This week’s roundup is dominated by technical startups specializing in IoT infrastructure, medical care, and real estate.
DFree is a wearable device that notifies users and/or their caretakers when their body needs to poop. For the infirm or incontinent, the device can significantly improve their living condition. As it gears up for mass production, it has a pair of new investors.
Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) selected DFree as a member in its Startups in Corporate Alliance. The designation comes with US$610,000 in grant money. The Japan Finance Corporation chipped in a further US$870,000 in a separate deal.
Since DFree has already raised a US$4 million series A from the likes of Hon Hai and Daiwa Corporate Investment, the company is characterizing the new funding as a nice-to-have more than a necessity. For instance, the primary benefit of working with NEDO is new access to Japanese corporate resources. DFree will be able to call on Accenture, Itochu Chemical Frontier, Itochu Techno Solutions, Paramount Bed, and Revamp Corporation for technical and business development support.
Itandi has taken an undisclosed amount of money from telecommunications giant KDDI and real estate firm Ichigo. Itandi has developed a suite of services to modernize Japan’s real estate industry. With Buka-kun (an automated tool that confirms the availability of rooms and houses in real time) and NomadCloud (a chatbot that manages communications between real estate agents and potential buyers), Itandi will connect KDDI’s customer base and Ichigo’s professional network. Itandi previously announced a US$2.5 million seed round in January 2014.
Aptpod helps businesses analyze and visualize the data from connected industrial machines. It has raised US$5.8 million from SBI Investment, Toyota’s Mirai Fund, Mizuho Capital, and SMBC Venture Capital. Its featured product – Visual M2M – is a customizable, real-time visual dashboard of data collected in IoT initiatives. Honda previously used the service to assess solar-powered electric vehicle charging stations. The funds are partially earmarked for global expansion, so this is one technical solution that will not remain confined to the Japanese market.
Ookami produces the popular sports entertainment app Player!. Following angel and seed rounds in 2014 and 2015, the company has raised a series A from IMJ Investment Partners and Asahi Shimbun. Gree Ventures also returned for this round. The terms were not disclosed, but TechCrunch Japan says it totaled US$3-4 million.
The app has become a popular destination for following and discussing game scores and sporting events. Though broadcasting rights remain elusive, the latest funding comes with the news that instant updates for Japan’s professional soccer and basketball leagues are now available. Currently only available for iOS, the app received the App Store’s “Best of” designation in 2015.
We’ve been bringing you cool Japanese startups lately. Check out them out here.
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