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Japanese robotics startup Telexistence closes series A round with $40M+

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Tokyo-based Telexistence, the Japanese startup developing remote-controlled robots, announced today that it has secured about 2.2 billion yen (about $20 million US) in a series A2 round. Participating investors include Airbus Ventures, KDDI Open Innovation Fund (KOIF), Deepcore, UTokyo Innovation Platform (UTokyo IPC), and several unnamed investors, in addition to Monoful, a digital transformation-focused subsidiary of global logistics giant GLP. This follows a previous round (estimated to be series A1) in December of 2018 when some of the investors participating in the latest round such as KOIF, UTokyo IPC, Deepcore, and Monoful also participated. With the Series A1 (previous round) and A2 (the latest round) rounds combined, the company has secured about 4.5 billion yen (over $40 million US) in a series A round. Telexistence has been developing tele-controlled robots using a variety of technologies including tele-presence, robotics, communications, virtual reality (VR), haptics, and artificial intelligence (AI). They plan to use the funds to expand its product development team as well as accelerating product development and implementation to the expanding customer base in the retail and logistics sectors. The company has partnered with Monoful to develop the Augmented Workforce Platform (AWP) for logistics facility operations. AWP allows operators to control…

The Model-T robot
Image credit: Telexistence

Tokyo-based Telexistence, the Japanese startup developing remote-controlled robots, announced today that it has secured about 2.2 billion yen (about $20 million US) in a series A2 round. Participating investors include Airbus Ventures, KDDI Open Innovation Fund (KOIF), Deepcore, UTokyo Innovation Platform (UTokyo IPC), and several unnamed investors, in addition to Monoful, a digital transformation-focused subsidiary of global logistics giant GLP.

This follows a previous round (estimated to be series A1) in December of 2018 when some of the investors participating in the latest round such as KOIF, UTokyo IPC, Deepcore, and Monoful also participated. With the Series A1 (previous round) and A2 (the latest round) rounds combined, the company has secured about 4.5 billion yen (over $40 million US) in a series A round.

Telexistence has been developing tele-controlled robots using a variety of technologies including tele-presence, robotics, communications, virtual reality (VR), haptics, and artificial intelligence (AI). They plan to use the funds to expand its product development team as well as accelerating product development and implementation to the expanding customer base in the retail and logistics sectors.

The company has partnered with Monoful to develop the Augmented Workforce Platform (AWP) for logistics facility operations. AWP allows operators to control robots installed in warehouses via the Internet and participate in tasks such as loading and unloading pallets while operators are working from home.

The company also announced that it has tied up with Japanese office furniture giant Okamura Corporation (TSE:7984) for joint research and development of fixture products optimized for carrying and displaying by robots.

Wakaze, bringing Japanese sake from Paris brewery, nabs $3M for Europe, US expansion

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See the original story in Japanese. Japanese sake brewing startup Wakaze announced on Wednesday that it has secured 330 million yen (about $3 million US) in a series A round. Participating investors in this round are Jafco Group (TSE:8595), Nissay Capital, Makuake (TSE:4479), and Makoto Capital. This follows a pre-series A round in June 2019 (which we reported as a series A round at the time). For Makuake, one of Japan’s leading crowdfunding platform, this follows their second investment followed by their previous investment in Tokyo-based chocolate direct-to-consumer startup Bace earlier this year. Wakaze aims to bring the wave of craft sake and D2C to the world of sake. Prior to founding the company back in 2016, CEO Takuma Inagawa studied at the École Centrale Paris as a French government scholarship student and then worked as a business strategy consultant at the Boston Consulting Group. In addition to developing new sake brewing recipes in Tokyo and Japan’s eastern prefecture of Yamagata, the company established a sake brewery called Kura Grand Paris in Suburban Paris back in November of 2019 to offer locally brewed Japanese sake for the French market. Since its launch in France back in February of 2020, the…

Wakaze sake bottles
Image credit: Wakaze

See the original story in Japanese.

Japanese sake brewing startup Wakaze announced on Wednesday that it has secured 330 million yen (about $3 million US) in a series A round. Participating investors in this round are Jafco Group (TSE:8595), Nissay Capital, Makuake (TSE:4479), and Makoto Capital. This follows a pre-series A round in June 2019 (which we reported as a series A round at the time). For Makuake, one of Japan’s leading crowdfunding platform, this follows their second investment followed by their previous investment in Tokyo-based chocolate direct-to-consumer startup Bace earlier this year.

