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News  1, Sep 2012

Going on a blind date with Japanese startups

Crowd at Startup dating event at Nomad's New BaseIt’s only 7pm and unlike other places in Tokyo such as Shinjuku or Shibuya, Nishi-azabu was unusually quiet. Yet, in an unsuspecting building somewhere along Nishi-azabu street, a place called Nomad’s New Base was brimming with people, passionate about startups.

Also known as Salon Wednesday, the weekly event is organized by Startup Dating in order to help techpreneurs meet each other and keep up to date with news from the Asian startup scenes. “Inspired by a concept of dating, we wanted entrepreneurs and developers to come and meet each other instead of that of women and men,” says co-founder of Startup Dating, Masaru Ikeda. Just like dating, the purpose of these weekly events is to find a relationship that is able to edify and bring each other to a whole new level. Masaru is an active community member in the region and moderated the Japan and Southeast Asian panel during Echelon 2012.

Given that my Japanese speaking competence was close to nil, Masaru was generous enough to help navigate me around the event in fluent English. What I then realized was a city (or maybe a country) excited and ready for entrepreneurship and innovation. From government officials, investors, directors of incubators, to reporters of several publications, the event gathered people of many different professions but all of them, had a common love for tech.

Several startups had an opportunity to pitch before the networking session began. They were Sanpo, Palmemo Album, White Paper alongside the established company, Boundio, which is the Japanese version of Twilio.

Sanpo logo against the backdrop of a walking routeSanpo

When city life gets too fast-paced, apps such as Sanpo aims at helping one discover the things in life that are often overlooked in one’s hectic schedule.  The app “can be used to stroll around a new place (in a touristic trip, for example) or in a very well known area. It happens that even in one’s own neighbourhood, there are many spots of which one had never heard and that are worth visiting,” says the engineer of Sanpo,Romera Martinez Tao. Since the walk routes are generated on the fly using information on local spots and the routing network, you have infinite possibilities. Just set the starting point and the ending point of your walk and enjoy!

Palmemo Album logo ????Palmemo Album

Palmemo Album” is an app to share memories. A pain point brought up by founder, Sato Masashi was that “very often in Facebook, picture archives of past events are hard and inconvenient to retrieve.” Therefore, he wanted to create a place where users can create wonderful albums from Facebook to remember different events that were important to them.

White paper home screen shot ??????White Paper

An app that can be reflective of the Japanese culture, this iPhone app allows one to record down voice confessions of love from people around the country. Directly translated from Japanese, the app also means “Nationwide confessions on paper”. With 120 voice recordings already on the app, people can not only add their own confessions into the app but also go to the platform to get ideas, inspiration and even the courage to confess to that special person. Of course, one can also search for the voice confession of that crush in hopes of finding out that the “crush” is mutual. (Crosses fingers)

In the official description of the app, it also mentioned that people stricken with heartaches can download this app to listen to other voice confessions as a kind of mood lifter.

To those who love startups and tech as much as these people at the event do, be sure to check out the event at Nishi-Azabu every Wednesday. Even if you don’t speak Japanese, pop by the event for some fancy food and drinks, or to just simply bask in the Japanese startup atmosphere.

Featured Image Credits: 21st Century Boy

 

Elizabeth Tan

Elizabeth Tan

A graduate from NUS and an alumnus of NUS Overseas College India, Elizabeth has written for several online publications ranging from community, to fitness and now, e27. Ever since her stint in India, she found herself increasingly interested in startups and wanting to immerse herself further into its ecosystem. She used to own her own blogshop and now co-runs a tech company. Elizabeth is also a certified yoga instructor, specializing in Ashtanga yoga and loves all things Thai. Sometimes, she even wishes she were Thai.

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