Tokyo Otaku Mode is trying to disrupt a very specific market — coverage of and fan activity around Japanese anime, manga, and other pop culture. The company’s main product is currently its popular Facebook Page, but it plans to launch a website and mobile apps as well. And to help make that happen, it has enlisted Andy Miller, a former Apple mobile executive, as an advisor.
Miller is currently president and COO of Leap Motion. Before that, he was a partner at Highland Capital Partners. He also co-founded and served as CEO at mobile ad network Quattro Wireless. After Quattro was acquired by Apple, Miller became the vice president of mobile advertising for Apple’s iAd program. So why is he working with an anime startup? Here’s the explanation he offers in the press release:
I am happy to support the development of TOM’s community of manga and anime fans from around the world. The passion of the anime and manga community, and the thirst for content and a place to share has led to the explosive growth of TOM. I am excited to help this community connect across web, smart phones and their tablet devices.
There’s a more personal connection too, according Tokyo Otaku Mode co-founder Nao Kodaka — Miller’s son is an Otaku himself. (Otaku is the Japanese word for these types of fans.)
When Kodaka first contacted me, I was a little skeptical about the concept. I’m not terribly knowledgeable about anime or manga, but I’ve known enough fans to realize that there’s no shortage of sites catering to those interests. However, Kodaka says that none of the established sites are doing enough on social media.
Tokyo Otaku Mode, on the other hand, led with its social media presence. In fact, you still need an invite to access the company’s website, which is in alpha testing. On the other hand, the company has already built a thriving community on Facebook. The Otaku Mode Facebook Page has received 6.7 million likes — making it one of the fastest-growing entertainment pages, according to Socialbakers. (Kodaka also says that 99 percent of its fanbase is outside Japan.) The Anime News Network, on the other hand, has only received 58,000 likes.
So what has the startup done to attract such a big following? The formula seems pretty simple, at least for now. It’s posting images and other content related to anime, manga, and cosplay. The page is curated pretty carefully, Kodaka says, so fans know they’re going to get high quality content. An average piece Otaku Mode content receives about 10,000 likes.
Joi Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab, is already an advisor, and the company has raised seed funding from 500 Startups and others.