Feb 28, 2014

Fixed Price Renovation EC, Renoco Raises 200M Yen / TechCrunch Japan

Sekaie, an operator of Renoco enabling users to order renovation online, fundraised 200 million yen from Nissay Capital. Renoco claims that it eliminates hard sell and additional charge from constructors by being in the middle between consumers and constructors. It aims to create appropriate market rate in renovation industry which has currently unclear price structure by entering with Internet power.  ...

continue reading in Japanese...
TechCrunch Japan 2/28/2014 [jp]

  • There increases such services as Renoco to aggregate traditional small businesses and to provide standard services in quality and pricing. Raksul in printing and Lenet in laundry may fit into the category. There may be more opportunity for the model in various industries.
  • http://www.renoco.jp/

Shiroyagi Corp., News Recomendation Engine, kamelio Operator Raises 50M Yen Seed Fund From Global Brain / The Bridge

Shiroyagi Corporation runs kamelio which allows users to follow their interest to receive recommendation of right news.  The total amount is about 50 million yen which comes from Global Brain the fifth fund mainly sponsored by INCJ. ...

continue reading in Japanese...
The Bridge 2/28/2014 [jp]

  • News curation app has been a hot area for mobile startups such as SmartNews and Gunosy as well as big players like LINE. Each has different curation technology. kamelio defines itself as "follow media" which pushes news in topics you have interest.
  • http://shiroyagi.co.jp/ 

Intern Placement Service, JEEK Operator Techouse Fundraises From East Ventures / Venture Now

Techouse announced fundraises from East Ventures. The amount is not disclosed. Techouse was founded in January 2012 running JEEK, internship placement service. ...

continue reading in Japanese ...
Venture Now 2/26/2014 [jp]

  • There are many recruiting services for part-time jobs. Internship may be a part of the market, so only the service, JEEK does not seem to be so promising. Maybe the start-up has bigger vision or unique plan in which East Ventures might invest.
  • http://jeek.jp/

[The Bridge] Japanese payment startup WebPay raises $1.1 million

Tokyo-based WebPay Holdings, a startup providing Stripe-compatible payment processing solutions for web services, announced yesterday that it has raised 110 million yen (approximately $1.1 million) from CyberAgent Ventures and two other undisclosed VC firms. Prior to this round, the company raised an undisclosed amount of funding from CyberAgent Ventures, Architype, and GMO Payment Gateway upon its launch back last year. ...
continue reading ...
The Bridge 2/26/2014 [en]

  • WebPay aims to provide a simple solution for web developers in terms of deployment and price structure. 
  • https://webpay.jp/ 

Feb 21, 2014

Aucfan Has Capital Alliance With Realworld For Data Cleansing / Venture Now

Auchan announced capital and business alliance with Realword for big data cleansing using crowdsourcing. ...

Aucfan has over 20 billion data of item and price information accumulated on its online auction price comparison and search service, aucfan.com. It plans to process the enormous data by cleansing tool and then to utilize crowdsourcing of Realword to check by human eye. ...

continue reading in Japanese...
Venture Now 2/20/2014 [jp]

  • Partnership of crowdsourcing services have been announced in a row. It is definitely one of the hottest area of Internet service recently, but it seems the boom is heating up in the near future.
  • http://www.realworld.jp/ 

Yume no Machi Souzou Iinkai Takes 13% Of O2O App, Tamecco / Venture Now

Yume no Machi Souzou Iinkai partners in capital and business with Tamecco, a startup providing O2O mobile app for shops using artificial intelligence.

Tamecco was founded in May 2012. Utilizing original artificial intelligence system developed by engineers from MIT, it analyzes user segment, behavior, and location information to deliver customized digital marketing for each user. ...

With the capital alliance, Yume no Machi Souzou Iinkai will analyze user data of its 5 million users of Demaekan, food delivery portal site, to deliver coupon based on users' taste, location, and life pattern aiming to increase average price per purchase and usage frequency. ...

continue reading in Japanese...
Venture Now 2/18/2014 [jp]

  • There increase O2O solutions typically delivering coupons based on user data and location. It seems difficult to differentiate for the services, but it is a great opportunity for Tamecco to cooperate with Demaekan which has over 11,000 shops.
  • http://tamecco.jp/en/

CyberAgent Acquires Owldata, DMP To Strengthen Adtech / Venture Now

CyberAgent acquires 82.75% of Owldata, a data management platform (DMP) provider. Along with the acquisition, it changes the name to RightSegment. ...

