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ReCactus reaction video app wins Infinity Venture Summit pitch competition in Taipei

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See the original article in Japanese. During Infinity Venture Summit 2018 Spring in Taipei, a semi-annual conference hosted by renowned startup-focused investment fund Infinity Venture Partners (IVP), the LaunchPad startup pitch competition was held on June 8th, where Taipei-based ReCactus won the top prize. According to Infinity Venture Partners Founder and Managing Partner Akio Tanaka, of the 300 startups that have participated in LaunchPad in the last 10 years, around 20 have reached the IPO stage, another 20 or so are at M&A, and another 20 have secured large amounts of funding, which means that 1 in 5 teams has made significant progress. A total of 14 teams, 7 from Japan and 7 from Taiwan, participated in this edition of LaunchPad. The following people served as judges. Image credit: Masaru Ikeda Joesph Chan, AppWorks Josephine Cheng, KKBOX Yvonne Chen, WI Harper Brian Hsu, Mediatek Kotaro Yamagishi, Keio Innovation Initiative Hiroto Tokusei, Google Shoga Kawada Koichiro Yoshida, CrowdWorks Yoshihiko “Max” Kinoshita, Skyland Ventures Yuzuru Honda, FreakOut Holdings Kota Chiba, Drone Fund Additionally, Taiwan’s Cinchy, one of the companies sponsoring the LaunchPad session, presented the Shure high-end headset to each of the finalists. 1st place winner: ReCactus by ReCactus (Taiwan) Prizes Amazon…

Image credit: Masaru Ikeda

See the original article in Japanese.

During Infinity Venture Summit 2018 Spring in Taipei, a semi-annual conference hosted by renowned startup-focused investment fund Infinity Venture Partners (IVP), the LaunchPad startup pitch competition was held on June 8th, where Taipei-based ReCactus won the top prize.

According to Infinity Venture Partners Founder and Managing Partner Akio Tanaka, of the 300 startups that have participated in LaunchPad in the last 10 years, around 20 have reached the IPO stage, another 20 or so are at M&A, and another 20 have secured large amounts of funding, which means that 1 in 5 teams has made significant progress.

A total of 14 teams, 7 from Japan and 7 from Taiwan, participated in this edition of LaunchPad. The following people served as judges.

Image credit: Masaru Ikeda

Image credit: Masaru Ikeda

  • Joesph Chan, AppWorks
  • Josephine Cheng, KKBOX
  • Yvonne Chen, WI Harper
  • Brian Hsu, Mediatek
  • Kotaro Yamagishi, Keio Innovation Initiative
  • Hiroto Tokusei, Google
  • Shoga Kawada
  • Koichiro Yoshida, CrowdWorks
  • Yoshihiko “Max” Kinoshita, Skyland Ventures
  • Yuzuru Honda, FreakOut Holdings
  • Kota Chiba, Drone Fund

Additionally, Taiwan’s Cinchy, one of the companies sponsoring the LaunchPad session, presented the Shure high-end headset to each of the finalists.

1st place winner: ReCactus by ReCactus (Taiwan)

Image credit: Masaru Ikeda

Prizes

  • Amazon Loft Tokyo Invitation Tour, Airplane Tickets for 2 (Provided by Amazon Web Services)
  • 500,000 yen voucher for Freee (Provided by Freee)
  • 360 cans of Yebisu Beer (Provided by AGS Consulting)
  • 1 night stay for 5 people at Village Izukogen (Provided by Sumitomo F Real Estate)
  • 5,000 US dollars worth of GCS Credit (Provided by GrandTech Cloud Services)

ReCactus is a social app that allows users to shoot, edit, and post their video reactions alongside online video content. When someone tries to create a video reaction without ReCactus, they have to download the original video, shoot and edit their reaction while playing it, and then re-upload the finished product to YouTube or other platforms. And then there is always the chance that the video could end up deleted due to copyright restrictions on the original video content.

ReCactus collects videos that have already cleared the copyright hurdle and users can shoot a video reaction while playing them within the app. Once shooting is finished, it is mixed and edited with the original video and automatically uploaded to YouTube and other social media platforms. After launching in October of 2017 the monthly user growth rate has reached 30%, with North and South America accounting for ⅓ of the access rate respectively, the rest accessing from Russia and Southeast Asia. It is possible to imagine monetization in the form of native advertising and paid content using video reactions. The app is available on iOS and Android.

2nd place tie: TWO (Taiwan)

Image credit: Masaru Ikeda

Two is an IoT (Internet of Things) hardware device that allows users to keep track of what is going on with their garbage by simply attaching it inside the can. It can run using WiFi for one year on a battery. By accumulating and analyzing the data it is possible to improve the waste disposal cycle and to lower waste management costs required from garbage collection to the landfill disposal.

Image credit: Masaru Ikeda

From August, the company will start PoC (proof of concept) with the Environmental Protection Agency responsible for waste disposal in Taipei. It is said that by 2050 approximately 80% of the world’s population will live in urban areas. With an example like Toronto, Canada where the annual garbage processing costs top $2.5 billion US, it is expected that local governments from each city in each country will step up to help try and solve such headaches.

2nd place tie: Xpression by EmbodyMe (Japan)

Image credit: Masaru Ikeda

Xpression is an app that replaces users’ faces and expressions as reflected in a camera with video faces and expressions in real time. It is possible to use videos taken with an iPhone or videos that have been published on YouTube, etc., as long as the facial expressions can be made out. In addition to impersonating celebrities, users can appear in online videos in suits without ever changing out of their pajamas.

While SnapChat earns much of its revenue from AR (augmented reality) ads, EmbodyMe’s business model for Xpression seems to involve YouTubers and AR ads using the app. Also, by making the Xpression functions available as SDK (software developer kit), the company is considering third party AR app developers who can incorporate it into their own apps and services.

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4th place winner: SkyRec by SkyRec (Taiwan)

Image credit: Masaru Ikeda

In 2015, SkyRec, which graduated from the 11th batch of Taipei-based startup accelerator AppWorks, initially analyzed wires using cameras installed in stores, analyzed items for sale, improved display methods, selected and removed unpopular items, and specialized in offline retail marketing and business intelligence. But, for this pitch the company proposed applying their technology to the new field of unmanned shops.

Image credit: Masaru Ikeda

The company introduced an unmanned self-checkout system using facial recognition technology with a function that can recognize repeat customers even without members cards. The company says that nearly 30% of manual labor time and cost at convenience stores, G stores (gas stations with convenience stores attached), and supermarkets around the world could be reduced. After winning the Slush Asia 2016 pitch competition, the company’s business has been expanding rapidly, and nearly 200 stores are currently using SkyRec, along with 199 companies using the brand.

