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Japanese male skincare brand Bulk Homme raises over $14M to accelerate global expansion

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Tokyo-based Bulk Homme, the Japanese online subscription startup behind male skincare brand under the same name, announced today it has secured 1.5 billion yen (about $14.1 million US) in the latest round. Participating investors are Nissay Capital, local department store chain Marui Group (TSE:8252), Dimension (investment arm of Japanese consulting firm Dreram Incubator), and Kiraboshi Capital. The amount raised includes debt financing from the Japan Finance Corporation and other financial institutions. This round follows 500 million yen in December 2018 and 300 million yen in November 2017. Nissay Capital and Marui Group participated in past funding rounds respectively. Bulk Homme said it will use the funds to further strengthen its domestic marketing efforts, strengthen its CRM department and promote global expansion. The company already has operations in Taiwan, China, South Korea, the UK and France, planning to expand into Southeast Asia, Europe and the US markets. Bulk Homme started its business as part of the company’s founder’s father’s company back in 2012. Launched in 2013, the skincare brand offers a variety of products at their online store as well as retailers and hair salons all across Japan. The business was then incorporated in May of 2017.

Image credit: Bulk Homme

Tokyo-based Bulk Homme, the Japanese online subscription startup behind male skincare brand under the same name, announced today it has secured 1.5 billion yen (about $14.1 million US) in the latest round. Participating investors are Nissay Capital, local department store chain Marui Group (TSE:8252), Dimension (investment arm of Japanese consulting firm Dreram Incubator), and Kiraboshi Capital. The amount raised includes debt financing from the Japan Finance Corporation and other financial institutions.

This round follows 500 million yen in December 2018 and 300 million yen in November 2017. Nissay Capital and Marui Group participated in past funding rounds respectively.

Bulk Homme said it will use the funds to further strengthen its domestic marketing efforts, strengthen its CRM department and promote global expansion. The company already has operations in Taiwan, China, South Korea, the UK and France, planning to expand into Southeast Asia, Europe and the US markets.

Bulk Homme started its business as part of the company’s founder’s father’s company back in 2012. Launched in 2013, the skincare brand offers a variety of products at their online store as well as retailers and hair salons all across Japan. The business was then incorporated in May of 2017.

Digital Base Capital sets up local PropTech startup community in Taiwan

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Tokyo-based Digital Base Capital, a PropTech-focused investment firm in Japan, announced today that it has set up PropTech Taiwan, a local PropTech startup community. Since the VC firm has been operating a local community in Japan, the announcement suggests that it expands the activity into Taiwan. The community is headed by Kensuke Ko, Taiwan-based analyst working for the VC firm. Ko decided to launch the community because of the lack of a hub community in Taiwan while many PropTech startups are emerging there. To celebrate the launch, the community is holding an online meetup event on September 25th having the executives of Taiwanese PropTech startups such as Ark Intelligence, BigFun, LIOVE, and HousePro as panel speakers.

The PropTech Taiwan team. From left: Kensuke Ko (Analyst, Digital Base Capital), Jimmy Chen (CEO, HousePro), Tracy Sedinkinas (Doctor Researcher, National Taiwan University), Bennson Tsai (CEO, LIOVE)

Tokyo-based Digital Base Capital, a PropTech-focused investment firm in Japan, announced today that it has set up PropTech Taiwan, a local PropTech startup community. Since the VC firm has been operating a local community in Japan, the announcement suggests that it expands the activity into Taiwan. The community is headed by Kensuke Ko, Taiwan-based analyst working for the VC firm.

Ko decided to launch the community because of the lack of a hub community in Taiwan while many PropTech startups are emerging there. To celebrate the launch, the community is holding an online meetup event on September 25th having the executives of Taiwanese PropTech startups such as Ark Intelligence, BigFun, LIOVE, and HousePro as panel speakers.

