, boasting its popularity in Thailand, Taiwan, Indonesia, China, Hong Kong, and other Asian markets.

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Goichiro Arai joined a fireside chat at Techsauce Summit 2017 in Bangkok.
Image credit: Masaru Ikeda

The company will use the funds to foray into recruiting business, aiming to eliminate the mismatch between enterprises and job-seeking fresh graduates while the level of “churn” in new hires is getting higher these days. According to Arai, study skills needed at university and business skills are different, however, it is supposed they will primarily assess personality and aptitude of users based on their study log on the Clear app and then propose the right job to them.

Given the fact that students majoring (or to be expected to major) in science and medical courses account for half of all Clear users, the company wants to answer the needs of companies hoping to hire these graduates as employees.

Arcterus is launching an ad service on the Clear app, aiming to help cram schools better reach students. Unlike other conventional ads targeting parents of students, the app can offer a direct access students and allows advertisers more efficiently market their service according to the user profile, such as where they live or which grade they are in.

Tokyo-based Itokuro (TSE;6049), a potential competitor for Arcterus and the Japanese education company behind portal sites on cram schools and private schools, is now boasting a market cap of over $600 million US with a P/E ratio of 60. Besides Clear, Arcterus is handling a teaching tool for tutor school named Caiz or an individual tutoring cram school in the residential area of Ota City, Tokyo named Shiki Gakuin. Insights from these businesses are expected to help expand their new revenue stream.

Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy

Japan’s Arcterus wins Global EdTech Startup Awards with study notes organizer app Clear

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See the original story in Japanese. The Global EdTech Startup Awards (GESA) is the world’s largest pitch completion focused on EdTech startups whose global finals event annually take place in London. Led by Israeli EdTech startup incubator MindCET, the initiative was jointly founded by European Union’s EdTech incubator Open Education Challenge and EdTech UK. Tokyo-based Arcterus, the Japanese startup behind study notes organizer app Clear, won the Japanese regional preliminary in December, and then won the 4th GESA world finals in London last week. The Arcterus team won the awards for the first time as a Japanese startup followed by the runner-up, Kenya’s mobile learning management platform M-Shule, and the 3rd place winner, India’s MentorMind, which helps students work on real-time work situations in the form of challenges put forth by companies. This year’s GESA has received 600 2,000 applications from more than 70 countries and regions around the world. 18 teams including Arcterus were chosen as global finalists this year while many of the judges came from EdTech-focused VC firms and other education-related organizations in eight countries. I’m so impressed that a Japanese startup won the competition where Asian teams had a less strong presence. As winner awards from…

Arcterus CEO Goichiro Arai receives the award at GESAwards 2017 Global Finals in London.
Image credit: MindCET

See the original story in Japanese.

The Global EdTech Startup Awards (GESA) is the world’s largest pitch completion focused on EdTech startups whose global finals event annually take place in London. Led by Israeli EdTech startup incubator MindCET, the initiative was jointly founded by European Union’s EdTech incubator Open Education Challenge and EdTech UK.

Tokyo-based Arcterus, the Japanese startup behind study notes organizer app Clear, won the Japanese regional preliminary in December, and then won the 4th GESA world finals in London last week. The Arcterus team won the awards for the first time as a Japanese startup followed by the runner-up, Kenya’s mobile learning management platform M-Shule, and the 3rd place winner, India’s MentorMind, which helps students work on real-time work situations in the form of challenges put forth by companies.

GESAwards 2017 Global Finalists
Image credit: MindCET

This year’s GESA has received 600 2,000 applications from more than 70 countries and regions around the world. 18 teams including Arcterus were chosen as global finalists this year while many of the judges came from EdTech-focused VC firms and other education-related organizations in eight countries. I’m so impressed that a Japanese startup won the competition where Asian teams had a less strong presence. As winner awards from the competition organizer, Arcterus will receive support for their global expansion efforts in the educational ecosystem plus for public relations, in addition to mentorship and business assistance opportunities.

The Clear app has been especially attracting users in Asian markets including Japan where classmates and friends have a culture of teaching and helping each others while their entrance exams are fiercely competitive. Winning at the Western community-based competition in Europe will definitely help them expand beyond the Asian region. Arcterus CEO Goichiro Arai understood there could be a possibility of meeting the demand of the app in UK, France and Russia given how students in these markets may think in line with the GESA event attendee perspective while the company’s judgment for expansion will be based on a market survey.

