Funding fuels Kiwi social media rocket in Asia

Funding fuels Kiwi social media rocket in Asia

A $700,000 investment by Japanese internet marketing company Opt is sparking quick growth there for Kiwi social media business Shuttlerock.

Canterbury-headquartered Shuttlerock has had an office in Japan since May and has also had personnel working out of Opt's offices since June. The Kiwi company's first Japanese client was girl band Perfume and it's also got Häagen-Dazs ice cream and Tokyo FM on the books.

CEO Jonny Hendriksen says it will also soon add a "big global artist" to its client base.

"The growth in Japan is huge and we're at the right time in the market for the product. A lot of companies and brands are a bit disillusioned with how to embrace this ever changing landscape so Shuttlerock is a solution for brands to get control of their content and develop a strategy online."

Opt has over 1300 staff and around 1200 clients, with offices in Malaysia and South Korea.

Hendriksen has known its CEO for about 20 years, having previously lived in Japan for that length of time. He and Kiwi IT millionaire Tim Williams got the Japanese country rights to US click-based internet advertising company ValueClick in 1997 and listed it on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in 2000 - the first ever foreign listing there.

Opt was a ValueClick customer.

Shuttlerock was founded in 2012 and its software collects content from social media networks and rewards customers for uploading content directly and to share it, driving extra web traffic. Its Kiwi clients include Fly Buys, Jucy, Wendy's and the All Blacks and it also has customers in the US, Australia and the UK.

The new funding has allowed a Japanese liaison to be hired in Canterbury and Hendriksen says it will deploy a lot more developers as well.

"It's the global brain of the business. We're looking at ways to repackage the product and at R&D."

Perfume used the Shuttlerock platform to engage fans for a video the band released for its song 'Hold Your Hand'. Fans were asked to take a photo of their hands with a message and upload using Shuttlerock.

Hendriksen says the promotion had generated 3396 photos, with a significant amount of voting and sharing. “It's a clear demonstration of the potential of fan content in the Japanese market,” he says.