TAKAYAMA, Japan—When microbrewery owner Saburo Setsuda needed to replace a bottling machine last year, his bank said no to a loan but introduced him to a Tokyo firm that helped him raise funds online.
"I remember thinking it was almost too good to be true," said Mr. Setsuda, who had piled up ¥10 million ($98,000) in outstanding bank loans. He is one of a number of Japanese entrepreneurs, from fashion designers to restaurant operators, who are turning to online fundraising, known as crowdfunding, when regular banks won't help.
Singapore startup Giift wants to shake things up with an online platform that supercharges how loyalty programs are done through the efficiency that the internet brings. It has a classic two-sided platform – on one side, merchants have the ability to upload, manage, and measure their loyalty programs in exchange for monthly subscription and referral fees of between four to six percent. On the consumer side of things, users can track the amount of loyalty points they have, make redemptions using the app, and exchange points from one program to another
1. Beatrobo | Japan
Tokyo-based startup Beatrobo is a global, social music service that uses customizable robot avatars as a conduit for sharing songs and discovering new artists. The startup has just received series A investment from Japanese convenience store chain Lawson.
Japanese telco NTT Docomo (NYSE:DCM) held its latest Docomo Innovation Village demo day last week. It’s the second running of its startup incubation program after it was first established in October 2012. After more than four months of incubation, the six graduate teams were given only six minutes to make a presentation at the finale about their progress in the program. The presentation was evaluated and voted on by the judges and the audience through their smartphones. Four prizes were dished out, including the grand prize and the Sony Select Prize that was selected by Sony, the program’s partner this year.
In Japan, people in the IT industry will have heard of Koki Sato (pictured above), CEO & President at Septeni Holdings. A law graduate of Rikkyo University Japan, Sato chose a path different from most of his fellow law students. Forgoing a career as a lawyer, he chose to pursue music.
Founded in 2010 by Yusuke Tanaka and three other founders, Locondo is one of the largest ecommerce sites selling shoes in Japan. Yusuke, an ex-McKinsey consultant who worked in Silicon Valley from 2007 to 2010, was very inspired by Tony Hsieh’s Zappos. “I had an opportunity to hear about the story of Zappos. I thought there was great potential to do it in Japan,” says Yusuke. By chance, Yusuke met the guys from Rocket Internet, the German ecommerce startup machine. In 2010, Locondo received a US$10 million investment from Rocket followed by another $5 million in 2011. Rocket Internet also provided expertise in logistics and warehousing to Yusuke’s team.
Popular Japanese news reader app Gunosy has closed a funding round led by local telco KDDI, according to The Bridge. The amount was not disclosed, but The Bridge estimates somewhere between US$12 million and US$14 million. A chunk of the new investment will go toward TV advertisements, which have a proven track record in Japan of attracting users. The most notable example is social chat app Line, whose famous sticker characters even have their own TV show. Other apps advertising on TV there include KakaoTalk, DeNA’s Comm, and several mobile games. Gunosy’s main revenue stream comes from display advertisements, which are highly targeted depending on the content of the article. The ad technology is likely the real attraction for investors, as the advertisements on the app have performed well since launching last November.
Running for three years now “The 2014 FORBES ASIA Power Businesswomen list”, presents a selection of 50 women from a range of industries that includes venture capital, lingerie, toolmaking and constructions. New additions that make it onto the list are Alison Watkins, who rises to the top of Coca-Cola Amatil,l who became only the second woman to head up a top 30 listed Australian company; Ong Chih Ching, an entrepreneur and property magnet based in Singapore with a taste for yachts and fast cars. Also onto the list is veteran Hong Kong movie producer, Nansun Shi, whose career spans almost four decades.
The Researchers at Forbes say they use the following criteria to qualify who makes it onto the list: company revenue (rarely less than $100 million, frequently in the billions), the woman’s position at the company (if she’s the boss that’s a big plus) and how involved she is (preferably running operations day-to-day).
Chew Gek Khim of Singapore fits all this criteria and then and beyond as she transforms Straits Trading, a staid colonial-era tin smelter, into a sleek 21st-century holding company. The Forbes team also selected entrepreneurs, like Noriko Nakamura of Poppins from Japan and Australian retail queen Naomi Milgrom, who have nurtured their own businesses.
It’s a tough process finding and judging women across a large geographic space and this year’s selection includes 13 countries. The range of industries is also very diverse as are the cultures and economies that must be taken into account. A company in Vietnam with $100 million in annual sales for example might be a standout on the local stock exchange but would register barely a blip in a more developed market. Countries such as Indonesia tend to throw up family-run conglomerates rather than listed companies, where information is easier to come by. And then there is culture: In Greater China women seem to advance more smoothly than in many other countries in the region, where tradition can remain a barrier.