Attendees at GESAwards 2017 Global Finals in London
Image credit: EduLab

Since its launch four years ago, the app has acquired over 1.6 million downloads in the Asian region including more than 1.2 downloads in Japan alone. Considering the 7 million population of middle and high school students in Japan, 1 out of 2 students there use Clear. In addition, the company is offering the service in Thailand, Taiwan, China, Indonesia and Malaysia while planning to expand into Brazil, India and Vietnam after this year.

Besides Clear, Arcterus is handling a teaching tool for tutor school named Caiz or a individual tutoring cram school in the residential area of Ota City, Tokyo named Shiki Gakuin. The company raised about 130 million yen (about $1.05 million) from Startia (TSE:3393) and other companies in July of 2015, followed by securing 110 million yen ($1 million) series B round funding from The Asahi Gakusei Shimbun and Z-kai in 2016. They recently partner with Yoyogi Seminar Education Research Institute, the R&D arm of Japan’s leading cram school chain, to offer them with ClearS, a lecture support tool optimized for educational organizations.

Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy

Goichiro Arai with his commemorative shield at GESAwards 2017 Global Finals
Image credit: EduLab

Japan’s Clear, study notes organizer app for students, gains $1M for Asian expansion

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See the original story in Japanese. Japan’s Arcterus, providing educational services including a notebook-sharing app named Clear, on Tuesday announced that it has reached a capital and business alliance agreement with The Asahi Gakusei Shimbun (belonging to the major daily newspaper The Asahi Shimbun Company’s group) publishing newspaper for students “Asahi Shogakusei Shimbun” and “Asahi Chukosei Shimbun” and also with the  correspondence education major Z-kai. As a result, Arcterus has secured a total of 110 million yen (about $992,000) from the two companies in its series B round, subsequent to the 130 million yen (about $1 million at the exchange rate then) raised during its series A round last July. With this business alliance, Arcterus starts providing news commentary on hot topics or articles related to past exam problems on a constant basis in Clear with the support from The Asahi Gakusei Shimbun as per a trial this May, in addition to Z-kai’s educational materials in accordance with the adaptive learning method. Although Clear had been provided for free until now and been profiting only from advertisements displayed on the app, it will commence premium services under the subscriptions model which utilizes the two companies’ content on a revenue-sharing basis….

arcterus-goichiro-arai
Arcterus co-founder and CEO Goichiro Arai

See the original story in Japanese.

Japan’s Arcterus, providing educational services including a notebook-sharing app named Clear, on Tuesday announced that it has reached a capital and business alliance agreement with The Asahi Gakusei Shimbun (belonging to the major daily newspaper The Asahi Shimbun Company’s group) publishing newspaper for students “Asahi Shogakusei Shimbun” and “Asahi Chukosei Shimbun” and also with the  correspondence education major Z-kai. As a result, Arcterus has secured a total of 110 million yen (about $992,000) from the two companies in its series B round, subsequent to the 130 million yen (about $1 million at the exchange rate then) raised during its series A round last July.

With this business alliance, Arcterus starts providing news commentary on hot topics or articles related to past exam problems on a constant basis in Clear with the support from The Asahi Gakusei Shimbun as per a trial this May, in addition to Z-kai’s educational materials in accordance with the adaptive learning method. Although Clear had been provided for free until now and been profiting only from advertisements displayed on the app, it will commence premium services under the subscriptions model which utilizes the two companies’ content on a revenue-sharing basis.

Arcterus was founded in 2010 October by Goichiro Arai (CEO) who has held various posts including Resort Business Manager at Japanese resort development / management major Hoshino Resort together with Yoshiki Shiraishi (COO/CFO) who was Arai’s classmate at Keio Business School. Besides Clear, Arcterus is handling a teaching tool for tutor school named Caiz or a individual tutoring cram school in the residential area of Ota City, Tokyo named Shiki Gakuin. Although it is a rare business form for startups, Arai decided to establish and manage a tutorial school by themselves in order to understand the actual front-line of education and to reinforce services.

clear-app_screenshot

Clear, launched in December of 2013, allows notebooks sorted by subject or educational unit to be shared with other users and is available for Android, iOS and web. After three years from launch, the number of current users in Japan has reached 970,000 and is close to marking the one million figure. Considering that the number of Japanese high and junior high school students is about 7 million, one in seven students are using Clear. In addition, it has 250,000, 20,000 and 10,000 users in Thailand, Taiwan and South Korea, respectively.

Arai explains about marketing in Asian countries:

We make teams by hiring local university students as interns. In countries having a culture of helping each other by borrowing and lending notebooks when studying together, Clear tends to be widely accepted.

