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Japan’s Sansan raises $26.5M to help Southeast Asia get more from business cards

The humble business card is a target for disruption in Southeast Asia after Japanese contacts management startup Sansan raised JPY 3 billion ($26.5 million) to expand its business into the region.
Founded way back in 2007, Sansan helps bring business intelligence to companies through a system that helps build connections between users and both internal employees and external contacts using, among other things, business cards.
“Our purpose is to use tech to enhance the utility and value of business cards,” Sansan co-founder and CEO Chikahiro Terada told TechCrunch in an interview. “They are customary for business in most parts of the world, esJapanlly japan, but there’s 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 Japan Post Capital, T. Rowe Price, SBI Investment and DCM Ventures, and it takes 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. At its core, users scan another person’s business card which is then digitized, uploaded to the cloud and made part of their database. The Sansan system then allows interactions, such as meetings, calls, notes and more to be added to the entry to help track interactions. The resources are held within companies, rather than employees themselves, which means strategies around sales, marketing and more can be kept organized and centralized.
In addition, Sansan operates a LinkedIn -like service called Eight which is available for free and is linked to the core product, allowing users to update their job, company, etc without having to provide a new business card. Eight has some two million users today, according to Sansan.
Unlike LinkedIn, however, which is commonly used for finding jobs, Terada suggested that Eight and Sansan help maintain networks and increase communication and engagement.
Japan’s Sansan raises $26.5M to help Southeast Asia get more from business cards
Sansan CEO Chikahiro Terada started the business in 2006 alongside fellow co-founders Kei Tomioka, Joraku Satoru, Kenji Shiomi and Motohisa Tsunokawa
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