Japan’s X-ray image sensing startup ANSeeN secures over $10M in series B round

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ANSeeN is a startup spun out of Shizuoka University and has been developing x-ray image sensors and color cameras. The company announced on Monday that it has secured 1.08 billion yen (about $10.1 million US) in a series B round. Participating investors in this round are Cyberdyne (TSE: 7779) and its subsidiary CEJ Capital, Environmental Energy Investment, Drone Fund, Shinkin Capital inn addition to Shizuoka Capital. The amount raised includes debt financing from the Shoko Chukin Bank and Hamamatsu Iwata Shinkin Bank, as well as a grant from the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO). This follows the startup’s series A round in November 2018 when they secured about 300 million yen (about $2.8 million US). Shizuoka Capital and Shinkin Capital participated in the previous series A round as well. ANSeeN’s X-ray camera has a higher resolution than conventional ones, which makes it easier to identify the shape of the content in a an inspection object. The company aims to develop a system that can be used for automated and unattended baggage inspection in conjunction with artificial intelligence. The company claims that this system can make it possible to visualize cast metal parts, such as automobiles and trains,…

Image credit: ANSeeN

ANSeeN is a startup spun out of Shizuoka University and has been developing x-ray image sensors and color cameras. The company announced on Monday that it has secured 1.08 billion yen (about $10.1 million US) in a series B round. Participating investors in this round are Cyberdyne (TSE: 7779) and its subsidiary CEJ Capital, Environmental Energy Investment, Drone Fund, Shinkin Capital inn addition to Shizuoka Capital.

The amount raised includes debt financing from the Shoko Chukin Bank and Hamamatsu Iwata Shinkin Bank, as well as a grant from the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO). This follows the startup’s series A round in November 2018 when they secured about 300 million yen (about $2.8 million US). Shizuoka Capital and Shinkin Capital participated in the previous series A round as well.

ANSeeN’s X-ray camera has a higher resolution than conventional ones, which makes it easier to identify the shape of the content in a an inspection object. The company aims to develop a system that can be used for automated and unattended baggage inspection in conjunction with artificial intelligence. The company claims that this system can make it possible to visualize cast metal parts, such as automobiles and trains, which have been difficult to visualize in the past.

AnSeeN will use the funds to install a facility to mass-produce X-ray image sensors and X-ray color cameras, aiming to establish a mass-production system by the end of 2021 to use them for non-destructive testing and dental inspection equipment. The company partnered with Cyberdyne to promote the application and commercialization of the camera in the cybernics industry.

AnSeeN was selected for the second phase of Tokyo-based railway company JR East’s incubation/acceleration program in November 2018 and then won the top prize for the team eligible for the program’s incubation course at the Demo Day event.

Japan satellite startup Synspective launches ground deformation monitoring solution

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Synspective is building a constellation system for earth observation mini-satellites employing Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and integrates SAR data with a variety of ground truth data. The Japanese startup launched today a new service called Land Displacement Monitoring, which enables millimeter-scale ground deformation monitoring over wide areas based on image analysis of SAR satellites. Traditionally, understanding the risk of land settlement and landslide risk over wide areas has required a lot of time and effort. The service can be used to reduce the cost and time involved in observing and managing the risk of ground deformation and can be used to manage risks associated with construction projects, airport maintenance and underground construction, the company said. Synspective has been conducting Proof-of-Concept (PoC) projects with several companies as well as the Singapore Land Authority. Based on the feedback from these early users, the service has been improved and its user-friendly web-based interface requires no installation of software and has now allowed even users who are less familiar with satellite data to intuitively understand the results of the analysis. Synspective was founded in February of 2018 by CEO Motoyuki Arai and co-founder/managing director Seiko Shirasaka (Shirasaka is a professor at System Design and…

Land Displacement Monitoring
Image credit: Synspective

Synspective is building a constellation system for earth observation mini-satellites employing Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and integrates SAR data with a variety of ground truth data. The Japanese startup launched today a new service called Land Displacement Monitoring, which enables millimeter-scale ground deformation monitoring over wide areas based on image analysis of SAR satellites.

Traditionally, understanding the risk of land settlement and landslide risk over wide areas has required a lot of time and effort. The service can be used to reduce the cost and time involved in observing and managing the risk of ground deformation and can be used to manage risks associated with construction projects, airport maintenance and underground construction, the company said.

Synspective has been conducting Proof-of-Concept (PoC) projects with several companies as well as the Singapore Land Authority. Based on the feedback from these early users, the service has been improved and its user-friendly web-based interface requires no installation of software and has now allowed even users who are less familiar with satellite data to intuitively understand the results of the analysis.

