Oct 30, 2013

[The Bridge] Japanese mobile payments processor Coiney secures $8M in funding

Japan’s Nikkei reported that Tokyo-based mobile payments processor Coiney will soon raise up to 800 million yen (approximately $8 million) from Innovation Network Corporation of Japan, the country’s state-run investment fund which promotes emerging technology businesses. 
Our readers may recall that the startup raised 500 million yen ($5 million) back in August from Credit Saison, one of Japan’s top credit card companies. The company expects to transact more than 1 trillion yen ($10 billion) through its payment platform in the next five years. ...
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The Bridge 10/28/2013 [en]

  • INCJ invested in another credit card payment service, Royal Gate recently. It seems bit strange to invest in the same area, but it seems Coiney mainly targets small shops, while Royal Gate focuses on enterprise customers. Needless to say, competitors from US such as Square and Paypal are very strong. INCJ may hope to grow Japanese company to compete with others because payment is a platform for commerce.
  • http://coiney.com/

[The Bridge] Japanese personal accounting startup Money Forward raises $5 million

Tokyo-based Money Forward, the startup behind the personal accounting app of the same name, announced today that it has raised 500 million yen ($5 million) from Japanese investment company Jafco. 
Money Forward provides online personal accounting for individuals, allowing them to easily manage their daily expenses by integrating with their bank passbooks and credit purchase history with information scraped from their web bank and credit accounts. The service is also available for desktop, as well as iOS and Android platforms. The company also announced that it will launch a cloud-based accounting service for individual and corporate users, and it will also start publishing an online newsletter. ...
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The Bridge 10/28/2013 [en]

  • Online services for personal finance are getting hot recently. Money Forward's direct competitor is Moneytree which announced finance of 150 million yen from DG Incubation and others just a few weeks ago. Another crowded field in personal finance is household account keeping apps like Zaim, Recireco, and Dr Wallet. These areas are not new as Internet service, but along with penetration of smart devices, new services are trying to replace existing services.
  • https://moneyforward.com/

Oct 25, 2013

[The Bridge] Japanese business reporting tool Gamba raises $200,000 from Skyland Ventures

Yokohama-based Gamba, the startup behind the business reporting tool of the same name, announced today that it has raised $20 million yen (approximately $200,00) from Skyland Ventures, a Japanese investment company focused on seed-stage startups. Some of our readers may recall when we reported back in July that their tool would be integrated with a number of code- and task-tracking tools: GitHub, BitBucket, Pivotal Tracker and Google Tasks. 
The company was launched last December by Masahiro Morita who previously worked with e-commerce giant Rakuten as a business development producer. As of July, it has acquired more than 1,000 corporate accounts in Japan across a wide range of companies. ...
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The Bridge 10/24/2013 [en]

  • Communication tools targeting for business customers utilizing social networking features are becoming hot category for startups recently such as Talknote and Chatwork. Generally speaking, it takes much longer time to grow compared to consumer social services, but it is also true that B2B is more robust to maintain user base. It is just a beginning of the competition for these business social networking services.
  • http://www.getgamba.com/

ZIGExN To Be Listed On Mothers At November 22 / Cnet Japan

ZIGExN was founded as a joint venture between Drecom and Recruit Group under the name of Drecom Generated Media.  From 2008, it has operated vertical search service enabling to search across multi net media such as Tenshoku EX, job search, and Jidousha EX, car search. In February 2009, it sold out Drecom Blog business to Drecom and changed the name to ZIGExN in September of the same year. ...

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Cnet Japan 10/22/2013 [jp]

  • Other vertical categories include housing, moving, ISP, solar panel, insurance, wedding, live tickets, and travel. Some categories have even sub categories such as job search focused on nurse. It is quite interesting business and still has room to grow because there may be more vertical portal services.
  • http://zigexn.co.jp/

Social Media Marketing, Allied Architects Goes IPO On Mothers / Venture Now

Allied Architects was founded on August 2005. It runs social media marketing services centered around Monipla Fun Blog which is a community platform allowing business customer to do marketing and sales promotion on it.

