NEXTBLUE, a Tokyo-based VC fund that invests in Japanese and European early-stage startups, is proud to announce the first close of its second fund and pioneering the way as the first fund in Asia dedicated to supporting female founders in the realm of women’s wellbeing.
TOKYO, Japan — Tokyo based NEXTBLUE has announced its first close of an anticipated $US 40M second fund, which will focus on female founders committed to innovating in the space of women’s wellbeing. As one of Japan’s few female General Partners (GPs), Kanako Inoue, along with the NEXTBLUE team, is committed to providing support to female founders at seed and pre-Series A stages.
The NEXTBLUE Fund 2 is poised to revolutionize the largely underserved space of women’s wellbeing, aligning itself with the evolving needs of women in society and championing the principles of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB).
The mission of NEXTBLUE Fund 2 springs from a profound commitment to contribute to a society where everyone can thrive and actively participate. According to Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI), the annual economic loss in the country due to gender-specific health issues is estimated at a staggering 490 billion yen*. In the US and EU, the concept of “Belonging” has gained prominence, complementing existing diversity concepts and advocating for DEIB principles (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging). Research from Harvard University reveals that organizations embracing the concept of Belonging witness a remarkable 56% improvement in business performance, a 50% reduction in turnover, and a substantial 75% decrease in sick leave. NEXTBLUE 2 aims to address the gender gap in society, including healthcare services (where only 2% of funds allocated for women’s health), and support the underserved landscape of women’s wellbeing and the evolving needs of women and diversity in society. Their mission is to transform societal “economic loss” into “productivity gains”.
As a global venture capital firm, NEXTBLUE invests in tech-enabled startups with global scalability. Over the coming years, NEXTBLUE will channel its investments into pre-Series A/ Series A stage startups, with a key requirement being the presence of at least one female co-founder who holds equitable representation on the cap table. Primary areas of focus include femtech, healthtech and sectors related to wellbeing and diversity, which can span a wide range of sectors, from consumer to fintech.
A graduate of Keio University, Kanako began her career in the M&A advisory sector at GCA Savvian. Following her tenure at a major law firm, she pursued her MBA at the Kellogg School of Management. Her journey included valuable experiences at Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and D4V before co-founding NEXTBLUE.
A graduate of Columbia Law School, Vincent served as a Project Leader at BCG, and later a Portfolio Director at D4V before co-founding NEXTBLUE in 2020.
Yuichi Kori is a graduate of Hitotsubashi University and started his career as a Product Manager for F-Code Inc and RenRen’s social game platform. In 2010, he founded Otsumi and later Reality Accelerator VC in 2017. Yuichi joined forces with Kanako and Vincent to co-found NEXTBLUE in 2020.
Executive Officer and Vice President, Kazuo Sakairi
“In a company where each employee, regardless of nationality, gender, upbringing, career, or differing backgrounds and values, is unable to freely express their thoughts and fully utilize their abilities, there is no future. Such companies will eventually be phased out. Our company is committed to transforming the traditional ‘vertical society,’ exemplified by the seniority-based system built predominantly by Japanese men, into a flat and open workplace environment. We aim to create an organization that can compete on a global scale. By investing in the fund established by NEXTBLUE, we intend to accelerate the establishment of a foundation for enhancing women’s wellbeing and empowering their capabilities. Furthermore, we will actively promote a shift in the mindset of all our stakeholders, including executives and employees.”
Executive Officer, Minako Fujika
“In the pursuit of advancing Diversity and Inclusion (D&I), empowering women is a significant theme. While many companies in Japan are addressing this issue, this fund, which aims to use technology to solve the challenges related to improving women’s wellbeing that have traditionally been left to the parties involved, represents a substantial boost to women’s empowerment. For our company, which is dedicated to advancing D&I, the opportunity to invest and participate in this endeavor holds immense value. We look forward to the enhancement of women’s wellbeing and the acceleration of gender equity through this fund, and we are committed to making significant contributions to the advancement of D&I.”
Sunny Side Up Group Co., Ltd.
President and Representative Director, Etsuko Tsugihara
“We’re all the same because we’re all different.”
The concept of “Diversity,” which is commonplace overseas, has yet to fully take root in Japan, unfortunately. In our pursuit of enhancing the ‘Wellbeing’ of Japanese women, Sunny Side Up Group is committed to supporting the realization of a society where individuals can be their authentic selves through various means, including education and technology. By participating in NEXTBLUE, we aim to eliminate biases of all kinds and unleash the diverse stresses that women have been facing. We believe in creating a society where every individual can thrive and contribute in their unique way.”
*1 Source: Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI)
*2 Source: Harvard University Research