THE BRIDGE

tag pickup

Shortening feedback loops

SHARE:

This guest post is authored by Mark Bivens. Mark is a Silicon Valley native and former entrepreneur, having started three companies before “turning to the dark side of VC.” He is a venture capitalist that travels between Paris and Tokyo (aka the RudeVC). He is the Managing Partner of Shizen Capital (formerly known as Tachi.ai Ventures) in Japan. You can read more on his blog at http://rude.vc or follow him @markbivens. The Japanese translation of this article is available here. One of the mindsets which we regularly encourage our portfolio companies to espouse is the pursuit of shortening feedback loops. Shortening feedback loops, or “increasing clock speed,” is fundamental to a startup’s ability to navigate a dynamic market. Accelerating the opportunity for feedback underpins the minimum viable product concept in the Lean Startup philosophy. The opposite strategy to pursuing short feedback loops is to research a topic profoundly before acting, theorize on every aspect of a project in painstaking detail, and prepare contingency plans for every imaginable outcome. This approach might be effective for long-duration projects, and is generally considered compulsory when mistakes have life-threatening consequences. (Even then however, one could argue that hundreds of thousands of lives could have…

mark-bivens_portrait

This guest post is authored by Mark Bivens. Mark is a Silicon Valley native and former entrepreneur, having started three companies before “turning to the dark side of VC.”

He is a venture capitalist that travels between Paris and Tokyo (aka the RudeVC). He is the Managing Partner of Shizen Capital (formerly known as Tachi.ai Ventures) in Japan. You can read more on his blog at http://rude.vc or follow him @markbivens. The Japanese translation of this article is available here.


One of the mindsets which we regularly encourage our portfolio companies to espouse is the pursuit of shortening feedback loops.

Shortening feedback loops, or “increasing clock speed,” is fundamental to a startup’s ability to navigate a dynamic market. Accelerating the opportunity for feedback underpins the minimum viable product concept in the Lean Startup philosophy.

The opposite strategy to pursuing short feedback loops is to research a topic profoundly before acting, theorize on every aspect of a project in painstaking detail, and prepare contingency plans for every imaginable outcome. This approach might be effective for long-duration projects, and is generally considered compulsory when mistakes have life-threatening consequences. (Even then however, one could argue that hundreds of thousands of lives could have been saved in the Covid-19 pandemic had governments allowed for shorter feedback loops on vaccine safety testing among consenting and fully-informed volunteers). Regardless, such an approach is nearly always a handicap in startups

The ability to iterate: design, build an MVP, deploy, collect market feedback, repeat — is crucial for a startup to find product market fit. Testing iterations of its product with real customers is the fastest way to obtain indispensable market insights which will guide the product road map. This is widely considered obvious in most innovation ecosystems today, but I am still surprised to discover corners of the world where this belief is not yet universal.

Beyond the obvious though, a mindset of short feedback loops extends beyond a startup’s initial product-market fit. It should permeate throughout all company operations: sales, human resources, investor relations, vendor management, etc. Operating with short feedback loops fosters agility in a startup and can be a source of competitive advantage by accelerating learning. (Conversely, in crowded or fast-changing markets, failing to do so will be a competitive disadvantage).

Good salespeople, for instance, naturally crave immediate feedback. Moreover, it is human nature to thrive on short feedback loops, starting from our first steps as toddler. Here’s one example of academic research in this area.

Providing fast and frequent feedback to employees is also critical. When employees in a startup are not clear on whether their work meets expectations, or even whether they are working on the right priorities, the collective focus of the organization drifts. This can also undermine motivation. Similarly, it is a startup CEO’s responsibility to create an environment in which subordinates are comfortable and encouraged to provide feedback upward.

Shortening feedback cycles to investors also brings numerous benefits. Frequent business updates will keep a startup at the top of mind among its investors, which makes it easier for the investor to be helpful, be it with client introductions, capital raising, even hiring, for example. It also serves as a preventative mechanism, by keeping investors on alert before a startup’s financial situation becomes dire.

For many entrepreneurs, this behavior comes naturally. We applaud this and encourage all of our founders to embrace it as a core habit.

