The web magazine that introduces and supports Japanese startups

[3/3-3/9] Featured startup news and funding information


JP Startups presents a selection of startup news and funding information that has garnered significant interest, published between March 3, 2023 to March 9, 2023.

Editor's Comments

On March 8, ispace, which develops and operates the lunar Lander Rover, announced that it had received approval to list on the Tokyo Stock Exchange Growth. This is the first case of listing approval for a space business startup headquartered in Japan. This week, Institute for Q-shu Pioneers of Space, Inc., developing the QPS-SAR high-definition small SAR satellite, raised an additional 1 billion yen, bringing the total amount to nearly 10 billion yen.

Last week, there were many procurements for unique businesses, and we also picked Ichirou, a home-care caregiver matching service. Scandinavian countries such as Finland already have a culture of receiving public subsidies and recuperating at home while receiving care from a caregiver until the end, regardless of blood relatives or family registration. However, in Japan, the burden is still placed on the family. We want to support this business that is becoming increasingly necessary in Japan, where the birth rate is declining and the population is aging.

We also picked NearMe, a smart shuttle and ride-sharing service. Recently, the return of inbound tourists has been felt, and the business is expected to accelerate due to the increase in transportation demand.

Startup News

Genesia Ventures, a VC firm, begins accepting applications for the Entrepreneurs Academy, a business growth support program for entrepreneurs. Announcement of lecturers in charge of practical lectures (Announced on March 7, 2023)

Credit:Company Press Release

Genesia Ventures Inc., which provides investment and management support to seed-stage startups, announces the implementation and acceptance of applications for its "Entrepreneurs Academy", a business growth support program for entrepreneurs that combines practical lectures and individual mentoring, on February 28, 2023. The new lecturers for the practical lectures, which will be held over four months from May to September 2023, have been released. Mr. Yosuke Tsuji (President and CEO of Money Forward Inc.), Ms. Nana Hori (Founder of Tensor Energy Co., Ltd.), and Mr. Yoichi Wagatsuma (President and CEO of Sukedachi Inc.) provided supportive comments.

Entrepreneurs Academy aims to raise the level of the entire startup ecosystem in Japan by sharing the practical knowledge and real-life experiences of the entrepreneurs who have invested in and accompanied more than 130 startups (*as of February 2023) in the startup stage, with the mission of building an "industry creation platform”. Targeting entrepreneurs with a wide range of attributes, Entrepreneurs Academy will intensively provide practical classroom lectures from the perspective of actual startup managers and business owners and round-table discussions with startup managers active on the front lines over four months.​ ​ Click here for the original press release.

Entrepreneur Academy schedule

Application Period: February 28, 2023 (Tuesday) 09:00 to March 24, 2023 (Friday) 23:59
Selection Period: Saturday, March 25, 2023, to late April 2023
Program Duration: Early May 2023 to late September 2023

mint, an independent VC firm specializing in the pre-seed and seed stages, begins accepting applications for the 20th term of FLAP, a free office support program for entrepreneurs preparing for/starting their businesses (Announced on March 7, 2023)

Credit:Company Press Release

mint, an independent venture capital firm specializing in the pre-seed and seed stages, begins accepting applications for the 20th term of "FLAP", a free office support program for entrepreneurs preparing for/starting their businesses on March 7, 2023. A maximum of 9 selected companies will receive six months of free office support and various support programs.

Since the program started in August 2018, 91 teams have participated. In the past 19 periods, mint has invested up to 50 million yen in 13 startups. Selected companies can designate and use the office support plan at Plug and Play Shibuya powered by Tokyu Land or the remote registration plan at GUILD SHIBUYA, in addition to networking and advice from listed company executives and professionals in each field. Click here for the original press release.

FLAP Application Outline

① Office: Plug and Play Shibuya powered by Tokyu Land Corporation
Tenancy period: Saturday, April 1, 2023 (Saturday)- September 30, 2023 (Saturday) (20th period)
Application Requirements:

  1. Established less than 6 months ago or planning to establish a company within 6 months
  2. IT-related startup
  3. Being actively involved in the FLAP community

Application Period: March 7, 2023 (Tuesday) - March 17, 2023 (Friday)
Application form: https://forms.gle/cHGBxMk89tpNpAoj7

Funding Information

[Series A] Ichirou, aiming to realize nursing care infrastructure that supports a super-aging society, raises 220 million yen in Series A (Announced on March 8, 2023)

Credit:Company Press Release

Ichirou Inc., an operator of the made-to-order nursing care service "Ichiro", has raised ¥220 million in funding from Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Capital, Open Network Lab / ESG No. 1 Investment Limited Liability Partnership (commonly known as Earthshot Fund), Mizuho Capital, Chugin Capital Partners, Saison Ventures, and one individual investor as underwriters. At the same time, Ichirou announced that the company name (trade name) was changed from "LINK Inc." to "Ichirou Inc."

