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Attaining 20M+ monthly visitors, Retty, Japan’s answer to Yelp, gets $10.5M series D funding

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See the original story in Japanese. Tokyo-based Retty, the Japanese startup behind the restaurant finder app of the same name, announced today that it has fundraised $1.1 billion yen (about $10.5 million) in a series D round. This round was led by World Innovation Lab (WiL) with participation from ABC Dream Ventures and Eight Roads Ventures Japan. ABC Dream Ventures is the investment arm of Osaka-based private TV broadcaster Asahi Broadcasting Corporation. Eight Roads Ventures Japan (previously known as Fidelity Growth Japan) also participated in a series C round for Retty back in March of 2015. For Retty, the funding sum from disclosed rounds including this time has reached 2.55 billion yen (about $24.3 million). The company claims that the funds raised this time will be used to hire system engineers to develop an overseas edition of the app, improve and fulfill a dashboard interface for restaurants as well as upgrading backend system infrastructure for global service expansion. See also: Japanese restaurant finder app Retty surpasses 5M monthly visitors How Japan’s online social restaurant guide Retty doubled its monthly visitors CNet Japan Startup Award nominees: Retty’s mobile advantage Coinciding with this, the company announced that they have surpassed 20 million…

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Retty CEO Kazuya Takeda

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based Retty, the Japanese startup behind the restaurant finder app of the same name, announced today that it has fundraised $1.1 billion yen (about $10.5 million) in a series D round. This round was led by World Innovation Lab (WiL) with participation from ABC Dream Ventures and Eight Roads Ventures Japan. ABC Dream Ventures is the investment arm of Osaka-based private TV broadcaster Asahi Broadcasting Corporation. Eight Roads Ventures Japan (previously known as Fidelity Growth Japan) also participated in a series C round for Retty back in March of 2015. For Retty, the funding sum from disclosed rounds including this time has reached 2.55 billion yen (about $24.3 million).

The company claims that the funds raised this time will be used to hire system engineers to develop an overseas edition of the app, improve and fulfill a dashboard interface for restaurants as well as upgrading backend system infrastructure for global service expansion.

See also:

retty-user-growth
Retty’s MAUs growth since its launch.

Coinciding with this, the company announced that they have surpassed 20 million monthly active users (MAUs) as of May, 2016. Given the marking of a milestone 10 million monthly active users in May of 2015, they spent almost five years to acquire the first 10 million monthly active users but the latter 10 million users was gained only within an year… which is five times faster. Meanwhile, Retty rolled out its mobile web interface back in May.

Retty has been looking into global expansion for a long time, but the road towards that doesn’t look smooth. They tried to expand into the US and Singapore in 2012 but later was forced to leave these markets. At a press conference back in 2015 commemorating the milestone of 10 million monthly active users, they revealed the start of their Asian expansion within that year but the plan has not yet been carried out. However, according to Retty CEO Kazuya Takeda, their targeted milestone of 100 million monthly active users by the year of 2020 has never been changed. This goal can be achieved by targeting the global market as well as the Japanese market and their global expansion is mandatory, he says.

We cannot yet disclose which country to start with. However, we want to start our global expansion effort with the Asian region.

retty-mobile-web-screenshots
Mobile web interface was renewed in May.

For Retty, their global expansion effort will require no local office in the targeted market since their app localization and user engagement efforts are primarily conducted at their headquarters in Tokyo. Therefore, as long as they are focused on B2C (business-to-consumer), it would entail less risk for them. Retty relies for its primary revenue on driving customer traffic to restaurants as well as in-app ads by renowned Japanese companies. Leveraging local agents, they would be able to achieve a business on top of the same model even abroad.

In the vertical, specifically serving restaurants to help them improve their sales and streamline their operations, we’ve seen a solid growth of restaurant reservation, customer ledger and POS (point-of-sales) services such as TabSquare (Singapore) and iChef (Taiwan and Hong Kong) in addition to Japan’s Toreta which recently started its operation in Singapore. Takeda told The Bridge that his company will not compete with these operators but rather potentially collaborate with each other. As a matter of fact, Retty has partnered with other service operators like HotPepper and OpenTable in Japan.