Japanese founder-led employee benefit platform Venteny files for IPO in Indonesia

SHARE:

Jakarta, Indonesia-based VENTENY Fortuna International announced on Thursday that its application to list on the Indonesia Stock Exchange has been approved. The company will be the first Japanese founder-led startup to be listed in the Southeast Asia region. It secured seed round funding back in February of 2017 followed by series A round funding from SV-FINTECH Fund managed by Voyage Group (now known as Carta Holdings, TSE:3688) and SV Frontier in December of 2017. It subsequently became an equity-method affiliate of Carta Holdings. In Southeast Asian countries, the lack of educational endowment insurance and health insurance systems means that many employees do not have the means to pay for their family’s higher education, medical care, or other needs. On the other hand, there are no financial services available for individuals to easily obtain loans, and corporate employees often tend to change jobs based simply on the amount of money they are paid, not on job content or job satisfaction. Financial inclusion, which aims to solve these money pains, is a bustling business area where fintech startups in the region are jostling for ideas. Venteny was founded in April of 2015 by Japanese entrepreneur Junichiro Waide, with headquarters in Singapore. Initially,…

Venteny founder and CEO Junichiro Waide

Jakarta, Indonesia-based VENTENY Fortuna International announced on Thursday that its application to list on the Indonesia Stock Exchange has been approved. The company will be the first Japanese founder-led startup to be listed in the Southeast Asia region. It secured seed round funding back in February of 2017 followed by series A round funding from SV-FINTECH Fund managed by Voyage Group (now known as Carta Holdings, TSE:3688) and SV Frontier in December of 2017. It subsequently became an equity-method affiliate of Carta Holdings.

In Southeast Asian countries, the lack of educational endowment insurance and health insurance systems means that many employees do not have the means to pay for their family’s higher education, medical care, or other needs. On the other hand, there are no financial services available for individuals to easily obtain loans, and corporate employees often tend to change jobs based simply on the amount of money they are paid, not on job content or job satisfaction. Financial inclusion, which aims to solve these money pains, is a bustling business area where fintech startups in the region are jostling for ideas.

Venteny was founded in April of 2015 by Japanese entrepreneur Junichiro Waide, with headquarters in Singapore. Initially, the company launched a corporate benefits outsourcing service business in the Philippines, which had grown to include more than 200 companies thanks to successful partnerships with major local banks and other organizations in the country. User companies allow their employees to receive benefits and discounts at city facilities and stores, as well as short-term loans in advance of their payday. Needless to say, this is an effective way for companies to motivate their employees to keep working as long as possible.

Venteny’s Super App
Image credit: Venteny

Just when all was going well, the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic hit them. With all companies forced to either shut down or slow down thei business, Waide decided to close his Philippine operations out of sheer desperation, as he saw no growth potential. He rebuilt Venteny’s business from scratch in Indonesia and expanded the business by serving local companies. The company was eventually permitted to go public, approximately as early as three and a half years after taking the helm in the new market (the headquarters was officially moved to Indonesia in January of 2021).

This service was made possible by allowing Venteny’s client companies to provide loans to their employees as long as the company’s creditworthiness could be verified. In Indonesia, the company has launched an unsecured low-interest loan service not only for individuals, but also for small and micro businesses. Having four offices in Indonesia, the company plans to increase it to 15 next year as well as reactivating in the Philippines and expansion into Thailand and Vietnam.

Added at 6pm J.S.T., Nov.24.:

According to the prospectus, Venteny plans to sell 939 million shares, or a 15% stake, through the IPO at a price of Rp350-450 per share (about $0.022-0.029 US), with a target maximum raise of Rp423 billion ($27 million US). The company’s market cap, based on these values, is assumed to be Rp2.8 trillion rupiah (approximately $180 million US).

Revised at 6pm J.S.T., Nov. 25.:

Led by Carta Holdings (TSE:3688, 24.77%), the company’s main shareholders include CEO Waide (24.51%), Ocean Capital (13.06%), SBI Holdings (TSE:8473, 11.62%), KK Fund (10.37%), Relo Club (8.83%), SV-FINTECH (2.91%), Karya Bersama Bangsa (1.22%), Makoto Takano (0.39%), and Mamoru Taniya (0.39%).

