I was lucky to have been recently introduced to the folks at Creww.me here in Tokyo . The Japan-based company has some big goals, aiming to collect a database of startups in Japan and around the Asia region – something that is certainly much needed. I had a chance to speak with Sorato Ijichi, its CEO and founder; as well as Kozue Ishii, who is Creww’s public relations representative. Kozue elaborated little bit more about what they have been doing so far, as well as plans that they have for helping out local startups around the region.What is Creww?
Creww is an online community for entrepreneurs. We define entrepreneurs as people who are passionate about challenges and who are not afraid of taking risks to these challenges. They are people who pursue their goals, look for changes, and have adventurous minds. Creww currently lists over 2,500 entrepreneurs, investors, developers, and designers as registered members.
One of our primary features is our startup database. This database works as a startups’ corporate site, in a way. It has all the information that startups need to publish to their fans such as recruitment, press archives, and activities. This database interface is called “Aims.” Aims was created to enhance engagement between a startup company and fans.
By setting goals and showing their current status, startups can express to their fans what they need to reach those goals. We want to create a community where highly motivated people can inspire each other with their innovations.When was Creww founded? And why?
The Creww project was started in 2011 summer by Sorato Ijichi, the founder and CEO of creww.me. Its website was opened on July 9th of this year as a beta version. The idea was to create a place where we could show the many innovations in our society.What inspired you to create Creww?
Sorato Ijichi founded a web consulting company in Los Angeles when he was 21 years old during his time at California State University. Since then he established branches in Tokyo, Japan and Cebu, Philippines. In 2011 he came back to Japan for a family event and spent sometime with entrepreneurs based in Tokyo. Hearing their stories he realized that the startup environment in Japan could improve in many ways as well as entire Asian regions.Can you tell us a little about your team?
- Sorato Ijichi (founder & CEO) – Serial entrepreneur, founder of Creww, SKYAVY, and Olio. His last startup project was successfully acquired by a U.S. company in 2010.
- Kazuma Ieiri (co-founder) – Serial entrepreneur, he was the founder and CEO of Paperboy & co. (which IPOd on the Tokyo stock market), president of Hyper Internets.
- Kozo Hiramatsu (advisor) – President and CEO at Kozocom Inc., former CEO of Livedoor Co., Ltd., former president and CEO of AOL Japan.
- Yukihiro Akimoto (advisor) – Former board member of KFC Japan LTD., former CEO of Nike Japan, former president of Guerlain
- Shinya Nakajima (advisor) – Worked as buyer at Takashimaya department store for 10 years, former VP of Starbucks Coffee Japan.
- Keiichi Toyoda (advisor ) – Executive director at Spice up Japan, former board member of Last Resort.,Ltd.
There are about 2500 users and 200 projects, mostly based in Japan. We are planning to expand our service around Asia starting from this month.Why should a startup or entrepreneur join Creww? What are the benefits?
The biggest benefit of joining Creww is that startups and entrepreneurs can be connected to an innovative community. In this community startups and its members can enhance lateral communication. For example, startups can brush up their projects by getting feedback from the other members.What is Creww’s revenue model?
There’s the ‘cloud back office’ where creww can help with business transactions for startups. There are a number of legal documents once startups establish themselves as companies. They register required information ahead of time, and they can download in an official format when they need.
There are also social surveys. People in the Creww community are inquisitive and have a high literacy of trends. If one service were to publish their project, Creww members can give them advice and feedback which can be used to improve the project. Comments from Creww members are going to be the most reliable source during a process of innovative service making.Who are you competitors and what makes you different?
There’s Angel List, but the main difference between Creww and Angel List is its focus stages. Angel List seeks investors for start ups whereas Creww emphasizes a strong bond among startups and entrepreneurs. Creww has several features for matching people, and the ‘recommend’ feature can send you people who have similar interests. By using ‘meetup’ features people can request offline meetings with people in Creww. Another difference is its regional focus, as Angel List is provided in English only and its main target is American and European startups. Creww has its website in English, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean. Our main target courtries are Japan, Singapore, Indonesia, China, and other east Asian nations. At this point we are the only startup community in the east Asian market.Do you have any future plans you can share with us?
We are planning to expand Creww to all over south east Asia. Starting from a partnership with TechinAsia  and other startup media in this region, we are ready to invite Creww registered members and projects.
Big thanks to perennial friend-of-the-blog, Serkan Toto, for guiding me towards some quality people once again. ↩
Editor’s note: Given that Creww’s goal of spotlighting Asian startups is one of TechInAsia’s primary goals as well, we’re going to try to work together when possible to help each other, and the ecosystem as a whole. ↩