We have been told that the trends of gourmet apps are usually changed every five years. Given the fact that the Retty iOS app was released in November of 2011, this year will be crucial for the company looking at loftier goals.

retty-office
Employees devoting themselves to discussions at Retty’s office.

Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy

Japanese restaurant finder app Retty raises $8.2 million for global expansion

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This is the abridged version from our original article in Japanese Tokyo-based Retty, a Japanese startup behind the restaurant finder app under the same name, announced today that it has fundraised 1 billion yen (or about $8.24 million) from Fidelity Growth Partners Japan and the startup’s existing investors. This follows their previous funding in a series B round securing 330 million yen ($3.2 million) back in 2013. See also: How Japan’s online social restaurant guide Retty doubled its monthly visitors Japanese social restaurant finder app Retty teams up with major portals on booking deal Retty’s monthly active users hit the 7 million milestone in February, increasing a million from January. According to the company’s CEO Kazuya Takeda, this was made possible without any paid promotion but they want to let the growth increase up to 15 to 20 million users on a monthly basis by leveraging the funds. Retty plans to use the funds to strengthen their global expansion to North American and Asian countries, especially in cities where local people have a habit of dining out every day. Along with this announcement, Retty also rolled out a new design to the iPhone app, simplifying an interface so that article viewers can better see an…

retty_featuredimage

This is the abridged version from our original article in Japanese

Tokyo-based Retty, a Japanese startup behind the restaurant finder app under the same name, announced today that it has fundraised 1 billion yen (or about $8.24 million) from Fidelity Growth Partners Japan and the startup’s existing investors. This follows their previous funding in a series B round securing 330 million yen ($3.2 million) back in 2013.

See also:

Retty’s monthly active users hit the 7 million milestone in February, increasing a million from January. According to the company’s CEO Kazuya Takeda, this was made possible without any paid promotion but they want to let the growth increase up to 15 to 20 million users on a monthly basis by leveraging the funds.

Retty plans to use the funds to strengthen their global expansion to North American and Asian countries, especially in cities where local people have a habit of dining out every day. Along with this announcement, Retty also rolled out a new design to the iPhone app, simplifying an interface so that article viewers can better see an author’s face of every article and find restaurants which they may like.

retty_screenshots
Renewed interface of Retty’s iOS app

Translated by Masaru Ikeda
Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy

Japanese restaurant finder app Retty surpasses 5M monthly visitors

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See the original story in Japanese. Retty, a Tokyo-based startup providing social restaurant recommendations, announced that it has surpassed 5 million monthly unique visitors in November. Last year, the company announced that it had surpassed 1 million monthly unique visitors in October 2013. This is a quintupling of the user base in little over a year. Users have posted more than 1.2 million restaurant reviews to date, nearly a doubling of reviews from one year ago. Retty has been hiring more staff this year. They invited former Google engineer Masato Taruichi as CTO as well as Hiroyuki Honda, former executive at Japanese human resource firm Recruit, as an advisor. Retty CEO Kazuya Takeda spoke on their achievements: The main reason we have surpassed 5 million visitors is because we built a platform that delivers good user reviews and restaurant profiles. While taking care of these users, we want to achieve milestones of 10 million, 30 million, and 50 million visitors as soon as possible. I think we will release an announcement of 100 million visitors soon. In addition, we will start a full-scale global expansion in 2015, which will be based on our vision to make people in the world…

retty_featuredimage
Retty CEO Kazuya Takeda

See the original story in Japanese.

Retty, a Tokyo-based startup providing social restaurant recommendations, announced that it has surpassed 5 million monthly unique visitors in November. Last year, the company announced that it had surpassed 1 million monthly unique visitors in October 2013. This is a quintupling of the user base in little over a year. Users have posted more than 1.2 million restaurant reviews to date, nearly a doubling of reviews from one year ago.

Retty has been hiring more staff this year. They invited former Google engineer Masato Taruichi as CTO as well as Hiroyuki Honda, former executive at Japanese human resource firm Recruit, as an advisor.

Retty CEO Kazuya Takeda spoke on their achievements:

The main reason we have surpassed 5 million visitors is because we built a platform that delivers good user reviews and restaurant profiles. While taking care of these users, we want to achieve milestones of 10 million, 30 million, and 50 million visitors as soon as possible. I think we will release an announcement of 100 million visitors soon.

