Words from SBC Scale Osaka Cohort #1 – Northern America

Words from SBC Scale Osaka Cohort #1 – Northern America

24-Jun-2020 by Meghan Bridges

Just before we kickoff our 2nd Webinar (Sign Up now) we wanted to introduce some of the insights and voices from our first cohort. This week, we will be introducing the startups based in North America & Canada.

Below you will find our startup’s words on their program experiences, their advice for you and how they are currently dealing with the pandemic.

Soundpays


Soundpays utilizes ultrasonic sound wave technology to deliver information directly from advertising or broadcast content to the mobile device. The solution allows advertiser and broadcast content providers to achieve an entirely new level of audience engagement. That is allowing viewers to engage with the broadcast content to receive supplemental information and actionable call-to-action options, including instant, single-touch purchases, directly from the content that they are seeing or hearing; whether it be on TV, Online or digital signage.
With this technology, Soundpays conducted 2 successful POCs with Hankyu and The Yomiuri Shimbun.

We already had a number of contacts developed within Japan, but did not feel that we had gained an inside track anywhere. Essentially, we felt that dedicating 3 months to the program would determine whether we could be successful in Japan in the short term; or whether we should look to another country as an entry point to Asia.

They’ve really come forwards as their projects are still moving forwards, even in the current global situation.

“At the beginning of the COVID appearance we took a hard look at our business and re-worked our financial projections assuming significant loss in revenue from original expectations. We made the decision to only focus on our existing key customers and prospective customers whom we have taken through the sales cycle, and not bother trying to develop new customers. It will be a down year in revenues when we were originally expecting a nice revenue growth over last year. We hired some additional tech people to push on our R&D and development projects. Our plan is to use this lull in sales and biz dev, to focus on accelerating our technology plans.”

Lastly, we also asked them on what advice they would give startups interested in entering Japan:

I wouldn’t say that I can offer any meaningful wisdom or advice per se, but I can say that Startupbootcamp Scale Osaka has been everything that we had hoped it would be. The opportunities to develop deeper relationships with key customers have certainly been provided to us and we have been superbly supported by the staff here in advice, language assistance, facilities, etc. The prospect liaison support has been especially impressive, we feel that the SBC Scale Osaka members are on our team. So, I can say that if anyone is willing to invest three months of focus on cracking the Japanese market, then SBC Scale Osaka is the best approach in my mind.

Learn more about Soundpays on our Demo Day site or on their website.

Sitata

Sitata keeps travellers safe by providing them with real-time health and safety information and connecting them to assistance when they need it. Our web platform and mobile app collects traveller’s itineraries and provides them with all necessary, pre-trip health and safety information for their destinations including vaccination recommendations, emergency numbers, hospital locations, and safety advice. Sitata proved its value by detecting COVID-19 on December 30th and warning travellers on January 2nd, 2020. As a result, Sitata has established multiple opportunities to work with large corporations in Japan.

Japan is unlike any other market we have explored to date. There are significant cultural and communication differences. It is important to spend time in Japan to understand these differences because you will almost certainly need to adapt and adjust your approach.

As Sitata’s platform originally focused on travel, the COVID-19 pandemic had them re-evaluate how their data and information could be leveraged and support people globally during the uncertain times.

Sitata was in a unique position during the COVID-19 situation. We first detected the outbreak in late December when it was reported as an unusual number of cases of pneumonia. However, within the next 48 hours, it became clear that this was not pneumonia and so we published our first warning to our users on January 2nd, well ahead of most outlets and even the World Health Organization. As the outbreak developed and spread across the world, we witnessed the travel industry shut down. That put our company in a very difficult situation. Luckily, many organizations use us for domestic health and security reasons. In addition, we started to focus our efforts on the return of travel. We created the world’s first detailed and structured database of travel restriction changes and made it available via API for our partners. We can answer questions like “can I enter the country?” or “do I have to wear a mask when I’m there?” or “Is local transportation shut down?.” Our partners are starting to leverage this API to help build confidence with their customers as travel returns. Individuals can also access the same information at https://www.covidchecker.com. Overall, many organizations have performed their damage control and are anticipating the return of travel. With loosening travel restrictions, Sitata anticipates a world of constant change and most certainly waves of smaller outbreaks. We are ready to keep our customers informed so they can have safe and healthy travels once again.

We asked them what advice they would give to startups who were interested in Japan, and they offered the following:

The Japanese will welcome you with open arms. If you are patient and invest in these relationships, you will thrive together.

Learn more about Sitata on our Demo Day site or on their website.

Miro AI

Miro is an AI & Computer Vision startup using deep learning to unlock one-of-a-kind consumer insights from images & video. Miro’s RunnerTag AI has mapped over 7MM athletes in over 700 running, cycling & obstacle course events in Asia, EU & the USA. By simply analyzing a single photo or video frame, Miro’s AI can instantly identify athletes, discover 1:1 brand preferences & suggest training or gear to improve athletic performance.
Miro AI worked with The Yomirui Shimbun and Dentsu through the SBC Scale Osaka program.

We were attracted by the potential to work with leading Japanese corporations and saw the SBC Scale Osaka program as a significant kickstart to our Japan market entry plans. Through the program, we learnt the importance of a strong partnership to working successfully in Japan.

Miro AI offered the following advice to those interested in the Japanese market:

Japan is a unique market, but the lessons learned in Japan can inform the global approach and strategy as you grow and expand your business.

Learn more about Miro AI on our Demo Day site or on their website.

Learn more about what it’s like to be part of the SBC Scale Osaka program, expanding a startup to Japan and hearing more from our cohort #1 members, sign up for our webinar (24th June or 22nd July) where we will be introducing these topics and inviting Soundpays (24th July) to share some of their experiences.

Curious about if you match our scouting themes, check out our themes blog post.

 

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Learn more and sign up to our program now:

 

Meghan Bridges has always worked with the goal to approach creative ideas and solutions, tackling new ways within marketing and innovation. Building up a solid foundation within the gaming industry at Active Gaming Media, Meghan worked largely with small indie game companies or start-up game companies, allowing them to break out into the market and reach a global audience. Embracing this experience, she is now taking a step forward to help start up companies from around the world to break into the Japanese market and navigate the unique work culture.