Explore Global Opportunities Through the Rakuten Accelerator, Powered by Techstars

On the heels of a tremendously successful first ever Techstars Demo Day in Asia, the Rakuten Accelerator, Powered by Techstars is searching for its next class of founders to join the 2019 program, hosted in Singapore. Applications are open January 7–April 7, 2019, and the program starts in July, with Demo Day in October.

Rakuten was founded in Tokyo in 1997 as an online marketplace that now offers services to more than 1.2 billion customers around the world. It has formidable presence in its home market in Japan, offices in South East Asia and the Indian subcontinent, and businesses in the U.S. and Europe. Rakuten is also the main global partner of FC Barcelona, one of the world’s most legendary football teams (soccer to you Americans), and official partner of reigning NBA champions, the Golden State Warriors.

In addition to its geographical span, the variety of businesses and industries that Rakuten operates in makes it a highly interesting partner for founders to work with. Rakuten Group’s broad range of more than 70 online and off-line businesses span e-commerce, travel, FinTech, digital contents and communications, as well as credit cards, banking, securities, insurance, electronic money and professional sports. Founders who go through the accelerator will gain access to all of these business units during the course of the three-month program.  

Beyond the opportunity to work with Rakuten, the program’s location in Singapore is ideal for founders wanting to explore Asian business opportunities. Approximately three billion people across the Far East (Hong Kong, China, Japan), South East Asia, and the Indian subcontinent can be accessed via a short one to five hour flight from the island city-state. As a result, Singapore is the Asia headquarters for numerous Fortune 500 companies, including Unilever, BMW, Microsoft, Apple, Google, GE, Procter & Gamble, CISCO, Levi’s, UPS, Walt Disney, Pfizer, Novartis, Twitter, Sony, Philips, DHL, and more. Founders will have the opportunity to meet key decision-makers from all of these companies during their stay in Singapore for the program.   

The Rakuten Accelerator, Powered by Techstars focuses on the Future of Communication, Data Marketing and Digital Commerce. The program will provide 10 ambitious startups with the opportunity to explore global aspirations by levering Rakuten’s resources from around the world. The three-month immersive mentorship-driven program includes initial funding and an inspiring work environment, and offers founders access to the Techstars worldwide network of more than 10,000 industry specialists, mentors, founders, and investors. The Techstars global portfolio of over 1,600 companies, including companies like SendGrid, Digital Ocean, PillPack, and Classpass, continues to grow, and to offer unparalleled value to founders who want to build global businesses.

We welcome applications from founders from across the world who are working on technologies that apply to communication, data marketing and digital commerce. Start your application now or keep reading for more information about meeting us or requesting office hours.

Meet the Team

We are holding office hours from January to early April, all over the world, between conferences and Meet & Greet events. If you’d like to meet with us, please check out the dates and times below and fill out this meeting request form. We’d love to hear from you even if we are not able to visit your city. We’ll be hosting frequent virtual office hours.

Schedule (upcoming):

Rakuten Accelerator powered by Techstars Live AMA’s:

  • 8 Feb, 3pm SGT / 8am CET (Join)
  • 19 Feb, 9am EST / 3pm CET (Join)
  • 14 Mar, 3pm SGT / 8am CET (Join)

We also recommend that you follow us on Twitter for specific updates, new event postings, and live Q&A. Connect with us here: #TechstarsRakuten and @Techstars.

Announcing the 2018 Class of the Rakuten Accelerator powered by Techstars!

We are excited to announce the ten companies that will be joining Techstars Class 143 – our 2018 Rakuten Accelerator powered by Techstars program in Singapore. We kicked off this week (July 16) and are looking forward to three months of awesomeness, capped off by Demo Day mid October. This is the first program with Rakuten and Viber as partners, and is one of the very first Techstars programs in Asia.

Techstars is the Worldwide Network that helps entrepreneurs succeed, and strong partners and mentors help make this happen. We’re grateful for your support over the last couple of years and for this inaugural program and your continued time and guidance. We couldn’t do it without you.

Participants in Rakuten Accelerator will also have access to resources from across Rakuten’s global ecosystem of more than 70 services, including Rakuten Viber messaging and voice platform. With hundreds of millions of users around the world, Viber also recently become the official communication channel of FC Barcelona and Official Instant Messaging and Calling App Partner of the Golden State Warriors.

“We are thrilled to welcome an amazing group of talented entrepreneurs from around the world who share Rakuten’s passion for innovative thinking and empowerment” said Michael Shmilov, COO of Rakuten Viber. “For Rakuten Viber, our mission of borderless communication means constant innovation for the way people connect around the world and we look forward to working together with our inaugural Accelerator class to revolutionize how businesses and consumers use messaging to conduct business and stay connected.”

We are also excited to announce the leadership team for the Rakuten Accelerator: Managing Director Dhritiman Hui and Program Manager Dennis List.

Dhritiman was most recently an Investment Director at Tuscan Ventures – an investment firm based in India, and prior to that an Investment Director BW Ventures, a global investment firm that funded both startups as well as provided growth capital to and brick-and-mortar companies. Dennis List is the former Partnerships and Program Manager for Impact Hub Singapore, and a tech entrepreneur who founded and was CEO of Rocki, a music tech startup which graduated Techstars Boston accelerator in late 2014.

We love this city and know 2018 is going to be an amazing year for Techstars, Rakuten and Singapore!