In addition, we will start a full-scale global expansion in 2015, which will be based on our vision to make people in the world happier through better dining experiences.

The diagram below shows Retty’s sustainable user growth in recent months. Since its launch, the company has been showing a great interest in global expansion. Now that they have acquired experienced talent and a solid user base, we hope to tell you more about their expansion strategy in the near future.

retty-user-growth

How Japan’s online social restaurant guide Retty doubled its monthly visitors

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Based on the original article in Japanese Online social restaurant guide Retty achieved 1 million unique visitors in the month of October 2013. That was pretty good, but since then the number has doubled. Retty announced on March 6th that visitors to the site has surpassed 2 million in the month of February. According to CEO Kazuya Takeda, the service sees about a 120% increase every month. Their total number of customers reviews has reached 800,000. The company raised over 300 million yen ($3 million) in December 2013, and they recently relocated to a new office as well. To find out a little more about how Retty is doing these days, we held a short interview with their CEO Kazuya Takeda. Takeda: It’s been about a year ago since we decided to put more resources into SEO. The renewed site was launched in May last of year, and it was about 3 months until we saw the effects when visitors coming to the site via search engines dramatically increased. When Retty initially launched, social media was a big trend. And the team developed the service expecting most traffic to come from social media sites. The challenge of beating the existing…

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Based on the original article in Japanese

Online social restaurant guide Retty achieved 1 million unique visitors in the month of October 2013. That was pretty good, but since then the number has doubled. Retty announced on March 6th that visitors to the site has surpassed 2 million in the month of February. According to CEO Kazuya Takeda, the service sees about a 120% increase every month. Their total number of customers reviews has reached 800,000.

The company raised over 300 million yen ($3 million) in December 2013, and they recently relocated to a new office as well. To find out a little more about how Retty is doing these days, we held a short interview with their CEO Kazuya Takeda.

Takeda: It’s been about a year ago since we decided to put more resources into SEO. The renewed site was launched in May last of year, and it was about 3 months until we saw the effects when visitors coming to the site via search engines dramatically increased.

When Retty initially launched, social media was a big trend. And the team developed the service expecting most traffic to come from social media sites. The challenge of beating the existing competitors like Gurunavi and Tabelog, who see big traffic from Yahoo and Google, appeared daunting. Takeda explains:

In the early stages, we could increase our restaurant data and the amount of reviews through social media like Facebook and Twitter. But it took quite a long time to reach a certain volume.

140306_Rettyユーザー数200万突破<em>pdf(1</em>3ページ)” title=”140306_Rettyユーザー数200万突破_pdf(1_3ページ)” /> </p>
<p>Even though the pace was slow, Retty gradually increased its fan base. When Retty accumulated data for 150,000 restaurants with a half million reviews, they begun to work on SEO. The site appears to have been positively evaluated by Google, and the traffic increased a lot. His strategy, which was to win fans on social media and increasing visitors using SEO, seems to be working quite well.</p>
<p>Having said all that, Takeda tells us that strengthening SEO was not his original plan.</p>
<blockquote>
<p>Actually the service didn’t scale we first planned. We once aimed at scaling the service only through app downloads. But we found visitors to the site were really growing. Expanding the service using just the app would be somewhat limiting. We realized strengthening SEO would be necessary to scale the site.</p>
</blockquote>
<p>Social media and smartphone apps have been two technology developments that drove a number of food-service apps to be developed over the past few years. But in Japan, none of them have succeeded to the level where they threaten industry leaders Tabelog and Gurunavi.</p>
<p>So how far can Retty go? I asked Takeda about his future plan.</p>
<blockquote>
<p>I’d like to pursue smartphone-centered restaurant search. I’ve thought about what is necessary to offer the greatest user experience in this field. And I think the answer lies in listening to users’ voices. It’s a bit hard to explain logically, but things naturally turn around when we put top priority on our users. </p>
</blockquote>
<p><img id=

What is the target goal you are looking at?

I believe we can reach 30 or 40 million users domestically. And we are expanding overseas at the same time. […] I didn’t name Retty with some Japanese words because I was looking beyond Japanese market. Even though it would have been better for our Japanese users if we had done so.

