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Japan’s Warrantee rolling out complimentary health insurance in US, Singapore

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We first covered Warrantee seven years ago when the company’s founder Yusuke Shono was selected as a finalist at HackOsaka 2014, an annual startup conference hosted by Osaka City. His rare experience that every single home appliance he bought when he started living alone was broken triggered him to launch his first business Warrantee aiming to convert all warranties into digital. It may be often hard for us to find a warranty form when we specifically need it. He created the service because he thought it would be convenient to manage such warranties electronically, but at first he had no idea about how to get companies to pay for it or how to grow the user base. They wondered if they could provide something like, “If you register your warranty on the platform, we’ll give you another year of warranty for free.” That was the beginning of their new insurance concept. In late 2014, Warrantee received investment from Japanese cooking-recipe sharing site Cookpad (TSE:2193) and started exploring business synergy with them. This made Shono keenly aware of the strength of a complimentary service, and he says, “It’s amazing that (Cookpad) can attract so many users even though it’s free,”. This…

Image credit: Warrantee

We first covered Warrantee seven years ago when the company’s founder Yusuke Shono was selected as a finalist at HackOsaka 2014, an annual startup conference hosted by Osaka City. His rare experience that every single home appliance he bought when he started living alone was broken triggered him to launch his first business Warrantee aiming to convert all warranties into digital.

It may be often hard for us to find a warranty form when we specifically need it. He created the service because he thought it would be convenient to manage such warranties electronically, but at first he had no idea about how to get companies to pay for it or how to grow the user base. They wondered if they could provide something like, “If you register your warranty on the platform, we’ll give you another year of warranty for free.” That was the beginning of their new insurance concept.

In late 2014, Warrantee received investment from Japanese cooking-recipe sharing site Cookpad (TSE:2193) and started exploring business synergy with them. This made Shono keenly aware of the strength of a complimentary service, and he says, “It’s amazing that (Cookpad) can attract so many users even though it’s free,”. This may be another reason why Warrantee is focused on developing a complimentary service.

Shono said,

Insurance for home appliances could be provided for free (as a way for sponsoring appliance manufacturers in return to obtain detailed user profiles) because it’s inexpensive, but not for automobiles because of high price. But if, for example, we divide a year by 365 days and ask a companies to pay 200 yen a day for each user, it could work.

Warrantee announced the launch of its first InsureTech business in 2017. Warrantee CEO Yusuke Shono (left), Tokio Marine Nichido Managing Executive Officer Yusuke Otsuka (right)
Image credit: Warrantee

In 2017, Warrantee, which had been touting themselves a warranty managing startup, suddenly started talking about insurance. Through its experience launching insurance business, Shono says his company could learn about Japan’s Insurance Business Act and how to coordinate with government agencies. Warrantee’s “Free Insurance” is a way of making on-demand insurance premium-free.

He explained,

One example is our partnership between Japanese air-conditioner giant Daikin and property franchisor Century 21 Japan. Daikin wanted to connect with property owners (such as landlords) who owned a large number of air conditioners in their properties. However, since air conditioners are typically sold through retailers or housing equipment companies, Daikin had no profile of these air conditioner owners as end users.

By having Daikin sponsor our product, Warrantee provided property owners with an additional warranty for their air conditioners free of charge. In return, Daikin could obtain the real estate owner’s profiles. It was a win-win situation for both Daikin and the property owners.

Despite its start with insurance for home appliances, Shono’s company can provide the service even for clinics which typically own expensive medical equipments. In view of how pharmaceutical firms and medical equipment manufacturers approaching medical institutions, we may imagine their sales representatives making on-site visits and phone calls but this is inefficient because medical professionals are often very busy. If Warrantee can provide give the firms sales channels in return for sponsoring Free Insurance for clinics, medical professionals would be willing to find the time slot for meet-up.

He continued,

Many manufacturers are pivoting their business model from product selling to subscription-based. For example, before a product becomes obsolete or broken, they can send customers a new model at no extra cost after 10 years of their first purchase. I believe that our Free Insurance is a great match for this trend.

The Free Insurance concept can be applied not only to “products” but also to “humans”. For example, it may give osteoporosis patients calcium supplements for free, or may allow people to sign up for complimentary health promotion services based on the result of their medical checkup. Some people may be reluctant to give out their profile but many may be willing to receive these rewards if the benefits outweigh the negatives.

