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SpaceData develops AI that can create digital twin of entire planet, raises $10M+ in seed round

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Tokyo-based SpaceData, the Japanese startup developing artificial intelligence that can create a Digital Twin of the Earth from Satellite Data, announced on Wednesday that it has secured 1.42 billion yen (over $10 million US) in a seed round. Participating investors are Spiral Capital, Sparx Innovation for Future, KDDI Open Innovation Fund, GREE Ventures, The Creative Fund, Headline Asia, MZ Web3 Fund in addition to three angel investors: Jo Hirao (CEO of Zigexn), Hiroshi Tomishima (Co-founder of Mercari), and Yusaku Maezawa (Founder of Zozo). SpaceData was founded in January of 2017 by serial entrepreneur Katsuaki Sato, also known as the founder of Japanese tech company Metaps (TSE:6172) and running several startups. The company has developed AI-based technologies that can generates virtual worlds (digital twin) using satellite data and 3DCG technology. Using machine learning on geostationary images of the ground and terrain data from satellites, the platform can automatically detect, classify, and organize objects on the ground, and generate their 3D models with detailed texture using 3DCG technology. The company’s algorithm excels at automatically generating 3D models from a human perspective, which is something that conventional 3D globe tools (such as Google Earth) are not very good at. This makes it easier…

Image credit: SpaceData

Tokyo-based SpaceData, the Japanese startup developing artificial intelligence that can create a Digital Twin of the Earth from Satellite Data, announced on Wednesday that it has secured 1.42 billion yen (over $10 million US) in a seed round. Participating investors are Spiral Capital, Sparx Innovation for Future, KDDI Open Innovation Fund, GREE Ventures, The Creative Fund, Headline Asia, MZ Web3 Fund in addition to three angel investors: Jo Hirao (CEO of Zigexn), Hiroshi Tomishima (Co-founder of Mercari), and Yusaku Maezawa (Founder of Zozo).

SpaceData was founded in January of 2017 by serial entrepreneur Katsuaki Sato, also known as the founder of Japanese tech company Metaps (TSE:6172) and running several startups. The company has developed AI-based technologies that can generates virtual worlds (digital twin) using satellite data and 3DCG technology. Using machine learning on geostationary images of the ground and terrain data from satellites, the platform can automatically detect, classify, and organize objects on the ground, and generate their 3D models with detailed texture using 3DCG technology.

The company’s algorithm excels at automatically generating 3D models from a human perspective, which is something that conventional 3D globe tools (such as Google Earth) are not very good at. This makes it easier to be adopted into applications such as VR (virtual technology), games, and video production, where people move around in 3D space from a human perspective. The company claims that the generated digital twin data can meet the rapidly growing demand for metaverse in various industries, including entertainment, autonomous driving, urban development, disaster prevention, and defense.

via PR Times

Soundraw, AI music composer from Japan, secures $1.4M to boost global expansion effort

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Tokyo-based Soundraw, the Japanese startup behind an AI-powered music composing service under the same name, announced on Thursday that it has secured 180 million yen (about $1.4 million US) in the latest funding round. Participating investors are Ceres (TSE:3696), Mint, iSGS Investment Works, SMBC Venture Capital, and Deepcore. For the company, this follows their seed round (securing 65 million yen) in June of 2020 and pre-series A round (securing an undisclosed sum) in March of 2021. Deepcore has also participated in a previous round. Soundraw was founded in February of 2020 by serial entrepreneur Tago Kusunoki. During his university days, Kusunoki twice won the national championship in a university student dance competition. After graduating from Ritsumeikan University graduate school, he worked for a manufacturer and then launched his own company to pursue his dream of creating something by himself. Prior to Soundraw, Kusunoki has developed the SoundMoovz wearable musical instrument gadget based on his dance experience, which has shipped a total of 400,000 units to 17 countries to date. It is common to hear background music in all kinds of videos on YouTube and Facebook, not to mention on TV programs. Creators of these clips usually choose from stock music…

Founder Daigo Kusunoki sits in the center among the Soundraw team.
Image credit: Soundraw

Tokyo-based Soundraw, the Japanese startup behind an AI-powered music composing service under the same name, announced on Thursday that it has secured 180 million yen (about $1.4 million US) in the latest funding round. Participating investors are Ceres (TSE:3696), Mint, iSGS Investment Works, SMBC Venture Capital, and Deepcore. For the company, this follows their seed round (securing 65 million yen) in June of 2020 and pre-series A round (securing an undisclosed sum) in March of 2021. Deepcore has also participated in a previous round.

