The VCs helping to fuel Japan’s startup ecosystem
admin 17-11-2020, 16:45

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Back in the “Before Times,” when the term “coronavirus” was known only to scientists and doctors, I had plans to go to Japan for my first, truly solo, holiday. I’d shortlisted a whole bunch of places to visit and was in the midst of crowdsourcing for “challenges” from friends to undertake – one of them was to make friends with locals in the relatively relaxed atmosphere of an
izakaya . For an introvert like myself, that would’ve been extremely daunting, but the sense of achievement if I’d succeeded would’ve also been through the roof.

That level of euphoria is probably similar to how a startup feels upon securing funding (how’s that for a totally seamless segue?). In Japan, investors have been cashing in. For inspiration on this front, founders of Japanese startups might like to refer to our curated list of the most active investors in the land of the rising sun.

Mitsubishi UFJ Capital comes in at third, with 44 deals over the past 24 months – find out who the top two are.

Today, we look at:

top 100 most active investors in Japan’s startups
A new mobile game studio is taking aim at the Indian market
Other newsy highlights such as SpaceX sending four astronauts to the International Space Station and investors’ voracious appetite for the Chinese market despite Ant Group’s IPO woes


Big (and busy) in Japan

The VCs helping to fuel Japan’s startup ecosystem

2020 was supposed to be a banner year for Japan, with the pomp and circumstance of the Olympics coming to town. Covid-19 scuppered those plans, and the country continues to battle the effects of the pandemic. But it seems nothing will stop investors’ interest in Japan’s startups, as deals continue to be closed – especially by those on our list of investors making the most moves in the market.

Self-improvement: Eight of the top 10 on the list are Japan-headquartered. After that, you’d have to go all the way to the 27th spot to find another foreign company.
Traditional money: While venture capital firms are present throughout the rankings, the top two spots are occupied by organizations directly tied to banks: SMBC Venture Capital and Mizuho Capital.

Read more:
These are the most active investors in Japan’s startups


A newcomer to the Indian mobile gaming scene

US-based mobile game studio Lila Games has
raised US$2.8 million
in its seed round to expand its hiring efforts in India and establish its studio in the country.

Got you in my sights: Lila Games is an early-stage game development company that’s currently working on a mobile free-to-play (F2P) shooter game codenamed
Project B.L.A.C.K.
Bolstering the ranks: As part of its hiring spree in India, the company says it plans to onboard new talent across product management, development, game design, and art.
Investor roll call: The financing round was led by Bitkraft Ventures and included participation from Galaxy Interactive. Angel investors in the gaming industry such as Machine Zone co-founder Mike Sherrill, Super Evil Megacorp CEO Kristian Segerstrale, and Cmune ex-CEO Ludovic Bodin also pitched in.


Healthtech is healthy

The Covid-19 pandemic has greatly accelerated the average layperson’s awareness and understanding of virus containment. Even those who refuse to read up on the coronavirus or even watch the news eventually had to come to terms with the enforcement of mask-wearing and contact-tracing measures.

A similar acceleration, both in terms of funding and technology advancement, has happened in the healthcare and biomedical sciences industry for obvious reasons. But in reality, startups in this sector have been active for years – healthcare funding in Southeast Asia has climbed at about 40% annually since 2014.
Singaporean firms, in particular, are active in the space
– in 2019 they secured over half of the US$266 million invested into the region’s healthtech firms.

This kind of growth doesn’t just happen out of nowhere, of course. Singapore has a robust support system in place, with the government, numerous accelerators and incubation programs, and the nation’s universities all offering assistance in various forms. Mentoring, funding, and infrastructural support are just some examples.

this article , you can see exactly how this support plays out for startups. Tan Sze Wee, assistant chief executive at ASTAR’s enterprise division, and Gideon Ho, co-founder of medtech firm HistoIndex, share their insights.


1️⃣ Another SpaceX first

Elon Musk’s rocket company
launched four astronauts on a flight to the International Space Station
on Sunday – NASA’s first full-fledged mission sending a crew into orbit aboard a privately owned spacecraft.

“That was one heck of a ride,” astronaut Mike Hopkins said to SpaceX mission control about an hour after liftoff. Talk about understatements.

2️⃣ Ant Group’s suspended IPO doesn’t discourage investors

The collapse of the world’s largest ever initial public offering has
already been brushed off by investors , who are still setting aside large amounts of capital to deploy in China as the nation opens its gates to foreign investors.

3️⃣ Reliance gets a step up

Reliance Industries has
acquired online furniture seller Urban Ladder Home Decor Solutions , expanding its presence in India’s fast-growing ecommerce market. This comes just three months after Reliance Retail acquired a majority stake in online pharma firm Netmeds, which widens its online offerings.

4️⃣ What’s a “startup studio?”

Former WeWork China executive Dominic Penaloza has
launched a “startup studio”
called REinvent. The term refers to an organization that builds startups with an in-house team – so it’s really just another term for a startup factory or venture builder. A famous example is Rocket Internet, which is credited for building Lazada in Southeast Asia.

5️⃣ China’s factory output beats forecasts

The country’s factory output
rose faster than expected in October , while retail sales continued to recover – albeit at a slower-than-forecast pace. The industrial sector has staged an impressive turnaround from the paralysis it experienced at the beginning of the pandemic, buoyed by the resilient exports market.

6️⃣ Walmart is selling most of its holdings in Seiyu

The Japanese supermarket chain, which Walmart acquired 12 years ago, will
see new investors in KKR and Rakuten . The two firms will take on 65% and 20% stakes, respectively, while Walmart retains 15%.

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