How it works

1. Open Competition

Two months before the event, we open applications to hardware and software startups. btrax picks companies with the most global potential from hundreds of applicants.

2. Tokyo Semi-Finals

12 teams are selected to demo in English at a semi-finals event in Japan. A panel of top cross-border VC votes on the strongest startups to win a free flight to the finals in the US.

3. Final Showdown in San Francisco

The 5 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.


past attendees


publications covered the previous JapanNight


of startups expand globally


of startups receive funding


blog pageviews


establish U.S. entities


JapanNight Ⅷ

Dates: October 3rd, 2015 (Semi-finals) / Nov 3, 2014 (Finals)
Venues: Daiwa Conference Hall (Semi-finals) / City Nights (Finals)

Guest Speakers
San Francisco
Founders Panel:
Tristan O’Tierney – Co-founder of Square
Aaron Rowley – Co-founder of Electroloom
Edward Tang – Founder of Avegant

Alumni Panel:
Lochlainn Wilson, Founder & CTO, FOVE
Shinya Shimizu, Founder & CEO, AgIC
Takuro Yoshida, Founder & CEO, Logbar (Ring)
Matthew Romaine, Founder & CEO, Gengo

Silicon Valley in Japan Panel:
Naoki Sadakuni, JP Country Manager, Pinterest
Masami Takahashi, President, Uber Japan
James Riney, Managing Partner & Head, 500 Startups Japan

Open Innovation Panel:
Goro Motai, General Manager of Innovation Design, Dai Nippon Printing
Masaru Shiraishi, Director of Corporate Citizenship Group, Japan Airlines
Kaname Hayashi, Former Pepper Development Team Leader, Softbank

Spacemarket (Winner) / Drivemode / Comic English / Colavi / HiNative
The eighth JapanNight achieved record-breaking ticket sales in both San Francisco and Tokyo

FOVE (Winner) / AgIC / Sansan / Kaizen Platform/ Akerun / Cafetalk

JapanNight Ⅶ

Dates: Sep 27, 2014 (Semi-finals) / Nov 5, 2014 (Finals)
Venues: Daiwa Conference Hall (Semi-finals) / Automattic Lounge (Finals)

Guest Speakers
San Francisco
Morten Primdahl – CTO & Co-founder of Zendesk
Ryan Caldbeck – CEO & Founder of CircleUp
Maria Alegre – CEO & Co-founder of Chartboost
Doug Simpson – CEO & Co-founder of Navdy

Yusuke Asakura – Former President and CEO of mixi
Saito William – President & CEO of InTecur
Osuke Honda – Partner at DCM
Soichiro Minami – CEO & Founder of BizReach

FOVE (Winner) / AgIC / Sansan / Kaizen Platform/ Akerun / Cafetalk

The seventh JapanNight achieved record-breaking attendance in both San Francisco and Tokyo. Many finalists, such as FOVE, AgIC and Kaizen Platform, later succeeded in fundraising.

JapanNight Ⅵ

Dates : Oct 5, 2013 (Semi-finals) / Nov. 7, 2013 (Finals)
Venues : Daiwa Conference Hall (Semi-finals) / Pivotal Labs (Finals)

Guest Speakers
Hannes Graah (Director, SpotifyJapan) / Osuke Honda (Partner, DCM) / Tak Shiohama (President, Uber Japan) / Shin Iwata (Head of Japan Office, Atomico)SO / Beautecam

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.

JapanNight Ⅴ

Dates : Feb. 9 (Semi-finals) / March. (Finals)
Venues : Rafore Harajuku (Semi-finals) / yetiZen (Finals)

Guest Speakers
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.

JapanNight Ⅳ

Dates : March, 2012 (Semi-finals) / April 25, 2012 (Finals)
Venues : Voyage group (Semi-finals) / Mighty (Finals)

Guest Speakers
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.

JapanNight Ⅲ

Dates : Oct. 8, 2011 (Semi-finals) / Nov. 3, 2011 (Finals)
Venues : Microsoft Japan (Semi-finals) / Mighty (Finals)

Guest Speakers
Matthew Romaine (Co-founder, Gengo Cofounder)
Toshi Yamamoto (CEO, ChatWork)
Taisuke Yokoi (CEO, LisB)
Sadato Adachi (CEO,

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.

JapanNight Ⅱ

Date : June 28, 2011
Venue : 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.

JapanNight Ⅰ

Date : Oct.13,2010
Venue: 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