Synspective was founded in February of 2018 by CEO Motoyuki Arai and co-founder/managing director Seiko Shirasaka (Shirasaka is a professor at System Design and Management, Keio University). The company announced about $80 million funding in a series A round last year, which let them make the fastest record in terms of securing such a large amount funds in such a short period since the launch of a company according to a report by Japanese space business consultancy CSP Japan.

Synspective signed agreements with Arianespace in April of 2019 and with RocketLab in April this year for the launch of its StriX-alpha SAR satellites, which is scheduled to be launched by the end of this year. The company plans to build a constellation of these satellites to offer high-frequency and stable monitoring service leveraging it.

Synspective plans to launch one small SAR satellite by 2020, six satellites by 2022, and 25 satellites after that. So far, the company has secured funds enough for six satellites in operation, which will enable on-demand earth observation at least one time a day for 99 cities with an over-one million population in Asia.

Plimes secures $1.4M seed round, helps hospitals monitor swallowing ability of elderly patients

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See the original story in Japanese. Plimes, a healthcare startup spun-off from the University of Tsukuba in Japan, announced in late March that it has raised nearly $1.4 million US in a seed round from robotics venture Cyberdyne (TSE: 7779), a fellow University of Tsukuba native for the startup. Plimes is also allying with Cyberdyne to accelerate the development and market expansion of their product. In general, people’s swallowing ability decreases with age, which puts the elderly at risk of aspiration and in turn increases the chance of pneumonia and/or death. Physicians may choose to alter the diet of patients with the decreased ability to swallow by switching them from solid food to mashed pastes, or in some cases patients may require gastrostomy for direct nutrients. Gokuri, the startup’s product, is a medical support device designed to improve the quality of life (QoL) for such eldery people. The device routinely measures whether or not swallowing is normal from the sound picked up using a microphone attached to a user’s neck, and it aims to improve the efficiency of user rehabilitation. The ability to accuratly monitor swallowing increases the possibility that the user can regain the power to eat and enjoy…

Plimes founders – From left: CCO Atsushi Nitasaka, COO Tomoya Shimokakimoto, CEO Kenji Suzuki, CTO Dushyantha Jayatilake
Image credit: Plimes

See the original story in Japanese.

Plimes, a healthcare startup spun-off from the University of Tsukuba in Japan, announced in late March that it has raised nearly $1.4 million US in a seed round from robotics venture Cyberdyne (TSE: 7779), a fellow University of Tsukuba native for the startup. Plimes is also allying with Cyberdyne to accelerate the development and market expansion of their product.

In general, people’s swallowing ability decreases with age, which puts the elderly at risk of aspiration and in turn increases the chance of pneumonia and/or death. Physicians may choose to alter the diet of patients with the decreased ability to swallow by switching them from solid food to mashed pastes, or in some cases patients may require gastrostomy for direct nutrients.

Gokuri, the startup’s product, is a medical support device designed to improve the quality of life (QoL) for such eldery people. The device routinely measures whether or not swallowing is normal from the sound picked up using a microphone attached to a user’s neck, and it aims to improve the efficiency of user rehabilitation. The ability to accuratly monitor swallowing increases the possibility that the user can regain the power to eat and enjoy tasty solid foods.

The Gokuri swallowing monitoring device
Image credit: Plimes

This is seed funding for the Plimes team after 10 years since they started basic research at the University of Tsukuba and the University Hospital of Tsukuba back in 2010 (not yet incorporated at that time). Funding was made possible by Gokuri’s high level of accuracy, 97.3% or more, with regards to measuring normal and abnormal swallowing conditions, and the establishment of a business model using hospitals as sales channels. The current business model assumes that hospitals will adopt the solution to improve medical services for patients.

Plimes COO/Co-founder Atsushi Nitasaka says,

For example, hospitals don’t want to see any patient with a brain tumor is cured by surgery but goes on to die of aspiration pneumonia the first time he ate. […]

During the process of starting development and advancing the product market fit, we realized that there is a need for doctors to monitor the patients’ diet. However, doctors cannot be continuously looking after them. This is where our solution can help. Our business model supports hospitals with their goal of discharging patients quickly.

In collaboration with Kyotango City in Kyoto, Tarumizu City in Kagoshima, and Fukuoka Prefecture, and other local governments, the company has been conducting practical tests with elderly participants at local medical facilities. Plimes feels that Japanese startups are uniquely skilled at developing solutions for aging societies, and since aging is a social issue common to developed countries, they have started global business expansion. Plimes is currently conducting demo tests in the US, Germany, and Denmark.

