East Ventures invest US$886K in Japan’s Nulab seed investment

Mon Oct 2, 2017 - 8:50am UTC

Early stage venture firm East Ventures, which has its roots in Indonesia, has made a US$886K investment in Japanese firm Nulab, according to an announcement from Nulab’s Founder and CEO Masanori Hashimoto on the Tech in Asia Tokyo 2017’s stage today.

“We have successfully raised fund – not on a grand scale like a lot of companies do – but it’s big news for us because we haven’t raised funds externally until now,” Hashimoto said.

Previously, Nulab was bootstrapped for 13 years before raising this seed investment round. The company founded in 2004 has experienced rapid growth characteristic of early-stage businesses with a 140 percent boost in year-on-year sales over its first 12 months.

Nulab is a startup focusing on SaaS (Software as a Service) business. It offers three online collaboration tools which include project management platform Backlog, collaborative diagram creator Cacco, and a team chat interface known as Typetalk.

Using the Nulab platform, users can access all three cloud services with a single user account.

The company claims to have a user base comprising of 780,000 people across 50,000 companies in Japan using the Backlog project management and collaboration tool while 2.8 million people – 86.2 percent of whom are outside Japan – make use of Cacco which is offered in 22 different languages.

Using the investment proceeds, Nulab will expand its business operations by first launching an office in Amsterdam, and later expanding its business presence in Europe and North America.

“People in the Netherlands speak good English, perhaps better compared to the other countries in Europe,” Hashimoto said, explaining the decision to locate in the Dutch capital. “In other cities such as Berlin, I also think the cost of living will get higher than in Netherlands.”

Nulab is currently headquartered in Fukuoka and it currently maintains a workforce of 80 staffs operating out of Tokyo, New York City, Taiwan, and Singapore.

Correspondingly, part of the funding will also go to making additional hires at its offices in Japan, Singapore, and the United States.

“Costs are very different from country to country,” Hashimoto notes. “You can hire several people in Japan for the cost of hiring one person in the United States. So you need a lot of money if you are going to expand globally. Moreover, to create one global team, you need to bring in good management to make that work.”

Although Nulab has just closed its first external fundraising, the company is already considering if it should raise more capital through an IPO. The public listing will also help build the firm’s brand profile, and enable the firm to focus on product and business development.

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