Founded in 2010 by Christine Tsai and Dave McClure, 500 Startups is one of the largest venture capital seed fund and seed accelerator firm in the world, with investments made in more than 1,300 tech startups worldwide.
500 Startups briefly exited the Japanese market in 2014 after the departure of the firm’s Japan operations head, George Kellerman. In late 2015, 500 Startups formally returned to Japan with the launch of US$30 million 500 Startups Japan micro-fund. James Riney, a former principal investor from DeNA, currently helms the fund.
500 Kimchi is a US$15 million micro-fund launched by 500 Startups in early 2015 to focus on mobile platform startups in South Korea. The fund’s focus is not surprising as South Korea had the 4th highest smartphone penetration rate in 2015. Below is a list of notable tech startups in Japan and South Korea that has attracted investments from 500 Startups since its inception.
(Note: List is not exhaustive.)
Tokyo Otaku Mode (TOM)
Delivering the latest news on Japanese anime, manga and games to more than 15 million fans. It also has an e-commerce website that sells Japanese pop culture-related products
Mobile event and ticketing platform for event organisers. Organisers could easily promote, manage and sell their tickets on the platform to their customers. It is currently available in Japan, Singapore and the United States
Virtual reality (VR) software company that created content creation software, Symmetry. Symmetry allows users to convert 3D models made by engineers into VR content
Online and mobile platform that allows businesses to rent out unused meeting rooms, karaoke boxes and classrooms
Automated app maintenance platform for cloud services users such as Amazon Web Services (AWS)
An online reservation service for high-end restaurants in Japan
A mobile platform to discover, engage and share videos. The app brings video thumbnails to life by compiling an interactive pictorial summary of videos automatically
An online payment service that provides the fastest checkout at over 600, 000 online stores with just an email address and a number. Payment on the platform is consolidated into a single bill on the 1st of every month
Web-based human translation platform where users can place an order for fast, affordable and quality translations by more than 15,000 native speakers located in over 140 countries worldwide.
Operates AQUSH, a web-based peer-to-peer (P2P) lending service for borrowers and lenders in Japan
SaaS-based platform that manages employee training and automate administrative tasks and reporting
Creator of VideoSelfie, a mobile app that allows users to record and share videos. Recorded videos can be decorated with texts or graphics
A mobile app for couples to share their moments together. Some of the features of the app include an in-chat system, photo sharing and calendar scheduling capabilities
A mobile platform that simplifies the video creation process where users can easily apply hundreds of video templates available on app
Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending marketplace that connects lenders and borrowers through its partnership with a Tier 1 bank that processes all the loans through an integrated bank system
An e-commerce platform for users to purchase a wide range of beauty products from Korea at competitive prices
A marketing solutions company that provides brands with a rich consumer engagement platform
Developer of innovative healthcare technologies that measure and manage essential vitals quickly and accurately
A mobile platform for users to share and receive unlimited files and file sizes instantly and securely.
An English-language, bite-sized webcomics and webtoons platform where users can discover and read from a collection of comics made by more than 5,000 comic artists worldwide
Peer-to-peer (P2P) platform that connects users who needs help with their written English with native English tutors. The tutors would provide instant corrections in real-time
An on-demand portable chargers and battery swapping service for mobile phones that have run out of juice
Video production marketplace that simplifies how businesses find hire video professionals. It provides a seamless experience from the concept and storyboarding to production and delivery of a video
Online financial comparison platform for users to find the best financial product that suit their needs
An on-demand online and mobile platform for apartment cleaning services. It currently has 350 cleaners on its platform and is intending to expand into other categories, including home maintainence
Personalied food and recipe recommendation platform
A global convergence conference and cityfest event held in Seoul that is focused on arts and innovation technology
Daily planner mobile app that allows users to create appointments, events and to-do lists via a drag and drop interface
Mobile e-commerce app for users to browse through photos of bloggers and directly purchase within the app identical or similar items worn by the bloggers
Virtual personal assistant that makes the task of scheduling meetings less tedious