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5th place winner: Orii by Origami Labs (Taiwan)

Image credit: Masaru Ikeda

Orii is a wearable device designed to support communication without having to look at a screen as with smartphones or smart watches. It is troublesome to have to focus on a screen while in the middle of doing something, and even dangerous to try do so while walking. Orii is a smart ring capable of transmitting voice, when a consumer wears it on their finger and hits their finger against their ear, it is possible to hear voices by bone conduction.

It is recommended for those who are inconvenienced by AirPods or other hearing devices, which must always be worn in the ear.

It is also possible to give voice commands using Bluetooth in collaboration with Siri and Google Assistant. A crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter and Indiegogo produced good results. The company also won the Techsauce Summit Tokyo preliminary round and proceeded to its finals in Bangkok in late June.


The following is a list of the teams that participated as finalists while they didn’t place 5th or above.

  • A fortune telling service for companies by Animalogy (Japan)

Animalogy is a human resource analysis platform to analyze the skills of team members and create stronger teams within the company. Animalogy proposes a fortune telling service using four pillar astrology to make guesses about human relationships and urges companies to place the right people in the right place.

  • frm.ai by UNH3O (Taiwan)

Frm.ai is a fan relationship management tool for brands, retailers, and artists. The tool tracks interactions and engagement with fans, analyzes the user’s preferences and interests, and tells users how to follow up with which fans, what messages to send, and when to send them. The company was acquired by Botomize, a company specializing in bot analysis, in March of 2018.

  • Soico Cloud by Soico (Japan)

Soico advocates the idea of “time capsule stock options” that can solve the problems of existing stock option schemes, in particular, the problem of issuing stock options after the market capitalization increases, thus making the stock price too high. The solution is to decide the number of stock options to be offered at the point of offering since it is not possible to measure its future contribution to the company. The company has developed Soico Cloud, which can complete a series of procedures on the cloud and manage, store, execute rights, and accept contracts.

  • Bonx for Business by Bonx (Japan)

Bonx, which is a wearable transceiver that allows users to communicate hands-free via the Internet, has sold approximately 20,000 units so far and is targeted at sports fans such as snowboarders and cyclists. Bonx for Business has expanded on the original Bonx to meet corporate demand by targeting users who need to communicate with each other in remote locations such as management bases and warehouses. It is assumed that the pricing structure is based on a combination of hardware sales and software usage fees.

  • Tlunch by Mellow (Japan)

Tlunch is a platform that matches open building spaces with food trucks. The company has contracts with about 70 building owners, mainly in Tokyo and Yokohama, and so far about 350 food trucks use the platform. For food truck owners, who are often individuals, it is troublesome to negotiate with each building owner individually in order to find business spaces, and this is what Tlunch aims to alleviate. Tlunch receives 15% of sales from the food trucks as a commission, 5% of which is paid to the building owner as a fee.

  • Leber by Agree (Japan)

Leber is a doctor sharing app with a question response rate of 3 minutes or more. When users input their symptoms they will receive a message from the doctor with regards to treatment, and according to symptoms and necessity may also receive information on the nearest medical institutions and open drugstores. For individual users the company offers services for 100 yen per inquiry, and Tsukuba City Hall, along with companies in the Tsukuba area, have begun offering the services for employees, staff, and their families.

  • WeMo by WeMo (Taiwan)

WeMo is a rental sharing platform for scooters deployed in Taiwan. The merits include suppression of air pollution and reduction in parking spaces. The scooters are equipped with GPS and IoT devices, and it is also possible to acquire the user’s movement data. It is convenient to use as one-way transportation since it can be left behind, like when users need to travel late at night and the public transportation has stopped or before going out drinking. Every week the company acquires 1,000 new users, and the usage per day/per scooter is 4.3 times on average. By the end of 2018, the company plans to offer services in 3,000 cities around the world.

  • Sumaho Hoken by JustInCase (Japan)

The goal of JustInCase is to apply the idea of a sharing economy to the “P2P insurance” field. Generally, with P2P insurance, insurance premiums are paid in groups (pools) that are interested in insurance among friends or with the same risk, and the insurance money is paid out from this pool. As the first step, the company will provide “smartphone insurance” covering damage to smartphones, and the second step will be to offer “Kega Hoken” (injury insurance) covering injuries from trekking and fishing events.

  • PiSquare by PiStage (Taiwan)

CG and animation production requires rendering, and rendering takes time. PiSquare applies real-time rendering technology implemented in game engines, and the like, to CG and animation production software, reducing the rendering which conventionally took 100 minutes per frame to 0.05 minutes (3 seconds) per frame. It is expected to be used mainly in animation studios and VR/AR content makers.

Translated by Amanda Imasaka
Edited by Masaru Ikeda

Taiwan’s GliaCloud, AI video creation startup, gets $500K seed funding for Asia expansion

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See the original story in Japanese. Taiwan-based AI startup GliaCloud told The Bridge today that it has secured $500,000 in a seed round. This round was led by Infinity Venture Partners (IVP) with participation from unnamed several angel investors. GliaCloud has been developing a AI-powered video creation and editing platform called GliaStudio. By understanding a topic that a user presents in form of sentences, the platform can automatically curate and edit images, video clips and infographics, also adding auto-generated subtitles or synthesized narration to them. The company’s signature technologies enabling these functions include content management, natural language processing, computer vision and video search. The company has partnered with 10 media companies in the Greater China region, keeps generating more than 1,000 video clips each day. Partnering companies include Toutiao, the Chinese news curating app which recently fundraised $2 billion, in addition to Taiwanese leading tech news media BusinessNext. GliaStudio supports English, Chinese and Japanese languages, aiming to primarily target e-commerce platforms and merchants as well as media companies in Greater China and Japan. With this funding having Japan-based IVP participate in as an investor, further massive expansion into the Japanese market can be probably expected. Especially for distributed media leveraging…

See the original story in Japanese.

Taiwan-based AI startup GliaCloud told The Bridge today that it has secured $500,000 in a seed round. This round was led by Infinity Venture Partners (IVP) with participation from unnamed several angel investors.

GliaCloud has been developing a AI-powered video creation and editing platform called GliaStudio. By understanding a topic that a user presents in form of sentences, the platform can automatically curate and edit images, video clips and infographics, also adding auto-generated subtitles or synthesized narration to them. The company’s signature technologies enabling these functions include content management, natural language processing, computer vision and video search.

The company has partnered with 10 media companies in the Greater China region, keeps generating more than 1,000 video clips each day. Partnering companies include Toutiao, the Chinese news curating app which recently fundraised $2 billion, in addition to Taiwanese leading tech news media BusinessNext.

