In today’s EdTech Startups Japan Edition we take a look at three startups that are based in Japan, two of which founded by immigrant entrepreneurs from the US.
Translation platform Gengo surpassed 200 million translated words, Eigooo wants to teach English via text chat to shy students and Mana.bo wants to disrupt the $10 billion Japanese cram school industry.
Gengo surpasses 200 million translated words
Founded in 2008 by Robert Laing and Matthew Romaine, Tokyo-based translation service provider Gengo surpassed the milestone of 200 million translated words. Gengo has a network of over 10.000 translators across the globe who now translate about four words per second.
According to an interview with Tech in Asia, Gengo plans to reveal even more service related data in the future to add more transparency to the translation market and to show the effectiveness of Gengo’s platform.
The translation market is getting quite competitive with companies like Smartling which recently raised a $25 million Series D, Duolingo which builds its business model on crowdsourced translations through language learning, or Microsoft and Google who heavily invest in new, automated translation technologies.
- Gengo cracks 200 million mark for words translated | Tech in Asia
- Smartling Raises $25M to Help Companies Translate Anything Digital | WSJ
Eigooo wants to help shy Japanese students to learn English
Eigooo, another Tokyo-based startup, aims to help Japanese English learners who feel too shy to practice the language with strangers through a text chat app. Founded by English teacher Peter Rothenberg, Eigooo lets students and teachers communicate via text chat. Teachers can correct spelling and grammar directly in the app.
According to Tech in Asia, the service signed up over 10.000 users since launching in February and has currently 1.500 active monthly users. Other than the last startup in this list, Eigooo does not want to compete with classic language schools but rather sees itself as a supplement to other ways of learning English.
- This English conversation app says no to video and focuses entirely on text chat | Tech in Asia
Mana.bo wants to disrupt Japanese Cram Schools
Mana.bo aims to disrupt the established Japanese cram school market, a $10 billion USD industry, by moving the lessons on the Internet. Sounds familiar? US-based InstaEDU followed the same approach and just got acquired by Chegg for $30 million. Of course, Mana.bo’s founder and CEO Katsuhito Mihashi took notice of the deal.
— katsuhito MIHASHI (@katsuhito384) June 3, 2014
Like almost any edtech startup that aims to disrupt an established industry, Mana.bo is focused on convenience and price. According to Tech in Asia, monthly fees in brick and mortar cram schools are between $500 and $1000 USD, Mana.bo charges between $100 to $200 per month.
Like many services in Asia, Mana.bo has a heavy mobile component. Students can take a picture of a math problem with their smartphone and send it to a tutor. Sessions take place in a virtual classroom environment with shared whiteboard.
The startup partnered with Japanese textbook publisher Benesse and is currently exclusively available to Benesse’s clients.
- Mana.bo wants to shake up the $10 billion Japanese cram school industry with online tutoring | Tech in Asia
- The Emergence of the Japanese Juku Industry | openpop.org
Picture “Postcard Tokyo” by Les Taylor, Some Rights Reserved