Platforms like smartphones and Facebook are now available everywhere in the world. This is a very rare occasion. I think the Japan has a great advantage in the overseas market, especially in areas such as food, games and content.

How to search for the best places to eat in Japan

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If you’re looking for places to eat here in Japan, there more than a few options available to help you in your search. Tabelog, a Japanese restaurant review site (much like Yelp) is one, and its rival Gurunavi is another popular option. But over the years an abundance of alternatives have emerged to challenge these two leading services. I thought this would be a good opportunity to look at just a few. Retty is a popular mobile service, where you can get restaurant recommendations from your online friends. Readers may recall that we previously featured it leading up to the recent CNet Japan Awards. On mobile, you can also look to location-based apps like Tab that suggest nearby points of interest, including restaurants. Another interesting option is through customer relations platforms like Kanban Musume (roughly translates as ‘store representative girl’) which lets consumers communicate with store staff online. By becoming a regular at restaurants, people receive exclusive offers as a bonus. Although the name suggests female staff, Kanban Musume includes staff of both genders. Moving on to other services, a new website called ‘Kono-ko-ni-aitai’ (meaning ‘I want to see her’ ) recently launched. According to the site, male users can…

Foodservices

If you’re looking for places to eat here in Japan, there more than a few options available to help you in your search. Tabelog, a Japanese restaurant review site (much like Yelp) is one, and its rival Gurunavi is another popular option. But over the years an abundance of alternatives have emerged to challenge these two leading services. I thought this would be a good opportunity to look at just a few.

Retty is a popular mobile service, where you can get restaurant recommendations from your online friends. Readers may recall that we previously featured it leading up to the recent CNet Japan Awards. On mobile, you can also look to location-based apps like Tab that suggest nearby points of interest, including restaurants.

map view on Retty
map view on Retty

Another interesting option is through customer relations platforms like Kanban Musume (roughly translates as ‘store representative girl’) which lets consumers communicate with store staff online. By becoming a regular at restaurants, people receive exclusive offers as a bonus. Although the name suggests female staff, Kanban Musume includes staff of both genders.

Moving on to other services, a new website called ‘Kono-ko-ni-aitai’ (meaning ‘I want to see her’ ) recently launched. According to the site, male users can look through photos of female staff at various establishments to find where they’d like to go.

Now this could be for restaurants, hair/esthetic salons, or even night clubs. The site was only launched this past week, so there’s not much data registered at this point. If you want to promote your store, you can add up to three staff registrations for free.

Other ways to discovering new places to eat include websites like Meshitomo, Social Lunch or Coffee Meeting. These websites are built to provide working people or job-seeking students a chance to connect with each other through casual lunches or dinners. While the purposes of these websites are more social, they may also be an interesting way to discover new places to eat and drink.

With so much information out there, it’s good to have so many options to turn to besides just Google. If you’re hungry, these are just a few ways that you can find new and interesting discoveries. If you know of others, let us know in the comments!

CNet Japan Startup Award nominees: Retty’s mobile advantage

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This is part two of our CNET Japan Startup Awards nominee rundown. The rest can be found here. Retty is a Japan-based restaurant recommendation site based on your Facebook social graph. It’s often compared with Tabelog, the Yelp of Japan, which has 25.77M desktop users and 22.97M users on mobile. But like Yelp, Tabelog has an outdated interface. Users are immediately overloaded with information from strangers. A lot of hunting and pecking is required to reach even the contact information of certain establishments, which is unfortunate. And yet it is also understandable for a site that has been around for so many years. In contrast, Retty’s strength lies with its mobile app and clean PC interface. Familiar faces greet you there because it is Facebook reliant. Tabelog may have millions of users but their text-based app is catered towards feature phone users. Smartphone users will find the gesture-based search and discovery of Retty far easier to use. Retty also maps of saved restaurants for a simple, visual search (see below). It can be easy to underestimate the power of mobile and how easily it can disrupt. So even if Retty only has a fraction of Tabelog’s users, it could ride…

Retty

This is part two of our CNET Japan Startup Awards nominee rundown. The rest can be found here.

retty-logo

Retty is a Japan-based restaurant recommendation site based on your Facebook social graph. It’s often compared with Tabelog, the Yelp of Japan, which has 25.77M desktop users and 22.97M users on mobile. But like Yelp, Tabelog has an outdated interface. Users are immediately overloaded with information from strangers. A lot of hunting and pecking is required to reach even the contact information of certain establishments, which is unfortunate. And yet it is also understandable for a site that has been around for so many years.

