Smart Education are a Tokyo-based developer of child-friendly apps who are on their way to success after raising 550 million yen ($5.4 million) from CyberAgent's Fujita Fund and Infinity Venture Partners. This cash injection comes after they had already secured 75.3 million yen ($750,000) from Shinsei Corporate Investment in May of 2013.
CEO of Smart Education, Diago Ikeya explains how the most recent partnership will be valuable: "When looking at our users, we found characteristics very close to those of Ameba users (CyberAgent's blog platform). So we thought that partnering with CyberAgent could create a synergistic relationship in the future. But more importantly, this partnership lets us benefit from the advice of CyberAgent."
With the Gocco series of apps seeing a global expansion, Smart Education apps are showing good numbers of acquisition overseas. Surpassing 6.4 million total downloads, the company hope to reach 10 million downloads by the end of the year, with an eventual domestic/international ratio of 50/50.
"It has been said that our apps are designed to suit Japanese preferences, and have not been accepted in the overseas markets. But our Gocco brand targets the global audience and has been seeing good results. If we can keep going at this pace, we may catch up with other developers in this space, such as Sweden's Toca Boca. Their apps are currently making money through in-app purchases, but they plan to shift it to a monthly, subscription based system, as they do with their apps targeting the Japanese domestic market, which may contribute to more rapid growth in downloads as well as revenue," explains Ikeya.
The company are doing more than simply developing apps, they are making efforts to educate the parents on appropriate usage of apps for infants, based on discussions with experts in the educational sector. Recently, Smart Education announced one of their apps will be adopted by 250 nurseries in Japan; their intention is to get infants using the apps as they would an illustrated book.
"By sorting out a curriculum focussed on digital creation, and giving children opportunities to learn through picture-drawing apps, we expect to help kids create something by taking advantage of IT skills," Ikeya adds: "We expect kids to experience this concept in their childhood, and we would like to help them grow as cosmopolitan-minded people through our business."
Smart Education have plans to launch a full-scale service in 2015, after spending this year creating manuals for their curriculum.