Emerging Japanese Startups to Showcase at TechCrunch Disrupt

  • 3 min read

Japan, a former high-tech powerhouse who drove innovation with the likes of Sony, Panasonic, and Nintendo, has come to a technological standstill. These giants have struggled to adapt and maintain their technological leadership, leaving a void in this space. But in recent years, there is a small but growing group of Japanese entrepreneurs who are showing promise to bring about a second wave of innovation.

12 Japanese startups are showcasing this week at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco. They were selected through a program run by JETRO (Japanese External Trade Organization), a government-related agency focused on promoting investments and trade between Japan and the rest of the world. These startups specialize in a wide range of sectors from AR technology to big data integration.

FlyData, formerly Hapyrus, provides real-time big data integration services to cloud data storages such as Amazon RedShift. FlyData is a 500 Startups 2011 graduate and has partnerships with Amazon Web services, Heroku, and UpSwell.

Primeagain is focused on creative photo editing apps and is best known for their apps DecoAlbum and DrawChat. Their latest app, Winker, is a photo messaging app similar to Snapchat.

Below are the ten other startups presenting at the Japanese Pavilion at TechCrunch Disrupt.

  • ChatWork is a business communication platform designed for companies and teams which combines text, voice, video, task management and file sharing all into one place.
  • AgIC transforms home printers into circuit board manufacturing equipment. Their printing technology allows users to make circuits exactly as they would use a printer using ordinary ink.
  • Humming Heads is an enterprise information protection software developer. Their latest product is SHINOBI, a cyber attack protection defense platform.
  • Idealsee has developed its own augmented reality engine technology that merges real objects and virtual information together, allowing users to interact with the world more intuitively.
  • Integratto Inc. produces business development solutions in the form of simulation software. The software analyzes past data and also uses reciprocated simulations to guide future business decisions.
  • ITMG Corporation is an internet technology company and is the owner of Shopal.com, a site that allows users to discover popular products and purchase them on exterior sites.
  • Molcure Inc. is a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing anti-body drugs to provide effective therapeutics and supportive care products.
  • MotionPortrait Inc. is an entertainment solution company that has developed technology that converts photographs into 3D animations.
  • Neuronet Inc. is a web conferencing and web collaboration service provider.
  • Passology Co. provides security solutions in the authentication industry specializing in one-time passwords.

Acquiring funding for startups in Japan has been difficult due to social and economic constraints which stem from a weak economic infrastructure, lack of a venture capital community, and a hesitancy from banks who lack experience in these type of transactions. Thus some companies like FlyData and ChatWork have opted to first establish themselves in Silicon Valley and then seek to potentially open offices in Japan.

However Japan’s economic tides are changing due to reforms called for by Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe. “Abenomics,” the campaign named after Abe, calls for sweeping changes to kickstart the economy in part by rolling out government programs to support startups and allocating them funding.

The innovation driven by such startups and the Japanese government’s support of the entrepreneurial spirit hints at a turnaround for Japan to reclaim its high-tech powerhouse position.

Image by Han-wen Lin/Flickr

  • Originally published September 8, 2014, updated April 26, 2023