Japan has a rich tradition of traditional arts and crafts. Japanese products like pottery, traditional fabrics, washi (paper), woodwork, glasses, bento-boxes and more have been created due to the combination of craftmanship, careful attention to detail and balance of design.
This craftsmanship has been passed on from generation to generation in Japan. In the 21st century, the craftsmen and women who do not have the skills or tools to be influential merchants have been left behind.
In recent years, a growing number of e-commerce entrepreneurs have started to develop their own products and brands in response to a shift in consumer demand from cheap, mass-produced goods to diversified products that meet one's unique needs and lifestyle.
Forest, a Japanese e-commerce aggregation, seeks to identify sustainable, high-quality products and brands that embrace the spirit of Japan and help them grow and enter the global market by using the power of technology.
The University of Tokyo Edge Capital Partners (UTEC) and Nordstar Partners led the seed round for Forest.
The startup will use the new capital to acquire more than 300 Japanese e-commerce brands. Forest will apply digital marketing strategies at scale, improve sales, and support cross-border e-commerce expansion.
Forest is in the process of making its first acquisition. The company will continue to look for brands that generate sales between $1 million and $5 million and will try to acquire companies with more than $10 million of sales next year, according to the CEO of Forest Shingo Yuhara.
The first half of the next decade is when it plans to raise up to $30 million in debt and equity.
Amazon, Zozotown, Yahoo Japan sellers, and more are looked at by Forest.
Rainforest gets $36 million to consolidate Asia-Pacific Amazon Marketplace brands.
Forest, founded in July by Yuhara and COO Masa Mishizawa, will compete with other e-commerce aggregations in the global market. Forest said it is the first pure aggregation dedicated to the Japanese market. Yuhara said that Forest doesn't see Rainforest and Thrasio as its pure competitors because it initially focuses on the Japanese market.
The Japanese office was set up in March to acquire Japanese brands and products.
According to a report by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the Japanese e-commerce market was estimated to be over 19 trillion Japanese renminbi in 2020.
One of the largest seed round investments within the IT sector is into Forest. In my previous life, I was a small business owner and experienced the pains and limitations of a small business. The partner of UTEC said that he believes that Forest can solve these problems and take advantage of the potential of these businesses through the power of technology. We feel privileged to be co-lead investor in this attractive market opportunity and we look forward to working with the experienced Founders who seek to challenge it.
Ole Ruch said that they were excited to be investing in Forest that was well-positioned to take advantage of the large opportunity in acquiring and scaling niche brands in Japan.
The Amazon Aggregator raised $1B in fresh funding at a valuation of up to $10 billion.
The brands will be rolled up on multiple Asia-Pacific e-commerce platforms.
Rainforest raised $20 million just months after its last funding.