Category: Startup

Doki Doki begins beta testing for Ball, its newest voice-centric social networking app

Doki Doki, a Japanese startup led by serial entrepreneur Takahiro Iguchi has recently initiated a closed beta testing for its communication and networking app known as Ball. The software will be tested by 100 people whom identities were not revealed.

The app is inspired by the startup’s first product Baby, a social app which allows users to record and share 5-second voice messages which are made accessible to other Baby users near the location. Depending on how the user sound or what messages they chose to convey, other users can decide if they want to connect, by flicking left or right in a Tinder-like fashion.

If users’ intentions match, they can become friends and are allowed to have a private voice chat instead of chatting via the public parade chat. Messages will also automatically disappear within 24 hours so that conversation with new acquaintances or old friends can remain discreet.

Baby was launched in November last year and is only downloadable from the United States iTunes App Store.

Its new application Ball, however, extends its voice-centric feature to create the world’s first voice social network. The service allows its users to talk as much as desired, whenever they want and wherever they want within a time range of 5 seconds.

“In the new version of Baby, we will move further away from the encounter of voice to focus on the continuous process of daily chatter. The aim is to create an environment that is more suitable for voice messaging,” said Takahito Iguchi on the stage at FabCafe MTRL.

To create that, the app functions by connecting users who are interested in similar topics together. For example, if one person made a comment about the new “iPhone 8”, he or she will be linked to those who are talking about the same topic from across the world.

Iguchi describes the experience that Ball offers as a cafe-like space.

Doki Doki, Inc. is founded in June 2014 to develop a platform where people can instantaneously understand each other. Takahito Iguchi, the serial entrepreneur behind Doki Doki became popular at TechCrunch 40 following the disrupt with Sekai Camera – an augmented reality app which proved to be a world-class hit.

The company has already raised funds of about US$1.1 million from investors including Skyland Ventures, CyberAgent Ventures, and Umeda Startup Fund. Earlier in February this year, the startup has also raised 50 million yen (about US$460K) from the Kyoto University Innovation Capital (Kyoto iCAP).

By Vivian Foo, Unicorn Media

Poladrone and EasyLaw takes top two awards at Echelon Malaysia Pitching Showcase

The two-day tech conference Echelon Malaysia 2017 in Georgetown, Penang is finally over.

The digital platform, which was localised for the Malaysian market has managed to attract an attendance of more than 300 startups, in addition to industry veterans from the travel tech, creative content, hardware and industrial Internet of Things (IoT) to share their insights.

Another highlight in the Echelon Malaysia was the Top 100 Fight Club competition, a live startup pitching competition where the best startups pitch on the main stage in front of a judging panel made up from investors.

The judges for the competition were the Senior Executive Director of Vertex – Carmen Yuen, senior technical evangelist of Microsoft – Aswin C, the general and founding partner of KK Fund – Koichi Saito, a partner at Golden Gate Ventures – Michael Lints, and the vice president for Gobi VC – Victor Chua.

Poladrone and EasyLaw won the two top prizes, beating other participating startups which includes digital comparison platform Boleh Compare, Hotwire clone Staydilly, and Smartpeep, a startup which provides an outdoor intrusion solution.

Poladrone won the Judges Choice Award, having provided proprietary solutions for farmers to gather agricultural information while EasyLaw, a startup that helps people find fast, affordable, legal advice took home the Fan Favorite award, being the most voted in the Facebook poll.

The teams are also awarded with prizes which includes passes to Echelon Asia summit in Singapore, US$10,000 worth of Microsoft Azure credits as well as MYR3,000 (about US$600) in cash for each startup.

By Vivian Foo, Unicorn Media

Chinese employee training platform YunXueTang secures US$22 million round led by SIG

YunXueTang, an employee training platform announced on Tuesday that it had raised US$22 million in a series B funding led by venture capital firm SIG, with participation from Chinese investor Li Qi.

This follows the startup’s previous funding round in 2014 from China’s Everest Venture which was worth RMB 80 million (about US$11 million).

YunXueTang is a learning management system (LMS) for employees.

The platform provides a range of services from exams to learning materials for medium and large size companies, including fields from real estate, banking, insurance, and retail.

Its products also include a learning platform for companies to create their own teaching materials, in addition to a video conferencing mobile app.

The company was founded in December 2011 by Lu Ruize, operating on a BaaS (Business-as-a-Service) model which places emphasis on content and consulting services for enterprises.

At present, the company has over 1 200 lecturers providing more than 2 000 courses for over 300 000 companies. Its customers include China Mobile Ltd, Lenovo Group Ltd., and traditional Chinese pharmaceutical company TongRenTang.