GliaStudio supports English, Chinese and Japanese languages, aiming to primarily target e-commerce platforms and merchants as well as media companies in Greater China and Japan. With this funding having Japan-based IVP participate in as an investor, further massive expansion into the Japanese market can be probably expected. Especially for distributed media leveraging a bunch of video clips to attract viewers, the platform allows media companies to create and upload their clips to social media platforms autonomously.

GliaCloud was founded in July of 2015 by Taiwanese Canadian entrepreneur David Chen, who is strong in engineering cloud technologies and previously founded Taipei-based AdTech startup Tagtoo. The company won the Aliyun Award at the Tech in Asia Singapore startup competition back in 2016.

Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy

From 10th Infinity Venture Summit in Kobe: Here’s 14 teams at Launchpad pitch finals

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See the original story in Japanese. This is a part of our coverage of Infinity Ventures Summit (IVS) 2017 Spring in Kobe. During the 10th edition of Infinity Venture Summit in Kobe, a semi-annual conference hosted by renowned startup-focused investment fund Infinity Venture Partners (IVP), the LaunchPad startup pitch competition was held on June 7th, where Tokyo-based Cluster developing the VR social room app won the top prize. here’s a quick rundown of the competition finals. Judges in the finals were as follows: Syogo Kawata (Advisor, DeNA) Takuya Kitagawa (Executive Officer, Rakuten) Yoshihiko Kinoshita (General Partner, Skyland Ventures) Hironao Kunimitsu (CEO, Gumi) Koki Sato (CEO, Septeni Holdings) Tetsuya Sanada (CEO, Klab) Ken Suzuki (CEO, SmartNews) Yoshikazu Tanaka (CEO, GREE) Kotaro Chiba (Angel Investor / CEO, The Ryokan Tokyo) Akiko Naka (CEO, Wantedly) Shinichiro Hori (CEO, YJ Capital) Ken Honda (Global CEO, FreakOut Holdings) Kotaro Yamagishi (CEO, Keio Innovation Initiative) James Riney (Head & Managing Partner, 500 Startups Japan) In addition, well-known Japanese serial entrepreneur Takafumi Horie took part as a special commentator. The prizes of this competition were: Amazon Web Services activate coupon worth $3,000 for all participants, and “True wish list” for top prize winner (provided by Amazon Web…

See the original story in Japanese.

This is a part of our coverage of Infinity Ventures Summit (IVS) 2017 Spring in Kobe.

During the 10th edition of Infinity Venture Summit in Kobe, a semi-annual conference hosted by renowned startup-focused investment fund Infinity Venture Partners (IVP), the LaunchPad startup pitch competition was held on June 7th, where Tokyo-based Cluster developing the VR social room app won the top prize.

here’s a quick rundown of the competition finals. Judges in the finals were as follows:

  • Syogo Kawata (Advisor, DeNA)
  • Takuya Kitagawa (Executive Officer, Rakuten)
  • Yoshihiko Kinoshita (General Partner, Skyland Ventures)
  • Hironao Kunimitsu (CEO, Gumi)
  • Koki Sato (CEO, Septeni Holdings)
  • Tetsuya Sanada (CEO, Klab)
  • Ken Suzuki (CEO, SmartNews)
  • Yoshikazu Tanaka (CEO, GREE)
  • Kotaro Chiba (Angel Investor / CEO, The Ryokan Tokyo)
  • Akiko Naka (CEO, Wantedly)
  • Shinichiro Hori (CEO, YJ Capital)
  • Ken Honda (Global CEO, FreakOut Holdings)
  • Kotaro Yamagishi (CEO, Keio Innovation Initiative)
  • James Riney (Head & Managing Partner, 500 Startups Japan)

In addition, well-known Japanese serial entrepreneur Takafumi Horie took part as a special commentator.

The prizes of this competition were:

  • Amazon Web Services activate coupon worth $3,000 for all participants, and “True wish list” for top prize winner (provided by Amazon Web Services)
  • One year’s worth of Yebisu Beer for top prize winner (provided by AGS Consulting)
  • Use right of Freee worth 500,000 yen for top prize winner (provided by Freee)
  • Settlement fee of PayPal worth 1 million yen (provided by PayPal)

Cluster (top prize)

Cluster CEO Naoto Kato

Cluster provides a social VR (virtual reality) service under the same name, enabling large scale event in VR space gathering many users. By sharing URL, only invited users are allowed to enter a VR room and to share the experience there. The users can view the same virtual screen as other users in the VR room. The screen can display game plays or YouTube videos, so that users can discuss or share experiences while viewing the same video contents or sports matches.

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iNAIL by BIT (2nd place)

iNAIL by BIT

iNAIL is an auto-nail art print service. The conventional nail art applying procedures at salons require the time and cost to design in handwriting by nail artists; on the other hand, this service provides smart nail art printing by the exclusive nail printer only within 15 seconds in the same method as 3D printer.

The firm plans to expand its service at hair salons, nail salons, or esthetic salons. Due to the high reputation for Japanese nail arts, the firm pursues global development eagerly as well.

Town WiFi (3rd place)

Town WiFi CEO Takehiro Ogita

Town WiFi (formerly provided with the name of WiFiShare) is a mobile app enabling smart devices to connect automatically to private and free WiFi services to reduce the data communication fee. Besides Japan, the firm provides its auto-WiFi logon service in 200 locations in the US, Korea, Taiwan, or Macau. The firm aims to monetize by the push advertising when logging on and the sales commission for charged WiFi services within the app.

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One Visa by Residence (4th place)

Residence CEO Albert Okamura

Albert Okamura born in Peru, once encountered a scene where his friend was forcibly deported to Peru due to irregularities upon acquiring his visa, and that motivated Okamura to solve the problem of visa acquisition. Since Japan’s immigration inspectors are just public employees who basically only speak Japanese and the application documents are written in Japanese, it is difficult for foreigners who cannot understand Japanese to communicate using this language.

Okamura had himself worked for Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau, and been involved in visa-issuance work. Leveraging the experience obtained there, he developed Residence, now known as One Visa. The service displays questions that are required for terms utilized upon visa acquisition in the users’ native language, and outputs them as a form written in Japanese.

The firm aims to monetize by credit clearance service for foreigners based on the registered information and launched the open beta version on June 6th. The firm was born out from Tech Lab Paak 4th batch.

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LION Project by Hyper8 (5th place)

Hyper8 CEO Keiji Isogimi

Hyper8, also known for services such as Mespo or Tabeniiku, offers a new internet service called LION Project.

LION Project is a Uber-like service for hostess bars, allowing girls to be called up to parties after events.

The service shows the amount purchased by each user is 27,000 yen (about $240) and the repeat ratio within 30 days is 68%, with 40% month-on-month growth ratio since its launch back this February. More than 820 girls have registered the service.

