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AOS Mobile CEO Noriko Harada

Japanese mobile communications solution provider AOS Mobile today announced that it has raised a JPY300 million (US$2.7 million) funding round led by Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm Fenox VC.

Mitsubishi UFJ Capital, Accord Ventures, VOYAGE VENTURES, Ibis Capital Partners, and Evolable Asia also participated in the current round.

AOS Mobile plans to use the new funding for product development and talent acquisition. It plans to further enhance its chatbot function by incorporating artificial intelligence, and develop data analysis function on user-chatbot interaction. It will also establish “stronger” managerial structure and sales team.

In addition to that, AOS Mobile CEO Noriko Harada told e27 of the company’s plan to expand to Asian market.

“We will start with India and Vietnam where mobile marketing is growing,” she wrote in an e-mail.

Founded in March 2015, AOS Mobile claimed to have “nearly” 1,000 companies in its client list.

The Tokyo-based startup is a spin-off of AOS Technologies, which provides forensics and e-discovery services.

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AOS Technologies analyses and investigates SMS, consumer-based chats, emails, and other data format on behalf of the police department and prosecutors office in the case of lawsuits.

Based on the service, AOS Mobile builds products such as InCircle, a high security business chat that is based on the police’s evidence restoration technology.

It also builds AOSSMS, an SMS-based mobile communication solution for enterprises that connects users to major domestic carriers and enables them to distribute messages to multiple devices from a high-security dedicated system.

The startup also claimed to be the first in the Japanese market to offer “two-way SMS,” receiving messages from end-users that can be used for purposes such as advertising and surveys.

Leaning in

According to a Japan Times report, a survey by credit research agency Teikoku Databank revealed that only 7.4 per cent of Japanese companies are being led by women.

Fewer than one in 14 Japanese companies has a female president with more than half of them inheriting the role from a relative.

Speaking about the challenges that women in Japanese tech communities are facing, Harada said that she did not experience any gender discrimination in her career until she got married and have a child of her own.

She had struggled to find a babysitter and a day-care centre in the country, which is facing a shortage of such services. Once she had found it, they were unwilling to take in children who are experiencing even a light fever.

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“In Japan, there are not enough day-care centres [available] so that many women have to give up their career after having children,” Harada explained.

“I was luckily selected by a public day-care center which is located close to my office. But, since public day-care centre cannot take care of children who have fever above 37.5 degress Celcius, I had to move my house between office and the day-care centre. [Whenever] my child gets fever, I have to pick him up during the day. All of these stuff will prevent working mothers to get the executive position in Japan,” she continued.

To prevent female employees in her company to experience similar struggle, like many startups, AOS Mobile allows its employees to work from home and at flexible hours, facilitated by web conferences and business chats.

“I believe tech companies should be the lead to offer various work style which is really help for working women, especially those who have children,” Harada stressed.

Apart from AOS Mobile, examples of Japanese tech startups led by women executives are space-tech companies InfoStellar and ALE.

Image Credit: AOS Mobile