Corporate venture funds have been in vogue in Japan for the past few years, but accelerators and incubators remain a rarer breed. KDDI, typically known as one of Japan’s top telecommunication providers, has chosen the path less traveled and established both a venture fund (which is renewed yesterday for US$50 million) and an accelerator.
The demo day for the five companies in the sixth edition was greeted by a packed house in downtown Tokyo. Previous demo days have seen debuts of up and coming startups like Mana.bo, Qlippy, and Giftee. This time Filme won the audience award and MistCDN won the prize for best startup. Take a look below to see which of the companies can use the accelerator as a springboard for success and which ones might need some more tinkering.
Filme was a fan favorite for making it easy for parents to record the early years of their children’s lives. The app allows you take snippets of footage over the course of 20 days and then it automatically arranges the pieces into a 3 minute video. The child memorialization field has been attracting a lot of attention lately. Similar apps are Egao no Hon and Famm.
QuaQua timed the start of its service to today’s event. The ecommerce service for jewelry targets women and was clearly developed with care. The site layout and functionality are well planned but the business approach – to induce purchases by telling the full story behind every item’s design, including the personal stories of the creators – is not unique. In fact, that is precisely what most every other discovery ecommerce store does. The QuaQua team will need to significantly distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack in order to make headway in this crowded market.
MistCDN tries to solve an acute, albeit first-world, problem – slow streaming speeds for popular online media. Under the typical flow, a streaming movie would be sent from the content provider’s server to a content delivery network and then to the end user. When a particular title is very popular, the content delivery network can get overcrowded, resulting in slow upload times for the end user. MistCDN has crafted a clever browser plugin which allows browsers in a similar geographical location that are streaming the same content to share the content amongst themselves. One movie per browser will be a thing of the past, as will slow load times.
4. Macaron (no website available)
Japan veterans are well-acquainted with the sight of young women perfecting their makeup during the morning commute. This attention to style has attracted many startups into the cosmetics space. Macaron is one such company. It claims that, although there is a lot interest in beauty products and techniques, 64 percent of women are still unsure how to find information on styles and techniques. The company’s app would provide crowdsourced fashion advice, making expert use of tags in order to make it easier for a user to search for advice that is suited to her particular style.
Repro acknowledged that its product – a service to help app creators retain users – has some competition. The coming battle is not a deterrent to the Repro team because the market need is still so pronounced. By their calculations, within one month, 46 percent of users stop using a newly downloaded app.
By linking its own software development kit into the original service, Repro promises its clients will be able to actually see every user interaction with the app. Those apps still in the beta stage and not yet approved for sale can take the extra step of analyzing user facial expressions and comments. Already used by major companies like Fujitsu and Rakuten, Repro seems to be in a good position to continue its development in Japan. Much of the audience agreed – Repro lost the audience vote by an extremely thin margin.
Startup Asia Tokyo 2014 is on Sep 3 and 4. Unlock secret level using code < TECHINASIA > Editing by Paul Bischoff