Taxi-pooling Service Meets The Best Known LBS iPhone App And Map Portal

Skymint's Logo Mapion's Logo

Probably it’s common in any city around the world that not more female geeks are appeared than males at tech industry scenes.   Except some activities that encourage more females to join this exciting community, such as U.S.-based “Girls in Tech” and Tokyo Girl Geeks[J], it is mere that we see a female entrepreneur who runs her tech start-up company.   That is very unfortunate (at least for me).

Takutomo.com's Banner

Tokyo-based female entrepreneur Kaoru Iwasaki[J] (@kaoru_iwasaki), who is an individual stock investor and the founder of her start-up Skymint[J], launched a web-based taxi-pooling assistance service called Takutomo.com[J, for mobile] last year.   Japan’s still remaining economic depression gears up the usages of her service, and it gains high reputation among the businesspersons who wish to save their living expenses but have missed the last train in this party season and are forced to come back home in the midnight.   By entering your origin, destination and the time when you need a taxi on the service menu, you are allowed to communicate with the other people having the same conditions for transportation needs.

Taxi drivers can also sign up for putting their profiles on the service and to receive a pick-up request from potential passengers in order to reduce the off-duty time in the taxi’s operating hours.

30mins iPhone with Takutomo.com

Last week Takutomo.com shook hands with 30min.[J] (Sanzero minutes, see this for more details), a popular LBS iPhone app specializing in finding local recommended diners and hot spots based on message posts consolidated from more than 8,000 gourmet blogs.  With this partnership, Sanzero added a new feature on their iPhone app, it now enables you to call for taxi-pooling companions or a discount taxi service very easily without making a phone call.   Furthermore, the service partnered with one of Japan’s largest web mapping service Mapion[J], and it allows you to call a taxi just by clicking on your current location on the map on your laptop screen.

By comparing the fares of the registered taxi services and analyzing the possible shortest route with pick-up/drop-off of you and your pooling companions, Takutomo.com will give you the most cost-effective answer of which taxi service you should call and which companions you should get accompanied with.

Don’t worry about missing the last train but enjoy a series of year-end parties until the dead of the night.

Author’s note: In order to keep the user’s safety in taxi-pooling with stranger companions, the secretariat of the service says that it is subject to disable accounts of the users who are reported as being annoying.   The system prevents canceled members from signing up another new account with the cellphone having the same caller-IDs that have been used for their previous member registration.    As far as I know, in the downtown area of Korea’s capital on Friday evenings when available taxis are not sufficiently provided, there’s something like a custom that local people are taxi-pooling to come home, which is called “택시 합승 (taxi hap-sung)”.   As reported on news media, COP15 is currently being held in Copenhagen for discussing the issues on the global climate change, and it reminds me that taxi-pooling assistance service may also contribute to the environment preservation as well.

30min. Fundraises USD275,000 To Go Next Round

Japan’s best-known LBS (location-based service) app 30min.[J] (pronounced “san-zero minutes”) allocated new shares to Mitsui Ventures (MVC), and Mr. Yohei Nishikubo joined the company as the managing director today.   Mr. Nishikubo is a venture partner of MVC and formerly served as the president of search ad agency and SEO (search engine optimization) consultancy J Listing[J].

30min. provides regional information services for PC, iPhone and Android handsets, and it shows you the listing of restaurants, shopping malls and must-see places located near you, based on a bunch of information collected from the blogosphere.   The company has 830,000 unique PC users, and the accumulated number of downloading the iPhone app marks 110,000.   By using the fund newly raised, the company plans to develop an app for non-smartphone cellphone handsets.

The company fundraised approx. USD275,000, and now its capital net worth is USD330,000.   The company’s CEO Motoaki Tanigo[J](@tanigox) says, he wants to gain the software development workforce of the company, and to add new features to the app soon.

In addition to the company’s CTO Noriyuki Nonomura[J](@nonomura) who has been solely managing technical stuffs on the service, Mr. Noriyoshi Nambo[J](@nambon), who’s well known for having developed an iPhone app that shows you a list of the earthquakes happened in the day[J], also joined the company as a developer lead this month.