In contrast, Retty’s strength lies with its mobile app and clean PC interface. Familiar faces greet you there because it is Facebook reliant.

Tabelog may have millions of users but their text-based app is catered towards feature phone users. Smartphone users will find the gesture-based search and discovery of Retty far easier to use. Retty also maps of saved restaurants for a simple, visual search (see below).

It can be easy to underestimate the power of mobile and how easily it can disrupt. So even if Retty only has a fraction of Tabelog’s users, it could ride atop Japan’s astounding smartphone market growth to grow exponentially [1].

Retty is also experimenting with content marketing, most recently collaborating with a local service Tokyo Calendar, to publish a special magazine-like guidebook (similar to US-based Zagat). Retty tapped into their top users, including notable food bloggers, models, and business women to recommend bars and restaurants perfect for date spots. Obviously this is a pretty great marketing campaign to bring in new male users.

Retty also recently closed a $3.2 million series B round, having raised a total of $4.4M so far. With all this progress, I wouldn’t write them off just because they don’t have Tabelog’s user base. At least, not yet.

retty retty-map


  1. From April to September of 2013, 68.5% of users switched from a feature phone to a smart phone, according to research from Mobile Marketing Data Lab. Analysts also predict that by 2014, 60.2% of users will switch switch to smartphones — almost a 150% rate of change since 2011 (see eMarketer citing a July Hakuhodo survey).  ↩

Japan-based restaurant finder app Retty raises $3.2M

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See the original story in Japanese. Tokyo-based Retty, the startup behind the restaurant finder app of the same name, announced today that it has raised 330 million yen (approximately $3.2 million) in a series B round from Itochu Ventures, Mizuho Capital, and other investors. Prior to this round, the company raised $22 million yen ($285,000) from CyberAgent Ventures and an angel investor back in August of 2011, and 100 million yen ($1.2 million) from Gree Ventures, NTT Investment Partners, and Mitsubishi UFJ Capital back in October of 2012. Our readers may recall the app surpassed 1 million monthly unique visitors back in October. The app renewed its interface back in its interface back in August, which has helped spur user growth to almost twice its previous rate. But Retty still has a huge obstacle to overcome. Its competitor Tabelog has 25.77 million desktop users, 22.97 million users on mobile, and a surprisingly 1.14 billion unique page views in a month [1]. It will be interesting to see how Retty will position itself in this race. We’ll explore the company’s future plans in an upcoming chat with CEO Kazuya Takeda. So please stay tuned! This is according to the announcement from…

retty-featured

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based Retty, the startup behind the restaurant finder app of the same name, announced today that it has raised 330 million yen (approximately $3.2 million) in a series B round from Itochu Ventures, Mizuho Capital, and other investors. Prior to this round, the company raised $22 million yen ($285,000) from CyberAgent Ventures and an angel investor back in August of 2011, and 100 million yen ($1.2 million) from Gree Ventures, NTT Investment Partners, and Mitsubishi UFJ Capital back in October of 2012.

Our readers may recall the app surpassed 1 million monthly unique visitors back in October. The app renewed its interface back in its interface back in August, which has helped spur user growth to almost twice its previous rate.

But Retty still has a huge obstacle to overcome. Its competitor Tabelog has 25.77 million desktop users, 22.97 million users on mobile, and a surprisingly 1.14 billion unique page views in a month [1].

It will be interesting to see how Retty will position itself in this race. We’ll explore the company’s future plans in an upcoming chat with CEO Kazuya Takeda. So please stay tuned!


