HackOsaka 2015, held earlier this month in Osaka, featured a pitch contest where 10 startups pitched their services and products. The event was hosted by Osaka Innovation Hub (OIH) and Osaka Economic Strategy Bureau. I would like to introduce prize winners and other presenting startups.
Judges for the competition are:
- Don Burton (Managing director, Techstars)
- Tim Romero (Entrepreneur, Investor, Podcaster, and Writer)
- Airi Horie (CEO, Women’s Startup Lab)
- Khailee Ng (Managing Partner, 500 Startups)
- Allen Miner (Chairman, SunBridge Global Ventures)
Gold Prize winner (Hack Osaka Award winner): mClinica (Manila, the Philippines)
Supplementary prizes: 500,000 yen in cash, 50,000 Bonus Miles for each of 3 persons (presented by by Japan Airlines), Amazon Kindle (presented by Amazon Web Services)
mClinica CEO Frouk Meralli is originally from Canada but now based out of Manila, the Philippines. Conventional independent drugstores in the Philippines are not organized with each others, and have neither POS facility nor internet connectivity. So pharmaceutical companies have no access to drugstores for marketing purposes or obtaining sales statistics.
mClinica gives users a discount when buying drugs at a drugstore, in exchange for giving their contact numbers to mClinica. This discounted cost will be later reimbursed to the drugstores by the pharmaceutical companies. In this way, while pharmaceutical companies can obtain statical data such as what kind of pharmaceutical products are being sold at which store, pharmaceutical companies and drugstores can market new products or run promotional activities via the platform.
The company has acquired big companies like Roche and Pfizer as clients, in addition to 1,400 drugstores and 20 million patients over the six months since launch. They fundraised an undisclosed sum of investment from 500 Startups, Philippines-based Kickstart Ventures, and Japan’s IMJ Investment Partners in October.
Silver Prize winner: Blaze (London, UK)
Supplementary Prizes: 300,000 yen in cash, 50,000 Bonus Miles for each of 2 persons (presented by Japan Airlines)
Cycling at night is dangerous because of increased risk of collisions caused by lower visibility, so the fact is that the number of accident victims/casualities has been rapidly growing. Blaze has created a laser light for urban cyclists, which projects a cycle lane symbol on the road ahead of the cyclist for calling attention to pedestrians and automobile drivers, aimed at preventing possible traffic accidents.
Blaze has adopted a laser chip from a manufacturer in Tokyo, and its battery has approximately a one-month lifetime upon typical frequency or length of use. The company has successfully fundraised £55,000 through a Kickstarter campaign, followed by securing £1.5 million funds from Index Ventures, the Branson Family, and other investors. Their product is available online in 47 countries while also being available at UK’s biggest bicycle retail chains and the MoMA Store.
Bronze Prize winner: Up Performa (Kyoto, Japan)
Supplementary Prize: 100,000 yen in cash, 50,000 Bonus Miles for 1 person (presented by Japan Airlines)
Born out of Founder Institute Kansai, Up Performa aims to bring data measurement and analytics using wearable devices to the sports scenes, which has been common among professional sports players already. It allows players to playback the transition of their location and movement during the play in a heat map, not to mention seeing the total distance run and the transition of their running speed.
Up Performa plans to launch a Kickstarter campaign for its sports wearable device by the end of this year.
Crosscoop Prize winner: SmartCheckups (Berlin, Germany)
In Europe, property agents or management companies have to make a report upon visual inspection of the condition of properties before renting them out. So they need to take many photographs and sort them out later to prepare a report, which is very time-consuming. SmartCheckups provides various templates and work flow for the photos in preparing the reports according to type of property, so agents or companies can simplify their property inspection and report-preparation processes.
SmartCheckups was initially founded in Berlin but started its business in Belgium. While their targeted markets are European (Germany, UK, Belgium, France and the Netherlands), they are also looking for partner companies in Japan.
In addition to these four prize winners, I’d like to introduce more startups that stood out in the competition. $250 in AWS Credit were presented to all prize winners and participating startups.
Cofame (Osaka, Japan)
Cofame provides users with a new experience for exchanging business cards using a mobile app. When you meet up with multiple people anew at a meeting, you can simultaneously exchange cards with these people using a single action on the app.