He added,

Japan has a universal health insurance system that allows all its nationals to receive advanced medical care at lower cost. But US and Singapore don’t, so doctor bills there vary from hospital to hospital, making it easy for us to launch the Free Insurance in these markets. In the US, not only health insurance but also car insurance is expensive. We decided to open a branch office in Singapore because it is a good place to start something new.

Warrantee’s core members are located in Tokyo and Osaka, but we finally learned why Shono has repeatedly visited Singapore despite the inconvenience of being quarantined for two weeks amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Free Insurance business seems to be doing quite well although the amount of sales is unknown, and the firm is aiming for an IPO in the US through an SPAC (Special Purpose Acquisition Company) in the near future, sources say.

In February, Evo Acquisition was incorporated as an SPAC to help get Japanese companies listed in the US. There will be more and more Japanese startups like Warrantee seeking a way out of the global market and aiming for a US IPO.

Japan’s Warrantee foraying into on-demand insurance in partnership with industry giants

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See the original story in Japanese. Warrantee, the Japanese startup offering a cloud-based warranty management service, announced in early July during a joint press conference with Tokio Marine Nichido (TSE: 8766) held in Tokyo that they will develop an on-demand insurance service called Warrantee Now. In addition to Tokio Marine Nichido, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance and Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance are also participating as insurance underwriters in Warrantee Now, and through the use of Mitsuibussan Insurance, they have created an insurance subscription service that uses a smartphone app to offer the necessary insurance when it is needed. Warrantee Now creates an environment that makes it possible to sign up for or cancel insurance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week starting at just 10 yen (about 10 cents US) per day. Warrantee plans to begin the service by the end of August 2017, and is aiming for 100,000 subscribers in one year and 1 million by 2020. Warrantee is a startup founded in Osaka in October of 2013. By providing apps that manage consumer electronic warranty certificates on the cloud to users, it becomes possible for companies to track which households have what kind of products. For the user, there…

From left: Warrantee CEO Yusuke Shono, Tokio Marine Nichido Managing Executive Officer Yusuke Otsuka
Image credit: Warrantee

See the original story in Japanese.

Warrantee, the Japanese startup offering a cloud-based warranty management service, announced in early July during a joint press conference with Tokio Marine Nichido (TSE: 8766) held in Tokyo that they will develop an on-demand insurance service called Warrantee Now. In addition to Tokio Marine Nichido, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance and Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance are also participating as insurance underwriters in Warrantee Now, and through the use of Mitsuibussan Insurance, they have created an insurance subscription service that uses a smartphone app to offer the necessary insurance when it is needed.

Warrantee Now creates an environment that makes it possible to sign up for or cancel insurance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week starting at just 10 yen (about 10 cents US) per day. Warrantee plans to begin the service by the end of August 2017, and is aiming for 100,000 subscribers in one year and 1 million by 2020.

The companies listed by role as they prepare for the launch of Warrantee Now
Image credit: Warrantee

Warrantee is a startup founded in Osaka in October of 2013. By providing apps that manage consumer electronic warranty certificates on the cloud to users, it becomes possible for companies to track which households have what kind of products. For the user, there are advantages such as the ability to browse the instruction manuals of products, second-hand purchase requests and repair requests. Merits for companies include the possibility of targeting advertisement and more effective marketing.

Warrantee raised seed funds from Nippon Venture Capital (NVCC) in November 2013 (no funding amount disclosed). The company then participated in the startup competition of Hack Osaka in 2014. Also in 2014, they raised tens of millions of yen in the seed round from Cookpad. (In Warrantee’s most recent company outline, Yoshiteru Akita, who at the time was the CEO of Cookpad, is noted as one of the major shareholders.)

In April of this year, the company entered into a capital and business alliance with Autobacs Seven, which develops a car repair/purchase assessment network, and began an asset management service for automobiles. In May, they won the audience award at KDDI Mugen Labo 11th Demo Day with the automobile management service.

“Warrantee Now” mobile app
Image credit: Warrantee

This development will probably be hailed as the first venture into InsureTech in Japan. It seems we finally know why Warrantee, a non-fintech startup born in  Osaka, elected to establish their Tokyo headquarters in the Finolab FinTech hub.

