TechCrunch Tokyo 2016 wrapped up yesterday with a #startup pitch battle featuring six upcoming Japanese companies. This year, 114 startups were whittled down to 20 contenders before the final six were selected to present yesterday.
Check out the winners in pitching order below.
Refcome by Combinator (IBM BlueHub award)
Refcome is a referral hiring system.
Large Japanese companies traditionally hire new graduates in large blocks after the school year ends in spring, but a few notable companies like Yahoo are bucking that trend.
Refcome hopes to help businesses keep track of applicants and make it easier for employees to recommend prospects. One company claims to have cut hiring costs from around US$13,000 to US$1,800 by switching to the service.
Since its launch four months ago, there have been 160 referrals and 35 companies have signed up with an average size of 800 employees. Founder and CEO Takumi Shimizu says monthly recurring revenue is already near US$13,000.
Syounika Online by KidsPublic (First place)
Syounika Online (Pediatrician Online) connects concerned parents with a licensed pediatrician.
For around US$40 per month parents can contact a doctor between 6pm and 10pm on weekdays through the phone, Skype, or messaging app Line. Currently 23 licensed pediatricians help with inquiries.
Although Syounika Online took first place, judges were concerned about the definition of medical consultation. Founder and CEO Naoya Hashimoto is not worried and states that there is no set law for what can be done remotely and that regulation only restricts giving a diagnosis. Of the 100 times the service has been used, parents were suggested to go to the hospital for treatment three times.
Initial data shows that users spend around US$30 per consultation at a cost of around US$15 to the business.
Diggle by Tashi Knowledge (Fujitsu MetaArc award)
Diggle wants to be the QuickBooks of Japan.
The founder spent three years at a large company before moving to a startup where he experienced the difficulties of trying to create a budget with Excel. He founded Diggle to help the 85 percent of small businesses in a similar situation.
With Diggle businesses can keep track of finances as well as make simulations and create different segments without writing formulas in individual spreadsheet cells.
The service has not launched yet, but the team is hoping to charge US$500 to US$1000 per company and eventually use APIs to bring in data from other accounting software.
Town Wifi (Special judges’ award)
Town Wifi gives access to 200,000 free wifi spots across Japan with a single application.
After users install the app they can automatically connect to different public wifi services without entering a password. The team sees their service as a way to liberate young, video content loving consumers who frequently hit data limits.
The service launched in Korea this month with 10,000 access points and plans to expand to 30 countries by the end of 2017. Monetization will come from paid extra services in the future or possibly advertising.
Scouter (PR Times award)
Scouter is a social headhunting service.
Anyone can become a recruiter and introduce potential candidates to companies. Since April of this year 2,400 people have applied for headhunting positions and 600 companies have registered.
There are many rules and fees to become a recruiting company in Japan but Scouter acts as the registered firm and headhunters technically work for it part-time. The scouters are paid roughly US$10 per hour and receive 5 percent of the first year’s salary if a prospect takes a job. Scouter takes a 20 to 30 percent cut.
CEO Taro Nakajima claims companies can cut their recruiting costs by 93 percent as compared to hiring through a traditional agency.
Folio (AWS award)
Folio is a motif investment service.
Folio wants to help people invest in stocks, but the idea can be intimidating for newcomers. Instead of looking at individual companies, users can invest by choosing themes such as Internet of Things (IoT) or even actresses.
Folio will pick stocks related to that theme (in the case of the actress it picks the company making the star’s commercial for example) and create a single basket of assets which users can buy with one click.
The service is waiting for a brokerage license before an expected launch at the end of this year.