Japan’s social publishing platform Note files for IPO

SHARE:

Tokyo-based Note, the Japanese startup behind a social publishing platform under the same name, announced on Friday that its initial listing application on the Tokyo Stock Exchange had been approved. The company will be listed on the TSE Growth Market on December 21 with plans to offer 210,000 shares for public subscription and to sell 191,800 shares in over-allotment options for a total of 1,069,300 shares. The underwriting will be led by Daiwa Securities while Note’s ticker code will be 5243. Based on the company’s estimated issue price is 300 yen (about $2.1) per share, its market cap is approximately 4.4 billion yen (about $31 million). The company apparently decided to have a down-round IPO, a steep discount from its private valuation of 33.8 billion yen (about $260 million in the currency exchange rate then) confirmed in a pre-IPO round back in May. Its share price range will be released on December 5 with bookbuilding scheduled to start on December 6 and pricing on December 12. The final public offering price will be determined on December 13. According to its consolidated statement as of December of 2021, the company posted revenue of 1.88 billion yen ($13.4 million) with an ordinary…

Image credit: Note

Tokyo-based Note, the Japanese startup behind a social publishing platform under the same name, announced on Friday that its initial listing application on the Tokyo Stock Exchange had been approved. The company will be listed on the TSE Growth Market on December 21 with plans to offer 210,000 shares for public subscription and to sell 191,800 shares in over-allotment options for a total of 1,069,300 shares. The underwriting will be led by Daiwa Securities while Note’s ticker code will be 5243.

Based on the company’s estimated issue price is 300 yen (about $2.1) per share, its market cap is approximately 4.4 billion yen (about $31 million). The company apparently decided to have a down-round IPO, a steep discount from its private valuation of 33.8 billion yen (about $260 million in the currency exchange rate then) confirmed in a pre-IPO round back in May.

Its share price range will be released on December 5 with bookbuilding scheduled to start on December 6 and pricing on December 12. The final public offering price will be determined on December 13. According to its consolidated statement as of December of 2021, the company posted revenue of 1.88 billion yen ($13.4 million) with an ordinary loss of 434.5 million yen ($3.1 million).

Under its previous name of Piece of Cake, Note was founded in December of 2011 by Sadaaki Kato, previously a book editor at Japanese publishers like Ascii and Diamond. The company initially launched a service called Cakes, which had been providing users with content created by multiple authors on a subscription basis, but it terminated in 2022. The company then launched the Note platform, which allows users to sell user-generated content to readers in what’s called C2C (consumer-to-consumer) format.

The platform is often compared to Medium because of its appearance, but Medium asks readers to pay for good content while Note charges readers and also collects fees from content writers. In March of 2019, the company launched a service called Note Pro, which makes it easy for companies to create their owned media.

Led by founder and CEO Sadaaki Kato (34.87%), the company’s main shareholders include Femto Growth Capital holds (13.11% through two funds), Nikkei (6.07%), Tencent’s Image Frame Investment (5.94%), Jafco (5.82%), CyberAgent Capital (4.35%), UUUM (TSE: 3990, 2.51%), TV Tokyo Holdings (TSE: 9413, 2.51%), and SMBC Venture Capital (2.02%).

via JPX

Japan’s brand enablement platform AnyMind Group files for IPO

SHARE:

Tokyo-headquartered AnyMind Group, running its business mainly in Japan and other Asian countries, announced on Tuessday that its IPO application to list on the Tokyo Stock Exchange had been approved. The company will be listed on the TSE Growth Market on December 15 with plans to offer 885,300 shares for public subscription and to sell 403,400 shares in over-allotment options for a total of 1,804,200 shares. The underwriting will be led by Mizuho Securities and Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities while AnyMind’s ticker code will be 5027. Based on the company’s estimated issue price is 970 yen (about $7) per share, its market cap is approximately 55.3 billion yen (about $400 million). Its share price range will be released on November 29 with bookbuilding scheduled to start on November 30 and pricing on December 6. The final public offering price will be determined on December 7. According to its consolidated statement as of December of 2021, the company posted revenue of 19.3 billion yen ($138 million) with an ordinary loss of 53.1 million yen ($381,000). AnyMind was founded in Singapore in 2016 by Kosuke Ufuka (CEO) and Yukihiko Komutsumi (Chief Commercial Officer) under its original name of AdAsia Holdings. The…