In the space of on-demand insurance services, we’ve seen that California-based Trov recently got new funding and will expand into the Japanese market by assistance from local insurance giant Sompo Holdings (TSE:8630). In July, another US-based InsureTech startup Sure launched a mobile-centric on-demand insurance service. Singapore-based PolicyPal, offering a on-demand insurance recommendation service by chatbot, won the audience award at Orange Fab Asia‘s latest batch Demo Day.

Translated by Amanda Imasaka

Japan’s Cookpad takes 16% stake in one-stop warranty management startup Warrantee

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See the original story in Japanese. The Bridge learned earlier this week that Warrantee, an Osaka-based startup that aims to digitalize product warranties, announced that Japanese recipe site Cookpad has taken a 16% stake in the former company. Details of the investment has not been disclosed but it’s likely to be a seed funding worth six-digits in US dollars. Warrantee proposes a one-stop process, registering personal data in advance on their service. In this way warranties for a specified user can be quickly registered regardless of products or companies. There are many cases where retail stores offer additional paid warranties, so the startup plans to earn a service charge from retailers by motivating users to opt into such additional warranties. Another business opportunity lies in tying up with retailers, allowing them to utilize user data accumulated on Warrantee for the retailer promotions. Warrantee CEO Yusuke Shono elaborated their business potential: By collecting warranty data users, we can learn when and what they have bought as well as predict their next replacement period. With warranty data inputs of multiple home appliances rather than a single one, we can even estimate how they use these appliances in their lives. Such information was out of reach for appliance manufacturers despite extensive partnering efforts with retailers. He thinks…

warrantee_featuredimage

See the original story in Japanese.

The Bridge learned earlier this week that Warrantee, an Osaka-based startup that aims to digitalize product warranties, announced that Japanese recipe site Cookpad has taken a 16% stake in the former company. Details of the investment has not been disclosed but it’s likely to be a seed funding worth six-digits in US dollars.

Warrantee proposes a one-stop process, registering personal data in advance on their service. In this way warranties for a specified user can be quickly registered regardless of products or companies. There are many cases where retail stores offer additional paid warranties, so the startup plans to earn a service charge from retailers by motivating users to opt into such additional warranties. Another business opportunity lies in tying up with retailers, allowing them to utilize user data accumulated on Warrantee for the retailer promotions.

Warrantee CEO Yusuke Shono elaborated their business potential:

By collecting warranty data users, we can learn when and what they have bought as well as predict their next replacement period. With warranty data inputs of multiple home appliances rather than a single one, we can even estimate how they use these appliances in their lives. Such information was out of reach for appliance manufacturers despite extensive partnering efforts with retailers.

He thinks that one possibility with the platform is proposing interior styling and decoration to potential furniture buyers.

Translation app Waygo wins HackOsaka pitch contest

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See the original article in Japanese HackOsaka 2014, held earlier this month in Osaka, featured a pitch contest where 10 startups pitched their services and products. I’d like to introduce the prize winning startups below. Gold Prize: Waygo Awarded 500,000 yen ($5000), a round-trip ticket to London sponsored by British Airways, a Pebble Watch. Waygo is a translation app using that uses OCR technology. When the user scans Chinese sentences with their smartphone camera, the app will translate that sentence into English even without an internet connection. We previously mentioned this app when we covered Echelon 2013 and Innovation Weekend Grand Finale 2013. Last year, the startup took part in 500 Startups’ incubation program, and subsequently raised $900,000. CEO Ryan Rogowski shared two updates at the event. The first is that they are going to release a new version of their app that translates Chinese into Japanese. The other (and perhaps the most interesting one) is that they are now developing a prototype app for Google Glass. Silver Prize: TransferGo Awarded 300,000 yen ($3000), Pebble Watch Many people need to make international money transfers. But service charges at banks can be expensive, as are other transfer services like Western Union….

hackosaka-2014-competition-final

See the original article in Japanese

HackOsaka 2014, held earlier this month in Osaka, featured a pitch contest where 10 startups pitched their services and products. I’d like to introduce the prize winning startups below.

Gold Prize: Waygo

Awarded 500,000 yen ($5000), a round-trip ticket to London sponsored by British Airways, a Pebble Watch.

hackosaka-2014-competition-waygo
Waygo CEO/founder Ryan Rogowski

Waygo is a translation app using that uses OCR technology. When the user scans Chinese sentences with their smartphone camera, the app will translate that sentence into English even without an internet connection. We previously mentioned this app when we covered Echelon 2013 and Innovation Weekend Grand Finale 2013. Last year, the startup took part in 500 Startups’ incubation program, and subsequently raised $900,000.