A survey by Grant Thornton International Business Report notes a sharp rise in senior management positions held by women in mainland China to 51% (as of February 2013) from 25% a year earlier. Compare that with 7% in Japan, rock bottom of the heap of 44 economies studied; 22% in Australia; and 34% in Asean overall. The global average is 24%.
From a daring bright spark creating an online social media venture in Myanmar to a longtime executive just named the first woman to run an Indian oil major, these women are a small selection of those driving change.
Research: Shu-Ching Jean Chen, Susan Cunningham, FORBES INDONESIA, Don Frazier, Ron Gluckman, Jane Ho, Joyce Huang, Seline Jung, Naazneen Karmali, Sunshine Lichauco de Leon, Noelle Lim, Lan Anh Nguyen, Anuradha Raghunathan, Lucinda Schmidt, Jennifer Schultz Wells, James Simms, Blessing Waung.
Source Forbes Asia
The Nomura Research Institute says that Japan's social gaming market will likely be worth 393.5 billion yen (US$5.1 billion) in fiscal 2016, roughly doubling in size when compared with 2011.
Here is a full overview from the main sources (100 million yen are US$1.3 million currently):
01 Bilna | Indonesia
01 Bilna | IndonesiaLaunched in November 2013, Bilna is an online store that sells products for babies, infants, as well as mothers. The company announced that it has closed series A funding raised from existing investors CyberAgent Ventures and East Ventures, as well as new investors DG Incubation (DGI), TMS Entertainment, and Golden Gate Ventures.
02 Renrendai | China
02 Renrendai | ChinaRenrendai is a Chinese online peer-to-peer lending service which is reported to have facilitated RMB 1 billion ($165.2 million) in loans as of August 2013, with a 276 percent year-on-year increase in the first half of last year. The startup announced its parent company, Renrenyou, received Series A funding from Trustbridge Partners and an undisclosed investor.
03 FlyData | Japan
03 FlyData | JapanFounded in 2011, FlyData is a Japanese startup based in Silicon Valley that makes big data storage on the cloud possible. The company also promises data analysts that they can move and analyze their data seamlessly and continuously on the cloud.
04 MetroPlate | Philippines
04 MetroPlate | PhilippinesRanked second in Startup Weekend Manila 2013, MetroPlate is a food delivery platform that focuses on healthy meals. Users can access the website and choose from a selection of healthy dishes cooked by restaurants that specialize in nutritious meals, which will then be delivered to the hungry users' doorstep.
05 Little Eye Labs | India
05 Little Eye Labs | IndiaIndia's Little Eye Labs is a testing and analytics tool for Android developers to improve app performance. The startup is a graduate of GSF's first accelerator program that began last year.
This week, the company announced that it has been bought by Facebook (FB), making it the social network titan's first acquisition in India.
06 Bukalapak | Indonesia
06 Bukalapak | IndonesiaBuilt in 2010, Bukalapak is one of the biggest C2C platform in Indonesia's crowded online marketplace scene. The company claims to excel in male-dominated categories like bikes, cameras, musical instruments, and computers. Bukalapak also recently revealed some data and progress that the company racked up in 2013.
07 Qraved | Indonesia
07 Qraved | IndonesiaQraved is a social dining directory and online reservation platform from Indonesia that went mobile, with it's brand new mobile booking app that is made available on both iOS and Android. The company is the first Indonesian startup to receive funding from 500 Startups. The seed investment was made alongside lead investor Rebright Partners and Skype co-founder Toivo Annus.
08 Social.gg | Thailand
08 Social.gg | ThailandSocial.gg is a new useful tool that can help users explore trends and hot topics on social media in Thailand. Similar to Google Trends or Twitter's trending topics, Social.gg gathers various trends on Facebook, in which users can check what the hottest topics of the moment are. This service is available to the public for free.
09 DealDozen | Philippines
09 DealDozen | PhilippinesStarted in March 2011, DealDozen is a daily deals site from the Philippines which was recently acquired by Asia Deal Group, the e-commerce group behind Streetdeal, for an undisclosed amount.
10 Saved | Malaysia
10 Saved | MalaysiaDeveloped by an eight-man team at Lentor, Saved is a new and slick personal finance and budgeting app for iPhone and Android that lets you set a budget and input what you spend. It then gives you simple analytics, based around either a graph or a calendar, about your expenditures.