TOMORROW: Join our live conversation about Notion’s product-led growth, the challenge in retail tech, and fundraising during a pandemic

DNX Ventures
Nov 9, 2020 · 8 min read

Due to the spread of COVID-19, this year’s B2B Summit is being streamed live online. Following the first event in June, we are pleased to announce the second B2B Summit Online to be held on November 10th.

For this 2nd online event, we welcome Ivan Zhao, CEO of Notion, a company that has been growing rapidly due to the digitization of corporate workflows, and whose application is already being used by early adopters in Japan. We will get behind the scenes of product development and strategies for growth.

We will hear from the three CEOs of our portfolio companies in Japan that have strategically raised capital amid the COVID-19 pandemic — KAKEHASHI, Xica Co., Ltd., and RevComm Inc.- about their fundraising strategies.

We will also focus on the retail industry and talk with Gene Han, the retail industry veteran who is the former Head of Innovation at Target, and Chelsie Lee, Founder, and CEO of our portfolio company, SHIPSI.

You all heard of/used/ became a fan of Notion — the knowledge management SaaS tool that allows you to manage documents, share knowledge, and manage tasks. Notion is one of the fastest-growing SaaS companies with over 4M users and is valued at $2 billion in the latest financing round, and gradually making inroads in Japan.

Ivan Zhao led the product development of Notion since the inception of the company. There are a lot of tools out there that can help streamline business operations and manage knowledge, but there must be a reason why Notion is so user friendly and therefore, loved by its fans. We will dive deep and get plenty of “Behind the Scenes of Product Development.”

At the time of its launch, there were already similar cloud software products offering diverse information management capabilities by powerhouses like Google Drive and Evernote. When many users were happy with the existing products, how was Notion able to establish a strong position in a Red Ocean market? What kind of sales strategy was part of its growth strategy as a B2B product? We will explore the company’s strengths in terms of product development.

We will also hear the secret story of Notion, which everyone thinks of as an American startup, but was actually re-founded in Kyoto.

While exploring the strong connection between Notion and Japan, we will delve right into the aforementioned market selection, metrics to which they paid special attention, their philosophy on team building, fundraising strategy, and global expansion plans. We’d like to untangle the why and the how of their growth into a $2 billion company that we all love.

For all you SaaS tools developers, this is a session not to be missed!

About Ivan Zhao, Notion Co-founder/CEO

Ivan Zhao is Co-founder and CEO of Notion, the all-in-one workspace for notes, documents, wikis, projects, and collaboration. A designer by training, Ivan founded the company in 2016 to make it possible for everyone in the world to create the tools they need without knowing how to code. Before Notion, he worked in product design at digital education startup Inkling. He graduated from the University of British Columbia and resides in San Francisco.

We are also adding an industry-specific session this time; spotlighting the retail industry, which DNX is increasingly looking at as a sector to invest in. For more info, please see our recent note article:

Our guests are Gene Han, who until recently was the head of innovation at Target, and Chelsie Lee, CEO of US portfolio company, SHIPSI. The session will be moderated by Rio Maeda, Managing Partner at DNX, leading the retail tech investments.

We will talk about the new challenges brought on by COVID-19 in the retail industry and what we can expect in the future.

From Gene, we will find out about the shifts in the retail industry over the years and what’s ahead based on his 18 years of experience at U.S. retail giant, Target.

From Chelsie, CEO of SHIPSI that provides last-mile delivery solutions for SMBs and retail giants, we will hear about the current state of the retail industry and the latest trends in retail tech under COVID-19 from the point of view of an entrepreneur.

About Gene Han, Managing Partner at Halo Advisory (Former Head of Innovation at Target)

Gene was most recently Vice President of Innovation — New Ventures at Target and head of its San Francisco Innovation Office. He oversaw new product development and commerce models involving emerging technology and directed the startup engagement across offices in Minneapolis, San Francisco, and Bangalore (India). He was General Manager for the company’s retail concept lab store, Open House, and expanded the company’s startup programs, Target Accelerators, into one of retail’s most comprehensive portfolios covering areas from retail digital tech to emerging DTC brands.

Gene was also previously Target’s head of corporate strategy as well as its interim Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer. In those roles, he drove the digital transformation of key businesses and helped incubate several large-scale initiatives ranging from new store formats to voice commerce and brand acquisitions. He led enterprise partnerships with Google and MIT Media Lab and also held advisory roles on innovation councils for the National Retail Federation (NRF) and the Retailers Industry Leaders Association (RILA).

