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Japanese HRTech startup SmartHR secures $13M series B from Tokio Marine, Nissen

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See the original story in Japanese. Tokyo-based SmartHR, the Japanese startup offering a cloud-based personnel management service under the same name, announced today that it has raised 1.5 billion yen (about $13.3 million US) in a series B round. This round was conducted through a special purpose vehicle (SPV) formed by 500 Startups Japan with participation from Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance, ad agency Nissen (TSE:6543), three unnamed institutional investors and corporate venture capitals, as well as angel investors. See also: Japan’s cloud-based personnel management tool SmartHR secures $5M from WiL, others At the press briefing at SmartHR’s new office in Tokyo, James Riney, Head of 500 Startups Japan, explained about how useful the new funding scheme is for startups, especially for their management: When a startup is raising funds, their management usually needs to be committed to that effort for three to six months to secure it. (In case of SmartHR,) I told Miyasa-san (CEO of SmartHR) to believe us that we’ll definitely gather investors in his stead. Ryo Tamaki, who previously worked for Tokyo-based startup incubator Samurai Incubate but recently joined SmartHR as CFO, said that the new scheme enabled them to secure funding in as short…

L to R: Takayuki Sumi (Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance), Yohei Sawayama (Managing Partner, 500 Startups Japan), Shoji Miyata (CEO, SmartHR), James Riney (Head, 500 Startups Japan), Ryo Tamaki (CFO, SmartHR)
Image credit: Masaru Ikeda

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based SmartHR, the Japanese startup offering a cloud-based personnel management service under the same name, announced today that it has raised 1.5 billion yen (about $13.3 million US) in a series B round. This round was conducted through a special purpose vehicle (SPV) formed by 500 Startups Japan with participation from Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance, ad agency Nissen (TSE:6543), three unnamed institutional investors and corporate venture capitals, as well as angel investors.

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At the press briefing at SmartHR’s new office in Tokyo, James Riney, Head of 500 Startups Japan, explained about how useful the new funding scheme is for startups, especially for their management:

When a startup is raising funds, their management usually needs to be committed to that effort for three to six months to secure it. (In case of SmartHR,) I told Miyasa-san (CEO of SmartHR) to believe us that we’ll definitely gather investors in his stead.

Ryo Tamaki, who previously worked for Tokyo-based startup incubator Samurai Incubate but recently joined SmartHR as CFO, said that the new scheme enabled them to secure funding in as short as about a month and the labor required was about a quarter of the usual fundraising efforts.

The SPV scheme
Image credit: Masaru Ikeda

Shoji Miyata, CEO of SmartHR, revealed several figures seeing the growth of his business such as 17.1% of monthly sales growth rate and 6.28 times of YoY user growth rate, plus 9,300 corporate users with 99.3% of user persistency rate.

The latest funds are intended to be used for advertising (airing TV commercial, attending exhibitions, running online and transportation ads) and system development (hiring and employing developers). In addition to the current service menu, the company expects to develop up-sell products and a one-stop platform serving surrounding related solutions together, while driving potential customers to financial services such as company pension plans and “benefit-your-locality” tax scheme businesses.

SmartHR CEO shows the press user growth and persistency rate.
Image credit: Masaru Ikeda

Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy

Japan’s cloud-based personnel management tool SmartHR secures $5M from WiL, others

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This is the abridged version from our original article in Japanese. Tokyo-based Kufu, the company behind cloud-based personnel management platform SmartHR, announced today that it has fundraised about 500 million yen (about $5 million) in the latest round. This round was led by WiL (World Innovation Lab) with participation from Beenext and 500 Startups Japan as well as three angel investors: Kotaro Chiba (co-founder of Japanese mobile gaming developer Colopl), Yu Akasaka (CEO and co-founder of Japanese dating app developer Eureka) and Jun Nishikawa (COO and co-founder of Eureka). The company plans to use the fund to expand the team of 20 people to 35 people. See also: Japan’s Eureka, developer of dating and couple apps, acquired by Match Group According to Kufu CEO Shoji Miyata, Akasaka and Nishikawa (of Eureka) were the first paying enterprise user for SmartHR while they and Chiba have been playing a mentor-like role for Kufu who has had no angel investor aboard his company. Founded in January of 2013, the company fundraised the first funding from Tokyo-based startup accelerator Open Network Lab, followed by a $300,000 seed funding in July of last year as well as a $400,000 additional seed funding from East Ventures,…

kufu-shoji-miyata
Kufu CEO Shoji Miyata

This is the abridged version from our original article in Japanese.

Tokyo-based Kufu, the company behind cloud-based personnel management platform SmartHR, announced today that it has fundraised about 500 million yen (about $5 million) in the latest round. This round was led by WiL (World Innovation Lab) with participation from Beenext and 500 Startups Japan as well as three angel investors: Kotaro Chiba (co-founder of Japanese mobile gaming developer Colopl), Yu Akasaka (CEO and co-founder of Japanese dating app developer Eureka) and Jun Nishikawa (COO and co-founder of Eureka).

