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Top Angel Investors in Japan

Traditionally, the Japanese business landscape has been defined by large corporations with conservative methodologies and investment strategies. In the past few years, however, the country has begun to experience a sea change.

Angel investors play a critical role in expanding the pipeline of investible businesses by providing early-stage ventures with essential resources including capital to bridge the funding gap and by sharing their expertise and networks to unlock business opportunities that facilitate growth.

Japan has long desired additional investment in start-ups and made some initial progress back in the early 2000s. Things like minimum company incorporation capital and stock options have been changed for the better, but access to capital has been historically minimal to non-existent. There are a number of reasons for that, but in an attempt to provide for additional investment in start-up companies, the Angel Zeisei (literally the angel tax system) was created.

There are two types of Angel Zeisei eligible companies, the first (A) focused on start-ups less than five years old, with the second (B) focused on companies less than 10 years old. As an investor, the tax benefit in a Type A start-up is the ability to offset up to 40% of your gross taxable income, up to 10M yen. This 10M yen maximum is being reduced 20% to 8M yen from January 2021.

We have compiled a list of active angel investors who are spearheading Japan’s tech renaissance. They are venture capitalists, hedge fund managers, and entrepreneurs who scour Japan for startups from Tokyo to Osaka. If there is sufficient interest, the angels may offer mentorship, referrals, or further collaboration.

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1. Hiro Maeda:

Hiro Maeda is a Managing Partner at BEENEXT’s ALL STAR SAAS FUND. The fund is focused on investing in SaaS companies in Japan. Hiro Maeda has been an early stage investor in over 100 companies, including Instacart, Everlane and SmartHR. Before joining BEENEXT, he was the Managing Partner at BEENOS Inc. Hiro was selected as one of the 2016 Forbes Asia 30 under 30 in the finance and venture capital category. 

Sector: Clean Technology, Consumer Internet, Enterprise Software, Mobile.

Portfolio: Airhelp, Fond, Instacart, Virool, Simbi.

Connect With Him: LinkedInAngelList 


2. Kazuya Minami:

Kazuya Minami is the Managing Partner at Mitsubishi Estate Co. He is an overseas business development, investment and marketing professional. In 2013, he Kazuya Minami established a boutique style global IT business consulting company known as Trialnavi Inc. based in Tokyo, Japan. He has invested in Udemy, Path, Kiip, Technorati and supported their early stage business development in the Japanese Market.

Sector: Big Data, Enterprise Software, Consumer Internet, E-Commerce, Mobile.

Portfolio: Fon, Open Garden, Kiip, Sassor, SearchMan.

Connect With Him: LinkedInAngelList 



3. George Kellerman:

George Kellerman is the Managing Director at Woven Capital, Japan. He is an avid learner who thrives in situation that demand curiosity and deep analytical thinking. George Kellerman is also the Head of Investments and acquisitions at Woven Plant Holdings, based in Japan. Before joining Woven Capital, he was the Director at Roam Robotics.

Sector: Education, E-Commerce, Consumer Internet, Internet of Things.

Portfolio: Aquicore, Mojio, UBiome, Coursebase, Floqq.

Connect With Him: LinkedInAngelList 


4. Yusuke Asakura:

Yusuke Asakura is an entrepreneur, a businessman, a venture investor and the co-founder of Signifiant Inc. At Signifiant, Yusuke manages a 20 billion growth fund aimed at growth-stage startups. He is an active investor and a founding partner at Tokyo Founders Fund, which invests in pre-seed and seed stage startup companies globally. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Law from from University of Tokyo.

Sector: Consumer Internet, Healthcare, Mobile, Enterprise Software.

Portfolio: ModuleQ, Suchflex, PaperSpace, FiNC.

Connect With Him: LinkedInAngelList 


5. Takahiro Shoji:

Takahiro Shoji is the Founding Partner at Hike Ventures, a venture capital firm focused on early-stage startups in vertical AI space. Prior to forming Hike, he was the Managing Director at Digital Garage’s investment vehicle DG Incubation. He was also in charge of all of DG’s seed to mid-stage investments in the US, India and Asia.

Sector: SaaS, AI, Internet of Things, Consumer Internet, Digital Media.

Portfolio: Glide, Betaworks, Fond, Droom, Fleksy.

Connect With Him: LinkedIn 


6. Hidetoshi Takano:

Hidetoshi Takano is the Founder and CEO at KeyPlayers, a most established recruiting firm along with startup community in Japan. He also worked as a Manager at Intelligence in 1999. Hidetoshi Takano is an active angel investor and mentor, he has invested in more than 20 startups. 

Sector: Fin-tech, Consumer Internet, AI, Enterprise Software.

Portfolio: PlayLife, HUPRO, Techouse, Relience data.

Connect With Him: LinkedIn 


7. Akinori Koto:

Akinori Koto is a Partner at World Innovation Lab (WiL), a firm that invests in startups with global appeal and disruptive potential.  Akinori Koto’s particular interest is in marketplace, virtual reality, mobile, Internet of Things. Before joining World Innovation Lab, he was the Investment Director at DG Incubation Inc.

Sector: Internet of Things, Social Media, Mobile Payments, Wearable Technologies.

Portfolio: AppGrooves, Cruizin, Kiip, Womply.

Connect With Him: LinkedInAngelList 


8. Mark Bivens:

Mark Bivens is the Managing Partner at Shizen Capital, a venture capital firm based in Japan. Prior to becoming an investor, Mark founded 3 tech companies. He holds a degree in electrical engineering from Northwestern University and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management. Mark has invested in many startups.

Sector: Artificial Intelligence, Mobile, Enterprise Software, Consumer Internet.

Portfolio: Makazi, LeadMedia, Boostermedia, Cool Games.

Connect With Him: LinkedIn 


9. Sho Nakagawa:

Sho Nakagawa is the Senior Associate at GMO Venture Partners, Inc. He is also a Founder at Cascord. He has diverse background in working with Asian companies and also conducted several strategic investments from GMO Global Payment Fund. Sho Nakagawa earned his B.A from the University of Tokyo. Prior to joining GMO, he worked as a Associate at Rebright Partners.

Sector: Clean Technology, Consumer Internet, Mobile, Healthcare.

Portfolio: Adskom, BOKU, CodaPay, Drip, Castle.

Connect With Him: LinkedIn 


10. David Smith:

David Smith is currently a Partner at AT Partners Inc, a Tokyo based venture capital fund that invests in overseas funds and businesses on behalf of its partners. David is also the Founder and CEO at Proteus Ventures. David has managed to help small startups grow into large scale businesses with substantial growth and profit.

Sector: Hardware, Software, Mobile, Productivity Software, Consumer Internet.

Portfolio: Betaworks, Peatix, Shift Payments, Open Garden.

Connect With Him: LinkedIn 


11. Kazuma leiri:

Kazuma leiri is the Co-Founder and CEO at CAMPFIRE Inc. He also founded Paperboy&co. Inc. and went on to become the youngest CEO ever to take a company public in Japan on the Japanese Stock Exchange. After leaving Paperboy&co, he continued his startup trial by founding BASE, CAMPFIRE and XIMERA. Kazuma leiri actively invests in the tech startups.

Sector: Fin-tech, Co-working Spaces, Consumer Internet, Enterprise Software.

Portfolio: Payme, BrainCat, Taliki, One Nova.

Connect With Him: LinkedIn 


12. James Riney:

James Riney is the Head of 500 Startups Japan. With about $140 million under management, he’s been a seed investor in over 60 companies. James Riney is also the Founding Partner and CEO at Coral Capital. He was listed on the Forbes Asia 30 Under 30 list for Finance and Venture Capital in 2016. James Riney has been an active angel investor.

Sector: Consumer Internet, Enterprise Software, Mobile, Healthcare, Internet of Things.

Portfolio:, Zuli, Penrose Studios, PicnicHealth.

Connect With Him: LinkedIn 



13. Tomoya Sasaki:

Tomoya Sasaki serves as the President at Open Network Lab, Inc. He is also a Director at DG Incubation, a firm that provides partnerships for entrepreneurs building innovative Internet-related services and technologies as well as facilitate synergy between startup companies and DG group companies.

Sector: Clean Technology, Consumer Internet, Healthcare, Mobile.

Portfolio: BuildZoom, Kiip, Udemy, ShareVillage.

Connect With Him: LinkedIn 


14. Dave Powell:

Dave Powell is the Senior Director, GTM Programs and Sales Excellence, Asia Pacific and Japan at ServiceNow. Prior to joining ServiceNow, he was a Director, Online Partner Development, Japan and Asia Pacific at Google. Dave Powell has more than 20 years of experience running teams across Asia Pacific and Japan.

Sector: CRM, SaaS, Social Media, Consumer Internet.

Portfolio: Grove, Starcity, Acorns, AptDeco, Hudson MX.

Connect With Him: LinkedIn 


15. Shinji Asada:

Shinji Asada is the Co-Founder and CEO, General Partner at One Capital an early stage $150 million enterprise software focused venture capital firm launched in May 2020. Previously Shinji was the Japan Head of Salesforce Ventures. He has more than 20 years of extensive business development and investment experience in high tech industries in Japan. 

Sector: E-Commerce, SaaS, Enterprise Software, Robotics, Digital Media.

Portfolio: Sansan, WHILL, Uzabase, Goodpatch.

Connect With Him: LinkedIn 


16. Katsuyuki (Kevin) Hasegawa:

Katsuyuki Hasegawa is a General Partner at Dentsu Ventures, a firm that provides the expert support that entrepreneurs need to bring their innovations to the world. He is also the Founder and Managing Partner at PrimePartners Inc. Katsuyuki Hasegawa actively invests in the US and Asian IT startups. He earned his MBA from University of Southern California.

Sector: AI, Consumer Internet, Heathcare, Robotics, Enterprise Software.

Portfolio: Narvar, Overtime, Agolo, Sensai.

Connect With Him: LinkedIn 


17. Ryota Matsuzaki:

Ryota Matsuzaki is the Founder and CEO at Kibidango, a leading Japanese crowdfunding platform. He has been closely working with many startups around the world who are interested in launching their products in the Japanese Market. Ryota has successfully launched more than 200 brands in Japan. He earned his MBA from Cornell Johnson Graduate School of Management.

Sector: Social Commerce, Mobile, Consumer Internet, Healthcare and Wellness.

Portfolio: Beautylish, DemandSphere, Skimlinks, Tokyo Otaku Mode.

Connect With Him: LinkedInAngelList 


18. Batara Eto:

Batara Eto is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner at East Ventures, an early and growth stage venture capital fund focusing on Southeast Asia and Japan. Previously Batara Eto Co-Founded Mixi and brought the company public in Japan. Batara holds bachelor degree in Computer Science from Takushoku University Japan.

Sector: Clean Technology, Healthcare, Fin-tech, Consumer Internet, Mobile, Big Data.

Portfolio: Gradberry, SCOOP, Waygo, Paperspace.

Connect With Him: LinkedInAngelList  


19. Gen Miyazawa:

Gen Miyazawa is a young Japanese entrepreneur with deep roots in the mobile industry. He is currently the CFO of the marketing solution company in Yahoo! Japan. Gen is also an active and accredited seed-stage angel investor based in Japan. He served as the CEO of Cirius Technologies. Gen Miyazawa is  a serial entrepreneur and investor.

Sector: Clean Technology, Consumer Internet, Cloud Computing, Big Data.

Portfolio: A2V, AppGroves, Lindoc, SearchMan, PiaScore.

Connect With Him: TwitterAngelList 


20. Nobutake Suzuki:

Nobutake Suzuki is the President and CEO at MUFG Innovation Partners Co, Ltd. He has 18 years of investment experience in all aspects of financing, IT and Business strategy. Nobutake Suzuki mainly invests in startups in Asian and US regions. He actively supports entrepreneurs and also helps them to grow their business. Nobutake Suzuki is an active angel investor and mentor.

Sector: Consumer Internet, Enterprise Software, Mobile, Education, E-Commerce.

Portfolio: Carsome, Investree, Grab, Eyeota, Awair.

Connect With Him: LinkedInAngelList

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