Kaizen, a Tokyo- and San Francisco-based user interface marketplace and testing platform, plans to increase its presence in the United States after raising an $8 million Series B.
Participants in the round include new investors YJ Capital, the venture arm of Yahoo Japan; NTT Docomo Ventures; Saison Ventures KK; and COLOPL, as well as returning investors Eight Roads Ventures Japan; GREE Ventures; and GMO Venture Partners.
Kaizen has raised $17.8 million so far since it was co-founded in 2013 by chief executive officer Kenji Sudo. Prior to launching Kaizen, Sudo worked at Recruit Holdings, one of the largest online classifieds and human resources companies in Japan. Recruit spends heavily to place advertisements on Google, Facebook, and Yahoo and Sudo tells TechCrunch that he realized how crucial improving user interface design is while working there.
He created Kaizen to help companies save money and streamline the A/B testing process. The company’s platform lets clients present a project to over 2,900 user interface designers. Clients chose several proposals from the ones submitted and experiment with them using Kaizen’s optimization testing tools to see which ones hit their most important key performance indicators. Revenue is then split between Kaizen and all the designers whose proposals were picked for the testing round.
Hosting its own user interface marketplace is how Kaizen differentiates from other A/B testing services like Optimizely and Marketo. Instead, Kaizen sees its most direct competitors as digital consulting agencies like Accenture and Adly, and it positions itself as a cheaper and faster alternative. Kaizen claims that improvements to sites made using its marketplace and tools have helped its clients reap a total of $200 million in additional sales.
In addition to the U.S., Kaizen is also targeting growth in the UK and Asia-Pacific markets.
Kaizen currently has about 170 corporate clients, including Japan Airline, Yahoo, and Nestle, and specializes in recruiting, real estate, finance, and online classifieds sites. The company has focused mostly on enterprise customers, but plans to launch a new subscription model to make its platform available to smaller organizations, like non-profits and startups.