Owldata was founded in December 2012 as a 100% subsidiary of Spacyz which runs appgear, a demand side platform (DSP). It provides DMP, owldata allowing targeted ads distribution based on audience data. Spacyz continues the service under the name of owldata.

Venture Now 2/19/2014 [jp]

  • It is not common for CyberAgent to acquire a company. It seems to stick to organic growth in the past. It is not certain if the company changes their policy, but adtech is changing so rapidly that CyberAgent may choose faster alternative.
  • http://owldata.com/

KDDI Partners With Lancers To Support Small Business By Crowdsourcing / ITmedia

KDDI aims to support business expansion or cost reduction by crowdsouricng connecting its solutions for small and medium businesses with Lancers. In addition, KDDI plans to provide free consulting services such as IT skills, management, and accounting to users of Lancers.

ITmedia 2/19/2014 [jp]

  • Not only in partnership with B2C services, KDDI is actively working with startups in B2B. In the area of solutions for small and medium businesses, KDDI also partners with Chatwork, cloud based groupware solution.  
  • http://www.lancers.jp/

Faith Invest In Revolver, SNS Platform / Cnet Japan

Faith announced acquiring 4.38% of shares of Revolver through its group company. It aims to collaborate between its music platform and Revolver's SNS platform.

Revolver is a platform allowing individuals and businesses to create their own SNS. It has around 1800 communities including musicians and novel writers. It partnered with BASE, online shop development service in January. ...

continue reading in Japanese ...
Cnet Japan 2/19/2014 [jp]

  • Faith runs music distribution service and also has record company, Nippon Columbia in its group. The deal would bring great benefit for Revolver because one of its main customers are musicians.
  • https://revolver.jp

CGM Of Wedding Center, Minnano Wedding To Be Listed On Mothers / Venture Now

Minnano Wedding was accepted to go IPO on Mothers Market of Tokyo Stock Exchange. The planned date is March 25th. ...

Minnano Wedding was launched as a new service of DeNA in February 2008. It was incorporated in 2010 spun out of DeNA. It runs a CGM site, Minnano Wedding which allows users to choose a wedding center.

The revenue ending September 2013 was about 1 billion yen with net income of 200 million yen.

Venture Now 2/17/2014 [en]

  • Minnano Wedding provides information of other wedding related services such as ring, dress, photo or gift. Since a number of wedding itself may be decreasing in Japan, it may have to expand the service category to keep the growth.
  • http://www.mwed.jp/

Feb 17, 2014

Education App, Smart Education Raises 550M Yen Accelerating Global Expansion / TechCrunch Japan

Smart Education, developing education apps for children, announced fundraising from CyberAgent (500 million) and Infinity Ventures (50 million). With the capital, the company strengthens app development as well as accelerates global expansion. Smart Education has over 6.4 million downloads of apps in total.  ...

continue reading in Japanese...
TechCrunch Japan 2/17/2014 [jp]

  • Smart Education provides apps with subscription model in Japan allowing users to download any apps with 500 yen per month. For global market, it distributes apps with different brand, Gocco, which is getting popular recently.
  • http://www.smarteducation.jp/

Feb 14, 2014

[WSJ] Rakuten to Buy Voice-Call App Maker Viber

TOKYO—Japan's Rakuten Inc. 4755.TO +1.22% said it will acquire call-application maker Viber Media Inc. for $900 million, in the online retailer's first major foray into voice communications. 
The deal for Cyprus-based Viber, which lets users make Internet-based calls on smartphones and computers, expands the Japanese e-commerce giant's global portfolio of services, which now spans e-readers, financial services, and the baseball team that until recently hosted star pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. ...
continue reading ...
The Wall Street Journal 2/14/2014 [en]

  • Rakuten has been acquiring digital contents related companies in the last few years including e-reader Kobo, video on demand Wuaki.tv and Viki. Rakuten may aim to utilize Viber's large mobile user base to distribute the various digital contents. It is also great advantage for Viber to be backed by Rakuten's financial power, because it is in a fierce competition with other messenger apps such as WhatsApp, LINE, and WeChat.
  • http://www.viber.com/ 

Total Amount Of Venture Fund Established In 2013 Is 194.2B Yen, More Than Sixfold Of 2012 / Venture Now

In 2013, 29 funds are established by venture capitals in Japan with 194.2 billion yen in total, according to survey of Japan Venture Research.