Via: CNET Japan[J] and Venture Now[J]

30min. iPhoneApp

Event Wrap-up: 400+ Geeks Applaud Web Innovators At WISH2009

WISH2009 Venue

More than 400 Internet users joined the event on Friday evening in Tokyo.   Tokyo-based blog marketing agency Agile Media Network (AMN)[J] held Japan’s first conference having a number of tech start-ups in comprehensive perspective, titled WISH2009 (Web Innovation SHare)[J].   More than a dozen of innovators had opportunities to present their works, and Japanese tech media journalists and GREE‘s CEO Yoshikazu Tanaka(@tanakayoshikazu) were invited to serve as award judges.

Here are wrap-ups of the event and award winning results.   Each presentation is almost five-minute long and given in Japanese language.

Award winning presenters:

Company / Service / Desc. Video (Presented by AMN)
Grand Prix Winner & AMN Award Winner:

JokerRacer

Akky Akimoto wrote this in-depth story about the service here on Asiajin.

Presentation by CEO Yoski Akamatsu[J] (@yoski)

Nikkei BP Award Winner:

Dressphile Online Closet[J]

For city dwellers having no affordable space at home to keep unseasonable clothes, you may ask Dressphile on the web to pick up unnecessary pieces and to keep each piece of them in the company’s storage for an approximate monthly cost of USD3.

Presentation by CEO Hiroshi Nishi[J]

Impress Award Winner:

Cerevo's Logo

Cerevo[J]

Cerevo provides a double-sided solution for people wanting to send and share pictures online by not only developing a new photo management site but also manufacturing an originally-designed digital camera.

Presentation by Takuma Iwasa[J]

IT Media Award Winner:

Lang-8[J]

Hiroumi Mitani wrote this in-depth story about the service here on Asiajin.

Presentation by Youyou Ki

CNET Japan Award Winner:

Logo of Action*Pad

ActionPad[J]

Gen Taguchi is well-known since he introduces the world’s innovative web services every day on his website.   He is also a system engineer and developed an easy-to-use web-based “to-do” management system requiring no user account registration.

Presentation by Gen Taguchi
a.k.a. 100shiki.com

Gizmodo Japan Award Winner:

Xtel[J]

A team of 10 laboratories of Keio University SFC jointly developed a number of digitized contents and media derived from our daily utilities, and also invented a platform allowing them to develop ubiquitous products in a more efficient way. (E/J intro PDF to the project)

Presentation by Yuichiro Katsumoto[E/J]

Other participating presenters:

Company / Service / Desc. Video (Presented by AMN)

KokubanIn's Logo

Kokuban.in[J]

(blackboard in)

Kokuban.in is an illustration-sharing SNS allowing you to draw a picture on the virtual blackboard with your mouse.

Presentation by Yoshinori Munehara

Logo of 30min.

30 Minutes[J]

30min. (pronounced as “San-Zero Minutes” in Japanese) develops a location based town guide portal and allows users to see a listing of shops located near where you are, based on the database of information aggregated from blogs that people write.   Its iPhone app is available from here.

Presentation by Motoaki Tanigo[J] (@tanigox)

UserLocal[J]

User Local[J] (led by Masao Ito[J], he founded Japan’s most popular bulletin board site for job hunting students[J], and handed it over to Japan’s e-commerce giant Rakuten. He got a degree from Waseda University Graduate School)   This tech start-up incubated from Waseda University developed several services focusing on web access statistics and analysis. (Read other Asiajin stories tagged with this company)

Wataru Yamaki wrote this in-depth story about the company here on Asiajin.

Presentation by Masao Ito (@itomasa)

yonda4.com

Yonda4.com[J]

Asiajin’s founder Akky Akimoto also entried this work titled Yondayo!, which allows you to publicize a list of books you’ve read by posting a Twitter message and to share its review with other avid readers.

Presentation by Akky Akimoto[J] (@akky)


SonyBank[J]

Sony’s subsidiary in online banking service introduces a service titled “Lifetime Online Passbook”, which was launched in March 2008.   It aggregates billing details of credit card transactions etc., and shows you them on a web-based calender.  Probably it will make you easier to manage your personal expense and family budget.

