Meet Startup @TW

KKday Secures $10M from Government-Sponsored Cool Japan Fund


Today (Aug. 30), Taipei-based travel activities startup KKday announced that it will receive $10M strategic investment from Cool Japan Fund to accelerate its expansion in Japan.

Founded in 2013, Cool Japan Fund is a public-private fund at the center of Japan's initiative to promote cultural exports. The sponsors include the local government and well-known Japanese enterprises like Dentsu, ANA Holdings, Bandai Namco Holdings, Fuji Media Holdings, Takashimaya Company, The Keiyo Bank, and so on.

Following the funds from Japanese travel agency H.I.S. and LINE Ventures, KKday CEO Ming Chen said, this investment will boost the company's overall growth and its further development in Japan.

KKday sees a growing demand for activities in Japan

The recent three years have witnessed a fivefold increase in Taiwanese tourists visiting Japan. Chen also told Business Next that the number of tourists entering Japan for KKday's services in the first half of 2019 has outgrown that for the entire 2018.

In light of the large number of repeat travelers, KKday has noticed the need to provide more locally run activities that enable travelers to enjoy authentic Japanese culture, too.

With the support from the Japanese government and investors, the company expects to be given the access to more resources to develop in-depth travel experiences that wouldn't be available without this new partnership. The tours can thus include cultural activities that are difficult to book in advance or not offered to foreign tourists at all.

Cooperating with local partners, including big companies, will enable the company to earn the trust in B2B and B2C relationships, which is highly crucial in Japan, Chen said. He proposes to cooperate with a total of 10,000 activity providers in three years.

Cool Japan Fund regards KKday as an important investment partner in inbound tourism for its excellent capabilities in activity planning and execution, CEO Naoki Kitagawa said.

For the upcoming Olympics in Tokyo, it's working towards the government's goal to attract 40M tourists and add ¥8T (approximately $75B) tourist spending to its annual income.

By financing businesses across four main areas (media & content, food & services, fashion & lifestyle and inbound tourism), the fund aims to expand Japan's impact on the global market.

It seems that Japan has opened doors to KKday, but there are still challenges lying ahead, including the possibility to own the exclusive rights to sell the products developed with the help from new partners.

Reference: 1/2

Bryan Chou

Bryan Chou is a Taiwan-based and born journalist who writes about innovation and entrepreneurship for Business Next and Meet. Over the past five years, he has written for a student press, translated numerous magazine pieces, and worked as an intern in two startups. He believes what shapes him into who he is today is not only these experiences but the people he has interacted with and the stories he has learned from them.

He has a BA in Foreign languages and literatures from NTU. After graduation, he spent a year in Prague, traveling extensively around Europe to learn about the history and culture of the region from local people. Currently based in Taipei, he hopes to present the best of Taiwan to the world.