In the above-mentioned countries, Clear’s development model and the students’ information sharing style fit perfectly, and contributed to user acquisition going well. In other words, the app has hardly made a dent in countries where a competitive culture is strongly reflected upon education, as in Singapore. Although Arcterus showed a willingness to advance into North America last year, it altered its plan by prioritizing user acquisition within “Asian countries with a notebook-sharing culture” due to the same reason as to entering Singapore or markets where several competitors exist.

clear-thailand-facebook-page
The Facebook page of Clear for the Thai market gains nearly 40,000 likes

Coinciding with this agreement, the Clear app has been updated for two functions. It enabled easier  search of registered notebooks out of the 120,000 found on Clear’s platform according to textbook publisher or educational unit. Additionally, a Q&A function between users was added, allowing them to cover points hard to understand just through the  checking of notebooks.

Arcterus won the second prize at Startup Asia Jakarta 2014, while also being selected as a finalist at ASIABEAT 2016 in Xiamen, obtaining international spotlight. Global development in the EduTech field which easily reflects language or culture barriers is said to be difficult; however, the firm aims to acquire cross-border users by setting Clear as an educational platform.

Translated by Taijiro Takeda
Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy

Japan’s Clear, study notes organizer app for students, raises $1 million

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See the original story in Japanese. Serving 500,000 students around the country Clear is a study notes organizer app and has attracted over 500,000 students in Japan. Tokyo-based Arcterus, the company behind the app, has fundraised 130 million yen (about $1 million) from Japanese system integration company Startia (TSE:3303), Dentsu Digital Fund, Korea’s BonAngels, and others. The company will use the funds to add new app functions as well as aiming to expand globally. Students have started adapting their smartphone for their studies. Japan’s Recruit Marketing Partners recently unveiled a list of trending keywords that includes the Japanese word “sumaben” meaning studying via smartphone. Over 3 million notes are published and shared The Clear app allows students to publish their handwritten study notes and share them with other users. There are over 3 million published notes available on the platform so far. Clear has two main usage styles: When students get something they can’t understand at school classes, they can try to figure out by looking at notes by classmates rather than relying on Google search or study-aid books. Finding well-summarized notes to better understand materials upon preparing for exams at school. Goichiro Arai, CEO of Arcterus, says that the…

clear_featuredimage

See the original story in Japanese.

Serving 500,000 students around the country

Clear is a study notes organizer app and has attracted over 500,000 students in Japan. Tokyo-based Arcterus, the company behind the app, has fundraised 130 million yen (about $1 million) from Japanese system integration company Startia (TSE:3303), Dentsu Digital Fund, Korea’s BonAngels, and others. The company will use the funds to add new app functions as well as aiming to expand globally.

Students have started adapting their smartphone for their studies. Japan’s Recruit Marketing Partners recently unveiled a list of trending keywords that includes the Japanese word “sumaben” meaning studying via smartphone.

clear_screenshots

Over 3 million notes are published and shared

The Clear app allows students to publish their handwritten study notes and share them with other users. There are over 3 million published notes available on the platform so far. Clear has two main usage styles:

  1. When students get something they can’t understand at school classes, they can try to figure out by looking at notes by classmates rather than relying on Google search or study-aid books.
  2. Finding well-summarized notes to better understand materials upon preparing for exams at school.

Goichiro Arai, CEO of Arcterus, says that the Clear app aims to be a study notes version of GitHub or online recipe app Cookpad. Compared to being taught by teachers, private tutors, or study-aid books, the app helps students enrich their understanding of their studies.

The company gets feedback from students such as: “The app has motivated me to study harder,” and “It has lowered a psychological hurdle in studying.”

The app helps to connect and motivate students across the country by allowing them to share and comment on handwritten study notes.

Expanding into Southeast Asia and North America

Arcterus wants to liven up the learning field with the app while ensuring the quality and boosting the sharing of study notes. In addition to serving students in Japan, the company wants to expand into other Asian countries in 2015, followed by expansion into North and South American markets in 2016. They launched the Clear app in Thailand back in April, receiving positive responses from the market as the number of users and shared study notes have been both increasing.

In a previous interview with the team of Penpal Schools, a Texan online penpal-based studying platform that has acquired over 7 million students from more than 70 countries, I was so surprised to learn that many students feel lonely studying at school even when they study together in a classroom. Arai agreed and said that that is why many students come together at a diner and study together after school.

Arai concluded:

Studying for exams is likely to make you feel lonely. In class, you need to concentrate on grasping a new concept, which can be a lonely task. By compiling an extensive database of shared study notes, we aim to help students from around the world succeed in their studies.

Translated by Chieko Frost via Mother First
Edited by Masaru Ikeda and Kurt Hanson
Proofread by “Tex” Pomeroy