The land of the rising sun is not particularly known for its strong startup scene. In fact, Taylor Beck from Fastcolabs wrote an article about it titled as “Hey Japan, What’s Up With Your Startup Scene”. It’s from this environment in Japan that Singapore-incorporated YOYO Holdings was actualised as the brainchild of CEO and Co-founder Yosuke Fukada. However, its main operations is in the Philippines, where it won the Echelon 2014 Satellite recently.
When asked why the company is not based in Japan, but in the Philippines, Yosuke said that its not that the (Japan) market is not suitable, but that there are tremendous opportunities in SEA markets. YOYO Holdings’ target group is the prepaid card user population, which comprise the majority of phone users in the region. He further said that the Philippines is an excellent test bed because of its English penetration and high mobile usage.
It is encouraging as founders like Yosuke believe that the startup scene in Japan is re-vitalising. Yosuke said, “I tend not to be distracted by this commonly held belief (about the startup ecosystem in Japan). Most of the large companies in Japan, like Softbank and Rakuten, and even the likes of Sony and Honda, were startups to begin with. So despite the common belief, Japan has traditionally had a fair share of startups!”
What does it do?
With its service called Candy, YOYO Holdings focuses on two things — promotion of web services and smartphone applications, and web-based micro-tasks that users can contribute to for corporates.
Micro-tasks refer to activities such as doing a simple review or participating in a survey, while web promotion can mean, for example, downloading the mobile chat application LINE, which would drive up LINE’s user growth in Philippines. The company focuses on corporates for its micro-tasks offerings and on internet businesses for its promotion service. It rewards users in the form of loads for mobile calls or airtime.
Arnab Gupta, executive officer of the company shared that its main target is the smartphone gaming market in SEA, which is set to explode in the future.
One good measure of a company’s traction is its user base and retention rates. YOYO Holdings’ user base has been increasing rapidly with new user acquisition being up to 75,000 users within the first eight months of launching this service, mainly due to referrals and word-of-mouth.
To continue to scale, the company would need to partner with more sponsors and business partners, and educate on the value of reward-based ads.
The firm is aiming to open airtime reward capability to clients, in addition to its users — so that everyone can eat the metaphorical Candy.
In terms of expansion, it has already started Candy in Indonesia and Thailand. It has launched its Android app ‘Free Topup Club’, in Indonesia as well. It targets users by offering them free topup recharges, which can then be used to pay for voice, text, or data plans. By downloading apps listed within what is called an ‘offer wall’, users can earn roughly US 6 to 30 cents per app downloaded.
YOYO Holdings hopes to expand to mobile phone markets in fast-developing nations within and outside South East Asia in the future.
Talking about its success at Echelon Satellite Philippines, the team said that they are extremely happy. Yosuke said, “We are thankful for the opportunity to showcase our business to the rest of Asia and the world, and for the well-wishes and support we have received!” The firm has received few inquiries from potential clients post the Echelon Satellite win, which it hopes to utilize.
Echelon 2014 is a two-day Startup, Technology and Business event where Asia’s most innovative startups, early-stage investors and tech industry leaders as well as tech media, gather to celebrate and build Asia’s growing tech industry, as well as make valuable relationships.