As The First In Its Kind, Digital-Focused Event To Be Held This Weekend In Fukuoka

As the first in its kind (for me at least), there will be a big three-day event in Fukuoka this weekend, which is called Myojo Waraku or just “MJ” in short, where a bunch of celebrities, geeks and techpreneurs from music, online video filming and start-up communities in the city come together.

For those who don’t know much about the city, it’s located in the south-western island of Japan and much closer to Shanghai and Seoul than Tokyo or the country’s capital. That’s why it’s often considered as a gateway to Asian countries for Japanese, not only for its geographical reason, but also for a high reflection from Asian flavor in the city’s local foods.

The city is a little bit away from Tokyo, however, it has a good enough population of techpreneurs and engineers because not a few large IT businesses have set up their headquarters there. So is it for the volume of its local tech start-up community, too.

The event is highly inspired by SXSW (South-by-South-West), a one-week-long festival that happens in March every year in Austin, TX and focuses on making great exposure opportunities for filmmakers, music artists and web media creators. MJ is led by Masanori Hashimoto, the co-founder of Fukuoka-based tech company NuLab, also known as the developer of collaboration-based drawing tool Cacoo, and Taizo Son[J], a serial entrepreneur, angel investor and a younger brother of Softbank Mobile’s CEO, and aims at encouraging local start-ups to go more international and make their services spread out all across Asia.

Visit these webpages for a brief introduction about the event in English, Korean, Chinese and Japanese. Also for more updates, visit the event’s main website at http://myojowaraku.net[J]. (sorry, the latter one is mainly written in Japanese).

Mig33 Launches Developer Program, Many Asian Gaming Apps To Come Out In Japan

As we reported here on Asiajin, Japan’s largest mobile gaming company Gree[J] partnered with mig33, a Singapore-born and currently US-based social network which has become the most popular in South East Asia.

Mig33 recently launched a developer program, which allows mobile game developers to make revenue by developing games on a platform which is compatible with Gree’s one[J]. Attending the program could be a chance to give their apps reach more than 50 million users in the region, and the most popular sets of the apps published on the platform may be migrated for GREE’s Japanese mobile users too.

As of this writing, 12 developers from 7 countries has been participating in the program, which may cause keener competition in developing mobile gaming apps because more developers not only in Japan but also those from foreign countries will be forced to sharpen swords on the common international arena, in publishing best-selling apps.

Meanwhile, in terms of global expansion by big name gaming platform operators, DeNA recently announced they would launch their Mobage service in English-speaking countries and Mainland China.

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Zaim: The Socialized Cashbook App Helps You Find Better Ways To Save Daily Expenses

Takako Kansai[J] (@kansai_takako), a full-time engineer at Tokyo’s web service start-up and also the best known tech geek girl in this country, just released her first iPhone app called Zaim on Tuesday.

Zaim, meaning “financial affairs” in the Japanese pronunciation, makes you possible to easily note where you have bought something, what you have bought, and how much you have paid for it, on the iPhone app. You are allowed to share your expense records with other users, that’s why the app is subtitled as the social account book, compare the characteristics of using money with those who have a similar demographic profile with you, and find a better way to save your money.


Pic: Mrs. Kansai pitches Zaim at Tokyo’s monthly start-up showcase event, Startup Dating[J] (June 2011).

She lives in Yokohama, a Tokyo’s adjacent city, and she has been developing the app in her one-hour home-office daily commute, and spent three months to complete it, TechCrunch Japan reports. She has enhanced its functionality that allows users to handle up to 19 currency units both in English and Japanese, and expects it gain user traction from the world.

Mrs. Kansai is currently working with UserLocal[J] (See these stories for more about it), which is known for their visualized website access analysis solutions, and also represents a weekend/after-hours web development group called Tinymonks. She is now working on a third-party API for the app, which is expected to be published later this month, and her group mate is working on the Android app for the service.

