James Riney and Yohei Sawayama, who launched 500 Startups Japan in 2016, have launched a new venture capital firm called Coral Capital.
The new fund has already raised JPY 5 billion (approximately US$45 million) from the likes of Mizuho Bank, Mitsubishi Estate, Taizo Son (younger brother of SoftBank Chairman Masayoshi Son), Paul Kuo, and Kotaro Chiba, Shinsei Bank, and J-POWER.
Coral Capital will focus on seed-stage startups in Japan, and will continue to work with 500 Startups on its existing funds and collaborate on initiatives for the startup ecosystem in the county.
Everyone from the 500 Startups Japan team will become a part of Coral Capital.
Khailee Ng, Managing Partner at 500 Startups, told e27 that both Riney and Sawayama continue as General Partners of 500 Japan fund.
“After taking many bets on founders as a part of 500 Startups, it is now time to take a bet on ourselves. Coral Capital is our vehicle to help founders bring about positive change on a grand scale,” Riney said in a blog post.
“We would like to thank existing investors Mizuho Bank, Mitsubishi Estate, Taizo Son, Paul Kuo, and Kotaro Chiba for continuing to invest with our team. Our new partners include Shinsei Bank, J-POWER, and influential names in both Japan and Silicon Valley. We’ve also added a few top-tier institutional investors, which account for almost half of our fund,” he added in the post.
According to him, 500 Startups gave the team the opportunity to learn the ins-and-outs of running a fund within the comfort of one of the most well-known names in venture. “500 Startups has been an amazing place to develop our craft. When we launched our first fund in Japan, there were surprisingly few Silicon Valley-style venture capital firms. All the cliché phrases like “founder first,” or “platform,” or “community,” that you’d hear a typical Valley firm spout were not cliché at all. They were novel.
We pioneered these concepts with the launch of our first fund with 500 Startups. From day one, we’ve focused on providing far more than just the capital we invest. We provide fundraising support, in-house recruiting, public relations, and one of the most engaged founder communities in Japan. We provide the capital start, and the resources to get ahead.
Coral plays a foundational role within the marine ecosystem, and we hope to do the same within the entrepreneurial one,” he said.
In the last three years since its inception, 500 Startups under the leadership of Riney and Sawayama has invested in over 35 companies, including satellite-communications provider Infostellar, automation service SmartHR, restaurant reservation app Pocket Concierge (acquired by American Express).
Venture funding in Japan has doubled since 2015 to about US$3.5 billion last year, says a Bloomberg report, citing Uzabase.