Rakuten partners Techstars to launch its first accelerator program in Singapore

Thu Dec 14, 2017 - 2:00pm UTC
Rakuten partners Techstars to launch its first accelerator program in Singapore

Rakuten, Techstar

14/12/2017 – Japanese internet major Rakuten Inc. and global accelerator network TechStars have partnered to launch the Rakuten Accelerator in Singapore.

Powered by TechStars, the Rakuten Accelerator will be offering startup companies a three-month mentorship programme aimed at providing innovative startup companies and their new technologies the chance to shape the future of Messaging as a Platform.

The accelerator is looking for startup involved in the areas of artificial intelligence, chatbots, chat commerce, mobile wallet and cryptocurrencies, advertising technology, VR and AR solutions, voice recognition, image recognition, translation, chat-based IoT, and enterprise-integrated messaging.

Rakuten Accelerator will pick startups that focus on disrupting and revolutionizing how businesses and consumers to use messaging to conduct business and stay connected.

Participants in the program will gain access to the TechStars Network which consist more than 5000 founders, alumni, and mentors, alongside with a US$120,000 (about S$162,195) investment capital. They will also be entitled to more than 400 perks worth over US$1 million to develop their ideas.

Most importantly, participants in Rakuten Accelerator will also have access to resources from across Rakuten global ecosystem of more than 70 services including Rakuten Viber messaging and voice platform.

“We’re thrilled at the opportunity to share our business and technical expertise with the disruptive innovators of the future,” said Hiroshi Takasawa, the head of Rakuten’s investment arm Rakuten Capital who was newly appointed as the CEO at Rakuten Asia’s regional head office.

The head of Rakuten’s investment arm Rakuten Capital will be one of the key executives collaborating on the global team setting the direction of the Rakuten Accelerator program.

“Together with TechStars, an organization with a remarkable track record for developing startup talent, we are very optimistic that we can strengthen the Rakuten global ecosystem and advance the culture of open innovation,” he added.

TechStars was founded in Boulder, Colorado in 2006 by North American entrepreneurs David Cohen, Brad Feld, David Brown, and Jared Polis. The investment firm operates incubators and accelerators across US major cities, as well as outside US cities in London, Adelaide, Tel Aviv, Cape Town, Toronto, and Berlin.

TechStars Accelerator Programs has graduated almost 1,200 startups from all across the world, including Sphero, SendGrid, and ClassPass. On average, companies who pass through a TechStars Accelerator Program has go on to raise more than US$2 million in external funding.

“Partnering with global tech powerhouse Rakuten to bring a TechStars Accelerator Program to Singapore is a major milestone for us,” explained David Brown, the co-founder of TechStars. “This accelerator will be the first for TechStars in an Asian city and ranks Singapore alongside other worldwide startup hubs like Boulder, New York, London, and Berlin.”

Applications for Rakuten Accelerator powered by TechStars will open on January 8, 2018 and the program will kick-off in July in Singapore where selected finalists will join mentors to develop their businesses and technologies.

Meanwhile, the programme will conclude with a demo day in October where each startup will have the chance to showcase their businesses and meet industry leaders and investors from all around the world.

This news is published on Reuters.

Vivian Foo is a reporter who writes about Southeast Asia’s technology and startup space. The entry point which led her to write about the startup ecosystem was her fascination of the dot-com boom. She is taking a deep dive into how the entrepreneurial mindset works and hopes to share the insights, innovation, and stories of the startups with her readers.