The company also claims to have recorded a revenue of RMB 100 million (about US$14 million) last year.

“Currently, a dozen of European and U.S. employee training companies have issued IPOs,” said Guo Lu, a partner at SIG. “In Europe and US, the industry is well-developed and highly penetrated, but in China, despite a 15 percent annual growth rate, the industry still focuses on providing offline services while online services are in the early stage.”

The reason for this investment, Guo Lu further adds is that YunXueTang presents the opportunity to integrate online and offline resources.

It operates on a forward-looking mindset, market accumulation, as well as an elite team which makes him believes that the company has what it takes to make it in the subversive training industry.

Meanwhile, the startup plans to use the fresh capital to improve the platform’s content, enhance consultancy services and build a sales team.

“The next step for YunXueTang is to compile its own accumulated data, and to develop in the direction of high-quality knowledge content providers,” said Lu Ruize.

By Vivian Foo, Unicorn Media

Gangwon Creative Economy Innovation Center opens auditions for youth entrepreneurs in Wonju

Following a success in Chuncheon, the Gangwon Youth Startup Audition is moving on to Wonju to discover more excellent business ideas. The event will be held at the GIC Wonju office.

The programme however was first hosted three years ago under a different title – Global Venture Competition. It was initially designed to boost the startup ecosystem of Gangwon Province but later scaled down to focus on local, young entrepreneurs.

The programme will be divided into two sections: the Startup Competition and the Startup/Entrepreneur Club Support Project.

For the Startup Competition, participants are required to pitch their business ideas in front of a panel of judges. The best will be selected and granted financial support and other benefits that will help convert their ideas into successful businesses.

As for the Startup Club Support Project, the event will be held twice a year and 15 teams will be selected to compete in the programme. From the selected teams, five finalists will be chosen to receive financial prizes to aid in their business ideas.

GIC’s Wonju office will host the programmes starting April and conclude it by hosting demo days in December for selected finalists. The center plans to invite renowned entrepreneurs to the demo day to lecture and socialize with the finalists.

The programme is open to anyone under 39 years of age who is currently residing in the Gangwon Province. Young entrepreneurs who are interested in participating can apply through the homepage.

By Vivian Foo, Unicorn Media

WAmazing’s vision for a SIM Robo at all international airports wins grand prize at B Dash Camp

WAmazing, a Tokyo-based startup that offers free SIM cards and tourism services to help foreign visitors get around in Japan, has won the top prize at B Dash Camp 2017 Spring in Fukuoka which was held earlier last Friday.

Launched by Japanese VC B Dash Ventures, the B Dash Camp is an invitation-only tech summit for startups to springboard their businesses globally with sessions, lectures, and networks with both local and international internet company founders.

In 2017, the programme was held in the Fukuoka prefecture from 16th to 17th March, with the participation of 20 startups from all around the world. These startups have been selected through the preliminary document screening and gained the opportunity to take part in the Pitch Presentation. From this, six startups were later shortlisted to compete in the final pitch, including:

1. Infostellar: a platform providing antenna sharing services for artificial satellites
2. Fieldsolution: an IoT solution to reduce water resource management cost
3. Mu Yan: a content service provider using “Mangaroo” that can secondarily use licensed comic books
4. Light town: a marketplace for small-lot transport
5. WAmazing: a provider of free SIM for foreign visitors to Japan
6. PocketChange: Exchange of surplus banknotes and coins on overseas trips to electronic money etc. that can be used in Japan

During the final pitch session, Fumiko Kato, the Representative Director of WAmazing’s response to the judges’ question “if funds are abundant” was said to have won over the panelists, earning them the top prize.

Her answer was, “Consumption by tourists is occurring around the arrival and departure airport, thus it is important to expand the engagement points of visiting customers as quickly as possible. It would be best for the free SIM card with digital signage receiver to be installed in all 29 international airports in Japan, in order for it to be expanded to Asia at a stretch.”

And with Tokyo 2020 around the corner, WAmazing comes in line with the government’s goal of increasing inbound tourism figures to 40 million people by 2020, having officially released its application on January 26 this year, dedicated to inbound travelers.

The startup offers service packages which include a SIM card with up to 500MB of free mobile usage, a tour guide app, and information on reservations by working with smartphones. This will allow the startup to acquire the accounts of foreigners visiting Japan and hold settlement to various services connected from there, such as taxi dispatch services and tour reservation.

The app is currently only available in Traditional Chinese, in order to appeal to tourists in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Looking at the future, the startup plans to develop the application for foreigners from Thailand, Malaysia, and others.

By Vivian Foo, Unicorn Media

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