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Astool by Smooz

Astool CEO Yuichi Kato

Astool developed a “chain-reaction” type web browser Smooz available for iOS. Through text extraction, morpheme analysis, ranking and related term extraction for the current web page, it recommends search terms which will be required next by the user or suggests bookmarking to him / her by recognizing and reviewing reactions on social media.

Player! by Ookami

Ookami CEO Taiyo Ogata

Player! is a sports-centric social network app which provides information of ongoing status or results of live sports matches and allows users to share the excitement with other users viewing the same match in real-time.

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HoloEyes

HoloEyes CEO Naoji Taniguchi

HoloEyes aims to make an information revolution in the medical field using VR. Its technology will be helpful for the medical world by sharing information of human bodies in 3DVR form. The medical VR database will be constructed through collection of CT scan data and forming 3D human body models, then accumulating such data.

If a search on the terms “male, 60s, prostate cancer” is made, 3D images of matched cases will be output and doctors can utilize them for diagnosis references of similar cases or training upon surgical operations. The team expects a business model providing VR viewers for hospitals and selling collected data, after obtaining patients’ consent, to medical colleges or pharmaceutical companies.

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APlay by NAIN

APlay by NAIN

APlay is a Bluetooth earphone having a voice assistant function capable of conveying smartphone notifications by voices. It notifies Twitter timelines or LINE messages while listening to music or telephone conversation.

Cansell

Cansell CEO Kyohei Yamashita

Cansell is a P2P (peer-to-peer) commerce platform for non-refundable accommodation reservation rights between guest users. In Cansell, exhibitor users who want to cancel reservations can sell accommodation rights for users who look for hotels.

The exhibitor users receive reselling money after deducting the commission for Cansell and can save the cancellation cost compared with paying the cancellation cost to travel agents or hotels; on the other hand, the purchaser users can make reservations in comparatively cheaper price.

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Matcher

Matcher CEO Kohei Nishikawa

Matcher is an “alumni visit” matching service for Japanese job hunting activities. With the watchword “do me a favor in return for advising about job hunting?”, the service connects students who want to consult about job hunting and businesspeople who have favor to ask on the web only by one-click.

For students, there is a merit that they can easily visit employees currently working at intended companies other than graduates of the university. For companies, they can use the service as an effective method for approaching incoming employees. Matcher, launched last February, acquired 10,000 users as of this April and has been adopted by more than 100 companies.

Scouty

Scouty

Scouty is a AI-powered human resource matching service, especially focused on engineers. Monitoring engineers’ information on social media and crawling open data on the web, the service integrates personal information about 800,000 engineers. It predicts the probability of retirement utilizing AI analysis for corrected data and matches them for the best companies.

For people potentially changing jobs, Scouty offers his / her profile email based on the template.

Receptionist by Delighted

Receptionist by Delighted

Receptionist provided by Delighted is a visitor reception service available for iPad. With this app, users can handle visitors using chat tool such as Chatwork or Slack. The app can also link with schedule / customer management system or labor management platform.

When a visitor is going to be late for an appointment, he / she can easily contact the intended person in charge via the app in a single operation. At a reception desk, any meeting procedure can be automated just by waving smartphone over the Receptionist app on iPad. Delighted plans to launch the app for smartphones in the future.

Translated by Taijoro Takeda
Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy

Japan’s Infinity Venture Partners raises $20M from Taiwan government for its third fund

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See the original story in Japanese. Infinity Venture Partners (aka IVP), an investment fund focused on early-stage startups in Japan, China and Taiwan as well as elsewhere, announced today that it has secured an additional $25 million in funding for Infinity e.ventures Asia III, L.P. (“IVP third fund” for short), meaning that the funding raised has reached $75 million in total to date. Starting with $32 million back in November of 2014, the fund has now more than doubled from the original size; the aim now is to fundraise $100 million in total by the second half of 2016. Coinciding with this announcement, the firm unveiled that the total valuation of all three of its funds including the third fund is now valued at three times the initial funding amount. Limited partners, or simply investors, for the third fund include Recruit Holdings, Daiwa Securities, Sammy Networks, Orso, Mixi and United, in addition to other individual business owners of internet and mobile services in Japan and the rest of the world. Of the $25 million additional funding raised at this time, IVP told The Bridge that it has fundraised $20 million from Taiwan’s state-run National Development Fund, Executive Yuan (NDF). Aiming…

infinity-venture-partners-ndf_logos

See the original story in Japanese.

Infinity Venture Partners (aka IVP), an investment fund focused on early-stage startups in Japan, China and Taiwan as well as elsewhere, announced today that it has secured an additional $25 million in funding for Infinity e.ventures Asia III, L.P. (“IVP third fund” for short), meaning that the funding raised has reached $75 million in total to date. Starting with $32 million back in November of 2014, the fund has now more than doubled from the original size; the aim now is to fundraise $100 million in total by the second half of 2016. Coinciding with this announcement, the firm unveiled that the total valuation of all three of its funds including the third fund is now valued at three times the initial funding amount.

Limited partners, or simply investors, for the third fund include Recruit Holdings, Daiwa Securities, Sammy Networks, Orso, Mixi and United, in addition to other individual business owners of internet and mobile services in Japan and the rest of the world. Of the $25 million additional funding raised at this time, IVP told The Bridge that it has fundraised $20 million from Taiwan’s state-run National Development Fund, Executive Yuan (NDF).

Aiming to help Taiwanese startups grow internationally, NDF has invested in incubation and investment initiatives including 500 Startups, Taiwanese accelerator AppWorks, 360ip, Industry Technology Investment Corporation, among others.

IVP has been proactively supporting global expansion efforts of Taiwanese endeavors such as Pinkoi and KKBox, both of which are outstanding in terms of successful market entry into the Japanese market. The firm has an incubation space called TechTemple in three locations in China – Beixinqiao (Beijing), Sanlitun (Beijing) and Shenzhen – which may have encouraged the Taiwanese government to consider it as being relevant to helping Taiwanese startups expand into the Chinese market that many of them are likely to target.

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Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy

From Infinity Ventures Summit in Kyoto: 14 startups pitch at Launch Pad competition

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This is part of our coverage of the Infinity Ventures Summit 2015 Fall in Kyoto, Japan. See the original story in Japanese. Infinity Venture Partners, a Tokyo-based global investment fund, organized its semi-annual startup showcasing event in Kyoto earlier this month, where 14 startups exhibited their products to investors and entrepreneurs. Hokkaido-based Agri Info Design won the top prize with their mobile app solution called AgriBus-Navi. Here’s a quick rundown of the top five winners and finalists. 1st prize winner: AgriBus-NAVI (by Agri Info Design) AgriBus-NAVI is a mobile app for installation on farm machinery like tractors, crop harvesters, and self-propelled sprayers for checkrow planting. One of the utmost difficulties in farmwork is confirmation as to agrochemical spraying having  been performed properly because rough chemical spraying causes fertilizers to be wasted. This mobile app replaces conventional GPS-based systems that have been used to solve such issues. 2nd prize winner: Nutte (by State of Mind) Nutte is a crowdsourced platform of seamstresses, receiving orders for all manufacturing processes for creation of clothing, from design to sewing. Differentiating from similar Japanese services like Sitateru, Nutte allows users to order their originally designed clothing or items using an image sketch. See also: Sitateru:…

ivs-2015-fall-kyoto-launchpad-award-presenting

This is part of our coverage of the Infinity Ventures Summit 2015 Fall in Kyoto, Japan.