A number of funds increase more than double from 13 in 2012. The amount became more than 6 times than 30 billion yen in 2012. The average size tripled.

Venture Now 2/12/2014 [jp]

  • As mentioned several times in this blog, a large amount of money is coming into venture investment industry recently. But even if the amount increases six fold, a number of startups would not increase as the same pace. It will be more and more difficult for investor side to find good deals. 

Money Forward Fundraises From TBS And Mitsubishi UFJ Capital / Venture Now

Cloud-based accounting service, Money Forward announced raising capital from TBS Innovation Partners and Mitsubishi UFJ Capital. ...

Money Forward was launched in May 2012 providing household accounts management tool, Monety Forward which allows users to aggregate multi-accounts and automatically create housekeeping book. ...

continue reading in Japanese...
Venture Now 2/12/2014 [jp]

  • It is interesting that TV station company, TBS invests in the startup. From the last year, other TV companies such as Fuji TV and Nippon TV actively invest in startups, but they are mostly media and contents related startups like mobile gaming which would be able to make synergy. It is interesting to see how TBS will collaborate with Money Forward in the future.
  • https://moneyforward.com/

Feb 11, 2014

[e27] South Korean couple app Between gets strategic investment from DeNA

After surpassing the five million download mark in December, South Korean firm behind couple app Between, VCNC (which stands for Value Creators & Company) today announced that it has received an undisclosed amount from Japanese mobile and e-commerce portal DeNA. 
According to an official statement, the investment will be used to “grow Between into an open platform and later support the opportunities to monetise Between”. 
Isao Moriyasu, President and CEO, DeNA said, “Purpose-specific social networks like Between are rapidly gaining popularity worldwide, following the massive adoption of general social networks and communication tools. DeNA sees a great global potential in this highly sophisticated mobile internet service.” ...
continue reading...
e27 2/10/2014 [en]

  • Actually a social network for closed members such as couples of families are increasing. Pairly is a direct competitor for Between from Japan, which raised $1 million in last December. Most of the services have not yet reached a mainstream like Facebook or LINE, but if it begins to show the sign of rapid growth, it would not be surprising if DeNA acquires the company.
  • http://between.us/

[The Bridge] Japanese mobile developer Cinnamon raises $1.5 million, launching new photo app

Spicy Cinnamon (Cinnamon for short), the startup behind the photo sharing app Seconds, announced today that it has raised 150 million yen (approximately $1.47 million) from CyberAgent Ventures, TBS Innovation Partners, Incubate Fund, and Golden Gate Ventures. Coinciding with this funding, the company has launched a new iOS app today called PicChat. An Android version will follow soon. 
Cinnamon was launched back in 2012, led by Miku Hirano who previously work with Naked Technology, which was acquired by Mixi in 2011. ...
continue reading...
The Bridge 2/10/2014 [en]


[The Bridge] Japanese crowdsourcing platform for video production raises $3M

Viibar, startup which operates a crowdsourcing platform specializing in video production raised approximately 300 million yen in total ($3 million) from Globis Capital Partners and GREE Ventures. Further details were not disclosed. 
Viibar was founded in April of 2013, with the aim of offering high-quality video for affordable prices, matching creators (like video directors and videographers) with clients. According to Viibar CEO, Yuta Kamisaka, a few hundred creators have been already registered on Viibar.
continue reading...
The Bridge 2/8/2014 [en]

  • Considering the company has less than an year history, it is impressive to raise $3 million. As crowdsourcing services particularly for vertical markets like design or translation are increasing, the industry may have won recognition as promising category. In addition, video would be another relevant topic along with smart device's growth on which visual will be more important than PC due to limited screen size for many industries from media to e-commerce. One of challenges would be video creation is more complicated than most of tasks on general crowdsourcing platforms like Crowdworks, which would make the service more difficult to grow fast. 
  • http://viibar.com/

Feb 6, 2014

[The Bridge] Japanese online printing startup Raksul fundraises $14.3 million

Raksul, a Tokyo-based startup providing online printing services, announced today that it has raised 1.45 billion yen (approximately $14.3 million) from WiL (World Innovation Lab), Global Brain, Itochu Technology Ventures, Plus (an office stationary company), GMO Venture Partners, and Mixi. 
Raksul is a fabless company that provides printing services in partnership with more than 1,600 printing facilities across Japan (as of November of 2013). Users can place printing orders at affordable rates because the company takes advantage of downtime at participating printers to complete those orders. ...
continue reading ...
The Bridge 2/6/2014 [en]

