Investments

Rakuten Launches $84M Startup Fund To Build Ecosystem

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Rakuten Ventures announced a major move to help boost investments for startups in Japan.

On Wednesday (Jan. 27), the investment arm of Japanese Internet giant Rakuten launched a 10 billion yen (roughly $84 million) venture capital fund that is aimed at helping early and growth stage Internet startups in Japan.

“We are honored to have a chance to participate in the Japanese startup community,” Rakuten Ventures Managing Partner SaeMin Ahn said in a press release. “With the launch of Rakuten Venture Japan Fund, we hope not only to find the right fit in domestic startups but also bridge Western and Southeast Asian market opportunities with brilliant founders from Japan.”

The Rakuten Ventures Japan Fund will seek to support startups with high growth potential, as well as a focus on the development of unique technologies and business models.

Rakuten Ventures has invested in startups all over the globe, including the U.S., South Korea, Israel and throughout the Asia-Pacific region. In an attempt to build upon that success, the corporate venture fund said it is ready to empower startups in Japan.

Ahn told TechCrunch that Rakuten Ventures will aim to bring the lessons and knowledge it has gained since its inception in 2013 to the the Japanese startup ecosystem.

“For me, as a venture partner, I would say better late than never, in that we launched Rakuten Ventures almost three years ago and gained a lot of learnings in how we want to do investments and support startups,” Ahn, who will run the Rakuten Ventures Japan Fund alongside investment manager Hogil Doh, explained to TechCrunch.

“We thought there were a lot of advantages, due to our historical investment patterns, that we can bring to startups in Japan,” he stated.

Late last year, Rakuten launched the Rakuten FinTech Fund, a $100 million investment vehicle, global in scope, that is centered on “disruptive early to mid-stage FinTech startups that offer attractive return potential with strategic relevance.”

Regional focus will primarily be on the United States and Europe, said the firm, with a nod to finance investments that were made previously by the firm in companies such as Currency Cloud, Bitnet and WePay.

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