The latest business results are 1.07 billion yen of revenue and 134 million yen of net income ending December 2012.

Venture Now 10/23/2013 [jp]

Oct 24, 2013

CyberAgent Invest In Smartphone Ads Startup In Silicon Valley / MarkeZine

CyberAgent invests in URX Inc., retargeting advertising focused on mobile apps. It is the first investing deal for CyberAgent in Silicon Valley. Its advertising technology division partners with URX for its Japan and Asia entry.

URX was founded in February 2013 launched from Y Combinator. Different from other retargeting technology which can lead to top page of apps, URX enables to lead directly to a certain page in apps.

MarkeZine 10/24/2013 [jp]

  • CyberAgent has been actively investing in startups in Asia aiming to transfer skills and knowledge of CyberAgent to them and get into the market. In case of Silicon Valley, the company may more focus on helping the startups to get into Japan market. It is interesting to see how the aim works.
  • http://urx.com/

[The Bridge] Japanese e-commerce platform provider Base raises $2M from CyberAgent

Japanese e-commerce platform provider Base announced today that it will raise 200 million (approximately $2 million) from Japanese internet giant CyberAgent. This will be the first investment from the latter’s new fund targeting middle- and late-stage startups, also known as Fujita Fund after the company’s CEO Susumu Fujita. 
According to Base’s CEO Yuta Tsuruoka, his company also raised 50 million yen ($500,000) from Sun Eight Investment back in July. The total amount of funds raised is about 273 million yen ($2.73 million), including investments from East Ventures, Party Factory, and angel investors. ...
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The Bridge 10/23/2013

  • BASE's direct competitor, Stores.jp was acquired by Starttoday, the largest fashion commerce service, ZOZOTOWN operator back in July. Yahoo Japan removed listing fee for merchants on its marketplace and auction site. EC market has been considered to be mostly competition between Rakuten and Amazon for several years, but it is actually changing and getting fierce.
  • https://thebase.in/ 

C2C English Conversation Lesson, Cafetalk Operator Raises 38M Yen / Cnet Japan

Smallbridge, operating C2C online learning platform "Cafetalk" revealed finance of 38 million yen from Mizuho Capital, Mitsubishi UFJ Capital, and United.

Cafetalk is a C2C platform allowing users to have online lessons using Skype including English conversation lessons and others from teachers around the world. Teachers including language experts, entrepreneurs, painters, actors, and Japanese who live in foreign countries many years give lessons such as learning science or math in English, learning English with dramas, how to write letters in Korean, and manner lessons in French. There are about 1800 lessons from 20 countries. ...

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Cnet 10/23/2013 [jp]

  • There are many Skype English lesson services in Japan. Cafetalk tries to differentiate from the competitors by integrating learning of cultures rather than focusing on language itself. It might be a smaller market, but seems to have more stickiness in users.
  • http://cafetalk.com/ 

Cloudian Raised From Intel Capital / Mynavi

Cloudian announced fundraising from Intel Capital on 23rd October. The amount is not disclosed.

Cloudian is a software developer with expertise in cloud storage software products having offices in US, Japan, and China. The company provides a packaged software, Cloudian and others. ...

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Mynavi 10/24/2013 [jp]

  • Cloudian software allows enterprise customers to build Amazon S3 compatible cloud storage system. 
  • http://www.cloudian.com

Oct 22, 2013

[The Bridge] Japanese corporate communication platform Talknote raises $2 million

Tokyo-based Talknote, the startup behind the corporate communication platform of the same name, announced today it has raised 200 million yen (approximately $2 million) from Japanese investment company Lead Capital Management. Prior to this funding, it had raised an undisclosed sum of investment from CyberAgent Ventures back in March of 2012. 
The platform was initially launched as an instant messaging tool for restaurants back in February of 2010, but switched to become a corporate communication platform for businesses in general back in June of 2011. It had over 5,000 corporate users as of last March, but since then its growth has accelerated surpassing 10,000 accounts this month. ...
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The Bridge 10/21/2013 [en]

