From The Infinity Ventures Summit In Kyoto/Japan: 12 Demos From Japanese Startups

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Japanese VC firm Infinity Venture Partners has organized the so-called Infinity Ventures Summit Fall 2012 (IVS) in Kyoto/Japan earlier this week, a two-day web industry event that’s taking place twice a year (the other IVS is held in spring in Sapporo). And just like at every IVS, a few hours of the program were reserved for a total of 12 local startups to demo their services onstage to a panel of judges and a crowd of over 550 people.

kinderpan ivs

Here is an overview of all the services that were shown at the event’s launch pad.

Infinity Ventures Summit Fall 2012: The winner and four runners-up

Kids'n BooksKids’n Books [ENG/JP] (winner of the Grand Prix)

Best of show was awarded to Kids’n Books, an educational app for children aged 8 months or older. Developed by Tokyo-based Smart Education, the app can be downloaded for iOS or Android for free (with in-app purchases). Kids’n Books is the company’s flagship product, having racked up between 500,000 and 1 million downloads so far on Android alone, according to Google Play stats. The app allows users to download a number of famous fairy tales and original picture books that come with animation, sound effects, music and some elements of interactivity. Kids’n Books currently boasts 600,000 monthly active users.

designcluedesignclue [ENG/JP] (first runner-up)

designclue calls itself the world’s first multilingual design crowdsourcing service. The way it works is that customers interested in a new logo or icon can launch “contests” on the site and set a price. Requirements are translated into several languages and brought in front of designers from a total of 50 different countries who have joined designclue so far. These designers can then create logos and icons based on the customer’s requirements, post the works on the site, get feedback and hope to be selected as the winner of the contest. If a customer isn’t satisfied with any of the works, designclue offers a “100% money back guarantee”.

stores jpStores.jp [JP] (second runner-up)

Creating an online store as fast (“in 2 minutes”) and hassle-free as setting up a blog – that’s the value proposition of stores.jp, an e-commerce site builder. The service was launched in August on the Japanese market and was used to build 10,000 online stores already. Stores.jp operates on a freemium business model and charges 980 yen (US$11.75) monthly “as virtual rent” for certain features, i.e. listing an unlimited number of products.

smakulSmakul [JP] (third runner up)

iPhone app Smakul makes it possible for business owners and professionals (designers, artists, etc.) to set up smartphone browser-friendly websites – no programming skills or even a PC required. All that users need to do is to input a phone number: Smakul will then automatically create a business profile (again, optimized for display on smartphone browsers) by scraping information found on the web. Users can then further customize the site, set it up under their own domain, etc. The startup also presented at TechCrunch Tokyo 2012 last month.

webpay Webpay [JP] (third runner-up, tied with Smakul)

Webpay is an easy-to-integrate online payment gateway for developers who want to offer visitors to websites the possibility to pay with their credit cards. Maker Fluxflex says the API takes “5 minutes” to understand. There is no set-up fee, but developers are charged a flat 2,000 yen per month for using Webpay and 3.4% plus 30 yen per transaction. Webpay is currently available in Japan only.

Infinity Ventures Summit Fall 2012: The best of the rest

Here is a quick rundown of all the services that were shown at the event’s launch pad but didn’t make the cut.

  • mana.bo [JP], an interactive “on-time” learning platform that supports smartphones and tablets
  • Omiai [ENG/JP], a Facebook-based dating service that currently sees 600 matches per day and is free to use for female users (males pay 2,980 yen/US$35.70 per month)
  • MUSE & Co [JP], a fashion sales site that opened in May 2012 on the Japanese market and attracted 150,000 users and over 400 different brands so far
  • Kinderpan [ENG/JP], a kid-friendly gaming and social networking iOS app that connects toddlers with parents over a distance (free download)
    kinderpan
  • log [JP], a PC platform that lets users list up and discuss their favorite movies and music and that will launch on smartphones in February next year (probably in English, too)
  • Sumally [ENG/JP], a community that connects “what you love with the people you love” and will introduce e-commerce features next month (more information here and here)
  • Benly [JP], an e-commerce platform that makes it possible for Japanese users to shop internationally