Wakaze aims to bring the wave of craft sake and D2C to the world of sake. Prior to founding the company back in 2016, CEO Takuma Inagawa studied at the École Centrale Paris as a French government scholarship student and then worked as a business strategy consultant at the Boston Consulting Group. In addition to developing new sake brewing recipes in Tokyo and Japan’s eastern prefecture of Yamagata, the company established a sake brewery called Kura Grand Paris in Suburban Paris back in November of 2019 to offer locally brewed Japanese sake for the French market.

Wakaze CEO Takuma Inagawa
Image credit: Wakaze

Since its launch in France back in February of 2020, the sake brand had been distributed to 50 restaurants in the country but demand suddenly plummeted to almost zero due to the lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, sales got back to growing steadily as they could rebrand their products to fit the demand for the direct-to-consumer model rather than offering through restaurants. The company has recently partnered with Nicolas, one of the largest wine store chain with 500 locations in France and 7 countries. The funding is expected to contribute to expanding production capacity to meet the increasing demand.

In an interview with Bridge, Inagawa told us how much French people loves the locally brewed Japanese sake brand,

In view of its local production for local consumption, Wakaze has succeeded to attract eco-conscious consumers at Nicolas. To meet the demand, we’ll increase our production capacity to about three times by fall. Our marketing strategy is working well, which grabs first-time customers with a variety of popular products and increases repeat customers with rare ones.

Sake brewing at Kura Grand Paris
Image credit: Wakaze

Going forward, Wakaze hopes to expand its sales and marketing area beyond France to the UK and Germany, as well as to the US where the company hopes to target early adopters and the Asian population on the West Coast. The company also plans to use the funds to strengthen hiring its human resources in both France and Japan, including sake brewers, marketers, customer support representatives, and business managers.

Among the investors in the latest round, Makoto Capital is focused on investing in startups and entrepreneurs from Japan’s northerneastern region of Tohoku. Headquartered there, Wakaze met Makoto Capital at the Sendai for Startups (SFS) startup event, which led to the latest funding. Makuake (then known as CyberAgent Crowdfunding) participated in SFS in 2017, and it is believed that Wakaze’s encounter with Makuake’s CEO Ryotaro Nakayama led to the subsequent launch of the crowdfunding campaign and the latest investment.

Japan crowdfunding site Makuake sets up shop in Korea, targets $13M+ in deals by mid-2022

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Japanese crowdfunding platform Makuake (TSE:4479) announced on Thursday that it has set up a subsidiary and an office in Korea as the first one outside its home turf. They expect to help Korean companies expand into the Japanese market by encouraging the latter to launch campaigns on the platform. They appointed their global team manager MiRyeong Kim as the head of a local subsidiary in Korea. Prior to Makuake, Kim finished her master’s degree in economics at Kyoto University and then participated in establishing an overseas subsidiary of CyberZ. She won the Newcomer Award at CyberAgent (TSE:4751), the former parent company of the crowdfunding platform. She contributed to founding the global team at Makuake, having been focused on curating overseas projects from Taiwan, Korea, and China. In 2017, Makuake partnered with the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) to help curate applicants for crowdfunding campaigns from Korea. Subsequently, the company partnered with Korean counterpart Wadiz to send campaign hosts to each other in 2018. It has helped about 600 projects from Korea including Bluetooth-compatible speaker table Mellow (securing about $219,000 through two campaigns) and laser rangefinder VH-80 (over $91,000). Makuake targets over $13 million in transacting crowdfunding campaigns from Korea by…

MiRyeong Kim, Head of Makuake Korea
Image credit: Makuake

Japanese crowdfunding platform Makuake (TSE:4479) announced on Thursday that it has set up a subsidiary and an office in Korea as the first one outside its home turf. They expect to help Korean companies expand into the Japanese market by encouraging the latter to launch campaigns on the platform. They appointed their global team manager MiRyeong Kim as the head of a local subsidiary in Korea.

Prior to Makuake, Kim finished her master’s degree in economics at Kyoto University and then participated in establishing an overseas subsidiary of CyberZ. She won the Newcomer Award at CyberAgent (TSE:4751), the former parent company of the crowdfunding platform. She contributed to founding the global team at Makuake, having been focused on curating overseas projects from Taiwan, Korea, and China.

In 2017, Makuake partnered with the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) to help curate applicants for crowdfunding campaigns from Korea. Subsequently, the company partnered with Korean counterpart Wadiz to send campaign hosts to each other in 2018. It has helped about 600 projects from Korea including Bluetooth-compatible speaker table Mellow (securing about $219,000 through two campaigns) and laser rangefinder VH-80 (over $91,000).

