Innovators in Japan: Weekly Digest 8/13/2018

Crossing the Chasm: Funding Asian Successes

With 60+ team members across 8 countries, and several funds under management, Fenox Venture Capital is certainly no slouch when it comes to investing and nurturing successful startups globally. If you are looking for somebody who understands investment and growth strategy in Asia, Fenox may especially be the first door you knock on, having successfully funded and exited several companies in Japan, and other Southeastern Asian nations.

The founder of Fenox Venture Capital, Anis Uzzaman has found a very specific and growing niche, owing to his student days in Tokyo. The Japanese-English bilingual, Tokyo Institute of Technology grad is our focus of this week’s Weekly Digest feature.

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New Rounds:

AI Inside, paper-based task automation startup, raised ¥530m (~$4.8m) from Tokyo University Edge Capital, Japan Post Capital, and Mitsubishi UFJ. Its handwriting recognition rate is measured at 99.91%.

bellFace, an inside sales systems provider, raised ¥500m (~$4.5m) from Globis Capital Partners, SMBC Venture Capital, YJ Capital, and Canal Ventures to develop additional integrations to CRM and other services.

BizteX, a cloud robotic process automation startup, raised ¥400m (~$3.4m) in in series A funding led by World Innovation Lab, with participation from Genesia Ventures.

CasterBiz, a remote worker classifieds and agency, announced their acquisition of social media-based recruiting service bosyu for an undisclosed amount.

Culture Convenience Club (CCC), a point card-based customer lifestyle data solutions provider, acquired corporate idea sourcing community Blabo! for its customer development strategy.

Euphoria, athlete health monitoring cloud service ONE TAP SPORTS provider, announced funding and partnership with KDDI and Asics Ventures.

ecbo cloak, Japanese luggage storage startup, receives angel funding of undisclosed amount from soccer star Keisuke Honda.

freee, a Japanese accounting and finance SaaS startup, raised ¥6.5bn (~$58m) from 6 firms including LINE and Mitsubishu UFJ.

Karakuri.ai, customer support chatbot service, raised ¥160m (~$1.4m) from JAFCO and Singapore-based venture firm BeeNext.

KOKOPELLI, operator of management consulting portal service SHARES, raised ¥230m (~$2.1m) from GREE Ventures, TIS, SV-FINTECH, etc.

Leapfrog Ventures, ex-Samurai Incubate Terakubo-led seed fund, invests $50k seed capital in African credit-for-unbanked Exuus.

MyRefer, a referral hire platform and Persol Group spin-off, raised ¥360m (~$3.2m) from GREE Ventures, Persol Holdings, U-NEXT President Yasuhide Uno.

POLYGLOTS, provider of eponymous language learning app, raised ¥65m (~$580k) from Kyushu University-based QB Capital, PE&HR, Pipedo HD, and Kyushu University-grad and founder of SYNNEX Corporation Robert Huang to strengthen their AI-based learner path optimization functionality.

Rehab for Japan, rehabilitation planning SaaS startup, raised ¥100m (~$900k) after signing up 100 partners within 6 months.

SmartDrive, a connected car and car sensor analytics / IoT company, raised ¥1.7bn (~15m) from Goldman Sachs, Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ), Monoful, and a Foxxcon / Hon Hai Group fund.

Synchrolife, crypto-based food review app, raised ¥80m (~$720k) from web marketing giant Ceres and ex-Cybird Holdings president Fujio Komura with equity convertible tokens.

taimee, a short-term, free-time based freelance app, raised ¥56m (~$500k) from Genesia Ventures, CyberAgent Ventures, F Ventures, Coloplnext, and angel investors.

XTech Ventures, an ex-CyberAgent-led, closed its first fund focused on middle-age entrepreneurs, a demographic plateauing and generally unnoticed by venture capital.

Quick Updates:

AnyPay, a mobile payment app, announced plans to develop a proprietary Secure Token Offering platform.

DEEPCORE, SoftBank’s AI-focused venture arm, opened Kernel Hongo, an incubation space focused on AI technology.

Evolable Asia, an online travel and tourist service provider, announced a capital tie-up with game development and staff augmentation company GZeal.

Infomart, a B2B electronic contract management service, announced a capital tie-up with AI-based contract risk evaluation software GVATech over tis B2B contract management platform.

Japan Food Delivery, a corporate food delivery service, acquired bento.jp’s corporate meal delivery and subscription services. It also announced TABERU, their latest subsidiary, in order to offer acquired services.

Tabinaka, a real-time travel activity booking startup, acquires Bali-based tourist activity site bali-activity.co.jp.

tomoshibi, a project member crowdsourcing service, launched its beta product.

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