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    Contributor. Currently based in Tokyo. A third culture kid from Australia, Hong Kong and San Francisco. Lover of social technology and pop culture, and always excited for a good brand story.

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  • Oct 15, 2014


Top 6 Emerging Japanese Startups

As we enter the final countdown to the SF JapanNight VII Finals on November 5, now is a good time to check out the six startup finalists selected out of hundreds of applicants.

JapanNight began in 2010 as a demo competition organized by btrax 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.


This year’s six finalists were chosen out of 14 semi-finalists that battled it out in Tokyo last month. Below is the digest video for taken from the semi-final.

The finalists’ final destination is San Francisco, where they will pitch their product and business model to a panel of all-star judges.

The judging panel will consist of Andrew Chung of Khosla Ventures, Thomas Arend of Singularity University, Lilly Huang of Silicon Valley Bank, and Anis Uzzaman of Fenox Venture Capital. The founders fireside chat panel will consist of Morten Primdahl, CTO & co-founder of Zendesk, Ryan Caldbeck, CEO & founder of CircleUp, and Maria Alegre, CEO & co-founder of Chartboost.

Last year’s judging panel included the CTO and co-founder of Airbnb, Nathan Blecharczyk, and the founder and producer of Failcon, Cass Phillipps.


(Above) From left to right: btrax founder & CEO Brandon Hill,  Airbnb CTO & co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk, and Failcon founder & producer Cass Phillips at the Founders Fireside Chat during last year’s JapanNight.

Top Six Finalists

AgIC Circuit Printer and Circuit Maker – AgIC, Inc.

AgIC circuit printers and circuit markers aim to make circuit board creation more accessible. Their circuit printers are off­-the­-shelf home inkjet printers with silver-based conductive ink. Customers can print their own circuit boards in a few minutes in the same way they print pictures at home and in the office. 

Sansan – Sansan, Inc.

Sansan is a collaborative cloud-based contact management service that transcribes business cards and enables businesses to share their network as a team. Through this service, users can transform everyday business encounters into usable data they can leverage. Sansan launched its platform in the U.S. in October 2014. 

planBCD – Kaizen Platform, Inc.

planBCD is a service that helps businesses optimize their websites through precise data analytics, simplified A/B testing, and crowdsourcing top design talent.

Akerun – Photosynth Inc.

Akerun is a smart lock robot compatible with iPhones. It uses Bluetooth to lock and unlock your door by recognizing your phone, which acts as a digital key. The design is intuitive, easy to install and secure. 

Cafetalk – Small Bridge Inc.

Cafetalk is a service that connects tutors around the world with students interested in their classes. Students can learn to speak new languages or play musical instruments through private video classes conducted over Skype. All students have to do is find a class they like and reserve a time on the tutor’s schedule. 

Fove – Fove Inc.

FOVE is the first consumer head mount display for interacting with virtual worlds. The wearable device uses eye and motion tracking technology to control the display output, as opposed to existing virtual reality systems that rely on external controllers. Tracking eye movements allows the display to focus dynamically and naturally, greatly increasing realism and visual immersion.



About btrax

btrax is an Innovation Design company specializing in UX and Service Design to create innovative products and services on a global scale.

We drive results through our dynamic team of experts based in San Francisco and Tokyo, with backgrounds in design, technology, and marketing.


  • Products and Service Development
  • Brand Development and Growth Strategy
  • Innovation Workshops
Learn more about btrax or contact us at to see how we can help your business.

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