  1. This is according to the announcement from Tabelog’s parent company Kakaku.com. As of October 2013.

Japanese restaurant finder service Retty sees over 1M monthly visitors

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See the original story in Japanese Retty, a Tokyo-based startup providing social restaurant recommendations, announced that it has surpassed 1 million monthly unique visitors this month (see chart below). It’s growing by 200,000 visitors every month, and the month of October was almost double what it was back in August. The company’s CEO Kazuya Takeda attributes this growth spurt to a recently added feature that lets users easily to find their favorite restaurants. 65% of Retty visitors come from smartphones, and it has over 600,000 review postings for 160,000 restaurants. He adds: Some foodies are using our app to just explore restaurants in their spare time. In addition to the community function, we plan to make the app more helpful for you to find restaurants you will like. Takeda also revealed that his team will move to a monetization phase early next year. For restaurants owners, you will be able to get in touch with users who like your restaurant as well. The company has the eventual goal of reaching over 15 million monthly unique visitors in two years.

retty-featured

See the original story in Japanese

Retty, a Tokyo-based startup providing social restaurant recommendations, announced that it has surpassed 1 million monthly unique visitors this month (see chart below). It’s growing by 200,000 visitors every month, and the month of October was almost double what it was back in August.

The company’s CEO Kazuya Takeda attributes this growth spurt to a recently added feature that lets users easily to find their favorite restaurants. 65% of Retty visitors come from smartphones, and it has over 600,000 review postings for 160,000 restaurants. He adds:

Some foodies are using our app to just explore restaurants in their spare time. In addition to the community function, we plan to make the app more helpful for you to find restaurants you will like.

Takeda also revealed that his team will move to a monetization phase early next year. For restaurants owners, you will be able to get in touch with users who like your restaurant as well.

The company has the eventual goal of reaching over 15 million monthly unique visitors in two years.

retty-visitorsgrowth
The growth of monthly unique visitors at Retty

Japanese social restaurant finder app Retty teams up with major portals on booking deal

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Retty, a Tokyo-based startup providing social restaurant recommendations, has announced a partnership with three Japanese major restaurant guides and reservation sites: restaurant.ikyu.com (operated by Ikyu, TSE:2450), Gurunavi (TSE:2440), and Akiran.jp. Retty users can find the best restaurants according to their social contacts. With the agreement users will gain instant access to book restaurants via the partnering services, with integration set to start on April 8th. The deal’s scope is far-reaching too, covering more than 600,000 restaurants in Japan. Retty initially started its journey backed by CyberAgent Ventures back in November of 2010. The startup raised 100 million yen (or about 1 million dollars) from GREE Ventures, NTT Investment Partners, and Mitsubishi UFJ Capital last October in order to drive international expansion to the US and Singapore. However, we’ve not yet confirmed the company’s presence in those markets yet. Most likely Retty is still building business strategies so they can take on competitors such as Yelp or Singtel’s HungryGoWhere. Partnering with these Japanese restaurant portals that have online booking capabilities could be a great shortcut to monetization. Money can be made by driving user traffic businesses without the need to make agreements with every single establishment in the local restaurant market. In…

retty_gurunavi_ikyu_logo

Retty, a Tokyo-based startup providing social restaurant recommendations, has announced a partnership with three Japanese major restaurant guides and reservation sites: restaurant.ikyu.com (operated by Ikyu, TSE:2450), Gurunavi (TSE:2440), and Akiran.jp.

Retty users can find the best restaurants according to their social contacts. With the agreement users will gain instant access to book restaurants via the partnering services, with integration set to start on April 8th. The deal’s scope is far-reaching too, covering more than 600,000 restaurants in Japan.

Retty initially started its journey backed by CyberAgent Ventures back in November of 2010. The startup raised 100 million yen (or about 1 million dollars) from GREE Ventures, NTT Investment Partners, and Mitsubishi UFJ Capital last October in order to drive international expansion to the US and Singapore. However, we’ve not yet confirmed the company’s presence in those markets yet. Most likely Retty is still building business strategies so they can take on competitors such as Yelp or Singtel’s HungryGoWhere.

retty-gurunavi_screenshot
Still under development, and the new feature will go live on April 8th.

Partnering with these Japanese restaurant portals that have online booking capabilities could be a great shortcut to monetization. Money can be made by driving user traffic businesses without the need to make agreements with every single establishment in the local restaurant market.

In my view, Ikyu or Gurunavi are likely to take over the startup in the near future. Both companies are listed on the TSE stock market, have sound financial foundations, and are interested in launching restaurant-related information businesses in Asia and the rest of the world. But they are struggling to find new business models for further expansion and development.