On Our Radar Screen

Back to Contents of Issue: December 2000

Ventures We're Keeping an Eye On

Creative Communications Inc.
This startup offers a free service at www.buta.net -- buta means pig, if that signifies anything -- that allows users in Japan to send voicemail and access messages from their PCs, cellphones, and fixed-line phones. Customers pay ¥10 per minute flat-rate, a significant savings over domestic long-distance tolls. Customers could go hogwild over anything this cheap and convenient, and the VCs are already circling for a slice of the bacon.

Get mini English lessons via your cellphone! (We'd prefer Japanese lessons, but ...) Startup iKaiwa will send you three lessons each week. Visitors can also make their own personal homepages for the mobile Web and send free cyber postcards. Sounds cute n' kitschy, but don't tut-tut: iKaiwa picked up 1.2 million mobile page views in September. We also like the site's search engine for finding downloadable chakumelo (ringing melodies for the cellphone). Advertising supported and privately owned, the company is looking for an angel or VC. This one could make a big splash on the pop culture radar screens. And remember, banner ad click-through rates on i-mode are a whopping 5 percent (compared to just 0.1 to 1 percent on the old-fashioned Internet).

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