Monozukuri Bootcamp 2017 kicks off and Hoplite Power becomes the 2nd startup of MBC Shisaku Fund portfolio
Monozukuri Bootcamp 2017 and Omotenashi culture!
Japanese do love hosting and that's part of the omotenashi culture! Having a startup working on a solution for a smartcity becomes even more exciting in a place where savvy technology has been a key part of everyday life, from vending machines, toilet seats and more recent humanoids like Pepper.
As anticipating visitor’s needs is at the heart of the concept of omotenashi, I’d risk to say Japanese hosts tend to be good project managers as well — they plan, organize schedules and deal with the last minute issues, in order to provide the best experience for the visitors.
Embracing this omotenashi spirit, Monozukuri Bootcamp second edition started in Tokyo and it continues in Kyoto. With a customized program to fit the team needs and schedule, we’re guiding Hoplite through Japanese partners who can collaborate with their current challenges in the entire Supply Chain, from manufacturers to retailers.
Why Hoplite Power has been selected between so many other startups?
Hoplite Power, inspired by ancient Greek citizen-soldiers, was founded in 2014, and it’s currently developing a novel CHaaS (Charging as a Service) platform that provides customers with an on-demand, no-hassle smartphone charging alternative when out-and-about.
Have you ever tried to snap a pic, hail a ride, or “swipe right” on a dead phone? That’s exactly the kind of problem Hoplite solves, with a“sharing economy” mindset + a great in-house engine handcrafted with a mix of blood, sweat and tears by their own team.
In less than one year, with a lot of hard work and a strong commitment, Hoplite went from 0 to 1 and then to the first 10s prototypes, and already has a proof-of-concept that pleases not only investors but most importantly, it’s own users. The demand for Hoplite Power hubs is growing and in order to scale up, there’re a few improvements that must be done, both in terms of software and hardware.
From NYC to Asia: how to reach consumers in a sharing economy?
In NYC, the main urban market in the US and also a huge hub for sharing economy players - as Airbnb and Uber, Hoplite squadron’s network is located in businesses around the city, where its hubs store, dispense, and recharge Hoplite batteries. For SME owners, this means no more issues when asked to charge a customer’s phone, outsourcing all charging needs to improve its own operations, while earning extra money.
Hoplite Power Hubs have been created to help keeping users connected, embodying this ancient persona with a mission of protecting mobile phone’s power by creating the first ever “charge-sharing” network.
Since the first Hoplite Hub was launched in January 2017, it’s been collecting feedbacks from NYC-based clusters like Tech forward Busy/On-the-go urban users, social media engaged, diversified business owners and its own employees. Between early adopters, there’re bar patrons and who go out to socialize — coming from Brazil, I could see the great advantages of not caring extra batteries or any other recharging device when going out by subway or Uber.
Hoplite Team spoke about their experience in Japan. Check the video here.
Sharing economy in Japan, one of the main tourism hubs in Asia!
The scale of the sharing economy in Japan is expected to double from JPY 28,5 billion (2015) to JPY 60 billion (2020), as per survey by Yano Economic Research Institute, so we see a great opportunity for Hoplite Power to partner with key local players working on smart city solutions.
Domestic needs + inbound tourism make Japan a great starting point for IoT startups like Hoplite Power Team to test new products.
Combined with the growth of inbound tourism, the decline in outbound travel means Japan now has a surplus on travel income, a turnaround from huge deficits during its years of rapid economic growth. (Source: The Financial Times)
Japan inbound tourism has reached a record of 7.2M in Q2 2017, and became a main destination for Asian tourists, the majority of the ones who visit the country all year around.
Tourism is expected to reach its peaks by Rugby World Cup and Olympics over the next 3 years, according to The Financial Times — details here.
Tourist spending during the period rose 13 per cent year-on-year to a record ¥1.8tn ($15.8bn). Japan achieved its target of 20m annual tourists by 2020 five years early and its new goal is 40m.
The government of Shinzo Abe, prime minister, has placed tourism at the centre of its growth strategy. Its decision to relax visa restrictions on visitors from China and other developing Asian countries is one of the biggest factors behind the boom. “Culinary tourism is massive for Japan, as is the power of inbound retail tourists, particularly young Chinese,” said Simon Moriarty, who follows the leisure and tourism industries for market researchers Mintel in London.” (Source: The Financial Times)
Japan seems to be a great place to test new automated services that will facilitate the lives of both tourists and locals, besides the existing ones, from vending machines at restaurants to automated ticket counters. As many of the current new issues can be avoided, there’s a range of opportunities for startups to develop new solutions. (Just one personal example, Starbucks near Yasaka Shrine, in Kyoto, doesn’t allow tourists to use its space to recharge devices and all switch plugs at the venue are covered, so Hoplite Power Hubs would be a great alternative to provide visitors with fully charged batteries on-the-go).
The country is very well connected, with a mature infra-structure (1st in Asia and 2nd in the world, listed by WEF), 99,97% mobile coverage and International Supply Chain, besides one of the most efficient transport systems in the world.
How does Hoplite Power Hub work?
Hoplite Hubs are currently found in selected bars and venues around Manhattan and Brooklyn. Once you find the closest hub on the Hoplite app, swipe your card to:
1. Rent a Hoplite (A Portable Smartphone Battery)
2. Recharge Your Phone On-The-Go
3. Return Your Hoplite to Any Hub
A customized one-to-one support for startups that must scale!
Most startups aren’t available to spend months of product development away from their current HQ and local community, in order to commit to a standard acceleration course that most likely won’t match most of their main urgent needs.
Makers Boot Camp provides customized support with KSN network of Design For Manufacturing (DFM) Prototype Experts. Our assigned MBC Project Manager is in charge of supporting the steps startups must take, so teams can benefit not only from hands-on sessions with manufacturing experts but also from meetings with local stakeholders, from investors to partners and even possible customers.
How will Hoplite use the investment from MBC Shisaku Fund?
“With the newest round of investment, Hoplite will be developing the next version of Hubs that can scale quickly into all more venues, bars, sports arenas, malls, concert halls, and transportation hubs.”
The current stage of development has some fronts going on from now now:
- Jordan and Leo are heading back to NYC to solve some of the current business and software development issues.
- Nikolas stays in Japan until September to continue prototype iteration for the dispenser terminal, with KSN and MBC support.
- MBC Team will take care of the Hoplite project development on a daily-basis, as part of our scope.
- Once the small lot is ready, Hoplite team will come back to Japan to consider their next steps.
- Flexibility and time are the main gains to work with Prototype Experts in Japan, as a product detailed-oriented commitment are part of the focus.
Highlights that called our attention on Hoplite Power project:
- Validated target in a scalable market: urban centers where commuting is a must.
- Great idea with good execution: fast time to market, iterate from user’s feedbacks, knowledge about competition and potential risks.
- Hands-on innovators, willing to learn, improve and leverage their business.
Interested to learn more about Japanese Partners for your IoT project?
As for requests from different hubs of the world, we’re currently considering new dates for our Monozukuri Tour, a taste of Japanese capabilities to support small lot prototyping customized expertise. If you’re interested to learn more, reach out to me: firstname.lastname@example.org!
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