  • A social networking service for corporations has been considered to have a big potential for many years, but there seems no very successful services so far in Japan. Talknote accelerates the growth from this year, which means the service category finally starts to become popular. 
  • http://talknote.com/

Oct 18, 2013

Innovation Network Corporation Of Japan Established Joint Fund With University Of Tokyo Edge Capital / Nikkei

A government-owned fund, Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ) announced a set up of a new fund jointly with University of Tokyo Edge Capital (UTEC). INCJ invests up to 10 billion yen in the fund in which they plan to raise additional 5 to 10 billion yen from financial institutes. It aims to create new business by excavating and investing in buried research at universities.

Majority of capital is funded by INCJ, but UTEC is in charge of selection of investments. ...

Nikkei 10/16/2013 [jp]

  • An establishment of new funds is expected to increase in the next several months. A valuation of seed startups seems already rising and these new funds could accelerate the trend.

[The Bridge] Japanese premium outlet site Luxa raises $3.3 million from KDDI

Tokyo-based Luxa, the startup running a members-only discount e-commerce platform, has announced today that it has raised 330 million yen ($3.3 million) from KDDI Open Innovation Fund, the fund operated by Japanese telco KDDI. Prior to this funding, the company raised a total of investment worth over $10 million from Japanese investment company Jafco. Coinciding with these new funds, Luxa plans to provide limited-offer discounts to mobile subscribers via au SmartPass, the telco’s flat-rate app subscription program. au-luxa Luxa’s storefront for KDDI mobile subscribers only 
Since its initial launch back in August of 2010, the website has acquired over 450,000 members, mostly people in their 30s and 40s. Their products are wide-ranging, with a heavy slant towards cosmetics and appliances. ...  
KDDI also revealed that it has invested in iRidge, the startup behind an O2O (online-to-offline) solution using mobile geolocation and notification features. The investment sum was undisclosed. ...
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The Bridge 10/17/2013 [en]

  • Luxa was one of many Groupon clone services when it was launched. Most of the clones have disappeared except a few top services including Groupon itself, but Luxa seems doing quite well even now targeting discount of luxury goods rather than coupons of restaurants or beauty clinics. The company raised 500 million yen from Jafco back in March this year. 
  • https://luxa.jp/

Oct 17, 2013

[Tech In Asia] Kii, a backend-as-a-service firm that funds startups, confirms expansion to Southeast Asia

Backend-as-a-service (BaaS) companies have risen in prominence this year after the acquisition of Parse by Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) for a reported $85 million. 
A growing segment of cloud computing, BaaS platforms essentially gives customers a ready-to-use backend infrastructure which doesn't require writing a line of code. Ideally, it brings cost savings by reducing the need for users to hire a backend developer. 
While there are dozens of BaaS providers in a field with no clear leader in sight, one particular company stands out: Kii has received an investment from Silicon Valley based Fenox Venture Capital to expand to Southeast Asia. ...
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Tech In Asia 10/15/2013

  • The amount of the finance is not disclosed but the total amount raised so far is $7.3 million. Unique point of the company is that it invests in app developers including Enish which went IPO in 2012. It seems the company does not need to raise money, but it may expect Fenox for helping its business expansion rather than money itself.
  • http://www.kii.com/en/

[The Bridge] Ietty fundraises $500,000, aiming to disrupt Japanese home rental industry

Ietty is a Japanese startup that provides an alternative to conventional househunting. The startup announced yesterday it has raised 50 million yen (approximately $500,000) from I Mercury Capital, the investment arm of Japanese social network Mixi. Since its launch back in February of 2012, the company has been developing its service in stealth mode. But it seems that, coinciding with these new funds raised, they are turning up at many showcasing opportunities like Graph Hack Award 2013. 
Ietty, the platform that the startup provides under its company name, aims to solve problems for both homeseekers and property agents. When you use conventional home finder sites, you need to enter lots of criteria to find something to fit your preference. But Ietty uses your Facebook user profile, and agents propose some available options via the platform based on criteria you have entered in advance. ...
The Bridge 10/16/2013 [en]