Soundraw was founded in February of 2020 by serial entrepreneur Tago Kusunoki. During his university days, Kusunoki twice won the national championship in a university student dance competition. After graduating from Ritsumeikan University graduate school, he worked for a manufacturer and then launched his own company to pursue his dream of creating something by himself. Prior to Soundraw, Kusunoki has developed the SoundMoovz wearable musical instrument gadget based on his dance experience, which has shipped a total of 400,000 units to 17 countries to date.

Image credit: Soundraw

It is common to hear background music in all kinds of videos on YouTube and Facebook, not to mention on TV programs. Creators of these clips usually choose from stock music services just as they choose photos and images from stock photo sites, but this poses a few problems. Unlike photos and images which can be searched for in a list, they have to listen to and check the music one by one to pick the best fit.

The AI composer can help with these needs, there are no copyright issues involved because each of the tunes created is completely original. This approach of creating a new song to match the clip, rather than searching for one in the past, is an interesting shift. Because of its non-verbal user experience making less language barriers, the platform has successfully attracted more users from the overseas. The automated entire process helps them keep gross margin high.

Although the company has conducted no marketing activities in the global market so far, users from the overseas accounts for 37% of the service’s paying user base, mainly from Europe and the United States. They will use the funds to renew their platform’s user interface and experience drastically and increase the variety of music tracks the platform can create. In addition, they have established a Los Angeles office with several local representatives to boost international market effort.

SOUNDRAW won the Pitch Arena competition at the B Dash Camp 2022 Summer startup conference in Sapporo last month.

via PR Times

ChatBook, developing chatbot and marketing automation tool, acquired by Monex Group

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We just learned that Japanese startup ChatBook, providing the automated marketing solution under the same name utilizing chatbot, has been acquired by Japan’s leading FinTech conglomerate Monex Group(TSE:8698). Monex acquired all stakes in ChatBook for an undisclosed sum. Chatbook’s most recent funding was a pre-series A round in December of 2019 (securing 100 million yen, about $920,000 in the exchange rate at the time) where Monex Ventures, the VC arm of Monex Group, participated in the investment. Japanese startup database Initial reported ChatBook was valued at 712 million yen (about $6.6 million) at the time. Chatbook was co-founded in September of 2016 (named Hect as its start) by Maiko Kojima who formerly worked for Prime Again (now known as Prime) as CFO/COO. The firm has been chosen for various accelerator programs so far; the first batch of the Code Public program in 2016, Accelerate course of FbStart which is a developer support program by Facebook in 2017 and the first batch of AI Accelerator organized by the major job information provider Dip (TSE:2379). ChatBook uses chatbots compatible with social media like Facebook, Line, and Instagram to lure potential customers and link them to sales activities in conjunction with customer relation…

Image credit: Monex Goup, ChatBook

We just learned that Japanese startup ChatBook, providing the automated marketing solution under the same name utilizing chatbot, has been acquired by Japan’s leading FinTech conglomerate Monex Group(TSE:8698). Monex acquired all stakes in ChatBook for an undisclosed sum.

Chatbook’s most recent funding was a pre-series A round in December of 2019 (securing 100 million yen, about $920,000 in the exchange rate at the time) where Monex Ventures, the VC arm of Monex Group, participated in the investment. Japanese startup database Initial reported ChatBook was valued at 712 million yen (about $6.6 million) at the time.

