“Learning and Participating in Co-Creation Together”. STARTUP CATAPULT, a startup contest for Japanese startups supported by IBM BlueHub, was held during the first morning of “Extreme Conference” Industry Co-Creation (ICC) Summit KYOTO 2018 (4-6 Sep 2018).
A total of 15 startups gave their 7-minutes pitches to a panel of judges in front of the audience. According to their final verdict, they named ‘OPTIMIND (Japanese)’ a startup that develops logistics and delivery route optimization through AI, the top prize!
Results of Pitches
OPTIMIND (Japanese), a startup specializing in logistics and delivery route optimization through AI.
2nd Place (Awarded to 4 companies)
· New Rope (Japanese), startup that develops AI specialized in fashion.
· MEDULLA (Japanese), a service that provides the ideal shampoo with over 100 types by asking only 7 questions.
· CLAS (Japanese), a furniture rental service that starts from 500yen/month.
· CREW (Japanese), a ride-sharing service that reduces the disparities between various demographics through the mobility.
600 (Japanese), unmanned cashless convenience store for offices.
List of Winning Startups and its Service
1st Place: OPTIMIND (Japanese), a startup specializing in logistics and delivery route optimization through AI.
OPTIMIND is a tech venture from Nagoya University that seeks to ‘Revolutionize Logistics’ through its own data-mapping system by consolidating data from various sources of information from delivery companies such as: road width, one-way streets, spaces with parking permissions etc. to enhance ‘last-mile’ delivery services. Its SaaS service, ‘Loogia’, employs the company’s expertise in data optimization and machine learning, to map out complex routes – in the order of ‘which vehicle to use, which destination to reach, which route to take’ – specifically for companies engaged in complex delivery services or services that require daily route-planning. In one instance, their service shortened the process of creating a route from 44 minutes to 6 minutes, thereby optimizing a 57-minute route to a 45-minute. As a result, companies can save labor costs while increasing delivery efficiencies. Through gathering delivery data, OPTIMIND seeks to create the future infrastructure for a society of autonomous driving.
OPTIMIND / Official Page (Japanese)
Representative Director and President
Born in 1992, Ken Matsushita earned his PhD in Nagoya University Graduate School of Informatics Department of Mathematical Informatics, and is currently pursuing his post doctorate, specializing in combinatorial optimization algorithms. He presently researches on optimization problems of packing containers and delivery planning. Hoping to bridge academia and the real world, he founded OPTIMIND in 2015. In February 2018, OPTIMIND won the “Best Award” out of 105 Japanese companies in the Japan Post and the Samurai Incubate Open Innovation Program. In June 2018, OPTIMIND succeeded in raising hundreds of millions of yen in funding from various firms.
Joint-2nd Place: New Rope (Japanese), startup that develops AI specialized in fashion
New Rope is a fashion service powered by using AI to make e-commerce and apparel shopping more convenient through helping consumers coordinate their ideal fashion style. Though existing recommendation on online shop is based on the consumer’s purchase history, the recommendation made by CBK Scnnr (pronounced Kabuki Scanner) provides a list of fashion coordinated items tailored to each consumer’s specific preferences. By uploading images online, users can search and purchase items similar to those worn by their favorite influencers. The rates for companies start using CBK Scnnr from 20,000 yen/month and 3% commission. New Rope also offers services that analyzes visitors via a ‘digital signage’ that can automatically suggest fashion items for the customer through the use of surveillance cameras. New Rope also plans to launch in November 2018 a subscription-based AI services that uses AI recommendation systems for fashion items which will be available for companies worldwide.
New Rope Corporation / Official Page (Japanese)
Satoshi Sakai graduated from Kyushu University Faculty of Art and Engineering. While studying abroad, he worked on numerous designs including posters at Media Planet Inc. In 2009, he joined Mynavi Corporation being in charge of promotion, magazine editing, market research, etc. Specifically, he launched the project, ‘Shinrou no Mikata’, an info-magazine within Mynavi. After receiving qualifications specialised in small and medium-sized enterprises consulting, he began management consulting for several companies including manufacturing, publishing and trading. Since 2012, he has been engaged in planning, information design, and project management at Lanchester Co., Ltd., a web integration firm, where he experienced through the launch of various services. He also started to learn programming at the same time. In 2014, he established New Rope Co. and began developing in the area of fashion media. The fashion-based AI was released in 2017, focusing on supporting apparel e-commerce, manufacturers and tech companies.
Joint 2nd Place: MEDULLA (Japanese), a service that provides the ideal shampoo with over 100 types by asking only 7 questions.
MEDULLA, Japan’s first D2C service providing customized shampoo according to hair quality, finish, scent etc. through asking 7 questions line, promising the healthiest choice from over 100 shampoo selections. There are over 10,000 shampoos choices across Japan, with the top brands only occupying 5% of the 440 billion yen market, having to keep up with the latest trends such as non-silicon, botanical etc. Up till now, consumers have chosen shampoos based on commercial images lined up on shelves, but now the answers to the 7 online questions on MEDULLA will be their “medical records” to which shampoos will be their personalized “prescription”. A shampoo and conditioner set is delivered at 6800 yen regularly per one or two months. Moreover, in order to solve the challenges of not being able to confirm the scent of shampoo when buying shampoo online, MEDULLA will be partnering with salons nationwide for consumers to sample before purchase.
