Mar 24, 2017 Jessica Blechingberg
The Japanese market, dominated by major corporations, has traditionally been hard to enter for international companies. However, the country holds great opportunities especially for Nordic startups – for example, because of the strong focus on mobile being similar to both markets. The Nordics are especially known for digital consumer products, specifically games, which account for 33% of the Nordic billion-dollar exits, including Mojang, King, Rovio and Supercell.
One of the Nordic companies travelling to Slush Tokyo is the Finnish startup IVALO. Its goal is to meet potential partners, investors, media representatives, and to explore the Japanese market further. “We are looking to open our business in Japan. We simply need connections to get that done. Our only goal is to be the world’s leading marketplace for small emerging fashion brands,” says Matti Lamminsalo, CEO & Co-founder of IVALO.
The Helsinki based startup has found a way to bring new designers directly to its users’ fingertips. IVALO soft-launched their app, described as the Tinder for fashion, during Q4/2016 in Finland. It became the most downloaded fashion app immediately during its launch week. Now they’re working on bringing IVALO in Japan by the end of this year.
Companies like IVALO, expanding into the Japanese market, will need to modify their products accordingly. Japanese consumers often have a different mindset when it comes to the aesthetics, functionality, and the UX of mobile apps.
Marie Mostad, Co-founder & COO of the Norwegian startup Inzpire.me, is looking to meet some of its Tokyo-based influencers. The startup makes it easy for brands to discover, connect, and pay influencers to share inspiring stories. “We have seen great traction from influencers in Asia, and Slush Tokyo is our first step to learn more about the Japanese market. We want to better understand how we could, by using influencer marketing, help brands in Japan to grow”, says Marie.
After their launch in March 2016, the company has been successful in customer acquisition. Inzpire.me has grown their influencer base to over 300 million followers across the globe, and the team is now looking to take the next step by utilizing data and machine learning.
Whilst IVALO and Inzpire.me are joining Slush Tokyo to explore the market, Virtusize has already been in Japan for over three years. The Swedish startup helps online shoppers find the right size and fit for clothing while helping retailers to increase sales and reduce returns significantly. Today, Virtusize has partnered up with renowned fashion brands such as Acne, Totême, Nudie Jeans and Balenciaga. The first online retailer in Japan to launch Virtusize was Magaseek in August 2013. Since then, Virtusize has succeeded in getting more local Japanese retail partners on board.
When expanding to Japan, Virtusize decided to focus very closely on 15-20 companies, mostly early adopters and market leaders. “Due to this focused approach, although our initial growth in Japan was slow, we were finally able to build partnerships with a group of very reputable companies,” tells Andreas Olausson, Regional Manager of Asia Pacific and Country Manager in Japan at Virtusize. After establishing their first client partner in Japan, Virtusize changed to “pull” strategy: “To build our brand reputation in Japan, we started focusing on investing our time in PR and media. It proved successful with many companies actually seeking us out rather than the other way around. After just over three years in Japan, we currently hold a 14% market share here,” he continues.
At Slush Tokyo, Virtusize is willing to meet potential investors from Japan and Asia as well as potential, new team members. According to Andreas, with a solid and proven product established in Japan, the next big challenge is to expand their team. However, finding new members through recruiters in Japan is an expensive and inefficient process. “At Virtusize we have ‘solved’ this mainly by cultivating our own personal networks and identifying a few companies that have overlapping skill requirements with ourselves,” he explains.
Slush, together with the Nordic community, helps founders to establish networks by meeting with international investors, VCs and media. Community representants at Slush Tokyo next week are Startup 100, Oslo Business Region, Oslo Innovation Week, Startup Sauna, San Francisco Oy and Startuplifers.
The Nordic companies heading to Slush Tokyo are:
There has been growing interest in investing in emerging markets, especially in Southeast Asia. Our speakers, Kay-Mok Ku (Gobi), Soo Boon Koh (I-Globe), Kaspar Hadiyat (Koro Partners) were joined by Jorel Chan, who is the head of Investment Operations for Slush. Their discussion ranged from: personal insights, their experiences, as well as how Southeast Asia has […]
I am my Rival who Drives me Chika Terada, the co-founder and CEO of Sansan kicked off his speech proposing to disclose his own stories. Last year, he tried to come up with a profound lecture. But then he realized, he’s not in a position to lecture. This year, he told the audience that instead, […]
The day 1 at Dialogue Stage was a success. With having engaging speakers and the smooth-as-ever facilitation, some talks had really sought the core aspects of the entrepreneur mindset. Here, we will address three out of the seven dialogues. Cross Border Business Strategy: How to build your own brand in this society? Welcoming Techstars as […]
A dream isn’t something that is final, it’s something that should constantly be updated and thoroughly thought about with the aim to achieve it. Miku Hirano is the founder and CEO of Cinnamon, a company that is dedicated to “remove all unnecessary work from the world by using AI.” At a glance, Miku seems to […]
The winner of Slush Tokyo pitching contest has been announced – congrats, Clarity K.K.! Their matchmaking platform helps women who are returning to the realm of work after having kids. The work-life balance for women in Japan is a tricky issue, and Clarity K.K. tackles the challenges of traditional work arrangements by enabling women to identify the […]
Helen Tung, Emergent Tech advisor and MINERVA fellow at the EU, moderated the conversation between Takahiro Nakamura (Director and COO at ispace) and Kazuo Ishigame (Co-founder and COO at Infostellars) on how to make it in space. Welcome to the space age. These two will be your guides. Ispace aims to develop spacecraft technology to extend […]
Yat Siu is the founder and CEO of Outblaze , an award-winning digital services company specializing in things such as gaming, cloud, AI, and smartphone software. He sold Outblaze’s services to IBM ten years ago, pivoting the company to digital entertainment services. Siu is a bit of a tech legend, according to many: the online […]
Slush Tokyo 2019 Pitch Contest Semi-finalists Announced! It has been a great turn out at the Pitching Stage at this year’s Slush Tokyo. 40 contestants pitched in today’s contest. Not surprisingly, even greater ideas and concepts were presented in front of an eager and curious audience and judges. Contestants’ ideas and talks were diverse: from […]
Slush Tokyo 2019 has officially opened its doors and has welcomed its first speaker, Yuriko Koike, the Governor of Tokyo. The session shone the spotlight on the city’s initiatives towards raising entrepreneurship, women initiatives and supporting the startup ecosystem as a whole. Supporting a thousand startups. Since taking office as governor in 2016, Yuriko has […]
Buy your Slush Pass before the limited amount of HB priced tickets are gone!
We collect cookies to make your experience here smoother.