WHILL, a company that creates high-tech personal mobility devices, announced this September that is closed a $45 million Series C round led by SBI Investment, Daiwa Securities Group and WHIZ Partners, with participation from Endeavor Catalyst, as well as returning investors. Founded in 2012 by Endeavor Entrepreneur Satoshi Sugie, WHILL’s investment round marks Endeavor Catalyst’s first in an Endeavor Japan company.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with Sugie and his team to take WHILL to the next level as they scale-up,” said Endeavor Catalyst Managing Director Allen Taylor. “As the first investment for Endeavor Catalyst in Japan, this is an important milestone for us — we hope it is the first of many more to come!”
WHILL is reinventing the wheelchair. Inspired when a wheelchair user told him, “I’ve given up on even going to the grocery store two blocks away,” Sugie went to work designing a lighter, smaller and more mobile device than the market’s other options. Today, WHILL offers three personal mobility device models tailored to various needs, and has been awarded numerous design accolades.
“Through innovative technology and design, we’re giving people greater independence and opportunities to fully participate in society and the activities they love, and this pushes us to do even more and better,” said Sugie.
The latest round of funding, which brings the company’s total funding to about $80 million, will be used for expanding into new international markets in the European Union, as well as developing new products for large venues, including airports and “last-mile” sidewalk transportation. The deal received widespread media attention, highlighted online in outlets such as TechCrunch and the Silicon Valley Business Journal, and by major newswires including the Associated Press.
WHILL was selected into the Endeavor network in February 2017 at the 69th International Selection Panel in Kuala Lumpur. Since then, Endeavor has helped Sugie make strategic connections with mentors and investors as the company continues to expand and scale.
WHILL’s previous investors that followed this round include investments from INCJ (Innovation Network Corporation of Japan), Eight Road Ventures, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Venture Capital, Nippon Venture Capital, DG Incubation, and Mizuho Capital.
Read more about WHILL and the latest investment round in the company’s press release here.
Since its founding in 2012, WHILL’s mission is to transform today’s antiquated power wheelchair and scooter experiences into a new kind of empowering device, an intelligent personal electric vehicle (EV). WHILL is reinventing the personal mobility industry with an Intelligent Personal EV that focuses on an approachable and aesthetically pleasing powered vehicle that boosts confidence and pushes the boundaries of personal transportation. Headquartered in Yokohama with offices in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taiwan and Europe, WHILL is focused on enabling everyone to explore the world in comfort and style.
About SBI Investment Co., Ltd.
SBI Investment, the core business in the Asset Management Business of the SBI Group, operates and manages venture capital funds under the management philosophy to become the leading company in the creation and incubation of core industries of the 21st century as a “new industry creator.” For more information, visit www.sbinvestment.co.jp/
About Daiwa PI Partners Co. Ltd.
Daiwa PI Partners is in charge of the principle investment business of Daiwa Securities Group in the areas of private equities, debt investment, and energy investments. It now engages in various investments worldwide, i.e., Japan and other Asian countries, U.K., and Australia.
For more information, visit www.dpipartners.co.jp/english
About Daiwa Corporate Investment Co, Ltd.
Daiwa Corporate Investment Co, Ltd has been engaged in venture capital and buyout investments by leveraging Daiwa Securities Group’s business network, accumulated investment experience and expertise for many years, and has been contributing to growth and listings of many startup and private companies. For more information, visit www.daiwa-inv.co.jp/en/
About WHIZ Partners Inc.
WHIZ Partners, Inc. (Tokyo, Japan) is an alternative asset management firm with Growth Equity and Global Macro Hedge Fund offerings. WHIZ has a strong track record in HealthCare investments, now on its fifth fund. Through its former brand, CSK Venture Capital, WHIZ financed the Japanese Biotech industry in its infancy. WHIZ Partners continues to provide growth capital primarily to micro-cap public entities in healthcare, IT and AI fields. WHIZ is headquartered in Tokyo with an office in Hong Kong. For more information, visit http://www.whizp.com
About Endeavor Catalyst
Endeavor Catalyst is the innovative co-investment fund of Endeavor, set up to invest exclusively in Endeavor Entrepreneur-led companies and to sustain Endeavor’s long-term operations in a mission-aligned way. Since launching in January 2012, Endeavor Catalyst has raised over $100M in philanthropically donated and invested capital, and invested into 84 Endeavor companies in 21 markets. To date, Endeavor Catalyst has co-invested alongside a number of leading venture capital and growth equity funds, including Accel Partners, General Atlantic, NEA, Sequoia Capital and Tiger Global. Investments include Globant (NYSE: GLOB) in Argentina and Yemeksepeti.com (acquired by Delivery Hero) in Turkey. For more information, visit www.endeavor.org/approach/catalyst/