Ichirou Inc. was established in April 2017 with the mission of "creating a foundation to support a super-aging society" and is working to solve the various issues in the nursing care field in Japan. Ichirou is a service that matches and dispatches care partners (caregivers) online for home care needs not covered by public long-term care insurance. It is possible to request the dispatch of a partner and receive nursing care services on the day at the earliest, starting from two hours per session. Ichirou offers a high degree of matching based on a unique algorithm that considers caregiving skills and compatibility and services that are closely tailored to the care recipient and their family.

Ichirou plans to invest in product development, recruitment, and strengthening marketing to expand areas for nationwide expansion and strengthening services. At the same time, the number of registered care partners has exceeded 2,200 since the service was launched in October 2019, and the amount of usage in 2022 is over 400% compared to the previous year. Click here for the original press release.

[Series B] NearMe, a ride-sharing MaaS, raises about 1.3 billion yen in Series B (Announced on March 8, 2023)

Credit:Company Press Release

NearMe, Inc., which operates SmartShuttle®, a service that provides a smooth and profitable travel experience through sharing, has raised a total of approximately 700 million yen through a third-party allotment of new shares to Dai-ichi Life Insurance Company, Obayashi Corporation, Mitsui Fudosan Co.,Ltd., and a loan from the Development Finance Corporation of Japan. The Series B round raised approximately 1.3 billion yen, bringing the total amount to approximately 2.3 billion yen.

NearMe Inc. was established in July 2017 and started from the MaaS domain of the sharing economy. Aiming to eliminate various "mottainai" (wastefulness) in society through the power of technology, NearMe developed routing optimization technology with its proprietary AI. Developed as a Smart Shuttle®︎ that can track who got on board with a small number of people, the service lineup includes "nearMe.Airport" (a door-to-door service connecting 13 airports across Japan and surrounding cities) for airport pickups and drop-offs launched in 2019,  "nearMe.Golf", which provides transportation to and from golf courses in Tokyo and throughout Chiba Prefecture, and "nearMe.Limo", a chartered shuttle service, is expanding the number of target scenarios.

Through further marketing investment in the smart shuttle business centered on "nearMe.Airport", this funding will be used to increase awareness and use of the service, provide comfortable door-to-door transportation in various situations, not limited to airport transfers, contribute to urban development with an eye toward effective use of energy, and develop a new shuttle vehicle based on the concept of sharing. They also intend to contribute to urban development with a focus on the effective use of energy and to develop new vehicles on the premise of sharing. Click here for the original press release.

【Related article】

Movement is one of the features of a city. The future of mobility that NearMe aims for

Koichiro Takahara, who tackles the problem of mobility with a gentle gaze, "Solves local waste with technology."

[Round Unknown] Institute for Q-shu Pioneers of Space, a space technology development company, raises additional funding of 1 billion yen (Announced on March 9, 2023)

Credit:Company Press Release

Institute for Q-shu Pioneers of Space, Inc., which is engaged in space technology development and the development and operation of the small SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) satellite "QPS-SAR", has raised a total of approximately ¥1 billion in funding from a total of four companies including SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation, Nippon Koei Co., Ltd., MSIVC2021V Investment Limited Partnership managed by Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Venture Capital Col., Ltd., and Real Tech Growth Fund No. 1 Investment Limited Partnership jointly managed by NAMY Inc. and ibis Capital Partners Inc. The cumulative total so far is about 9.2 billion yen.

Institute for Q-shu Pioneers of Space, Inc. was established in June 2005. Based on the technology for developing small satellites at Kyushu University, a team of emeritus professors who have been involved in satellite development and space debris initiatives in Japan and overseas, young engineers and businessmen have developed space technology and succeeded in developing a highly precise small SAR satellite "QPS-SAR" weighing 100 kg with 1/20 the mass and 1/100 the cost of conventional SAR satellites. They are currently operating two satellites and providing SAR images that can be observed at high resolution and high definition even at night or during bad weather. In May 2021, QPS-SAR-2 "Izanami" succeeded in acquiring 70cm resolution images, the highest resolution among Japanese commercial SAR satellites, and started full-scale activities to establish a satellite data business.

They aim to launch multiple satellites every year and build a constellation of 36 small SAR satellites (a system that enables high-frequency earth observation by multiple satellites) after 2025 or later to provide a near-real-time ground observation data service every 10 minutes on average. The funds raised this time will be used to expand a new factory to establish a mass production system for satellites and to develop and operate satellites, intending to implement a more aggressive satellite launch plan toward building a constellation. Click here for the original press release.