The Gokuri swallowing monitoring device
Image credit: Plimes

In line with the latest funding, Plimes will begin recruitment of skilled team members for each speciality: testing for swallowing, monitoring studies, medical device development, business development, speech therapy, cloud application development, and AI technology. Cyberdene, one of the investors in thiis round, has its hands in health and medical related business, so we can expect to see emerging synergy. Plimes will receive widespread support from Cyberdyne for engineering, back office functions, and the development of sales channels.

Plimes was adopted into the Japan Science and Technology Agency’s startup business “JST Start” initiative back in 2015 followed by being incorporated in 2018. Additionally, the company has had excellent results at numerous startup events and initiatives, including receiving the IP Bridge Award at the Asian Entrepreneurship Award 2018 and winning the 2nd “Startup Accelerator Tsukuba” Demo Day.

Translated by Amanda Lynn
Edited by Masaru Ikeda

Bangkok-based mobility data startup Flare raises $1.4M series A from Japanese investors

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Bangkok-based Flare, offering an ad-wrapping service for car owners as well as mobility data management and analytics services, announced today that it has raised 150 million yen (about $1.4 million) in a series A round from Spiral Ventures Asia, Chiba Dojo, Sun Asterisk, and Voyage Ventures. Sun Asterisk (previously called Framgia at the time) follows their participation in a seed round funding back in 2018 while Voyage Ventures follows a series A round back in 2019. Flare was launched back in August of 2017 by Japanese serial entrepreneur Kazuki Kamiya who moved to Thailand in November of 2013. Prior to Flare, he established a Skype-based Thai language school in May of 2014 and subsequently engaged in managing crowdsourced translation / interpretation and business portal website. Following the Flare ad-wrapping service, his company launched Flare Analytics and Flare Dash last year. Flare Analytics is a device-free cloud based platform analyzing driving data which can be applied for fleet management and telematics insurance while Flash Dash visualizes driver behavior so that their operation management can easily understand where their employee drivers are running and working. Flare says the new fund will be used to invest in further developing the aforementioned three services…

The Flare team. CEO Kazuki Kamiya stands second from the left.
Image credit: Flare

Bangkok-based Flare, offering an ad-wrapping service for car owners as well as mobility data management and analytics services, announced today that it has raised 150 million yen (about $1.4 million) in a series A round from Spiral Ventures Asia, Chiba Dojo, Sun Asterisk, and Voyage Ventures.

Sun Asterisk (previously called Framgia at the time) follows their participation in a seed round funding back in 2018 while Voyage Ventures follows a series A round back in 2019.

Flare was launched back in August of 2017 by Japanese serial entrepreneur Kazuki Kamiya who moved to Thailand in November of 2013. Prior to Flare, he established a Skype-based Thai language school in May of 2014 and subsequently engaged in managing crowdsourced translation / interpretation and business portal website.

Flare Analytics
Image credit: Flare

Following the Flare ad-wrapping service, his company launched Flare Analytics and Flare Dash last year. Flare Analytics is a device-free cloud based platform analyzing driving data which can be applied for fleet management and telematics insurance while Flash Dash visualizes driver behavior so that their operation management can easily understand where their employee drivers are running and working.

Flare says the new fund will be used to invest in further developing the aforementioned three services by strengthening hiring sales and engineering positions. Flare Ad serves 15,000 registered users as of April last year, is aimed to hit 100,000 user milestone in the future. The company recently partnered with Renet Japan Group (TSE:3556), microfinance and other solution provider serving Cambodia, to launch the Flare ad-wrapping service in the Indochina market earlier this year. Flare Dash was also recently launched in Myanmar after Thailand.

As part of Open Innovation Columbus (OIC) through which the Japanese government and Thai conglomerates encourage strategic alliances between innovative Japanese startups and the Thai conglomerates, Flare partnered with Toyota Tsusho (Thailand) to jointly conduct a proof-of-concept and develop a safety driving-focused product using Fire Analytics last year. Since the platform can also be provided in the form of an SDK (software development kit), it can be more easily integrated with other software so that it can target corporate users who are running their existing systems.