Earlier this summer, Scrum Studio held a virtual Demo Day to showcase the new initiatives that resulted from our first year of the global open innovation program, SmartCityX. The program was designed to support the creation of smarter urban areas by facilitating collaboration between leading Japanese corporations and participating startups that joined us from around the world.

The program attracted attention as an unprecedented initiative in Japan and grew to include eight partners, five supporters, six local governments/regional communities, and three resource partners, with many additional companies and local governments participating.

After the initial screening process, 95 startups from 20…


Even before he had figured out a career path, Scrum Ventures Partner Ryan Mendoza knew he wanted the technical foundation and problem solving of a practicing electrical engineer. So after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in engineering he left the West Coast to take a job with Lockheed Martin in Pennsylvania.

When the opportunity arose for a rotational leadership development program at Lockheed, it was a tempting path for him to take since he was attracted to the idea of working in business management. …


Pandemic living has reshaped many things for people, including a rethink on mortality itself. But when it comes to the touchy subject of end-of-life planning and getting one’s affairs in order, there’s no clear playbook.

It’s little wonder that this uncomfortable chore brings on anxiety and lends itself easily to procrastination. When families are grieving, the process becomes even more challenging to navigate. Information is fragmented, with many different point solutions but lacking a comprehensive planning tool to help navigate all end-of-life tasks.

We felt fortunate then to connect early on with CEO Suelin Chen and invest in Cake, the…


You have such a great background in sports. Did you actively pursue working in that field?

I’ve always had a love for sports dating back beyond my limited abilities as a D3 football player at Amherst College. That said, I didn’t think that having a connection to sports would differentiate me when I considered aligning this passion-point to a career, which is why I sought to emphasize my Mandarin Chinese linguistic and cultural skill-set.

By combining those two areas of focus, I was able to land an incredible internship with the NFL League Office — working on their international growth…


Born and raised in Japan, Saki Oshima is Scrum Ventures’ Business Development Manager based in San Francisco. She is particularly passionate about the emerging FemTech industry and is part of the Scrum Studio team where she manages Scrum Connect Online, our platform that helps Japanese companies connect with global startups.

Why were you interested in leaving Japan to work in the U.S.?


Car IQ is the first vehicle payment platform that allows vehicles to directly pay for goods and services.

By Ryan Mendoza

For our next “Founder Spotlight,” we interviewed Car IQ Founder and CEO, Sterling Pratz who is developing a payment network that will enable vehicles to autonomously connect to a bank’s payment network, validate services received, and then pay for them. The platform will eliminate the need to use credit cards in vehicle service and payment workflows, enabling direct connections to banking institutions.

We first invested in Car IQ’s Series A round in August 2019. We were actually late to…


By Michael Proman, Managing Director

Rome wasn’t built in a day.

It’s a cliche I never saw myself using, but one that couldn’t be more appropriate as cities look to re-emerge and reinvent themselves post-pandemic. Speed is critical, but taking a thoughtful, long-term approach that places a particular emphasis on the diverse needs of citizens is even more important.

Over the last year, we’ve borrowed this phrase when architecting the SmartCityX community — looking through a long-term lens while navigating the complexities and challenges of bringing together 13 Japanese corporate partners, 95 stage-agnostic startups (representing 20 countries) and over 60…


Kensuke Kuroda, Principal at Scrum Ventures, spent three years as a management consultant at the global strategy consulting firm Strategy& PwC, before joining Scrum in 2019 as an associate. He invests in Japanese startups and also worked on some of Scrum’s open innovation programs, such as SPORTS TECH TOKYO, a global accelerator program collaborating with Dentsu, and SmartCityX, a smart city focused global accelerator program.

“There are many things that can be achieved by combining technology, business ideas, and the speed of a venture with the assets and ‘power to scale’ of a large company,” Kuroda says. …


Scrum Studio’s global open innovation program “Food Tech Studio — Bites! (FTS–B!)” — designed late last year to nurture food entrepreneurs and connect them with Japan’s leading corporations and industry thought-leaders — proudly showcased its progress to date during an event in April.

See the event highlights here:

Despite the ongoing challenges posed by Covid-19 restrictions, our program partners and participants spent the first three months of this year collaborating over new concepts, resources and initiatives in efforts that expand Japan’s role in creating a “new food” industry alongside global startups. After helping to foster many unique relationships with…


By Ryan Mendoza, Partner

As active investors in Y Combinator’s Demo Day for the past eight years, we at Scrum are familiar with the frenzy involved. We’ve seen the changes over the years — faster-closing rounds, larger batches and increased valuations.

During YC’s Winter 2021 batch demo day, we scoured the event’s largest-ever batch of 320 companies for the gems. The pitch session was confined to a single manic, Zoom-only day as opposed to the usual pre-Covid, in-person, two-day event. …

Scrum Ventures

We are an early stage venture firm. With experience and networks in both Silicon Valley and Japan, we help our portfolio companies achieve global opportunities.

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