The company plans to use the fund to expand the team of 20 people to 35 people.

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According to Kufu CEO Shoji Miyata, Akasaka and Nishikawa (of Eureka) were the first paying enterprise user for SmartHR while they and Chiba have been playing a mentor-like role for Kufu who has had no angel investor aboard his company.

Founded in January of 2013, the company fundraised the first funding from Tokyo-based startup accelerator Open Network Lab, followed by a $300,000 seed funding in July of last year as well as a $400,000 additional seed funding from East Ventures, DG Incubation (the incubation arm of Japanese internet service company Digital Garage) and Beenext in January of this year.

While Kufu had been engaged in entrusted system development for a time being since launch, their cloud-based management tool SmartHR was unveiled in November of 2015 and became a smash hit. The company claims that the tool has acquired 1,700 corporate users in nine months since launch.

The fee pricing depends on how many employees a corporate user wants to manage using the platform. Miyata declined to disclose how many people they are dealing with through the platform as a whole, but he said that they are adjusting pricing plans so that a corporate user can use it for about $5 per employee.

Starting off at Open Network Lab, Kufu has been sweeping many startup competitions in Japan, with such winnings as gaining the top prize at TechCrunch Tokyo, B Dash Camp as well as Infinity Ventures Summit.

Based on the market size of cloud-based accounting services in Japan, Kufu estimates there are about 200,000 potential enterprise users for SmartHR. Despite the high user persistency rate of 98%, it’s true that the company is receiving feedback from some small businesses that do not think the service is beneficial, so they still have to keep working to improve it.

Translated by Masaru Ikeda
Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy

Japan’s SmartHR, cloud-based personnel management platform, secures seed round

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See the original story in Japanese. Kufu is a Japanese startup behind SmartHR, a cloud-based personnel management platform. The company recently announced that it has secured funds from East Ventures, DG Incubation, and Beenext. The exact amount is yet to be announced but it is said to amount to several tens of millions in Japanese yen (hundreds of thousand US dollars). SmartHR automates procedures related to social insurance and unemployment insurance. It was developed to free up managers or human resources representatives from tiresome and time-consuming personnel management. Launched back in November 2015, this release was announced during the “Startup Battle” pitch competition of TechCrunch Tokyo 2015 where they were victorious. This service gained a great response right after its release, and 2 months later the number of companies using the company’s service has grown from 200 to 450. Noted Kufu CEO Shoji Miyata upon the funds, It has been growing much larger than we expected. It’s grown 170% from the preceding month so we are re-calculating profit and loss. Although the majority of SmartHR users are companies with 50 to 100 employees, there are also large companies with some 400 to 500 employees. He also commented: We have huge…

kufu-shoji-miyata
Kufu CEO Shoji Miyata

See the original story in Japanese.

Kufu is a Japanese startup behind SmartHR, a cloud-based personnel management platform. The company recently announced that it has secured funds from East Ventures, DG Incubation, and Beenext. The exact amount is yet to be announced but it is said to amount to several tens of millions in Japanese yen (hundreds of thousand US dollars).

SmartHR automates procedures related to social insurance and unemployment insurance. It was developed to free up managers or human resources representatives from tiresome and time-consuming personnel management. Launched back in November 2015, this release was announced during the “Startup Battle” pitch competition of TechCrunch Tokyo 2015 where they were victorious. This service gained a great response right after its release, and 2 months later the number of companies using the company’s service has grown from 200 to 450.

tctokyo-2015-top-prize-winner-smarthr
Kufu CEO Shoji Miyata (right) receives the award from TechCrunch US writer Kim-Mai Cutler.

Noted Kufu CEO Shoji Miyata upon the funds,

It has been growing much larger than we expected. It’s grown 170% from the preceding month so we are re-calculating profit and loss. Although the majority of SmartHR users are companies with 50 to 100 employees, there are also large companies with some 400 to 500 employees.

He also commented:

We have huge demand and numerous inquiries. That also accelerates the improvement of the product.

With the funds raised this time, Kufu plans to strengthen development and the support service system. Keiko Umino, a certified social insurance labor consultant at SmartHR, established a social and labor consultant corporation to deal with the legal procedures under Act on Public Consultants on Social and Labour Insurance; the two companies will cooperate and offer complementary services to users.

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smarthr_screenshot

Miyata says:

At this moment our service is only for the enterprises but in the future we are thinking about providing the management displays to consultants as well. The response from the users made us consider this. SmartHR aims to enable anyone to handle the simplified tasks so certified social insurance consultants can effectively commit highly-valued consulting time.

Upon reflecting on the response from users, Miyata commented that “2016 is the year to brush up on the product!” and has set his target for this year – introducing 3,000 companies – which has remained the same since the site release. However, he has revised the target for 2017 upwards to 30,000 companies.

It looks like SmartHR can alter this industry for the first time in ages and we bid godspeed to this endeavor.

Translated by Minako Ambiru via Mother First
Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy