JapanNight began in 2010 as a demo competition organized by btrax and like-minded partners to support Japanese entrepreneurs and create a robust startup ecosystem. Now in its seventh edition, JapanNight has become the premiere showcase for Japanese hardware and software innovations with global potential. Picked from hundreds of entries, 15 startups battle to be among the 6 finalists in San Francisco for exposure to venture capitalists, media and funding opportunities to go big beyond Japan.
Two months before the event, we invite hardware and software startups to apply to JapanNight. btrax picks businesses with the most global potential from hundreds of applicants
The selected 15 teams demo in English at a first round event in Japan. A panel of top cross-border VC votes on the strongest startups to continue to the finals a month later in the US.
The 6 finalists pitch to a U.S. audience and panel of judges. Only one is declared the winner, but all get media exposure, meetings with potential funders and partners.
In 2009, YAMAHA put together a team with the goal of creating the most desirable vehicle by 2020. The inspiration came from the realization that many places – especially in Europe – are too narrow to drive and park cars. On top of that, cars generate heavy traffic on streets, so designing a new car the way they are now would just add to the problem. From this, we came up with the idea of a Human Size Vehicle (hereunder HSV).
HSV tends to have more than 2 wheels and is focused on leaning–which helps riders don’t fall over when making a turn. This vehicle targets not only people who are already interested in motorcycles, but also women and seniors (who are not a part of the core demographic).
JapanNight VII is a great opportunity for us to showcase our design and reach a new audience. We also look forward to giving advice to young startups and have them inspire us to improve.
JapanNight VII is a unique event that gives startups in Japan the opportunity to tell their story in front of a global audience in San Francisco, and we at DNP are honored to be a sponsor. DNP is constantly developing new services as well, so we always look for ways to support the startup community to further innovation. JapanNight VII is a great platform for us to connect with local startups, VCs, and other influencers.
DNP has developed a close relationship with the startup community over the years; we are a member of KDDI∞Labo – a program organized by KDDI to support startups at events and meetings. Through JapanNight VII, we aim to further our mission to add value to the world of startups, but we also look forward to learning something new and hearing creative ideas we’ve never thought of before.
As the Flight Partner for JapanNight VII, we want to be inspired by the energy and creativity of all the participants as well as help support young entrepreneurs in Japan. JapanNight VII is a unique opportunity for Japanese startups to showcase their business ideas to the world and for entrepreneurs to challenge themselves to grow. We at JAL share this vision for Japanese entrepreneurship and look forward to hearing new ideas from startups to help improve our flight business.
To celebrate the most innovative business ideas at JapanNight VII, we will provide the top 3 teams with special mileage cards (“Entrepreneur Cards”). The card is designed by coworking space, MOV, in Shibuya Hikarie. Entrepreneurs can use this card to access the JAL lounge at Narita and Haneda Airport, where they can work or relax. In the near future, we have plans to launch the “Entrepreneur Card” officially.
Daiwa Securities has been actively supporting startups with their IPO process for years, and the roster includes companies that are now household names in Japan like Rakuten, Yahoo and mixi. There are many startups in Japan providing new services and many companies looking to do their IPO in the US, particularly in the Silicon Valley area. Collaborating with btrax – based in in San Francisco – is a great way for us to help Japanese startups grow.
On top of supporting startups through their IPO process and external events, we also host a pitch event that serves as a matching opportunity between large companies and startups. In this event, 5 to 6 startups present their business idea for 15 minutes each.
Although startups tend to think of the IPO as their goal, the IPO is actually just the beginning. Companies should separate “doing business” from “developing services” and not be afraid of taking risks and changing their service model. As a startup, it’s important to have a strong pitch, and JapanNight VII is a great opportunity to showcase new business ideas, services and products in front of a large audience and the media. We look forward to learn from and be inspired by all the startups on stage.
Date : Oct. 13, 2010
Place : Mighty
gengo / SPYSEE / Lang-8
Coopa! / GazoPa / Drrop
The first JapanNight was held in October 2010, and more than 500 people showed up for the event to be a part of the audience.
Enduring a little jet-lag and some tech culture shock, six start-ups from Japan successfully completed their introduction to the SF Tech community
Date : June 28, 2011
Pace : Mighty
Reengo / ChatWork / Feel on!
Cacoo / MOSO / Beautecam
A year later, the second JapanNight was held in June 2011. More than half of the startup participants succeeded in raising funds from venture capitalists and investors in the audience. The 2011 JapanNight was also the first time the event was broadcasted live; more than 1500 people tuned in to watch the finals on UStream.
Dates : Oct. 8, 2011 (Semi-finals) / Nov. 3, 2011 (Finals)
Places : Microsoft Japan (Semi-finals) / Mighty (Finals)
Matthew Romaine (Co-founder, Gengo Cofounder)
Toshi Yamamoto (CEO, ChatWork)
Taisuke Yokoi (CEO, LisB)
Sadato Adachi (CEO, RakuRaku.com)
Facematch (Winner) / Grow! / MidoNet
PIRIKA / SnapDish / Synclogue
The third JapanNight was the first time the competition was split into two parts–the semi-final in Tokyo and the final in San Francisco. This time, the event received media attention not only from Japan and the U.S., but also from China.
Dates : March, 2012 (Semi-finals) / April 25, 2012 (Finals)
Places : Voyage group (Semi-finals) / Mighty (Finals)
Taizo Son (CEO, MOVIDA JAPAN) /
Masahiko Honma (CEO, Incubate Fund)
Shu Uesugi (Engineer/Designer）
piaScore (Winner) / Coworkify / Monaca
Beatrobo / Sleipnir / foodstoQ
Some big names attended as guest speakers and judges for the fourth JapanNight. There was more than 200 people in the audience, and the event was covered by large publications like Nikkei in Japan and the Wall Street Journal in the U.S.
Dates : Feb. 9 (Semi-finals) / March. (Finals)
Paces : Rafore Harajuku (Semi-finals) / yetiZen (Finals)
Kozo Hiramatsu (Former CEO, Livedoor Holdings) / Takeshi Honma (Executive Officer, Rakuten) / Shintaro Yamada (CEO, Mercari)
ShareWis (Winner) / WHILL / UIscope
designclue / grafic / comobaco
The fifth JapanNight consisted not only of presentations by competitors in Japan and San Francisco, but also a product demo by the previous winner and a panel discussion with notable guests. Many finalists such as ‘WHILL’ succeeded in fundraising.
Dates : Oct 5, 2013 (Semi-finals) / Nov. 7, 2013 (Finals)
Places : Daiwa Conference Hall (Semi-finals) / Pivotal Labs (Finals)
Hannes Graah (Director, SpotifyJapan) / Osuke Honda (Partner, DCM) / Tak Shiohama (President, Uber Japan) / Shin Iwata (Head of Japan Office, Atomico)
cooori (Winner) / Ring / CODEPREP
FUKUSHIMA Wheel / FOURBEAT / Boku Sumaho
The sixth JapanNight held in 2013 used Google Hangouts for the first time to broadcast live. An online voting system was also implemented to help engage the audience tuning in from the internet.
“As a sponsor of JapanNight, we welcome the opportunity to lend a hand to startups who challenge themselves to globally expand their business. As an investment capital company, we seek to connect with the most promising entrepreneurs and contribute to their success. “
“We were one of the original participants of JapanNight. Now that we are a successful startup, we wanted to support other innovators by becoming a sponsor. By working with btrax, ChatWork also was able to make our brand more visible in the US and realize a boost in new users. “
“By participating in JapanNight, my ability to expand my business abroad increased exponentially. I was grateful for the opportunity to get in front of venture capital firms
in Silicon Valley and network with fellow Bay Area entrepreneurs. Together with the exposure to US and Japan media, we saw a spike in traffic and over 100,000 new downloads in just three days. “
JapanNight is organized by cross-cultural marketing agency btrax.