Makuake targets over $13 million in transacting crowdfunding campaigns from Korea by June next year. Earlier this year, the company partnered with US-based crowdfunding giant Indiegogo to help Japanese startups expand into the US and global markets.

Japanese public blockchain developer Stake Technologies secures $10M

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See the original story in Japanese. Stake Technologies, the leading developer of Made-in-Japan public blockchains such as Plasm Network and Shiden Network, announced today that it has secured 1.1 billion yen (about $10 million US) from Fenbushi Capital, Gumi Crypto, East Ventures, and other notable investors. Since its founding in 2019, the company has been conducting consistent research and development of public blockchains, having de and developing Japan’s first public blockchains, Plasm Network and Shiden Network. Japan lags far behind Europe, the U.S. and China in public blockchain, a technology that will be the foundation for the next generation of industry. However, the company has the potential to break through that status quo. The investors in this round include some of the global leading crypto and blockchain VCs from the US, China, and Europe, as well as several leading Japanese VCs and angels. From Japan, East Ventures, Gumi Crypto, Hotlink founder Yuki Uchiyama, Keio University economics professor Toyotaka Sakai, and former Sony chairman and CEO Nobuyuki Idei participated. The funds raised will be used for accelerating product development, hiring new talents as well as expending public blockchain ecosystem.

See the original story in Japanese.

Stake Technologies, the leading developer of Made-in-Japan public blockchains such as Plasm Network and Shiden Network, announced today that it has secured 1.1 billion yen (about $10 million US) from Fenbushi Capital, Gumi Crypto, East Ventures, and other notable investors.

Since its founding in 2019, the company has been conducting consistent research and development of public blockchains, having de and developing Japan’s first public blockchains, Plasm Network and Shiden Network. Japan lags far behind Europe, the U.S. and China in public blockchain, a technology that will be the foundation for the next generation of industry. However, the company has the potential to break through that status quo.

The investors in this round include some of the global leading crypto and blockchain VCs from the US, China, and Europe, as well as several leading Japanese VCs and angels. From Japan, East Ventures, Gumi Crypto, Hotlink founder Yuki Uchiyama, Keio University economics professor Toyotaka Sakai, and former Sony chairman and CEO Nobuyuki Idei participated.

The funds raised will be used for accelerating product development, hiring new talents as well as expending public blockchain ecosystem.

Parallel, Japan’s answer to Discord, secures $11M series B for global expansion

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Tokyo-based Parallel, the Japanese startup behind a voice chat app under the same name, announced today that it has secured 1.2 billion yen (about $11 million US) in a series B round. Participating investors are Jafco Group (TSE:8595), KDDI Open Innovation Fund, Anri, W ventures, and Mitsubishi UFJ Capital. The startup will use the funds to strengthen engineering and marketing teams. Founded in July of 2017 as its previous name of React, Parallel has secured a pre-series A and series A round without disclosing detailed terms to date. They launched the Parallel app back in August of 2019 which is so to speak the mobile-optimized version of Discord and targets mobile game users. It boasts a cumulative total of one million registered users and over 400 million minutes of total monthly talk time. When it comes to a voice chat app for gamers, many of our readers may recall Discord but their users had been forced to use a web browser that were not guaranteed to work properly until it launched an official mobile app about half a year ago. In addition, Discord has some problems such as difficulty in understanding the status of other users as well as inability…

Image credit: Parallel

Tokyo-based Parallel, the Japanese startup behind a voice chat app under the same name, announced today that it has secured 1.2 billion yen (about $11 million US) in a series B round. Participating investors are Jafco Group (TSE:8595), KDDI Open Innovation Fund, Anri, W ventures, and Mitsubishi UFJ Capital. The startup will use the funds to strengthen engineering and marketing teams.

Founded in July of 2017 as its previous name of React, Parallel has secured a pre-series A and series A round without disclosing detailed terms to date. They launched the Parallel app back in August of 2019 which is so to speak the mobile-optimized version of Discord and targets mobile game users. It boasts a cumulative total of one million registered users and over 400 million minutes of total monthly talk time.

Image credit: Parallel

When it comes to a voice chat app for gamers, many of our readers may recall Discord but their users had been forced to use a web browser that were not guaranteed to work properly until it launched an official mobile app about half a year ago. In addition, Discord has some problems such as difficulty in understanding the status of other users as well as inability to hear the game sound when talking with someone.

Parallel’s users have been mainly Generation Z and gamers, but the company plans to create a hangout space where users can enjoy content while sharing time with friends, family, and loved ones in everyday situations such as movies, live performances, listening to music, and shopping. In addition to the development of new functions, the company will also work on strategic alliances with entertainment companies and full-scale overseas expansion.