Presentation by Toru Kawarazaka and his colleague Mr. Shimohara

Nissan Carwings[J]

The world-class motor company introduces an RSS-enabled car navigation system allowing driving users to collect information from third party’s websites such as expressway info portal (kosoku.jp[J]), station-by-station basis gas price comparison site (gogo.gs[J]).

Presenter’s name unconfirmed


San San[J]

The company provides consultation services in CRM(customer relationship management) and SFA(salesforce automation) business segments, specifically by focusing on delivering solutions to arrange information collected by business cards being exchanged among Japanese businessmen everyday.  (Read other Asiajin stories tagged with this company)

Presentation by Naotake Hibiya (@naotake_hibiya)

Conit's Logo

Conit[J]

A Shibuya-based tech start-up and iPhone/iPod touch app developer has introduced its brand new line-up following Samurai Chess, Melody Bell and Tapnext.  The company unveiled a new service providing an iPhone app content distribution platform on ASP basis, acting for iPhone app content providers.   With the service, the content providers need not to set up a content server to start subscription-based content distribution service requiring in-app payment transactions.

Presentation by Kentaro Hashimoto (@conit)

CNET Japan Holds Its Annual Tech Innovation Awards Contest

Tech Venture 2009 CNET Japan's Logo

On Friday, CNET Networks Japan[J] held this year’s award ceremony of its annual innovation contest called TechVenture 2009[J] in Omotesando, in association with Tokyo-based seven tech-oriented venture capital firms.

Totally 15 companies and services are nominated for the prize awards.   Let’s have a look at each of them and what they provide.

Atlantis' Logo AdLantis' Logo

Atlantis[J] (Service: AdLantis[J])

Atlantis runs the cloud-sourced Internet advertising platform called Adlantis.  It is the web-based ad management tool and helps the content publishers to define when and which ads should be placed on their websites.

The service is free of charge.   The company plans to launch a marketplace of match-making between possible advertisers and the website owners selling ad spaces, and expects to earn revenue from its match-making fees.

Gumi's Logo

Gumi[J]

Gumi develops the SNS platform for cellphone, which makes easier to develop a social mobile site supporting the standards of OpenSocial and OAuth by using Restful API.   Gumi’s platform can be also installed on the clouds like Google App Engine.

The company has also its own SNS, where it provides Wiki, fortune telling and the more focusing on popular TV drama series for the younger generations.

CLON Lab's Logo
CLON Lab[J]

CLON Lab develops the agent engine having the features similar to the artificial intelligence.   By interactively repeating Q&As between you and your agent running on the system, you can make your agent learn more about you.    That means you can set up your clone on the company’s SNS, and let him or her grown up there.   The company’s name comes from “clone” and Communication Laboratory on New Identity.

GTE's Logo
(semi grand prix award co-winner)

Geisha Tokyo Entertainment[J]

Geisha Tokyo Entertainment (GTE for short) was founded in 2006 by Tokyo University alumnus, game developers and consultants.   It develops Augmented Reality(AR) products, one of which allows you to control the behavior of a physically-existing cartoon character sculpture by clicking and dragging the character image appeared on your PC screen.   (See Akky Akimoto’s article on Asiajin for more details)

GTE  also introduced an AR game for cellphones, in which you will receive a mission command e-mail that orders you to take a picture of a specific object.   By sending an e-mail including the picture to the game server, with the picture recognition technology, the server confirms if you have taken correctly what the server has ordered you.

Recently, GTE produced a flash-based animation series for TV broadcast “Sakuran BOY DT[J]“, which is aired on the local TV channel in Yamagata.   Yamagata is the north-eastern part of Japan, and well-known for producing cherry or Sakuranbo, which is so frequently seen on the series.


(Clicking the image above takes you to the latest one of the series.)

Scigineer's Logo
(semi grand prix award co-winner)

Scigineer[J]

Scigineer provides a SaaS-based recommendation engine for large-sized e-commerce websites and SNS.    The service is deployed on to more than 30 sites in Japan and the overseas, including Online Bridal Store and @nifty Store[J].    Scigineer is a subsidiary of the Internet business incubator owned by Mitsubishi Corporation.