Image credit: AnyMind Group

Tokyo-headquartered AnyMind Group, running its business mainly in Japan and other Asian countries, announced on Tuessday that its IPO application to list on the Tokyo Stock Exchange had been approved. The company will be listed on the TSE Growth Market on December 15 with plans to offer 885,300 shares for public subscription and to sell 403,400 shares in over-allotment options for a total of 1,804,200 shares. The underwriting will be led by Mizuho Securities and Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities while AnyMind’s ticker code will be 5027.

Based on the company’s estimated issue price is 970 yen (about $7) per share, its market cap is approximately 55.3 billion yen (about $400 million). Its share price range will be released on November 29 with bookbuilding scheduled to start on November 30 and pricing on December 6. The final public offering price will be determined on December 7. According to its consolidated statement as of December of 2021, the company posted revenue of 19.3 billion yen ($138 million) with an ordinary loss of 53.1 million yen ($381,000).

AnyMind was founded in Singapore in 2016 by Kosuke Ufuka (CEO) and Yukihiko Komutsumi (Chief Commercial Officer) under its original name of AdAsia Holdings. The company provides brands with a one-stop platform supporting production management, e-commerce, marketing, and logistics management, and currently has 19 offices in 13 countries and regions, mainly in Asia.

The company’s IPO application to the Mothers market was approved by the Tokyo Stock Exchange in February, but the listing was later postponed due to cooling investor sentiment in the wake of Russia’s invasion to Ukraine.

Led by co-founder and CEO Kosuke Sogo (37.21%), the company’s major shareholders include co-founder and CCO Otohiko Kozutsumi (9.54%), SMBC Trust Bank (6.77%), JATF VI (6.63%), JAFCO Asia (4.81%), JIC Venture Growth (3.92%), JP Investment (2.86%), Japan Growth Capital Investment (managed by Nomura Sparx Investment, 2.42%).

See also:

Japan’s FinTech unicorn Opn acquires US payments startup MerchantE

SHARE:

Tokyo-based payments startup Opn (formerly Omise, formerly Synqa) just announced that it has acquired acquired MerchaneE, the startup running the same business based out of Georgia, US. The deal is reportedly worth 50 billion yen (about $360 million). Nikkei says this is one of the largest acquisitions of a foreign company by a Japanese startup. While Opn has many clients in Japan and Southeast Asia, it aims to expand into the US and Europe with the acquisition. This will make Opn’s client base, including MerchantE, reach over 20,000 clients and help them hit over US$19 billion in total payment processing. Opn (formerly Omise, formerly Synqa) was founded in 2013 by CEO Jun Hasegawa and COO Ezra Don Harinsut. The company secured $120 million US in a Series C+ round in May, which made them become Japan’s 5th unicorn (excluding those which have already made exit). Their clients include Toyota Motor and Thai duty-free giant King Power. The company claims that it serves more than 7,000 merchants, mainly in Japan and Southeast Asia, including McDonald’s and Toyota Motor.

Image credit: Opn

Tokyo-based payments startup Opn (formerly Omise, formerly Synqa) just announced that it has acquired acquired MerchaneE, the startup running the same business based out of Georgia, US. The deal is reportedly worth 50 billion yen (about $360 million). Nikkei says this is one of the largest acquisitions of a foreign company by a Japanese startup. While Opn has many clients in Japan and Southeast Asia, it aims to expand into the US and Europe with the acquisition. This will make Opn’s client base, including MerchantE, reach over 20,000 clients and help them hit over US$19 billion in total payment processing.

Opn (formerly Omise, formerly Synqa) was founded in 2013 by CEO Jun Hasegawa and COO Ezra Don Harinsut. The company secured $120 million US in a Series C+ round in May, which made them become Japan’s 5th unicorn (excluding those which have already made exit). Their clients include Toyota Motor and Thai duty-free giant King Power. The company claims that it serves more than 7,000 merchants, mainly in Japan and Southeast Asia, including McDonald’s and Toyota Motor.