6 Japanese startups worth keeping an eye on

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Given that Japan has some of the biggest tech companies on the planet, it’s easy to overlook its startup scene. It’s also probably fair to say that the country’s emerging tech companies also don’t get nearly as much press those from Silicon Valley, or even China and Russia.

Thing is, once you take a step back from the massive corporates, there are some very exciting things happening in Japan. At a recent tech event I had the privilege of finding out about a handful of them.

1. Beatrobo

CEO/Founder: Hiroshi Asaeda

A music community service which enables users to share their favorite music with their friends. Users can create their own avatars and start listening to their friends’ favourite music easily.

Hiroshi Asaeda is a convincing CEO, his English was excellent but he doesn’t seem to clear on his business idea, and what is original about sharing music. Beatrobo is aimed at US markets and is unavailable in Japan but the development team is in Japan.

2. Coworkify

Founder: Kenshin Fujiwara

A Peer-to-peer job marketplace for co-working spaces. It is a platform to sell and buy small tasks directly from each other and to reserve space and accepts payment from people using credit cards or PayPal. Coworkify won first place at Startup Weekend Kyoto 2011.

A business that helps you find co-working spaces that you can rent by the day when you are in a foreign city. I think most people can find a cafe with Wi-Fi with few problems.

3. foodstoQ

Co-Founder/CEO: Kenta Kurahashi

An online service that assists users in finding a good restaurant based on friends’ recommendations. Users can collect trustworthy information by asking questions and receiving answers from their friends.

Hardly an original idea. A representative of the company once joked that people could ask a fat friend where to find food. In countries suffering from an epidemic of obesity, there’s probably a lot of good advice to be had.

4. piaScore

CEO/Founder: Hiroyuki Koike

An iPhone App that allows users to download and carry sheet music on mobile devices such as iPhone and iPad. piaScore earned a Distinguished Honoree medal in Consumer Entertainment/Information in the 2011 International Business Awards.

The key feature of the app is that you can turn the “page” of sheet music on an iPad simply by “swiping” with a movement of your head.

5. Sleipnir

CEO: Kazushi Makino

A free web browser compatible with Windows, Mac, iPhone/iPad, Android and Windows phone. Another feature, “Fenrir Pass,” is a free cloud service that allows users to access their own bookmarks from different devices.

The idea definitely has potential, but it could use a little something extra to make it truly special.

6. Monaca

Monaca is an aggregation of cloud services for developing mobile apps. It provides user-friendly platform to develop mobile apps.

The best business idea of the lot. A development platform for easy creation of native mobile apps.

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