Anyone who attended our recent Startup Asia conference in Singapore earlier this month will recall Ikuya Yamada, who pitched his solution for a ‘smarter’ smartphone/tablet browsing experience called Phroni (see phroni.com). Yamada is part of Japan-based Studio Ousia, which announced today that it has received 70 million yen (about $864,000) in series A funding from Nissay Capital, a well-known Japanese VC.
The idea behind Phroni is that it analyzes the text in your browser and coverts certain words to Wikipedia links, allowing you to explore further information without the cumbersome copy and paste steps into search bars. Users can also further explore using the toolbar across services like Twitter or YouTube (see below).
Some of you may recall that a couple of our Startup Asia judges expressed some skepticism that a solution like Phroni hadn’t been done before. I recently asked Mr. Yamada about this, and he was quick to point out that while there are many services that make keywords linkable, most of them do so in the interests of advertising:
As far as we know, there is currently no similar service for smartphones and tablet devices. Existing PC-based services typically focus on converting “profitable” keywords into links (such as brand names, product names, etc)… As you know, we aim to enhance the [mobile] browsing experience, and we are standing on the user side.
He adds that this funding will be going towards hiring new engineers for the development and the global launch of Phroni. We’re delighted to see that a Startup Asia participant is one step closer to success. We certainly wish Mr. Yamada and his team all the best as they work to bring Phroni to the world, on both iOS and Android.
You can check video of the Phroni Startup Asia pitch below, and the slides are here if you’d like to see those.