A genius idea was born after 2 entrepreneurs grew frustrated with corporate processes


Japan’s Kaizen is the startup behind A/B testing software planBCD. It isn’t like any other A/B testing software in the market today. Most A/B testing companies just provide the software which requires business owners or product managers to come up with solutions to test their hypothesis, but Kaizen thinks the power of the crowd is better and smarter.

For example, if you wish to increase the sign-up rate of your corporate newsletter, all you have to do is to define your problem and project scope for planBCD’s community of growth hackers to collaborate on. Instead of having just one solution for your A/B test, you could engage with multiple growth hackers to conduct multiple A/B tests at the same time. PlanBCD can monitor and determine which growth hacker’s solution yields the best result.

In other words, planBCD allows businesses to harness the power of crowdsourcing to improve any type of online conversion including sales, user registration, and email sign up. Each challenge set on planBCD has to offer at least a $1,000 bounty for the winning growth hacker as a reward. Big corporations that can afford more can even select the best-performing growth hackers to work with.

Kaizen was established because its founders, Kenji Sudo (CEO) and Toshimasa Ishibashi (CTO) had enough of the inefficient processes in big corporations. Both of them were ex-Recruit growth hackers who conducted A/B tests on over 50 Recruit websites. The process was painful and manual. Sudo explains:

We have over 50 media sites to test on and that’s a lot for both of us. It is hard to test every site when the process is so inefficient. Operation is hard because each time we want to do a test, we need a designer and engineer from each of the media site. It is just too inefficient and I hated it.

When both had enough with the rigid process, they packed their stuff and left the company to start Kaizen in March 2013. By August 2013, the product was officially launched. In the same month, it also concluded its $800,000 seed round from CyberAgent Ventures, GMO Venture Partners, and GREE Ventures. The Kaizen team is also said to have one of the best startup teams in Japan with 35 of them mostly coming from well known tech companies like DeNA, GREE, Recruit, Google, and Rakuten.

By December 2013, total booked order exceeded 250 million Yen ($2.44 million) in just five months, serving over 300 accounts across 10 countries.

The future looks exciting


What Kaizen has achieved so far is just the tip of the iceberg. Sudo explained that if planBCD can optimize conversion rates on web pages, it could also do the same for other media tools like email, online ads, apps, and videos.

With sufficient data to compare and analyze within the same industry, planBCD can even predict and recommend which web page needs to be optimized if conversion rate falls below the industry’s average. That is obviously futuristic thinking, but the idea isn’t too far-fetched, assuming Kaizen can gather data from multiple companies within the same industries.

“We potentially can be a big data company as more and more clients install our java codes to keep track of their online conversion rates. The future is exciting and there are a lot of things we can potentially do. For now, we are taking small steps towards our vision,” said Sudo.

Traction and popularity among tech folks in Japan gave the Kaizen team confidence to expand to Silicon Valley and potentially to Southeast Asia this year.

(Also read: 7 characteristics of Silicon Valley you won’t find in Asia)

(Editing by Paul Bischoff)

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