Event Wrap-up: Echelon 2011 And More, A Visit To Singapore In June

Almost a month ago, there was an international technology and start-up showcase event, which is called Echelon, at the National University of Singapore. Because of many things to do remaining after the event, I delayed making a write-up on it.

I think this year’s Echelon was its second edition, and that took place on June 16 and 17. Here’s a brief wrap-up.

Startup Launchpad (Part 1)

  •  Cardinal Blue (a photo collage app for iPhone/iPad) – Taiwan
  • WorkCrowd (a free social network for your workspace) – Malaysia
  • SixReps (a social network for fitness and sportenthusiasts) – Indonesia
  • JellyBus (a developer of Android-based funny apps) – Korea
  • Fetch Fans (A web-based assistant to help your Facebook/Twitter designs) – Singapore
  • Bouncity (A location-based gaming platform where users can hunt for bounty from participating brands and get rewards)

Startup Launchpad (Part 2)

  • Moglue (A desktop platform that allows publishers, amateur authors to create interactive stories for iOS and Android devices) – Korea <See this story for more>
  • Second CRM (A web-based CRM software especially for SMEs in Asia) – Malaysia
  • Price Area (A shopping search engine to help you find the best deals) – Indonesia
  • LocoBuzz by Spatial Ideas (an analytics, query and communications platform which integrates news and tweets onto a geographical map) – India

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  • [The Launchpad Winner] PlayMoolah (a web service for kids to master their money) – Singapore

Exhibitors’ Booths…

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Garbs, a Tokyo-based start-up that helps you recruit potential colleagues using their Facebook app.

 

Compath.me, a location-based smartphone app that allows you to find discoveries near-by that the other users have posted and you may be interested in.

 

Makible, a Hongkong-based start-up for making niche products.  They connect with online communities to pre-order-crowd sourced products they make and distribute.  Founded by Jonathan Buford and Nicholas Wang.

 


Panel…

I was invited to Lisa Katayama’s panel featuring Japanese tech scene, and we talked about the latest developments on the Japanese web industry.  Also I gave some words to Asian start-ups who eagerly go into Japanese market.  From left to right, Lisa Katayama (Tokyo Mango), Ian McFarland (Digital Garage), me, Jon Yonghook Cockle (CookPad) and Brian Ritchie (Mind Valley, Malaysia).  Photo courtesy: e27.

 


After the event…

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Penn Olson, a Singapore-based tech blog which I’ve been contributing for, had a party in the central Singapore, where four Japanese start-ups including Cacoo, Fashion Style Japan, Compath.me and Moso had an opportunity to present. You can find videos shooting it here[J].


Just heard Asiajin co-founder Akky is planning to stay in Singapore for several weeks next month. If you’re interested in meeting him and making friendship, I recommend you to drop him a line.

August’s Startup Weekend Events To Take Place In Tokyo, Kyoto And Fukuoka

In the next month, it will be the hottest summer ever which is filled with a number of start-up events.   Jonny Li, a Tokyo-based British start-up curator and also known as a partner for the Startup Weekend organization, announced he would hold its 54-hour weekend events in Tokyo, Kyoto and Fukuoka.  The events are to be operated by Mr. Li, Mr. Masanori Hashimoto of NuLab Inc.[J] who’s well known for diagram-sharing web app Cacoo, and Kyoto Research Park.

Mr. Li expects sponsorship from several local tech companies in each of the cities, is currently working on it, and hopes to raise a 6 or 7-digit amount of cash (in Japanese yen) to the final prize winner.

Appointed judges who will watch and evaluate the pitches of participating developers include: Junya Kondo[J] from Hatena[J] (a Kyoto-based blog hosting company, see this for the company’s related stories), Kentaro Sakakibara from Samurai Incubate and Mikihiro Yasuda[J] from Tokyo-based incubator Open Network Lab[J].  More great names are expected to be seated on the judging panel, so please keep your eyes on the website of the three-city events.

If you’re interested in attending any of them and co-developing with great comrades, visit the website of the event in your city and complete your sign-up before all seats are sold out.

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