When: September 27th, 2014
Where: Daiwa Securities, Tokyo
When: November 5th, 2014
Where: Automattic Lounge, San Francisco
6:30 Doors Open
6:30 – 7:00 Networking and Socializing
7:00 – 7:30 Founders Fireside Chat
7:30 – 9:00 Live Demos
9:00 – 10:30 Drinks and Conversation
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.
Mr. Primdahl co-founded Zendesk and has served as the Chief Technology Officer since August 2007. Mr. Primdahl holds a Bachelors in chemical engineering from the Technical University of Denmark and a Masters, Sci. IT. in computer science and information technology from the IT University of Copenhagen.
Ryan Caldbeck started CircleUp after almost seven years of investing experience in consumer product and retail-focused private equity at TSG Consumer Partners and Encore Consumer Capital. As a Director at Encore, Ryan led a number of private investments and served on the Board of Zuke’s, The Isopure Company and PhillySwirl.
Thomas Arend started his own venture in 2014 after working with many international startups. Before becoming an entrepreneur, he was leading Airbnb’s and Twitter’s international product efforts, launched Firefox on Android as Mozilla’s Head of Mobile, built delightful web and mobile products at Google and ran strategic initiatives at SAP and IBM Research. Thomas is a keynote speaker, lecturer, mentor and product leader. He holds a PhD in Artificial Intelligence and works with Singularity University as executive product advisor.
Lilly Huang is the Senior Director of Silicon Valley Bank, which assists innovative companies with their international market expansion. She has over 10 years of experience helping companies solve their most critical financial and strategic challenges when they expand internationally. Prior to her current role, Huang was the head of Silicon Valley Bank’s Entrepreneur Services Group (ESG) platform, based in China. Through the ESG platform, Huang was responsible for fostering an entrepreneur ecosystem in China and helping Chinese entrepreneurs succeed.
Dr. Anis Uzzaman is the General Partner and CEO of Fenox Venture Capital located in Silicon Valley. He has invested in more than 40 startups in Internet, mobile, social, cloud, big data and emerging disruptive industries. Some of his recent portfolio companies in the USA include Sidecar, Genius, META and ShareThis. Anis has also invested in startups from Japan and South East Asia, such as Terra Motors, a leading Japanese EV bike company and Tech in Asia, the largest tech media in South East Asia. Anis sits on the board of six corporations. He holds a PhD degree in Engineering, and is an alumnus of Tokyo Institute of Technology in Japan.
Yusuke Asakura served as the President and CEO of mixi, Inc from 2013 to 2014. Prior to joining mixi, Asakura was the President and CEO of Naked Technology, a startup he founded as a student at the University of Tokyo which was subsequently acquired by mixi.
Brandon K. Hill is the CEO of btrax, Inc., a San Francisco-based design consulting and marketing agency specializing in US and Asian market entry and growth. With strong connections in both Silicon Valley and the Japanese startup community, he has spoken at 500 Startups Japan Day, UC Berkeley Haas School’s Asian Business Conference, Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC), Social Media Week Tokyo, ad:tech, and Asia Society.
William H. Saito is one of the world’s leading authorities on encryption, authentication and biometric technologies. He began software programming at an early age and started his own company in high school. After selling his business to Microsoft, he moved to Tokyo in 2005 and founded InTecur, a consultancy that identifies innovative technologies, develops global talent, and helps entrepreneurs become successful. In Japan, he currently serves as a Special Advisor to the Cabinet Office for the Government of Japan since late 2013.
Osuke brings a powerful combination of strategic and venture investments, business planning and development, as well as operational experience to his role in identifying new investment opportunities and helping build global companies. At DCM, Osuke focuses on consumer internet, digital media and IT services sectors. Osuke’s investments include Kakao, Happy Elements, Freee, Scigineer, Tab, RealScout and LASO.
Swimmy founded BizReach in 2009, a premier online professional networking service connecting career-driven Japanese professionals and talent seeking employers. LUXA, a discovery e-commerce site empowering consumers in finding unique curated products, and RegionUP, an APAC version of BizReach based out of Singapore was subsequently launched inside of BizReach in 2010 and 2012 respectively. The group now combines to employ over 400 staff representing 7 different nationalities. He is a graduate of Tufts University.
James Riney is a venture capitalist at the Japanese mobile internet giant, DeNA, where he focuses on consumer internet and mobile investments. Prior to DeNA, James was the founding CEO of STORYS.JP, a publishing platform for real life stories. The site is home to thousands of user submitted stories attracting millions of visitors in Japan, and is the birthplace of the Amazon #1 bestseller, “The Invincible Blonde Gal,” which sold over 300,000 copies in the first 3 months.
Shin leads Atomico’s operations in Japan and is based in Tokyo. He works closely with Atomico’s portfolio companies and partners, using his network and deep experience to help them scale both inside and outside Japan. Prior to joining Atomico, Shin was President of Skype Japan K.K. where he developed crucial relationships in Japan with local partners. He was an integral part of establishing key global partnerships as a local window to Panasonic VIERA and Sony BRAVIA for TV integration.
Hiro Maeda joined netprice.com as an overseas investor. In 2010, he launched the startup accelerator program “Open Network Lab” in partnership with Digital Garage and Kakaku.com. Having invested in over 40 companies, Hiro was chosen as one of the top 100 promising young entrepreneurs in the world at the 2011 St. Gallen Symposium. He is currently the managing partner at BEENOS.
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.