Sparty Inc. / Official Page (Japanese)
Representative Director and President
Born in 1988 in Chiba Prefecture, Yosuke Miyama joined Hakuhodo Inc. after graduation from Keio University. After working as a sales manager of a major telecommunications company, he engaged in developing digital marketing strategies for over 100 clients. During his time there, he saw a 300% increase in “Wonder Core” advertisements response, and also supported the digitalization in the cosmetics industry. After retiring in May 2017, he founded Sparty, with the mission of “creating an aesthetic era” by building infrastructure where anyone can easily produce/sell/use personalized goods by combining beauty and technology. In May 2018, Sparty took its first step by offering MEDULLA, Japan’s first personalized shampoo service. By simply answering 7 question, you will be able to receive your own shampoo out of over 100 selections. With overseas expansion in mind, Sparty aims to become a beautytech company that will radically change the way cosmetics and consumer goods manufacturers operate, moving from the era of mass production into an era where everyone can create their own brand.
Joint 2nd Place: CLAS (Japanese), a furniture rental service that starts from 500yen/month
CLAS is a furniture rental service that can be used 500 yen/month, including shipping, insurance and assembly fees. CLAS orders sofas and tables over the internet and deliver them in one week at shortest. The minimum rental period is 6 months, after which you are free to exchange or return the furniture without shipping or additional cost, making moving out more convenient. At present, those who live in rental apartments move out every 2-3 years, of which 80% will replace their furniture; it is difficult to purchase good furniture due to the high initial cost of moving, but with CLAS consumers can borrow furniture of 300,000 yen for just about 10,000 yen per month. All the furniture that can be rented are part of CLAS’ commitment to creating a new lifestyle through furniture rental. Consumption may be achieved through Amazon and other platforms, but CLAS seeks to build a more lasting world through rental.
CLAS / Official Page (Japanese)
Representative Director and President
Hirotake Kubo is the President and CEO of CLAS, Japan’s first interior-sharing service for individuals. Through this service, CLAS aims to expand the idea of “non-ownership use” in order to promote a more relaxed and comfortable lifestyle. After majoring in plasma material engineering at the University of Tokyo for both Bachelors and Masters, he found a job at A. T. Kearney, a US consulting firm. After leaving the company, he went the entrepreneur path and set up a fashion mail-order site, “MUSE & CO”, which he sold in 2015. Hirotake also played the first bachelor of “Bachelor Japan”, the domestic version of the world-renowned Amazon Prime video series by the same name.
Joint 2nd Place: CREW (Japanese), a ride-sharing service that reduces the disparities between various demographics through the mobility
The startup, Azit, provides a reward-type ride-sharing service to universally solve the disparity of traveling between for rural transports, urban commutes and travel for foreign tourists. From a time when one family owned one car, Azit seeks to move into an era where cars are provided by the whole of society. CREW, the smartphone application, provides a service in Japan where, through interviewing and screening processes for potential drivers, cars can be sent to any destination across the country. Rather than thinking of driving as another means of transport, Azit seeks to creating a community of drivers, where personal interaction occurs through ride-sharing, creating a hospitable and mutually supportive society. CREW reduces the disparities between various demographics through the mobility, moving forward to create the infrastructure to tackle the social challenges in both rural and urban areas.
Azit Corporation / Official Page (Japanese)
Hiromasa Yoshikane co-founded Azit Co., Ltd. in 2013 while studying science and engineering at Keio University. He has won several application development contest / business contests amounting to millions of yen in prize money. In 2015, he launched the ride-sharing service, CREW, with the mission to ‘reduce the disparities between people due to mobility so that everyone can return to the natural momentums of daily life’. He has been raising about 1 billion yen in funds from various VCs and angel investors to create the future of mobility for Japan. From summer 2018, Azit will conduct experimental tests at Yoronto island as an IT venture in in order to tackle the challenges posed by regional revitalization.
6th Place: 600 (Japanese), unmanned cashless convenience store for offices
600 is an unmanned convenience store/vending machine meant for offices in order to provide a cutting-edge consumer experience. According to the needs of the office and their demand, 600 has offered 100 types of selections from 100 companies, ranging from candies, bento boxes, drinks, to stationary and daily necessities. From 50,000 yen a month, we have 600 concierges dedicated to coordinate the replacement and replenishment of contents. Moreover, since payment is done through credit card transactions, change is not needed in the vending machine. When a user takes an item out of the refrigerator, the associated product tag is recognized automatically, so purchase can be done seamlessly without the need for bar code identification.
600 Inc. ／ Official Page (Japanese)
編集チーム：小林 雅／浅郷 浩子／尾形佳靖／本田 隼輝／Jorel Chan