See the original story in Japanese.

Infinity Venture Partners, a Tokyo-based global investment fund, organized its semi-annual startup showcasing event in Kyoto earlier this month, where 14 startups exhibited their products to investors and entrepreneurs. Hokkaido-based Agri Info Design won the top prize with their mobile app solution called AgriBus-Navi.

Here’s a quick rundown of the top five winners and finalists.

1st prize winner: AgriBus-NAVI (by Agri Info Design)

ivs-2015-fall-kyoto-launchpad-agribus-navi

AgriBus-NAVI is a mobile app for installation on farm machinery like tractors, crop harvesters, and self-propelled sprayers for checkrow planting.

One of the utmost difficulties in farmwork is confirmation as to agrochemical spraying having  been performed properly because rough chemical spraying causes fertilizers to be wasted. This mobile app replaces conventional GPS-based systems that have been used to solve such issues.

2nd prize winner: Nutte (by State of Mind)

ivs-2015-fall-kyoto-launchpad-nutte

Nutte is a crowdsourced platform of seamstresses, receiving orders for all manufacturing processes for creation of clothing, from design to sewing. Differentiating from similar Japanese services like Sitateru, Nutte allows users to order their originally designed clothing or items using an image sketch.

See also:

3rd prize winner: CloudSign (by Bengo4.com)

ivs-2015-fall-kyoto-launchpad-bengo4.com-cloudsign
Bengo4.com Taichiro Motoe

Bengo4.com, the company behind Japan’s foremost legal portal under the same name, was listed on the TSE Mothers Market in December 2014. The company recently launched an online contract signing platform called CloudSign.

Using the CloudSign platform, a sender of a contract is requested to upload an agreement form in PDF format designating which part of the form should be filled by a recipient. Then the recipient will receive an e-mail containing a unique URL to browse the form. As the recipient signs the form with a digital signature, the finalized version of the form will be shared on both sides by each other via the platform.

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4th prize winner: Anyca (by Anyca)

ivs-2015-fall-kyoto-launchpad-anyca

Anyca is a car-sharing platform for individuals. When a user books a car registered on the platform, the owner of the car will be requested to approve the use. Upon the approval, both parties can arrange a delivery place of the car each other. The user will be requested to return the car to the owner after the use. Allowing users to apply for a car insurance by the day, the service is aimed to secure both easiness and safety. The service is a provided by a group company of DeNA (TSE:2432), a Japanese leading mobile gaming company.

5th prize winner: Repro (by Repro)

repro_featuredimage

Repro is a startup behind a mobile app analysis and marketing tool, having won pitch competitions at startup events like our Mixer Tokyo and B Dash Camp.
In addition to quantitative analysis, this tool provides mobile developers with qualitative analysis visualizing user behaviors on screen by using movies. It also allows the developers to send push notifications or in-app messages to their users.

Adopted by and implemented into 1,025 apps from 17 countries worldwide, paying mobile developers comprise 5.6% in the entire user base of the analysis platform. The company fundraised 1 million yen (about $820,000) from DG Incubation and other companies in April.

ivs-2015-fall-kyoto-launchpad-repro

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Below are the startups selected as finalists.


Wizpra NPS (by Wizpra)

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Founded in March 2013, Wizpra has been providing a user experience management platform called Wizpra NPS and an employee experience management (EEM) platform called Wizpra Card. Wizpra NPS has been adopted by more than 1,000 retailers in Japan including fitness gyms in the six months since launch.

The company fundraised a total of 230 million yen (about $1.9 million) from Gree Ventures, Mobile Internet Capital, SMBC Venture Capital and Mizuho Capital in January.

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LiveConnect (by Z-Works)

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Z-Works has developed a home gateway device, a cloud platform and mobile app leveraging sensors corresponding to the Z-wave standard, a wireless communication specification for home automation. Amongst their products, LiveConnect is an IoT (Internet of Things) service for home security.

Aiming to support care for the elderly, for instance, their smart lock solution allows caregivers to lock a room using a mobile app and a motion sensor by detecting the sign of wandering behaviors of their charges.

Medicine Delivery (by Minacolor)

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Minacolor has been offering advice on medicines and treatments by pharmacists online. The company started an on-demand medicine delivery service in November of 2013.

Using the service, a pharmacist from the company will choose an appropriate medicine according to one’s symptom and their deliverer will bring it to the door of one’s home within the shortest delivery time of 30 minutes after receiving the order. The service is currently available in the central district of Tokyo, or the southern part of the area surrounded by Yamanote Loop Line.

Users will need to place an order using a mobile app so that it will record their order history upon considering multiple drug intake or future ordering convenience. The company takes about 5,000 yen (or about $41) on average from each order with an average profitability of 10%, aiming to crowdsource jobs to 80,000 qualified pharmacists who want to work at home.

Popcorn (by Coubic)

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Coubic is a startup known for a freemium scheduling and appointment booking solution under the same name. The company provides a mobile app offering special deals on last-minute bookings for beauty and massage salons, called Popcorn. Available only for booking up to 15 minutes prior to receiving, the app adopts advance payment to reduce the risk of cancellation for salon owners. These salon owners can use the Coubic platform to better manage customers.

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Spectee (by Spectee)

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Spectee shows users critical incidents and events happening now in an easier manner by curating updates from social media and sorts them based on geotags or keywords contained in every tweet or message post. About 60 locations across Japan are set in the app where users can see what is happening in real time in every location.

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Fitty (by Scala International)

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Fitty is a mobile app that helps women find the proper fit for lingerie pieces. By entering several selections like bra size or body shape into the app, it will suggest users the best-fit selection of bras. In order to enable presentation of best suggestions to users, the company has been collecting up-to-date product profiles from fashion retailers and manufacturers to incorporate them into the app.

As an extension of the recommendation result, the app will give users a link so that they can purchase bra items online. The company is considering launch of a business which provides statistical data of bra wearers to lingerie manufacturers.

Partee (by g&h)

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Partee is a mobile app that allows users to create a T-shirt or smartphone cases using their favorite pictures. Users can also create it using pictures uploaded by not only them but also their friends. When one’s picture is used by other users, some revenue will be shared with the owner of the picture.