Chatbook was co-founded in September of 2016 (named Hect as its start) by Maiko Kojima who formerly worked for Prime Again (now known as Prime) as CFO/COO. The firm has been chosen for various accelerator programs so far; the first batch of the Code Public program in 2016, Accelerate course of FbStart which is a developer support program by Facebook in 2017 and the first batch of AI Accelerator organized by the major job information provider Dip (TSE:2379).

Image credit: ChatBook

ChatBook uses chatbots compatible with social media like Facebook, Line, and Instagram to lure potential customers and link them to sales activities in conjunction with customer relation management tools. While there are several marketing solutions using chatbots in Japan, Chatbook has a high affinity with sales activities for long-legged and rigid business solutions for enterprises.

In this sector, some of our readers may recall that Japanese startup Zeals, developing and offering the Fanp chatbot-based solution for e-commerce retailers, had planned to list on the TSE Mothers market but subsequently decided postpone it due to negative factors such as changes in US monetary policy, IPO market trends, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The company recently announced that it has secured 5 billion yen (about $38 million) in May.

Through this acquisition, Monex will invest its management resources in Chatbook, while promoting further business expansion by providing multifaceted support such as sales channel expansion and funding, and will return Chatbook’s human resources, mainly engineers, and the knowledge and know-how gained through business expansion to the Monex. The company will also aim to enhance the digital marketing capabilities of the Monex Group companies by returning to the Monex Group the human resources of Chatbook, mainly engineers, as well as the knowledge and expertise gained through business expansion.

Through this acquisition, Monex expects to invest its management resources in Chatbook while promoting further business expansion by providing support for cultivating sales channels and funding. In addition, the acquisition will also enable the FinTech group to enhance the digital marketing capabilities of each of its subsidiaries by incorporating ChatBook’s human resources, mainly engineers, as well as the knowledge and expertise.

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Japan’s Caster, offering WFH jobs for freelance workers, expanding into Germany, UAE

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Japanese WFH (work-from-home) jobs offering startup Caster, headquartered in the country’s western prefecture of Miyzaki, announced on Friday that it will be expanding into Germany and United Arab Emirates (UAE). The company plans to set up a local office in Berlin and Dubai within this year. Since its launched back in September of 2014, the company offers online assistance service in the categories like secretarial, human resources, accounting, translation, and other corporate tasks for startups and enterprises. The company had 1,500 remote staffers registered as of June while more than 3,000 companies have used the service so far. The company said that it has chosen Germany as its first step for global expansion because the country’s social environment and workforce are similar to those in Japan, which helps the company take advantage of their experience and schemes. With offices in Germany and the UAE, Caster plans to accelerate its expansion effort into the entire European region. The company has already begun recruiting local employees in Berlin and the rest of Germany on the the Japan-Germany Industrial Association website. In February, Caster announced that it has secured 1.3 billion yen (about $11.5 million US in the exchange rate at the time)…

Image credit: Caster

Japanese WFH (work-from-home) jobs offering startup Caster, headquartered in the country’s western prefecture of Miyzaki, announced on Friday that it will be expanding into Germany and United Arab Emirates (UAE). The company plans to set up a local office in Berlin and Dubai within this year.

Since its launched back in September of 2014, the company offers online assistance service in the categories like secretarial, human resources, accounting, translation, and other corporate tasks for startups and enterprises. The company had 1,500 remote staffers registered as of June while more than 3,000 companies have used the service so far.

The company said that it has chosen Germany as its first step for global expansion because the country’s social environment and workforce are similar to those in Japan, which helps the company take advantage of their experience and schemes. With offices in Germany and the UAE, Caster plans to accelerate its expansion effort into the entire European region. The company has already begun recruiting local employees in Berlin and the rest of Germany on the the Japan-Germany Industrial Association website.

In February, Caster announced that it has secured 1.3 billion yen (about $11.5 million US in the exchange rate at the time) in a Series D round, which brought their funding sum up to around 3 billion yen (about $21.5 million US in the exchange rate at the time) on an estimation basis. The Initial startup database estimates the company is valued over 12.3 billion yen (about $89 million US).