The humble business card is a disruption target in Southeast Asia after Japanese contact management company Sansan raised JPY 3 billion ($ 26.5 million) to expand its business in the region.
Founded in 2007, Sansan helps bring business intelligence to companies through a system that helps create connections between users and internal employees and external contacts using, among other things, business cards.
“Our purpose is to use technology to enhance the usefulness and value of business cards,” Sansan co-founder and CEO Chikahiro Terada told TechCrunch in an interview. “They get used to business in most of the world, it’s Japan, Japan, but there is no easy way to digitize them.”
This new round will bring that focus to Southeast Asia, where Sansan already has an office in Singapore. The capital, which is a Series E round, was provided to Japan Post Capital, T. Rowe Price, SBI Investment and DCM Ventures, and it brings Sansan to around $ 100 million raised to date.
Sansan claims that 7,000 corporations use its core product, also called Sansan, which helps build and organize networks. Basically, users scan someone else’s business card which is then digitized, uploaded to the cloud, and part of their database. Sansan’s system allows interactions, such as meetings, calls, notes, and more, to be added to the entry to help track interactions. Resources are kept with companies, rather than employees themselves, which means that strategies for sales, marketing, and more can be kept organized and centralized.
Additionally, Sansan operates a LinkedIn. -such as the service called Eight, which is available for free and linked to the main product, allowing users to update their work, company, etc. without having to provide a new business card. Eight has about two million users today, according to Sansan.
However, unlike LinkedIn, which is commonly used to find work, Terada suggested that Ocho and Sansan help maintain networks and increase communication and engagement.
Terada, who previously worked for Oracle in Thailand, said she sees a lot of potential for services in Southeast Asia, where the region’s digital economy is expected to triple by 2025, albeit with a greater focus on SMEs than SMEs. Japan-style mega corporations.
Already, Sansan has captured around 100 clients in the region, mainly by targeting Japanese corporations in Singapore, while Eight has reached 100,000 registered users in Southeast Asia since its soft launch in October 2017.
“We want to expand around the world and Singapore is our first step,” Terada said, indicating that there are future plans to look at business in India, Europe and potentially the United States later on. Elsewhere, the company is hiring data scientists as it aims to bring additional intelligence to its services.
The proposal is interesting; Personally, I have multiple stacks of idle business cards, but it remains to be seen how open businesses in Southeast Asia will be paying for the service, even with clear benefits. Saas as a model is still establishing its roots among SMEs, while popular options already exist. LinkedIn is, of course, the de facto professional social network while Facebook, What has increased its efforts in that space lately is also a popular choice.