Teclosion 2011 Spring: Wondershake Wins The Grand Prix Among 15 Finalists

Design IT[J], a Tokyo-based UI-focused media consultancy also known for previously maintaining TechCrunch’s Japanese edition (its management was switched to AOL earlier this month[J]), held the first conference in Akihabara on Friday, for discussing the future of Japan tech industry and introducing great start-up stuffs.

In the morning session, CEOs from Mixi, GMO Internet Group, NHN Japan and Evernote made their keynote speeches.   After a lunch, Four venture capitalists, including Taiga Matsuyama (East Ventures, Kronos Fund – known as a seed investor for Zynga Japan) and Masashi Kobayashi (IVP or Infinity Venture Partners known as a seed investor for Groupon Japan) , had a panel discussion to look around Japanese start-up trends and its future.

In the final session, there was a presentation competition titled Startup Battle, where 15 start-ups presented their brand new web services to win the Grand Prix prize.   Let’s see each of them.

http://appict.me

Appict.me by Nobot

Nobot is a smartphone ad optimizer and also work with several major foreign ad networks.   Appict.me is a program for developers to promote their smartphone apps by using social media.   It allows users of a smartphone app participating the program to recommend the app to their friends via social media. (see these Asiajin articles for more about Nobot.)

i.ntere.st by tattva

Tokyo-based Tattva just introduced an object-based check-in service called in.ter.est.   I wrote about it here on the Startup Dating website.

zaim by Takako Kansai (The Excellent Award Winner)

Takako is a well-known female system developer working with a Tokyo-based tech start-up UserLocal[J].   Apart from her job at the company, she individually developed this social app that helps you keep household accounting on the iPhone.   She introduces it can be also considered as a money stuff version of popular document sharing app Evernote.

Musavy by Musavy, Inc.

The company is named after Mutual Savvy.   This web app helps you to learn more about a topic by having a debate on the topic online.   It has a feature to recommend users to take another topics that they may be interested in.   They intend to launch the service in North America prior to Japan.

forkN by Seesaa[J]

Seesaa is a blog platform company, and they developed a e-publication platform called forkN that allows users to convert documents to ePub/PDF formats and publish them online for PC, smartphone and tablet users.    You can share several experiences with other users on the service, such as writing, reading, commenting and purchasing the publications.

(The Excellent Award Winner)

MoSo by MoSo

MoSo is a desktop app for Macintosh that helps you create your videos instantly.   It allows you to publish the videos on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube without any additional procedure.   The app ranked in the first place in the free app section at most AppStores within just three days after the release.

(The Excellent Award Winner)

Midonet by Midokura

Earlier this week, the company fundraised JPY100M (USD125M) in its seed round from some VC firms including NTT Investment Partners[J], 1st Holding[J] and datacenter company Bit Isle[J].  They are a cloud enabling tech company, and currently planning to introduce the alpha version app very soon.

shopping+ by Insight Plus

Shopping+ is a smartphone app-based object check-in service that helps you learn realtime quotes and check inventories for what you are about to purchase by sharing them with the other users.   Users can communicate with the others who have the same interest in buying something.   Insight Plus was founded by Takeo Yagi, he previously co-founded TrafficGate[J], a Rakuten-backed affiliate provider and now LinkShare Japan.

4-Treasure by Alpha Do

4 Treasure is a location-based service that allows you to check in restaurants, diners, cofee shops etc.   Unlike other location-based services such as Foursquare, users can gain experience points corresponding to how much you have paid at a specific location.  For shop owners, it allows them to collect information on what kind of customers visit, and to issue discount coupons to potential customers that they wish to invite.

tabeni.co by MyNet Japan

Tabeni.co is a social app for smartphone and helps you find companions who can hang out and dine with you.   MyNet Japan is known for having developed a variety of restaurant supporting services, and the app is expected to integrate with them.

kizna by Kizna

Kizna is a social CRM (customer relationship management) app that Hitoshi Nakamura has developed.   He is currently running several restaurants in Tokyo, and he has developed it to interact with his customers more often more easily via social media.   The app includes a key feature that shows you a list of interactions with your customers via Twitter and Facebook.

(The Excellent Award Winner)

Livlis by kamado

Our buddy Serkan wrote this story about Livlis.

fmob

fmob is a fashion-focused social app that allows you to shoot pieces of clothing when you find them while walking on shopping streets, and share them with your friends online.   They intend to extend their global reach through the mobile app.

(The Grand Prix Winner)

Wondershake

Wondershake is a social app that allows you to learn what the people around you are interested in, and helps you start talking with them very easily.   They plan to launch the service in the US.   Wondershake was founded by Satoshi Suzuki who previously worked with Tonchidot, the inventor of Sekai Camera.

 

Caffein / Nota Inc.

Nota Inc., a Silicon Valley-headquareted Japanese tech start-up known for its library book search service Calil[J], has developed a video communication service called Caffein, which allows you to communicate with multiple users in a virtual room.

 

Finally, on behalf of all judges who have chosen the award winners at the event, Mr. Allen Miner from Sun Bridge Partners commented on what 15 finalists had delivered.  He pointed out all they have potentials to achieve their success not only in Japan but also in the world, encouraged them to develop more new services from a global point of view.

 

Zozoresort: Japan’s virtual fashion town for young people

Japanese people who want a (window-)shopping experience don’t really need brick and mortar businesses, at least not in the fashion realm. They can simply access Zozo, a shopping web site that boasts over 1 million registered users (in other words: potential buyers), half of whom are male.

What sets Zozo apart from other shopping portals is that it’s a) designed like a virtual town, b) limited to fashion items, c) geared toward a young audience and d) of gigantic proportions. Instead of going to places such as Harajuku or Shibuya, Japanese shopaholics just choose one of the thousands of items from hundreds of fashion brands Zozo houses in different “buildings” and “stores”: United Arrows, Diesel, Hysteric Glamour, nanouniverse… you name it.

The so-called Zozoresort is divided into seven main parts:

  • Zozotown (shopping part, which is split up into different shops, categories, brands etc.)
  • Zozonavi (directory of fashion stores in each of Japan’s 47 prefectures)
  • Zozowalker (blogging platform)
  • Zozo Q&A (section for fashion-related questions and get answers from other users)
  • Zozogallery (screensavers and wallpapers for PCs and cell phones)
  • Zozoresidence (fashion social network)
  • Zozoarigato (short message system that allows to say “Thank you” to a person you like – living anywhere in the world)

Very useful: If you found an item you like in a (print) fashion magazine but are unable to track it down in stores, chances are Zozo will help you. Just go to Zozotown/Fashionmagazine and click on the cover of the corresponding magazine. Zozo will show a selection of products presented in the magazine in grid view (sorted by page numbers), some of which are even displayed in different colors. Needless to say, you can order directly on the site (see screenshot below).

This aspect of Zozo is vaguely similar to the service “Nekore” provides.

Tokyo is undoubtedly one of the most important fashion capitals of the world, but Zozo is geared towards the millions of Japanese kids living in the country side who can’t just take the train to the big city to buy clothes. So it’s no wonder just 16.4% of the users live in the Tokyo area. The average age of all users is 27 years.

The company, behind Zozo, Start Today, is based out of Chiba and has 186 employees. It was founded in 1998 by Yusaku Maezawa, who is still CEO (and just 32 years old).