Startup Arena 2019: when Tokyo's female founders and tech startup scenes meet

As more and more young people in Japan trade the corporate world for startup life and as more capital flows in for new ventures, the future for startups in Japan is looking brighter than ever. Anyone with doubts about the vitality of the Japanese startup scene need only have attended the inaugural Startup Arena night in Tokyo to see a thriving and engaged community of entrepreneurs


Startup Arena, a collaboration between Startup Lady and Tokyo Tech Startups, saw more than 150 people gather at Tunnel Tokyo in Shinagawa to watch early-stage startup founders pitch their company’s products or services to a panel of experienced business leaders and advisors. 


Entrance was pay-what-you-wish, with the winner of the night receiving 20% of the proceeds, with the rest going towards social impact projects led by Startup Lady and Tokyo Tech Startups.

The startups

Aoiship – Adam Boujida and Asuka Suzuki –  a Tokyo-based e-commerce startup dedicated to sourcing and exporting Japanese fashion overseas. 


Novars Inc – Toru Yamanaka – a company built from Toru’s passion for using technology to make lives better. He is currently building a platform service for IoT batteries.


Clarity – Satomi Furuya – an employer database for working women to find the best workplace for them by providing transparent company reviews and statistics for job seekers, as well as provide job postings.


Hapbeat – Yusuke Yamazaki – if you’ve ever wanted to truly feel your music or audio from your video game, then your interests lie well in line with Yusuke’s. Hapbeat is a small vibration device that amplifies sound in a tangible way, truly bringing music, games and other stimulus that’s reliant on sound to life.


SocialAce Japan – Kazuna Yamamoto – an online platform that connects organisations with the corporate social responsibility departments of companies.


Skydea – Hitomi Abiko – anyone who has lived in a different city or country will know how hard it is to fit in and make new friends. Based on her own experiences, Hitomi created Fether, an app that aims to tackle loneliness by helping people create meaningful relationships with others through shared interests and hobbies. 


The advisors

Kiyono Yagami wears several hats, all to do with helping mothers realise their full potential after childbirth. Amongst these include the Work Shift Program, which offers babysitters for children and Manabiya Mom, a co-working space with childcare services that also offers seminars for mothers.


Jordan Fisher co-founded Zehitomo, an online platform that allows people to hire service professionals. He previously worked for JP Morgan in Tokyo. 


Wolfgang Bierer started his own consulting company, ENDEAVOR SBC, in Japan in 2005 after working for several global consulting companies in a number of roles including change management and project management. 


The winner

Ultimately, Satomi’s delivery, clear storytelling and great business idea won the judges over, with Wolfgang commenting that Clarity was something that was not only scaleable, but something that was needed in Japan. All the judges saw potential in the business.


A successful first event

Startup Lady co-founder Amee Xu said despite some technical difficulties, the pitch event was a great success.


“It just shows you what can be achieved when like-minded organisations rally together for a common cause.


For us at Startup Lady, we’re thrilled to be able to give female business owners the opportunity and platform to show everyone what they’re working on.”


Startup Arena was sponsored by: Sega Sammy Tunnel Tokyo

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