Monomy (by Fun Up)

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Monomy is an iOS app that offers an online marketplace for creatives, allowing people to make accessories they like with ease using smartphones. The platform was launched in August by Fun Up, the Tokyo-based company which has been running several online services since 2011.

The difference between trendy marketplaces for handmade goods and Monomy is that users only need to design the accessories they want. What happens is that Monomy takes care of the whole process from receiving orders through production in their own workshop. They can take large orders such as orders for 1,000 items and make them all in their workshop, with the accessories being made by experienced craftspeople by hand.

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LaFabric (by LifeStyle Design)

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LaFabric is a made-to-order fashion e-commerce site. Since its launch back in February of 2014, starting with custom-made business suits and shirts, they have expanded to jeans and other casual fashion items to cover people’s needs.

LifeStyle Design, the company behind the service, fundraised about 100 million yen (or about $830,000) from Nissay Capital in May.

Translated by Moto Tsujino via Mother First
Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy and Masaru Ikeda

Japan’s outsourced logistics platform OpenLogi secures $500,000 funding round

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This is the abridged version from our original article in Japanese. Tokyo-based OpenLogi, a startup that provides an outsourced logistics platform focused on SMEs and freelancers, announced today that it has fundraised about 60 million yen ($500,000) from Japanese investment fund Infinity Venture Partners (IVP) and Kotaro Chiba, executive vice-president of Japanese mobile game company Colopl (TSE:3668). Upon this funding round, Masashi Kobayashi, managing partner at IVP, and Kimiyuki Suda aka Sudax, who has been serving as an auditor for recently-IPOed Japanese companies such as Bengo4.com (legal consulting platform) and Crowdworks (crowdsourcing platform), joined the board of management. The company also invited Star Mica (TSE:3230) Chairman Masashi Mizunaga as an advisor. OpenLogi is an outsourced logistics service offering affordable rates that leverages unused warehouse assets and downtime of logistic facilities. The company plans to use the funds to enlarge their four-person management team and to strengthen system development. In accordance with the company’s business expansion, IVP intends to make an additional investment of several million dollars. OpenLogi was founded in December 2013 by Hidetsugu Ito, who was previously involved in launching Japanese magazine subscription service Fujisan.co.jp. Based on his experience in discussing and negotiating with logistics companies, he founded OpenLogi…

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

Tokyo-based OpenLogi, a startup that provides an outsourced logistics platform focused on SMEs and freelancers, announced today that it has fundraised about 60 million yen ($500,000) from Japanese investment fund Infinity Venture Partners (IVP) and Kotaro Chiba, executive vice-president of Japanese mobile game company Colopl (TSE:3668).

Upon this funding round, Masashi Kobayashi, managing partner at IVP, and Kimiyuki Suda aka Sudax, who has been serving as an auditor for recently-IPOed Japanese companies such as Bengo4.com (legal consulting platform) and Crowdworks (crowdsourcing platform), joined the board of management. The company also invited Star Mica (TSE:3230) Chairman Masashi Mizunaga as an advisor.

OpenLogi is an outsourced logistics service offering affordable rates that leverages unused warehouse assets and downtime of logistic facilities. The company plans to use the funds to enlarge their four-person management team and to strengthen system development. In accordance with the company’s business expansion, IVP intends to make an additional investment of several million dollars.

OpenLogi was founded in December 2013 by Hidetsugu Ito, who was previously involved in launching Japanese magazine subscription service Fujisan.co.jp. Based on his experience in discussing and negotiating with logistics companies, he founded OpenLogi to address logistics solutions for small e-commerce players.

Looking at the recent upward trend in the C2C business in Japan thanks to instant e-commerce platforms like Base or Stores.jp, as well as resale shopping app Mercari, C2C-based commerce businesses have become more common, so logistics services for professional use lags behind those for small commerce business players in terms of service flexibility.

In view of the fabless business concept, OpenLogi is very similar to online printing startup Raksul or online laundry startup Lenet, where they have no assets to provide services. Upon signing up with OpenLogi platform, it provides management features on a dashboard, such as warehouse inspection, warehouse storage, shipping, and management of returned merchandise at affordable rates.

Since its launch in beta in June 2014, OpenLogi has successfully attracted many SMEs and freelancers because of its price transparency and affordable rates, and is seeing a 400% growth on a month-to-month revenue basis. While planning to expand the service to warehousing of frozen foods and hazardous materials, they are working on the launch of a cross-border shipping service to serve international e-commerce businesses, and is expected to launch in April.

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L to R: OpenLogi CEO Hidetsugu Ito and newly-appointed auditor Kimiyuki Suda aka Sudax

Translated by Masaru Ikeda
Edited by Kurt Hanson

Infinity Venture Partners, global fashion e-commerce company invest in joint venture

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See the original story in Japanese. Japan’s Infinity Ventures Partners LLP (IVP) and Infinity e.ventures Asia Fund III L.P. (e.ventures) announced last week that it has invested in Farfetch Japan, the Tokyo-based joint venture by UK-founded global fashion e-commerce company Farfetch and IVP. Farfetch Japan has fundraised 720 million yen ($6 million) from IVP, e.ventures, Farfetch headquarters and other VC firms. Coinciding with the funding, the company appointed IVP’s Hirofumi Ono as an interim CEO as well as Akio Tanaka as a managing director. Ono and Tanaka are co-founders and managing directors of IVP. Infinity e.ventures Asia Fund was formed in November, and this is the first investment from the fund. See also: Infinity Venture Partners launches $100M third fund focusing on Japanese and Chinese startups Farfetch is a global community of over 300 fashion boutiques and provides them with an access to a marketplace where they can buy fashion items handpicked by Farfetch’s buyers from around the world. Farfetch has 120,000 listed items from 2,500 brands, which can be shipped to 170 cities in 29 countries 180 countries. While many of the items are shipped from European countries (especially Italy) to the US, demand from Asia has been increasing…

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See the original story in Japanese.

Japan’s Infinity Ventures Partners LLP (IVP) and Infinity e.ventures Asia Fund III L.P. (e.ventures) announced last week that it has invested in Farfetch Japan, the Tokyo-based joint venture by UK-founded global fashion e-commerce company Farfetch and IVP. Farfetch Japan has fundraised 720 million yen ($6 million) from IVP, e.ventures, Farfetch headquarters and other VC firms.

Coinciding with the funding, the company appointed IVP’s Hirofumi Ono as an interim CEO as well as Akio Tanaka as a managing director. Ono and Tanaka are co-founders and managing directors of IVP. Infinity e.ventures Asia Fund was formed in November, and this is the first investment from the fund.