  • There are a few dominant house portal sites including Recruit's Suumo and HOME'S. It seems hard market for a startup like Ietty, but it is also true that these existing sites have not been so changed for many years. It is interesting to see how Ietty will change the rule of the quite matured business.
  • https://ietty.me/

[The Bridge] Japanese personal finance app Moneytree raises $1.5 million

Tokyo-based Moneytree, a startup that provides a personal finance app, announced yesterday it that has raised 150 million yen ($1.5 million) from DG Incubation and other investors. 
Users can register bank accounts and credit accounts, and the app lets you aggregate up-to-date balances and expenses, browsing them in a single view. The app was launched back in April and quickly reached 130,000 downloads by August. Coinciding with the funding, the company also announced that it has surpassed 200,000 downloads. Looking at similar apps such as ReceReco and Zaim which both recently passes 1 million downloads, the Moneytree app still has much room to grow. ...
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The Bridge 10/16/2013 [en]

  • Diffrent from Zaim or ReceReco, account aggregation services like Moneytree have higher barrier for users to start using. It may be not easy to have 1 million users but on the other hand, after registering accounts, users do not need to do anything but watch the app. So, maintaining users is much easier. Anyway, the key for success is how these apps can make money with users and their financial information. We may be able to see how Moneytree will monetize in the future.
  • https://moneytree.jp/

Following Square, Coiney, Others, Royal Gate Officially Enters Mobile Payment Service / TechCrunch Japan

The competition in mobile payment service is getting fierce with Square which entered in Japan in May, Japanese startup Coiney, PayPal Here which SoftBank distributes, and Rakuten Smart Pay. Most of these service mainly targets small and medium businesses, while Royal Gate aims enterprise customers, which closed 1 billion yen of fundraising from Innovation Network Corporation of Japan.

Royalgate runs payment platform, PAYGATE which is currently adopted mainly by middle class sized corporations. Larger companies including logistics, insurance, and telecom are considering to deploy it. ...

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TechCrunch Japan 10/14/2013 [jp]

  • It may take much longer time to sell the service to enterprise than to small shops, but it would be robust because quite large size of market already exist.
  • http://www.royalgate.co.jp/

[The Bridge] Shopping points service Smapo joins forces with Rakuten

Back in Feburary, we wrote about Smapo, the Japanese equivalent of Shopkick. Today, the company announced that it has joined Rakuten group, giving it access to Rakuten’s 80 million+ members.  
Smapo was initially launched back in September of 2011. By checking into physical stores, users receive points (one point is worth one yen), which can be exchanged to rewards such as gift certificates and dinner tickets. Smapo can be used at over 700 participating stores and over 90 brands. Stores are required to pay comission on a pay-per-performance basis. ...
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The Bridge 10/15/2013 [en]

  • The price is not disclosed. Rakuten has a huge user base with Rakuten point which is available to use for shopping at Rakuten's EC sites. Rakuten aims to expand the point service to offline business, for which Smapo would have a synergy.  
  • http://www.smapo.jp/ 

[TechCrunch] Supercell Dominates The Realm: Game Maker Sells A 51%, $1.53B Stake To SoftBank and GungHo Online

Another big move for Softbank into the gaming world, and a massive investment for Finnish gaming juggernaut Supercell: the company is selling a 51% stake for $1.53 billion to Japan’s SoftBank and games developer GungHo OnLine Entertainment. This strategic investment, which makes Supercell a subsidiary of Softbank, will be used to fuel Supercell’s global expansion. It effectively represents a quadrupled valuation for 100-employee Supercell to over $3 billion in the last seven months — bigger than that of publicly-traded social gaming giant Zynga at $2.86 billion. ...
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TechCrunch 10/15/2013 [en]

  • SoftBank acquired GungHo back in May. With the acquisition, SoftBank subsidizes two of the most successful mobile game companies in the world. Telecommunication business is in fierce competition particularly in matured market. Integrating upper layers like mobile contents would become more important for telcos.  

