The Rakuten Accelerator, powered by Techstars, saw its first cohort of 10 startups present their products to an audience of global investors at the program’s Demo Day at the National Museum of Singapore last month.
The October 10 event saw graduates of the Rakuten Accelerator sharing the results of three months of intensive work, revealing pilot programs involving several of Rakuten’s core global services, including Rakuten Marketing and Rakuten Viber, as well as Japan-based services Rakuten Super Points and Rakuten Beauty. By melding Singapore’s historical heritage with Rakuten’s technological focus, the day provided an optimal setting for mixing and mingling between entrepreneurs, investors and other members of the startup community.
Speaking at the opening of Demo Day, Hiroshi Takasawa, President of Rakuten Capital and CEO of Rakuten Asia, brought up Rakuten’s own startup roots. “Like many of the participating startups,” he explained, “Rakuten CEO Mickey Mikitani and his co-founders began their company to empower society.”
He added, “Today, 10 standout companies from around the world that we now consider a part of our extended Rakuten family will share their vision for how companies and consumers can revolutionize messaging to change the way we conduct business and stay connected. I have been very impressed with their ideas, motivation, courage and spirit to change the world, and have deep respect for them as true entrepreneurs.”
Demo Day saw companies ranging from document collaboration platform Additor and AI-powered mobile lender AND Global to Hungarian startup Talk-A-Bot take the stage to share their corporate missions with an audience of Rakuten executives, venture capitalists and angel investors.
Nagendra Dhanakeerthi, CTO and co-founder of omni-channel retail tech startup Shoffr, said of Demo Day, “It was exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. But at the end of the day, the experience was a real asset for us! We managed to engage with the investor network and other members of the startup community, and I’m really excited to be part of that.”Meanwhile, Jiwon Jang, the CEO and co-founder of Additor, whose platform enables document collaboration for small businesses, shared, “It’s amazing. It’s not only the event, but also about having the chance to learn from the other founders and mentors. It’s about getting the chance to present my business to other people and have them understand the value of our solution as a tool for small businesses.”
The co-founder and CEO of property technology platform Elumium reiterated the same positive response as his fellow founders, saying, “I’m still processing all of this. It’s been fantastic. It has been a real challenge the last week, just focusing on preparing for the pitch and the demo. It’s probably been one of the most stressful weeks of my life! But now, having done it and gone through it, I wish I could do it again.”
“We were actually very hesitant before coming down to Singapore for the Rakuten Accelerator, because we weren’t sure how we would fit in as a games company, but somehow it’s really worked out for us,” said George Elhabr of gaming startup Groovy Antoid. “We basically pivoted our business plan based on the mentorship we got and have a great partnership with Rakuten going now.”
Dhritiman Hui, Managing Director of Rakuten Accelerator, commented, “We’ve got 10 great companies, and what I find most impressive about them is how much they got done in such a short period of time. That’s what sets great entrepreneurs apart.”
He added, “Our partnership with Rakuten couldn’t be better. You want to partner with an organization with global scale. Their leaders are all about innovation and getting things done, and they appreciate founders who embody those qualities.”
Considering the promising enterprises that this pioneering cohort of startups were able to generate in such a short period of time, the sky appears to be the limit for their growth.