The ride-sharing battle continues, and Japanese taxi companies are fighting back harder than ever. Also in, one startup hopes smartphones can help  change the future of medical treatments.


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Uber may have signed a US$1 billion contract with SoftBank, but Japan’s legacy taxi players are also raking in cash as they raise funding to support efforts to push out external ride-sharing companies. JapanTaxi has amassed nearly US$86 million since June 2017, and US$70 million of that amount came from automotive giant Toyota. In its most recent round last month, the company received around US$10 million from previous investor Sparx Group and its Future Creation Fund.

Other Tokyo-based taxi operators are working to improve their services. Companies like Nihon Kotsu and Daiwa Motor Transportation have developed ride-sharing apps. Even JapanTaxi itself has rolled out a seamless ride-hailing and sharing app.


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Cinnamon is an AI startup that develops products aimed at  reducing the amount of time people spend on mundane tasks. For example, its Flax Scanner takes lengthy documents and extracts only the most pertinent information, while Lapis Engine is an natural language processing (NLP) based search engine designed to give recommendations for applications such as e-commerce or a recruiting platform, and Scuro Bot is a chatbot which can also process natural languages.

The company originally pitched its idea for photo-sharing app called Seconds, which then continued to flatline and led Cinnamon to pivot. After receiving US$1.5 million in funding from CyberAgent Ventures, TBS Innovation Partners, Incubate Fund, and Golden Gate Ventures in 2014, the startup banked on the prospects of its PicChat app.

Cinnamon has since shifted its efforts from photos to enterprise-focused applications and was a pitch competition audience finalist at Tech in Asia’s Tokyo conference last year.  This week, the company raised an undisclosed amount from MT Partners, Monex Ventures, Vector Inc., RPA Holdings, and a few other angel investors.

Jisak Bioengineering

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On a mission to find a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Jiro Kawada is the one-man team behind bioengineering company Jisak Bioengineering. The startup also offers a screenings for other neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s disease.

Kawada’s company just raised US$1.6 million from ANRI, Media Future, Essential Pharma, and Ohara Pharma.  


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CureApp develops medical-care apps for smartphones. Through CureApp, users can log their daily condition into the app, which then feeds the info for analysis by algorithms. Through this detailed evaluation, the apps can recommend best courses of action. The collected data is also used for research.

The company hopes to reduce medical expenses that burden the government and individuals alike. Its current apps include a smoking-cessation app as well as one for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. 

Investors seem keen on CureApp, which raised US$3.3 million about a year ago. In its latest fundraising  this week, it secured US$15 million from Beyond Next Ventures, Keio Innovation Initiative, Iwagin Capital, MUFG, Dai-ichi Life Group, Cyberdyne, Itochu Technology Ventures, Itochu Corporation, Seven Ventures, Chibagin Capital, and Mizuho Capital.


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Job hunting in Japan is a laborious and draining process. To help students gather more information about the working world, Matcher connects them to industry professionals who can answer their questions. In turn,  professionals can use the platform as a way to connect with possible recruits or to build their network.

Following its January 2017 fundraise, Matcher recently got US$500,000 from DG Incubation, Crooz Ventures, Venture United, Masao Itoh, and an angel investor.

Market Drive

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Following the US$1.5 million it bagged last December, subscription-based dating app EveEve by Market Drive just raised another US$1 million from three angel investors.

EveEve is focused on safety, and its double-review system requires both users and the company itself to evaluate new members. Another unique feature of the service is how it allows users to set up a trial date of sorts with their matches: They can do a call every Friday, between the hours of 9:00 pm to midnight JST.

Competition in the dating-apps market seems to be heating up locally  and internationally. EveEve’s rivals include fellow Japanese companies like Pairs,, and Omiai, as well as foreign competitors such as Tinder.

Glad Cube

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Glad Cube is an digital marketing advertising agency. In 2015, it released SiTest, an AI analytics service that is currently used by over 300,000 companies.

In its Series A, Glad Cube raised US$1.4 million from NTT Docomo and Mobile Internet Company.


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ForEst has developed ATLS, an educational support service intended for students in middle school to high school. Designed to be accessible via tablet, the service offers a collection of questions on various subjects. Students can working through them on their own and then they’ll receive a detailed explanation afterwards. Rather than creating its own exercises, ATLS relies on existing resources that users can select from and purchase.

This week, forEst received an undisclosed amount in funding from Globis Capital, NTT Docomo Ventures, and a few other unlisted investors.


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