#Asia 5 rising startups in Japan


Last week saw a brace of acquisitions with Line grabbing Gatebox creator Vinclu and Mercari buying fellow online shopping app Zawatt. Funding was also brisk as two firms announced deals worth more than US$10 million.

Full details below:

Cogent Labs

startups, funding, investors

Photo credit: Pixabay .

Cogent Labs nabbed US$11.4 million in a series A deal from SBI Investment and Toppan Forms. Its feature product, Tegaki is a tool that scans documents and turns handwriting into digital text like what you are reading now. It claims 99.3 percent accuracy in the process. The startup can handle Japan’s complex writing system of kanji, hiragana, and katakana. Western-style alphabet and numbers are also fair game, meaning Tegaki is likely to entertain international expansion.


social media apps

Photo credit: Pixelkult.

Nightley will be helping Japanese companies figure out where tourists physically are. The startup offers Inbound Insight, a tool that scrapes social networks like Twitter and Sina Weibo for gender, location, and nationality data. It also analyzes what people are saying about the places they are visiting. This data can be used by clients to make their businesses more appealing to tourists and increase revenue.

SMBC Venture Capital, Nissay Capital, and Legend Partners all chipped into a US$1.1 million series A round. In a year and a half since the service launched, it has gained 4,300 firms as users.



Photo credit: Unique Hotels

Umami is another startup built on Japan’s burgeoning tourism industry. It offers a chatbot – Tripla – that services like hotels and restaurants can use to provide concierge support for non-Japanese guests. Terms of its latest deal were not disclosed. KNT-CT, a company founded in 1941 that currently includes several tourism firms among its holdings, was the only announced investor.

The latest round comes after Umami raised a total of US$615,000 in a series of seed fundings last year in (May, June, and August). For visitors to Japan, the company also offers a handy app for iOS and Android.



Photo credit: Nick Page

Panair produces Odin – a client and energy management tool for electricity retailers. Its US$10.5 million round attracted a deep list of notable investors. Incubate Fund, SMBC Venture Capital, Daiwa Corporate Investment, DG Incubation, Dogan, Hiroshima Venture Capital, Mizuho Capital, and YJ Capital all participated.

With Odin, electricity suppliers can monitor clients’ energy usage and automate the supply to suit the demand at any given time. This reduces costs for the suppliers as well as the end-clients.


Photo credit: 123rf.

Dazzle has been best known as a VR game producer. With a fresh US$1.8 million in funding, it is adding analytics to its service offerings. AccessiVR gives developers the data on eye movements and how players use a given device. Those findings are necessary to make VR games better. AccessiVR is compatible with Oculus Rift, Gear VR, HTC Vive, and VR games designed for smartphones.

The round was led by Yumeshin Holdings along with its subsidiary Yumeshin Technology. Both companies previously led Dazzle’s US$1.3 million round last May.

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