Without further ado, here are the Techstars Rakuten 2018 companies:

AND Global

AI-based mobile lending for the unbanked in Asia. AND Global issues over 500,000 loans annually to tens of thousands of customers.




Changing how people work on research and documents. Additor is a unified document collaboration platform for SMBs and freelancers.


South Korea


Provides chatbot technology to help entreprise

communicate via messaging platforms. Talk-A-Bot powers chat for some of Central Europe’s largest banks, utilities providers, and media companies.



Retarget Links

Democratizing digital advertising by making it ridiculously easy to advertise in premium online publishers. Everyone

from small businesses to global agencies and brands like WPP, Omnicon, P&G, and Uber use Retarget Links to get the right banner ads in front of the right people.



Immersive Systems

Reshaping how fans engage with sports through a next-generation digital experience platform.




A unified payment platform that enables customers to pay schools, clinics and hospitals efficiently through their mobile phones.




A property technology company specialising in

communication and property management. Elumium works with super prime residential developments and luxury hotel residences.


United Kingdom


Shoffr helps brands win customers back from e-com. We convert online missed sales to in-store footfall. Our white-labelled solution tracks online to offline customer journeys across social, chat, and web platforms.




Using chatbots to connect millennials through AI, gamification and social networking. Rooit has over 300,000 users since launching in Taiwan in June 2017.



Groovy Android

An indie game studio focused on creating a world of mobile games with cute, lovable characters.



Become an Associate at Techstars in Singapore or Adelaide

In any given Techstars program, you’ll walk through the accelerator doors to find groups of founders milling around calculating their next strategic business move, a MD stationed in a conference room counseling (or consoling) a timely target, a PM huddled in a corner with headphones on trying to jam out the latest founder update… but what you’ll also notice are the program associates, hardened and focused, supporting each of the startups with specific projects, and in my case, helping to keep the PM from red-lining with overdue tasks.

What is the Associate role about?
The associates are often the unsung program heroes, contracted for each class to fill skillsets in the startups and to help with development and support through the intensive 13-week program. An associate wears many hats: one day they might be breaking down an event and clearing tables, the next they might be polishing an investor deck or completing code for a shipping deadline. It all depends on the call of duty and we pride our teams in their abilities to get it all done.

Associates at Techstars Barclays London ‘16

We typically hire 4–6 program associates for the duration of the accelerator in the roles of: Engineering, Marketing, Business Development, Design and Operations. Each position is carefully chosen by the MD and PM to support the startups participating in the upcoming program.

As a program manager, I believe it’s important for the associate to come in with personal goals for the program — are you interested in becoming a PM, or are you looking for the experience of working as one of the “first 5” in a quickly growing startup? — Chris Chang, Program Manager for Techstars Adelaide

Whatever your goals may be, it’s our job to help you get there. Not to mention, there’s never a dull moment and you get to be an integral piece of a fantastic program team.

UXTesting — TS Cloud ‘16

Interested in learning more? Don’t be coy! Do your homework on a program that you believe is a good fit and reach out to the PM to get more information. Believe me, we’d love to hear from you!

For the Rakuten Accelerator in Singapore, which starts July 16, check out the EngineeringBusiness Development, Marketing, Design and Operations Associate roles. now!

For Techstars Adelaide, which starts September 10, check out their Engineering, Design, Business Development and Ops associate roles.

There are a lot of blog posts out there about the role and about other associates’ experiences online, here are the ones that stand out:

  1. Jay Kapoor — My Summer as a Techstars NYC Associate
  2. Dirk Lehmann — Techstars Associate Programme: The Better Startup MBA?
  3. Kelly McDonald — Learn More Faster
  4. Anthony Marnell — Techstars New York: A Reflection
  5. Duc Luan Dam — Luan, do you ever sleep?

Office Hours: Rakuten Accelerator – Hong Kong

Click here to book a meeting: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSf7S2CDKfJAtf-2-xnxJc7ydkz8e0Ut-3B2aCkuPeZ-homz1A/viewform

Office Hours: Rakuten Accelerator – Seoul, South Korea

Click here to book a meeting: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSf7S2CDKfJAtf-2-xnxJc7ydkz8e0Ut-3B2aCkuPeZ-homz1A/viewform

Find Your Next Partner: Techstars, Samsung NEXT, Rakuten, WeWork

Hi friends! For the first time in Korea, Techstars, Samsung NEXT, Rakuten and WeWork are partnering for an exclusive event! 
Join us to discuss everything from startups and acceleration to investment and corporate innovation. A networking session with free pizza and beer will follow a panel discussion.

When: Monday, April 2nd (6pm to 8pm)
Where: WeWork Yeoksam – 3rd floor
Don’t miss this amazing opportunity for both startups and corporates! 
See you there!

AMA: Rakuten Accelerator


Office Hours: Rakuten Accelerator – Tokyo, Japan

Click here to book a meeting: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSf7S2CDKfJAtf-2-xnxJc7ydkz8e0Ut-3B2aCkuPeZ-homz1A/viewform

Slush Tokyo

Takasawa-san, Managing executive of Rakuten Ventures, will be speaking on stage to talk about the Rakuten Accelerator

Office Hours: Rakuten Accelerator – San Francisco, USA

Click here to book a meeting: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSf7S2CDKfJAtf-2-xnxJc7ydkz8e0Ut-3B2aCkuPeZ-homz1A/viewform