CEO Ryan Rogowski shared two updates at the event. The first is that they are going to release a new version of their app that translates Chinese into Japanese. The other (and perhaps the most interesting one) is that they are now developing a prototype app for Google Glass.

Silver Prize: TransferGo

Awarded 300,000 yen ($3000), Pebble Watch

hackosaka-2014-competition-transfergo
TransferGo co-founder/CEO Daumantas Dvilinskas

Many people need to make international money transfers. But service charges at banks can be expensive, as are other transfer services like Western Union.

TransferGo, a startup based in Lithuania and London, offers international money transfers service at reasonable price. The transfer flow goes like this:

  • A user transfers money to the local TransferGo account, thus paying only a domestic transfer fee
  • TransferGo will then send the money from the TransferGo’s local account to a TransferGo account in the recipient’s country, and then on to the recipient.

The transfer fee is £2.50 plus 1.5% of the total amount of transferred. The company’s real rate of return is pretty high at 70%, and they have acquired licenses from authorities in the countries where they offer the service.

TransferGo was launched in May of 2013, and the number of the transfers in the first month was 941. But in January of 2014, that number shot up to 6,837. Currently they have 21,000 users and 98% of them said they want to recommend the service to friends. TransferGo is currently only available in Europe, but the startup aims to expand to other areas, including Asia.

Bronze Prize: StudyPact

Awarded 100,000 yen ($1000), Pebble Watch

hackosaka-2014-competition-studypact

StudyPact is a service that lets users to set a study goal and monetary stakes as as sort of bet with themselves. For example, you can set a goal of studying English for two hours a week, and then set the target stakes at $5. If you reach that goal, you get $5, but if not, you have to pay $5. In the event that you have to pay, the fee is split in half among users who supported the goal and the rest will go to StudyPact.

To realize more effective learning platforms, the startups plans to tie up with other educational platforms and services like Duolingo, Anki, Memrise, Coursera and Edx. The prototype that implemented Anki is expected to be released in early March, and there are plans develop apps for Android, Chrome, FireFox and iPhone. They’re now participating in an accelerator program hosted by Open Network Lab, so let’s wait and see what they present at the demo day in a few months.

Crosscorp Prize: Slumbor

Awarded 1-year free pass to co-working spaces run by Crosscorp in Singapore, Jakarta, Delhi, and Ho Chi Minh City.

hackosaka-2014-competition-slumbor
AnSing Technology CEO Dr. Hu Junhao

Slumbor is a Singapore-based startup producing a sort of smart mat designed to be put under your pillow. The mat has sensors that acquire various data, which are then transferred to the user’s smartphone via BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy). The startup currently attends a program run by the IoT incubator, HAXLR8R. They plan to raise funds at Kickstarter later on.

In addition to these four prize winners, I’d like to introduce two more startups that stood out for me in the competition.

Ontrox

hackosaka-2014-competition-ontrox
Ontrox CEO, Kazuki Arita

Ontrox is a startup aspiring to reduce traffic jams by using big data. The CEO says that by using such data, you can see certain patterns of traffic jams in cities. The advantage of Ontrox, he says, lies in their unique technology that can visualize the pattern of traffic jams and shorten the processing time for visualization.

The same technology can be used for other purposes such as analyzing and optimizing computer network data, or analyzing users’ online behavior on e-commerce sites. The startup was selected as one of 10 startups to participate in SVIP (Silicon Valley Innovative Program) hosted by the Japan External Trade Organization, which aims to launch global services from Silicon Valley.

Warrantee

hackosaka-2014-competition-warantee

Warrantee, an Osaka-based startup, aims to digitalize product warranties. When you buy a product, you typically have to fill out information on a paper form to validate the warranty. But because this is a time consuming process, many users skip it.

Warrantee proposes a one-stop process, registering personal data in advance on their service. In this way the user can quickly register warranties for different products or from different companies. There are many cases where retail stores offer additional paid warranties, so the startup plans to earn a service charge from retailers by motivating users to opt into such additional warranties. Another business opportunity lies in tying up with retailers, allowing them to utilize user data accumulated on Warrantee for the retailer promotions.

hackosaka-2014-networking