  • An interesting point of the deal is that Plus is included as one of investors. The company sells office stationary to companies, schools, or governments as well as other services that the offices need such as gift, translation, and web meeting service. Plus aims to deliver printing service as well by partnering with Raksul. It is a good case of collaboration between a traditional large corporation and a start-up. Creating the kind of partnership is one of the missions of WiL to aim for.
  • http://raksul.com/

[The Bridge] Japan’s Adways invests in Gumi, looks to conquer Asia mobile app market

Japanese internet company Adways (TSE:2489) announced yesterday that it has invested in mobile gaming developer Gumi (also from Japan), taking a 1.0% stake. 
Adways provides a reward-based ad platform for mobile app developers (in Japan and around the world) called AppDriver. Gumi is seeing good results in user acquisition, not only for its own game titles but also with Brave Frontier, a game developed by its subsidiary Alim. It is said that the app has acquired more than 2 million users in Japan as well as a million users from around the rest of the world. Through this investment, Adways expects to create a synergy with Gumi to expand its business in global mobile markets. ...
continue reading ...
The Bridge 2/6/2014 [en]

  • Gumi announced $19 million less than a month ago. So, the investment from Adways may be a part of the round. Reward ad is used by most of large mobile game developers, so it must have great synergy for both companies.
  • http://gu3.co.jp/
  • http://www.adways.net/

[The Bridge] Japanese loyalty program startup Hyper8 raises $510,000

Tokyo-based Hyper8 Inc., the startup that operates Mespo, a loyalty program platform for restaurants and retail stores, recently announced that it has raised 51 million yen ($510,000) from MID Venture Capital, East Ventures, and two individual investors. 
Restaurants and retailers who implement Mespo can use the platform for 980 yen ($9.80) per month. When users make a purchase, they can earn points and collect them using their smartphones. A tablet device that incorporates the platform is distributed to each store, with an LTE connection as well since some stores don’t have wi-fi. At checkout, customers can collect the points by scanning a QR code displayed on the tablet. ...
continue reading ...
The Bridge 2/4/2014 [en]

  • Solutions targeting for retail shops such as coupon or loyalty point are rapidly increasing recently. Various technologies such as QR code, NFC, Bluetooth, ultrasonic waves, or Wifi are used for the kind of services. But there is no dominant player or technology at this moment. The unique point of Hyper8 is to distribute a tablet to each store, which may be used for some other applications.
  • http://hyper8.jp/ 

[The Bridge] Japanese mobile app developer TriFort raises $3.9 million from WiL fund

Tokyo-based startup TriFort announced today it has raised about $400 million yen (about $3.9 million) from WiL (World Innovation Lab), a fund recently formed by Japanese venture capitalist Gen Isayama. 
Since its launch back in August of 2012, the company has been working on contract-based software development for social gaming and smartphone app developers. They have rapidly grown to 100-person team in just 1.5 years. The company will use the new funds to start developing and marketing its own mobile apps globally. ...
continue reading ...
The Bridge 2/3/2014 [en]

  • It may be quite rare case that a company mainly working for contract-based software development raises venture capital. But the company already has 100 employees with abundant experience in mobile games and apps. It is interesting to see what kind of original apps will be launched with the expertise.
  • http://trifort.jp/ 

Rakuten Acquires Vi-VI-Vi.com, Hair Salon Search Site / Cnet Japan

Rakuten announced that it acquires 10% share of Vi-Vi-Vi.com which runs a hair salon search site with the same name as the company. The price is not disclosed.

Vi-Vi-Vi.com was launched in January 2007. The service charges hair salons completely based on a number of reservation. A number of salons reaches about 6,000. Rakuten launched online hair salon booking service from June, 2012 and it aims to strengthen hair salon related service partnering with Vi-Vi-Vi.com. ...

continue reading in Japanese...
Cnet Japan 2/3/2014 [en]

  • Rakuten has been continuously buying start-ups. The recent acquisition was Smapo, a shopping point service using ultrasonic waves to identify location of shops. Both acquisition shows Rakuten is expanding its service area from online only to online-to-offline.
  • http://www.vi-vi-vi.com/