It also replicates the scene in the app by showing in which seat who was sitting around the table in a meeting so that you can remember the names of the people associated with their faces. Cofame allows users to export data to various contact management solutions, such as Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamic CRM.
Cofame founder Kanji Noguchi was selected for the 1st Silicon Valley fellowship program for entrepreneurs by the Osaka City government, and stayed in Silicon Valley while living in a tent to save expenses to network with the local community. He raised funds from several angel investors in the U.S. as well as Japan.
Ingage (Osaka, Japan)
In a company, it is said that an annual opportunity loss caused by neglecting e-mail inquiries requiring a response has reached as high as $376,000 on average in Japan. Ingage has developed Re:lation e-mail sharing and response management solution for group working, which keeps company employees from forgetting to respond to each incoming inquiry.
At first glance it is just a web-based e-mail solution. But when some employee starts work on replying to an e-mail, the app shows other employees who were working on it so that users can eliminate the overlap of e-mail response tasks.
If you are requested to get approval from your boss in e-mailing outside of your company, your message draft will be saved once and later sent out upon receiving approval.
Cashboard (Berlin, Germany)
Cashboard is a fintech startup, which lets users start investing at as little as 1,000 euros. Users can ask the platform for automated trading in managing investments in ETF (exchange traded funds) as well as a combination of new and old financial products. By answering several questions, the service creates the best portfolio of financial products for users.
The company raised the first VC funding in 2014, followed by winning a pitch day event at Seven Ventures and 4 million euros in TV ad broadcasts. Leveraging these opportunity, they plan to strengthen marketing efforts in Germany in 2015, secure the second VC funding in 2016 for international expansion in Europe, followed by further expansion to the Middle East and Asian regions after 2017.
M Square (Kobe, Japan)
M Square CEO Jojo Miwa came to Paris to acquire an MBA degree. She was in Paris, hopping around for job interviews. For public transport use the NaviGo IC card for Paris Metro can be counted on, but she had been buying tickets because she didn’t know how to use the IC card.
OysterCard in London, EZ Card in Singapore, Octopus Card in Hong Kong, T-Card in Seoul, and Suica in Tokyo — there are various IC cards on the planet but these have no interoperability. If you have multiple mobile wallets, you have to install many apps supporting these wallets and remember many PINs/passwords. Your mobile device may be stolen.
M Square is developing a biometrics-based payment solution called Depago. They started development last October, and will launch the product in this June.
DigitAddress (Osaka/Tokyo, Japan)
DigitAddress provides encrypted addressing solutions. Instead of a conventional address, users can obtain a DA code substituting the address and provide it to a shipping operator. Then the operator can specify a geographical position using an API to the DigitAddress platform so that an item you ordered will be appropriately delivered.
In view of drone-based delivery systems seen becoming more common in the future, the company aims to provide more detailed geographical data with DA codes, compared to existing addressing systems mainly designed for postal services. This way, even if there are multiple buildings or houses at a single address, DigitAddress enables delivery to the correct recipient using a drone. In a nutshell, while their solution secures user privacy by masking the actual address, it can pinpoint the exact location for API-based delivery requests.
DigitAddress founder Wei Wang came to Osaka from mainland China to study physics. His company won the Tomodachi award at University Venture Grand Prix, a competition sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. We’ve been told that it has secured funding from a major company in the computer security industry.
Stamp (Bangkok, Thailand)
Stamp has developed a device that lets retailers become more likely to induce potential customers. From a retailer’s perspective, all you need to do is just press the device on a customer’s smartphone, enabling customers rewards point provision as with existing paper-printed customer loyalty cards. Users can use collected points as cryptocurrency at retailers participating in the Stamp platform.
Stamp is available for iOS and Android. In addition, the company has published an SDK (Stamp Development Kit) so that third-party developers can integrate it with their apps so allow their users to benefit also from retailers participating in the Stamp platform.
Often one can’t convert earned points to rewards because the minimum amount no being attained. Obtaining the number of third-party apps and retailers participating in the platform makes earning of reward points more likely, so the company wants to build as well as expand an ecosystem where users can earn or redeem points with partnering apps/retailers.
Stamp was nominated at Echelon 2013, a remarkable annual startup conference in Singapore, followed by winning the ASEAN ICT Awards in 2014.
Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy