Japan has been the birthplace of traditional arts and crafts since ancient times. Craftsmanship, meticulous attention to detail and the balance of design and functionality have helped create unique Japanese products such as pottery, traditional fabrics, washi (paper), woodwork, glasses, boxes. to bento and more.
This know-how continues to be passed down from generation to generation and to live on in modern Japan. However, artisans, who don’t always have the skills or tools to be influential merchants, have often been left behind in the rapidly changing business environment of the 21st century.
In recent years, an increasing number of e-commerce entrepreneurs have started to develop their own products and brands in response to changing consumer demand from cheap mass-produced products to diverse products that meet their needs. and their lifestyle.
Forest, a Japanese e-commerce aggregator, seeks to identify sustainable, high-quality products and brands that embrace the spirit of Japan and help them grow and enter the global market using the power of technology.
Forest today announced that it has raised approximately $ 8 million (900 million yen) in funding led by the University of Tokyo Edge Capital Partners (UTEC) and Nordstar Partners.
The startup will use the new capital to acquire more than 300 Japanese e-commerce brands carefully designed and curated by entrepreneurs. Forest will apply large-scale digital marketing strategies, optimize sales and improve inventory planning through data analysis, and support the expansion of cross-border e-commerce.
Forest is currently in the process of finalizing its first acquisition. It will continue to look for brands that generate sales between $ 1 million and $ 5 million and will aim to acquire companies with more than $ 10 million in sales next year, Forest CEO Shingo Yuhara told TechCrunch.
It also plans to raise around $ 20 million to $ 30 million in Series A debt and equity, targeting the first half of 2022, Yuhara said.
Forest examines markets including Amazon, Rakuten, Zozotown, Yahoo Japan sellers, Shopify and more.
Forest, founded in July by Yuhara and COO Masa Mishizawa, will compete with other e-commerce aggregators like Rainforest, Una Brands and Thrasio in the global market. Forest said it was the first pure aggregator dedicated to the Japanese market. Since Forest initially focuses on the Japanese market, it does not view Rainforest and Thrasio as its pure competition, Yuhara said.
Thrasio open a Japanese office in March to acquire Japanese brands and products sold on Amazon Japan and other e-commerce platforms.
Japan’s e-commerce market was estimated at $ 165 billion (19 trillion yen) in 2020, according to a report by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.
“[The] The investment in Forest is one of our biggest investments in the IT industry. In my previous life, I ran my family clothing business and personally experienced the challenges and limitations of a small business. I firmly believe that Forest can solve these problems and capitalize on the potential of these companies through the power of technology, ”said UTEC partner Hiroyuki Sakamoto. “We look forward to working with experienced founders looking to challenge this attractive market opportunity and feel privileged to participate as a co-lead investor. ”
“We are delighted to invest in Forest which is well positioned to take advantage of the great opportunity to acquire and develop niche brands in Japan,” said Managing Partner Ole Ruch of Nordstar.