This space is typically a summary of the previous week’s funding highlights, but some major news from the fintech industry (and next week’s holiday) is making us bend the rules. Full details, plus language apps, mobile video studios, and more are below.
With today’s announcement of a US$28.6 million series D round, Freee continues to up the ante in Japan’s fintech industry. Starting out in 2012 as a straightforward accounting-as-a-service startup, the firm has rapidly expanded into an enterprise resource planning (ERP) company. The latest round will go towards beefing up its core accounting services with artificial intelligence. The startup will also dive more deeply into ERP offerings like HR support for small to mid-size businesses.
Toyota’s Mirai Creation fund, along with past investors like DCM Ventures, SBI Investment’s fintech fund, and Salesforce Ventures, all participated in this round. Freee has now raised a total of US$82 million.
Founder and CEO Daisuke Sasaki took the stage at TIA Tokyo this year. Be sure to read the full story on his vision for the future.
Candee is a content-focused startup that produces advertising and general media videos. The startup specializes in mobile content and operates its own small talent management studio. Candee announced a US$8.5 million round last week. The company has been producing videos since 2015, but this is the first confirmed funding.
The venture arms of Yahoo Japan (YJ Capital) and television studio TBS (TBS Innovation) led the round alongside gaming giant Gumi. As part of the deal, Gumi’s founder and CEO Hironao Kunimitsu will join Candee as the chairman of the board. With Japan’s new media landscape heating up, Candee is likely to reappear in this space before too long.
Qurate revealed to Nikkei that it had raised a round of funding from local, Fukuoka-based VC Dogan along with well-known Tokyo investors Daiwa Securities and Abba Lab. For a reported US$340,000, the company’s post-raise valuation is believed to be approximately US$4.3 million.
Known for its website building service, the startup is a standout of the tech ecosystem in Kyushu (the southernmost of Japan’s four main islands). Qurate is also behind the entrepreneur-friendly website of Fukuoka, Kyushu’s largest city.
Styly is a young startup seeking to create a new way of shopping for and experiencing clothes. With an investment from gaming leader Colopl’s VR fund – terms not disclosed – it will get that chance. Technology that enables looking through and trying on virtual clothing may contain value for future advertisers and clothing brands.
Polyglots revealed it has closed a series A round. The amount is above US$200,000, but the precise terms were not revealed. Polyglots has released twin language learning applications – one for Japanese and one for English. The startup’s international reach is reflected in this funding round: four angel investors living in America supplied all the money.
We first spotted Polyglots shortly after its release in 2015. Now the startup is providing a link between its two apps. A new “handshake” feature matches language learners of Japanese or English with counterparts holding similar interests.
Japan Railways Western Japan, the largest operator of train lines in Western Japan, operates one of the nation’s many corporate venture capital funds. The tastefully named JR Western Japan Innovations now has its first portfolio company – Ipoca. Terms were not disclosed.
Ipoca has been around since 2007 and provides the application Nearly, an online guide to the shops and deals in a given area. Live in 12 cities with about 10,000 member shops, it’s eyeing a push into western Japan.
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