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Farfetch is a global community of over 300 fashion boutiques and provides them with an access to a marketplace where they can buy fashion items handpicked by Farfetch’s buyers from around the world. Farfetch has 120,000 listed items from 2,500 brands, which can be shipped to 170 cities in 29 countries 180 countries. While many of the items are shipped from European countries (especially Italy) to the US, demand from Asia has been increasing since 2013.

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Image by ideasbynet.com

Their shipping method is unique in that boutiques will pack items in a box of their own design then ship it to users instead of shipping from Farfetch’s warehouse, aiming to give users an experience as if they had visited and bought items at the boutique’s storefront. Some users buy items totaling at over $400,000 a year using the e-commerce platform.

With offices in London, New York, and Los Angeles, Farfetch has fundraised $66 million since its launch in 2008. Their Japanese version was launched in August 2014, and revenue has reached several million US dollars. Tokyo-based Restir joined the Japanese edition as the first boutique from the Japanese market, and the company aims to acquire 10 to 15 boutiques by the end of 2015.

From Infinity Ventures Summit in Kyoto: 13 startups pitch at Launch Pad competition

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This is part of our coverage of the Infinity Ventures Summit 2014 in Kyoto, Japan. See the original story in Japanese. At the Infinity Ventures Summit in Kyoto last week, 13 startups showcased their products to an audience of investors and entrepreneurs. Osaka-based Galaxy Agency, the company behind parking lot sharing platform Akippa, won the top prize. The top five winners and finalists were: 1st prize winner: Akippa (by Galaxy Agency) Akippa is an online peer-to-peer parking lot sharing platform. Launched in Osaka, the service is available all across Japan and it allows users to park their car for up to 500 yen ($4) a day. They recently launched a valet parking service at selected locations, called Akippa Plus. See also: Japan’s parking lot sharing platform Akippa secures additional funding from DeNA Japan’s Airbnb for parking spaces ‘Akippa’ fundraises from DeNA and angel investors Japan’s Akippa and Uber teamed up, proposing park-and-ride option for car owners 2nd prize winner: PopSlide (by Yoyo Holdings) PopSlide is one of the largest mobile reward platforms in Southeast Asia. The platform distributes news, weather forecasts, and other updates to your smartphone lock screen. In return for viewing such information, users receive rewards for free…

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This is part of our coverage of the Infinity Ventures Summit 2014 in Kyoto, Japan.

See the original story in Japanese.

At the Infinity Ventures Summit in Kyoto last week, 13 startups showcased their products to an audience of investors and entrepreneurs. Osaka-based Galaxy Agency, the company behind parking lot sharing platform Akippa, won the top prize. The top five winners and finalists were:

1st prize winner: Akippa (by Galaxy Agency)

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Akippa’s mobile app

Akippa is an online peer-to-peer parking lot sharing platform. Launched in Osaka, the service is available all across Japan and it allows users to park their car for up to 500 yen ($4) a day. They recently launched a valet parking service at selected locations, called Akippa Plus.

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2nd prize winner: PopSlide (by Yoyo Holdings)

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PopSlide is one of the largest mobile reward platforms in Southeast Asia. The platform distributes news, weather forecasts, and other updates to your smartphone lock screen. In return for viewing such information, users receive rewards for free Internet access on their smartphone.

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3rd prize winner: Farmnote

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Designed for dairy and stock farmers, Farmnote helps farmers manage livestock such as the early detection of disease and optimum breeding time for livestock. The mobile app can record livestock activity and store the data on the cloud as well as monitor a farm or a ranch.

4th prize winner: Karte (by Plaid)

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Karte is a real-time customer behavior analytics platform for e-commerce sites. The platform provides insight into the demographics of typical e-commerce customers visiting a site, and it automates promotion efforts in order to gain conversion rates for opportunities such as user registration or item purchases.

5th prize winner: Mamorio (by Otoshimono.com)

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Mamorio is the world’s smallest tracking tag that helps people find lost items using crowdsourced forces. The Otoshimono.com team launched a crowdfunding campaign for the tracking tag device on Japanese crowdfunding site Motion Gallery, and raised 3 million yen ($24,800) in a target bid of 1.5 million yen ($12,400).

Below are the startups selected as finalists.


Match: Battle-type study workbook app for high school students (by Baton)

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Match is an app that aims to make the studying of Japanese history fun for high school students. The app is comprised of 2,000 questions from textbooks and university entrance exams.

Smaoku: Real-time flash auction app (by Zawatt)

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Launched back in early 2013, this mobile auction app targets women in their 20s and 30s. Smaoku deals in luxury brand items, which is a key differentiator from other flea market apps and auction sites. In July, the company partnered with Mobaoku, a DeNA subsidiary behind an auction service.

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Bizer: Crowdsourced back-office operation platform (by BizGround)

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Bizer lets users crowdsource documentation tasks to business consultants, such as certified tax accountants, labor consultants, notary publics, and judicial scriveners, for a flat monthly subscription fee of 2,980 yen ($30). Accountants offer their free time and provide advice to SME owners via the platform.

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Flipdesk: Promotion platform for e-commerce owners (by Socket)

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Flipdesk is an e-commerce promotion platform targeting smartphone users. With the platform, e-commerce owners can give a different promotion reward to every customer; such as distributing optimized discount coupons or promotional messages similar to face-to-face sales efforts at a real store. The service has been deployed to Tokyu Hands Net Store, an online storefront by one of Japan’s largest variety store chains.

OpenLogi: Outsourced logistics service for small/medium-sized companies and freelancers

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No Initial fee nor monthly fee needed. OpenLogi provides SMEs and freelancers with inspection at warehouse, storage in warehouse, shipping distribution, and management of returned merchandise are available for affordable rates.

Circuit: ‘Deep link’ optimization platform for mobile app developers (by Fukurou Labo)

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Deep link means the link that lets users jump to a specific page on a mobile app rather than its top page. By using the Circuit platform and embedding its JavaScript tag on your website, it allows users to show them your content via your mobile app rather than a web browser if users have already installed your app into their handsets.

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Wovn.io: Adding multilingual support for websites with single script code (by Minimal Technologies)

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Wovn.io provides multilingual support for your website or blog by adding a single JavaScript code to a website source. When you register an URL of your website on Wovn.io, the platform will cut out texts and transfer them to Microsoft’s machine translation service. Translated results can be adjusted using the Wovn.io dashboard.

Sekai Lab: Crowdsourced offshore app development service (by Sekai Lab Pte. Ltd.)

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Sekai Lab allows Japanese companies to crowdsource their app development tasks at affordable rates from crowdsourced engineers in China, Vietnam, and other Asian countries. The platform helps users communicate with crowdsourced engineers in Japanese, aiming to help the Japanese IT industry despite a lack of engineers.