Japan’s Sagri secures $1.4M to roll out satellite-based solutions for farmers

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See the original story in Japanese. Sagri, the Japanese startup behind a satellite-based agricultural analytics platform under the same name, announced on Wednesday that it has secured 155 million yen (about $1.4 million US) in its latest round. This round is led by Real Tech Fund with participatioin from Minato Capital, Senshu Ikeda Capital, Hiroshima Venture Capital, and Hyogo Kobe Startup Fund (managed by Bonds Investment Group, Hyogo Prefecture, and Kobe City). This is the first investment for Hyogo Kobe Startup Fund. For Sagri, this follows their angel round securing funds from Hiroya Hanafusa (CEO of Alan Products) plus Glocalink back in January of 2019 and another round funding based on the J-KISS scheme back in April of 2010. The gap between their current capital amount and the size of the latest round allows us to estimate how much they have secured in the past rounds. The round stage is considered to be a seed round. Sagri gets soil conditions (corrosion content) using satellite data and updates on farm products and varieties from farmers to create a blockchain-powered database. Putting these altogether, the company tells farmers how to improve soil conditions from biological, chemical and physical viewpoints in addition to…

From left: CTO Takashi Tanaka, CEO Shunsuke Tsuboi, COO Shu Masuda, Real Tech Fund CEO Yukihiro Maru
Image credit: Sagri

See the original story in Japanese.

Sagri, the Japanese startup behind a satellite-based agricultural analytics platform under the same name, announced on Wednesday that it has secured 155 million yen (about $1.4 million US) in its latest round. This round is led by Real Tech Fund with participatioin from Minato Capital, Senshu Ikeda Capital, Hiroshima Venture Capital, and Hyogo Kobe Startup Fund (managed by Bonds Investment Group, Hyogo Prefecture, and Kobe City). This is the first investment for Hyogo Kobe Startup Fund.

For Sagri, this follows their angel round securing funds from Hiroya Hanafusa (CEO of Alan Products) plus Glocalink back in January of 2019 and another round funding based on the J-KISS scheme back in April of 2010. The gap between their current capital amount and the size of the latest round allows us to estimate how much they have secured in the past rounds. The round stage is considered to be a seed round.

CEO Tsuboi delivered a pitch at Demo Day of Rock Thailand 2nd batch in Bangkok in December of 2019.
Image credit: Masaru Ikeda

Sagri gets soil conditions (corrosion content) using satellite data and updates on farm products and varieties from farmers to create a blockchain-powered database. Putting these altogether, the company tells farmers how to improve soil conditions from biological, chemical and physical viewpoints in addition to offering them with accurate measurement to help farmers get more harvest. They have also developed a scoring scheme evaluating farmland by soil conditions data and macro data of corrosion content.

Conventional methods measuring nitrogen in soil were expensive while the company has succeeded in lowering the cost using satellite data. Focused on what, rice and sugar cane, the technology can give farmers harvest prediction and advise them how much fertilizer they should use. By sending all these insights to financial institutions, the company encourages them give loans to local farmers in India while the Japanese government leverages the technology to determine the status of fallow fields to see if then can resume cultivation.

Actaba
Image credit: Sagri

Inspired on their own service rolled out in India, the company has the Actaba platform to help detect abandoned fields. In Japan, local government officials keep visiting and checking their area to find abandoned fields. However, based on the wavelength data obtained from satellites, Sagri’s AI-based technology has improved to determine whether the land is abandoned or not with over 90 percent accuracy, leading to more efficient work. More than 10 city governments all across the country, including Tsukuba, Kobe, Nagoya, and Kaga, are planning to start demonstration tests within this year.

Another pillar of Sagri’s business is the AI polygon to curate and manage accuurate plots of farmlands. In Japan, plots are manually drawn on the lanp map provided by the Agricultural Ministry but inaccurate map data may cause danger for applications such as aerial fertilizer spraying by autonomous drone flight. The company is planning to accelerate its farming business by plotting farmland in various regions in Japan, India, and Thailand. It will use satellite data to obtain data such as carbon, nitrogen content and pH in farmlands, aiming to help improve the efficiency of fertilization process.

Sagri were qualified for the MUFG Digital Accelerator 4th Batch and the 500 Kobe 3rd Batch followed by attending the 2nd batch of Rock Thailand, a cross-border open innovation event organized by the Embassy of Japan in Thailand and CP Group, one of the largest conglomerate in Thailand.