Oct 11, 2013

AgenTec Raises 50M Yen From Nippon Venture Capital / Venture Now

AgenTech revealed fundraising of 50 million yen from Nippon Venture Capital. ...

AgenTech was founded in January, 2004 providing web browser based contents management system, ABook and others. ABook consists of an app, a management server, and an authoring tool. Anyone can easily create and distribute rich contents with images, music, and videos to smart devices.

Venture Now 10/4/2013 [jp]

  • AgenTech also provides consulting and outsourcing service and other products targeting business customers. 
  • http://www.agentec.jp/ 

[The Bridge] Japanese translation startup Conyac raises $600,000

Tokyo-based Anydoor, the startup behind crowdsourced translation service Conyac, announced today that it has raised funding worth 60 million yen (approximately $600,000) from three Japanese VC firms: United, Mitsubishi UFJ Capital, and SMBC Capital. Coinciding with this announcement, Conyac also unveiled that its total number of corporate users exceeds 1,000. ...
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The Bridge 10/7/2013 [en]

  • The translation market is expected to grow rapidly along with the trend of globalization, particularly exponentially increasing online contents. There will be large room to grow for Conyac.
  • https://conyac.cc/

[The Bridge] Japanese fish delivery startup making waves, raises $1.5 million

Tokyo-based Hachimenroppi (named after the eight faces and six arms seen on many Buddhist statues) is a startup that does something rather unusual. It delivers fish, handling distribution services for restaurants. And apparently that business has some serious potential, as the company announced recently that it has raised 150 million yen (approximately $1.5 million) from VC firm Value Create, PR agency Vector, and logistics company Winroader. ...
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The Bridge 10/9/2013 [en]

  • Fish distribution is an unusual category for such fundraising news. Investors are also different from other typical deals. It is great to see venture news in wider area.
  • http://hachimenroppi.com/

[The Bridge] Korean car-navigation startup raises $2.7M from CyberAgent Ventures, other investors

Korea’s beSUCCESS reported on Monday that Seoul-based LOC&ALL, the startup behind car navigation app Kimgisa, has raised $3 billion Korean won (approximately $2.7 million) from Japan’s CyberAgent Ventures and two Korean investment firms, Neoplux and Partners Venture Capital. Prior to this funding, the company raised seed funding of 1 billion won ($930,000) from Partners Venture Capital in January. With these new funds, they plan to intensify their engineering and marketing efforts with the initial goal of expanding to Japan, with Mainland China and Indonesia to follow later. ...
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The Bridge 10/2/2013 [en]

  • There are no major car navigation apps in Japan so far, so CyberAgent Ventures may aim to bring the app to Japan in the future.
  • http://locnall.com/

Ruby Groupe Raises 100M Yen / Cnet Japan

Ruby Groupe announced raising 102 million yen from Mobile Internet Capital. The company was founded by former Guilt Group members to provide luxury brands with support for marketing and operation of e-commerce sites utilizing Internet, mobile and social media. ...

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Cnet Japan 10/2/2013

  • Ruby Groupe provides outsourcing service to integrate most of EC related activities including access log analysis, CRM, system management, logistics, customer support, and so on. It seems human resource intensive service. It is interesting how the company will scale the business using the capital raised.
  • http://rubygroupe.jp/ 

O2O Service, Ipoca Raises 140M Yen / MarkeZine

Ipoca fundraised 140 million yen from Nippon Venture Capital, SMBC Venture Capital, KSP, and Mizuho Capital.

The company runs O2O service, Tacchan, to realize effective sales promotion of shops with mobile.

MarkeZine 10/1/2013 [jp]

  • Tacchan sells an IC tag reader to shops. Customers of the shop can receive coupons or other beneficial information by email if they just touch their mobile on the reader. 
  • http://www.ipoca.jp/