San San's Logo
(semi grand prix award co-winner & special judge’s award winner)

San San[J]

The company provides consultation services in CRM and SFA business segments, specifically by focusing on delivering solutions to arrange information collected by business cards being exchanged everyday.

Its service consists of a business card scanner rented for the client’s office, outsourced human data entry of business card images scanned, and the SaaS-based CRM/SFA application developed by the company.   It makes sales personnels easier to find possible customers and to get in touch with them when needed.

30min's Logo

30 min.[J] (Pronounced as San Zero Minutes)

It aggregates the messages about town attractions and restaurants posted on an enormous number of blogs, arrange them with location attributes and publish them as a town guide on the website.

The company also introduces a free location-based app for the iPhone/iPod users, specifically focusing on finding an ideal nearby restaurant for the lunch, with the combination of  GPS technology and the accumulated voices by bloggers.

Street Media's Logo
StreetMedia[J]

StreetMedia develops a new way of billboard advertising platform by combining digital signage devices and cellphone-based contents delivery architecture.

In association with several shopping malls in the heart of Tokyo, where the company’s head office is locating nearby, more than 20 LCDs are equipped at the storefronts across the malls, and they show commercial videos regarding the bargain sales at each shop in the malls and encourage the passers-by to purchase what they want.   Its specially designed LCD has a FeliCa device, which enables to transfer the video-related text information to the passers-by’s cellphone handsets.   The video data and text information are carried through the data broadcast channel of the digital TV broadcasting service, not by the Internet.

Vizoo's Logo
(semi grand prix award co-winner)

Fillmore Advisory (Service: Vizoo[J])

Fillmore Advisory is a think-tank and consulting firm founded in California by Stanford MBA alumnus and Japanese IT investment experts.   It provides the investment advisory service for their corporate clients in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

Fillmore also develops their own visible approaches to solve financial problems for individual investors, and introduce them on Japanese famous Internet portal sites.

The company is developing the SaaS-based visualization platform allowing you to create a graph diagram on the web and to put it on your blog as a widget.   It is scheduled to be released in this coming May.

Brand Dialog's Logo

Brand Dialog[J]

The company develops some web application services including a cloud-sourced SaaS groupware called Gridy.   I covered the service in this articlehere on Asiajin.

MashMatrix's Logo afrous

Mash Matrix (Service: Afrous)

Mash Matrix  provides an easy-to-use web-based application development platform for the mash-up application developers who integrate one from multiple webAPIs.

The company’s founder Shin-ichi Tomita previously worked for Oracle Japan and Salesforce.com.   While he worked for Salesforce.com, he developed a web-based presentation for demonstration, that was the origin of Mash Matrix.

Tomita’s work was highly evaluated by CEO of Salesforce.com Mark Benioff, and Tomita was eagerly persuaded to remain in the company, but he quit it to found his own start-up to start a new business.

User Local's Logo
User Local[J]

User Local provides the SaaS-based access analysis solution showing you the access statistics by the heat map method, and it allows you to find which parts of your website are frequently seen at a glance.

The company’s founder previously worked with Rakuten, where he was supervising a knowledge sharing website for job-seeking university students[J], which was launched when he was a university student.

The company also introduces some blog widgets including analyzing  geographical deviation of visitors to your website and showing it on the map.

Lang-8's Logo
(grand prix award co-winner)

Lang-8

Lang-8 was founded by a Chinese-Japanese and his classmates, both of who graduated from Engineering Dept., Kyoto University.

It launched a language learning SNS, where language-beginners and native speakers can learn foreign languages by shuttling sentence submissions and corrections between two sides.

Hiroumi Mitani contributed an article about Lang-8 last January.

LiveSense's Logo

Livesense[J]

Livesense runs pay-per-hire fee based recruitment websites  for the client companies which seek Japanese employee candidates and Chinese employee candidates living in Japan.

Livesense users will be never charged until they employ a candidate.

LoiLo's Logo

LoiLo

LoiLo was founded by two game developers and brothers at the incubation facility backed up by Keio University SFC.   It developed a video editing application software for Windows, enabling mixing videos and audios mostly only by drag-and-drop actions.   The software is specifically targeted on video sharing site uploaders who love YouTube, NicoNico Doga[J] and the like.

At The Venue