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Infinity Venture Partners launches $100M third fund focusing on Japanese and Chinese startups

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Tokyo-based Infinity Venture Partners (IVP), the seed round investor focused on tech startups in Japan and China, and known as the host of Japanese semi-annual startup showcase event Infinity Venture Summit, announced today that it has formed its third fund called Infinity e.ventures Asia III, L.P. See also: Infinity Venture Summit 2013 Spring in Sapporo Infinity Venture Summit 2013 Fall in Kyoto Infinity Venture Summit 2014 Spring in Sapporo The new fund has raised $32 million from corporate and individual investors in Japan alone, but the amount is expected to reach $100 million next year with additional funding from foreign investors who have participated in their past funds. According to IVP, investors in the third fund include Recruit Holdings, Daiwa Securities, Sammy Networks (game developer), Orso (mobile developer), Mixi, and United. Since its launch in January 2009, IVP has invested $128 million in over 40 tech startups in Japan and China, including Groupon Japan, Smart Education, Freee (cloud-based accounting platform in Japan), Yeahka (the Chinese equivalent to the Square payments platform), and 36kr (startup database platformer in China). In addition, the group has also invested in international tech companies like AppAnnie (app store analytics) and The RealReal Japan (luxury consignment)…

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Infinity Venture Partners’ co-founders and managing partners
L to R: Akio Tanaka, Hirofumi Ono, Masashi Kobayashi

Tokyo-based Infinity Venture Partners (IVP), the seed round investor focused on tech startups in Japan and China, and known as the host of Japanese semi-annual startup showcase event Infinity Venture Summit, announced today that it has formed its third fund called Infinity e.ventures Asia III, L.P.

See also:

The new fund has raised $32 million from corporate and individual investors in Japan alone, but the amount is expected to reach $100 million next year with additional funding from foreign investors who have participated in their past funds. According to IVP, investors in the third fund include Recruit Holdings, Daiwa Securities, Sammy Networks (game developer), Orso (mobile developer), Mixi, and United.

Since its launch in January 2009, IVP has invested $128 million in over 40 tech startups in Japan and China, including Groupon Japan, Smart Education, Freee (cloud-based accounting platform in Japan), Yeahka (the Chinese equivalent to the Square payments platform), and 36kr (startup database platformer in China). In addition, the group has also invested in international tech companies like AppAnnie (app store analytics) and The RealReal Japan (luxury consignment) in partnership with e.ventures, a San Francisco-based early-stage VC firm.

IVP launched a co-working and incubation space called TechTemple in Beijing last year to nurture Chinese startups and their ecosystem in the world’s second largest startup community.

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Inside HAXLR8R, Shenzhen’s hardware startup incubator

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See the original article in Japanese Located just adjacent to Hong Kong, Shenzhen China is known as global manufacturing center, with an abundance of electronics manufacturers in particular. Even in the startups scene, Shenzhen is recognized as one of the best places to do be in the hardware business. I recently had the opportunity to attend Infinity Venture Partners’ LP Summit. I’ll report on the interesting startups introduced during this event, but today I’d like to focus on HAXLR8R, the Shenzhen accelerator specializing in hardware startups. IVP has had a partnership with HAXLR8R and Dalian-based incubator Chinaccelerator for the last few years. It was nearly 20 years ago when I first visited Shenzhen and Hong Kong. Shenzhen has since grown to become the fourth biggest economic center in China, behind Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. HAXLR8R has its office conveniently located in the center of Shenzhen, high above street level on the 10th floor. We were welcomed by founder and the managing director Cyril Ebersweiler and general partner Benjamin Joffe. Cyril is also a venture partner at Ireland-based SOS Ventures, and many readers may remember Benjamin from his involvement with the futuristic space memorial service Elysium Space. After entrepreneurs pass screening…

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See the original article in Japanese

Located just adjacent to Hong Kong, Shenzhen China is known as global manufacturing center, with an abundance of electronics manufacturers in particular. Even in the startups scene, Shenzhen is recognized as one of the best places to do be in the hardware business.

I recently had the opportunity to attend Infinity Venture Partners’ LP Summit. I’ll report on the interesting startups introduced during this event, but today I’d like to focus on HAXLR8R, the Shenzhen accelerator specializing in hardware startups. IVP has had a partnership with HAXLR8R and Dalian-based incubator Chinaccelerator for the last few years.

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It was nearly 20 years ago when I first visited Shenzhen and Hong Kong. Shenzhen has since grown to become the fourth biggest economic center in China, behind Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. HAXLR8R has its office conveniently located in the center of Shenzhen, high above street level on the 10th floor.

haxlr8r-entrance

We were welcomed by founder and the managing director Cyril Ebersweiler and general partner Benjamin Joffe. Cyril is also a venture partner at Ireland-based SOS Ventures, and many readers may remember Benjamin from his involvement with the futuristic space memorial service Elysium Space.

After entrepreneurs pass screening to join HAXLR8R, they have an opportunity to create a simple prototype in their first week. The aim of this process is to enhance communication with other members and with mentors as well. Participating entrepreneurs must create a prototype based on a given theme, and this creates an opportunity to meet other entrepreneur who they might collaborate with in the future.

The accelerator holds a demo day on the 30th, 60th, and 90th day for startups. Participants enhance their product and business based on feedback from other entrepreneurs and investors in attendance.

In order to prevent others from building copycats, the details of the products currently being built are not disclosed. So regrettably, I can’t go into details about the startups and products that I saw there on this trip. But on the plus side, I could speak with a startup from the accelerator’s previous batch. The American startup Helios develops a sort of bike navigation system and corresponding iOS app. You just input a destination, and then the flashing lights on the handlebars will the rider to the destination.

Helios
Helios

HAXLR8R オフィスから見える深圳市街。大気汚染が心配なところが、Benjamin によれば、サンフランシスコよりも空気はキレイらしい。
City view from HAXLR8R. We tend to worry about the air pollution in China, but according to Benjamin, the air in Shenzhen is cleaner than in San Francisco.

HAXLR8R also coordinates with local manufacturing services for participants. So some startups stay in Shenzhen (including Helios) even after the incubation program. The accelerator occupies the 10th and 11th floor of the building, with startups and administrative staff on the 11th, and the 10th reserved for events and startups alumni.

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Almost half of the participating startups are from the US, with the remainder from Europe and Asia. From the two past batches of startups, the only Japanese startup has been Sassor, a company developing its so-called Energy Literacy Platform [1].

Cyril and Benjamin have both lived in Japan before, and both are fluent in Japanese and strongly hope that more Japanese hardware startups can come join their incubation program. The next batch will start on July 16th, and the application deadline is on May 25th. If you have strong interest in hardware, this would be great opportunity. The application form can be found here.


  1. We will follow up with a report on Sassor’s HAXLR8R experience in the near future. ↩