Gene started his career designing robotics and led new product development in the automation industry. He is currently a mentor with TechStars, UC Berkeley SkyDeck, Stadia Ventures, and is an active advisor for several startups through his consultancy, Halo Advisory Network, LLC. He is an LP with Bread and Butter Ventures, is an Advisor with Sway Ventures and on the Board of Directors at Recycle Across America.

He received an MBA from the Chicago Booth School of Business and holds an Engineering degree from the University of Illinois.

About Chelsie Lee, SHIPSI, CEO / Co-Founder

Chelsie Lee is the Co-founder and CEO of SHIPSI, the delivery technology platform that enables retailers to offer same-day and scheduled delivery without managing any of the logistics. She’s a retail, technology, and supply chain expert who has consulted 500+ top retailers and brands on business strategy, growth, and execution. Among her previous clients are Saks Fifth Avenue, New Look, UGG, O’Neill, Nike and more. In addition to being nominated for EY Entrepreneur of the Year, Chelsie is also a contributor to the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center, a mentor to emerging brands, a surf enthusiast, and a yoga instructor. She currently resides in Venice, CA.

From Japan, we will hear from three companies that strategically implemented billions of yen worth of procurement in the last six months: Takashi Nakagawa, CEO of KAKEHASHI, Yoshiaki Hirao, CEO of XICA, and Takeshi Aida, CEO of RevComm. Akira Kurabayashi, Managing Partner and Head of DNX Japan, will moderate. All three companies are B2B SaaS portfolio companies that DNX Ventures has invested in over the last 6 months.

KAKEHASHI Inc., which we have been supporting since the seed round, has implemented a strategic extension round so as to ensure that they are able to face the challenges that come with the growth of their business. This was less than a year after the last Series B round in late 2019 and in spite of the challenging business environment caused by COVID-19.

On the other hand, Xica Co., Ltd., which raised the Series D financing, raised an up-round of funding under COVID-19. With the pandemic, many companies had their marketing dollars squeezed, creating a difficult market environment for marketing-related SaaS startups. Xica, which offers Magellan, a solution that measures advertising effectiveness and calculates optimal advertising budget allocation, also found itself in a difficult market environment.

For RevComm, Inc., the pandemic actually became a major tailwind for growth, as remote work became mainstream and the company’s voice analysis AI phone, MiiTel that contained an IP phone system could be completed online. Their story was very convincing and attracted a lot of attention in the B2B SaaS startup industry.

We will hear from these three companies that have each managed to raise funds under difficult circumstances to learn how they succeeded.

About Takashi Nakagawa, CEO of KAKEHASHI Inc.

After graduating from the University of Tokyo’s Faculty of Law, he worked at McKinsey & Company, specializing in the optimization of procurement, manufacturing and development, as well as acquisition and post-acquisition integration management in the manufacturing and high-tech sectors, where he was involved in a company-wide transformation project. After working on projects in the U.K., India, and the U.S., he founded KAKEHASHI Inc.

About Yoshiaki Hirao, CEO of Xica, Co., Ltd.

Founder of XICA. Graduate of Keio University; founded XICA while at university. Yoshiaki — formerly a professional bandsman between the ages of 12 to 24 founded XICA to eliminate “avoidable tragedies through the power of statistics and insights”. The mission comes from his childhood experience from bankruptcy of his father’s workplace.

About Takeshi Aida, CEO of RevComm Inc.

After Joining Mitsubishi Corporation, he was involved in automotive trading, planning and executing sales/marketing initiatives in overseas markets, cross-border investment deals and new company formations, large government bidding deals, and M&A deals, among others. Founded RevComm Inc., in July 2017, that offers “MiiTel,” a service that uses artificial intelligence to visualize sales calls and call center operations. RevComm has expanded to 10,000 users in just a year and a half.

Date: November 10th, 2020 (Tues) PST: 5:00pm


5:00 pm Session1|Behind the Scenes of Product Development at Notion

5:40 pm Session2|Striking Changes in Retail Tech under the COVID-19 Pandemic

6:10 pm Session3|Strategies for Successful Fundraising by Saas Companies

6:55 pm Review Session — in Japanese (DNX Ventures: Akira Kurabayashi, Natsuki Zihnioglu)

7:15 pm Closing

Register from the link below 👇

More info:

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