Tell us about 5Rocks.
5Rocks provides robust BI tools for the mobile game and application developers. BI (Business Intelligence) tools are types of application software designed to retrieve, analyze and report data for business intelligence. 5Rocks started offering BI tools in Korea as closed beta in June 2013 followed by 5 other companies from Japan in September of 2013. That is when Global Brain invested in us from their two corporate venture funds – KDDI Open Innovation Fund (KOIF) and Nifty’s WING in the amount of $2.3 million.
In April 2014, we have officially launched the service in Korea and in Japan with 80 developers and 200 applications. In Japan, we formed a capital and business alliance with Adways and had our services integrated in Adway’s PartyTrack, a mobile tracking and analytics tool. We have experienced a rapid growth in the next two months and acquired more than 700 companies as our client.
In August 2014, we were acquired by Tapjoy, a leading mobile advertising company in the US. Our team has joined the Tapjoy organization, and I have assumed the role of vice president of publisher analytics and insights. I am very excited for the opportunity to expand our services in a global scale.
Tell us about how you met Global Brain, and what was your impression?
It was May 2013 at the beLAUNCH 2013 event held in Seoul when I met Mr. Yurimoto, the president of Global Brain. I was one of the speakers at the event and I happened to be seated right next to him at the greenroom.
We were in the middle of launching a closed beta service at 5Rocks, and we needed capital to go global. I thought this was a perfect opportunity and gave him an elevator pitch in Japanese, which I have learned as a student. Fortunately Mr. Yurimoto showed a strong interest in our business, and we had a follow up meeting that eventually led to an investment. They say that you always have to be prepared to give an elevator pitch as an entrepreneur, but I hadn’t imagined that I would actually have an opportunity. I was glad that Mr. Yurimoto was kind enough to listened to me.
GB introduced us to Japan’s major game developers even before the investment.
What made you to choose GB as your investor?
It was hectic during the fundraising period – I would visit Korean investors, hop on an early flight to Japan to meet game publishers, and meet Japanese investors in between the meetings. We also actively attended conferences overseas. I have made hundreds of pitches to mobile game developers, collected feedback and brushed up my presentation. I think that effort paid off and fortunately I had a lot of investment offers from all over the world.
I was particularly impressed with Global Brain’s quick action and deep involvement. They not only evaluated our business plans, but they would take our pitch deck and visit potential clients in Japan. They collected valuable feedback from them and introduced us to one of major game publishers who already was close to signing – everything even before investment. That was the moment that I realized that I didn’t have to look elsewhere.
Tell us about your experience in GB’s investment decision process and support afterwards.
The decision process was speedy – it took about a month. We are very grateful that their hands-on support and introduction to Japan’s major corporations allowed us to grow our business.
Global Brain helped us establishing a subsidiary in Japan, hiring Japan’s country manager and CTO, and other back office management tasks such as accounting and HR. Their hands-on support allowed us to focus on driving the business and acquiring developers. They also led us in the merger negotiation and capital strategies all the way.
KDDI has been a tremendous help as well. They have committed to acquire 100 customers in one year and assigned human resources to help achieving the goal. Their advice as a large corporation also helped us in our business strategies, and we owe them a lot in our growth in 2014.
It’s been only one year since we met Global Brain, and now we are well positioned to compete in a global scale. We are grateful for the people helped us getting to where we are today.
What is next for 5Rocks?
The merger with Tapjoy is only a check point for us. The service that we have devoted ourselves for years is being used in Korea, in Japan, and now we are ready to scale globally by joining Tapjoy. With direct contacts to game developers all over the world that we have gained from Tapjoy, we can now understand what their problems and the needs are. By providing solutions to each one of those problems that developers are facing, we aim to become the de-facto standard in this space, and eventually an IPO in the US.