Retty Inc., the Japanese restaurant-review app backed by an arm of Fidelity Worldwide Investment, plans a domestic initial public offering by mid-2017 to fund expansion into global cities, from San Francisco to Hong Kong.
Retty aims to start offering an English-language smartphone app and add a restaurant guide for either Hong Kong or Singapore by the end of this year, Chief Executive Officer Kazuya Takeda said in a July 28 interview. The Tokyo-based company will expand its coverage over the next five years to include major cities in the U.S., Europe and other Asian nations, he said.
The company, which started in June 2011 with staff riding bicycles to research downtown restaurants, plans to double its workforce to 100 in the next twelve months. Employees specialize in a particular food and visit eateries to ensure the accuracy of the app’s information, according to Takeda, whose business card features a photo of raw beef to show his own focus on yakiniku, a popular cook-at-your-table style of grilled meat.
“We want to raise funds to expand our business abroad,” said Takeda, 31. “We are going to do more in cities in Europe and the U.S., where there’s solid demand for dining out.”
Retty raised 1 billion yen in March in a series C funding round from investors including Fidelity Growth Partners Japan and the investment arms of Mizuho Financial Group Inc. and Japanese game developer Gree Inc. Its service, which has attracted 11 million monthly users, competes in Japan with Tabelog, the site owned by Kakaku.com Inc. that’s attracted takeover interest from Yelp Inc., and Gurunavi Inc.
Takeda founded Retty after three years doing marketing for Netage Group Inc., the online advertising company now known as United Inc. Retty plans to begin offering versions of its app in other languages including Chinese next year, and expects to reach 30 million unique monthly visitors by the end of 2016, Takeda said.
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