Japan’s soccer star Keisuke Honda launches AngelList-like platform for Asia’s startup community


PROTOCOL Executive Chairman Keisuke Honda

Japanese football star Keisuke Honda has launched a new global platform to connect startups, angel investors, VC firms and influencers from Japan, Asia and around the world.

PROTOCOL, dubbed the “AngelList of Asia”, will leverage technology to ease the burden on founders and investors while increasing the ecosystem.

In addition, the platform will be available to people who are looking for jobs in startups, planning to start a business or investing.

According to a press release since its alpha version was released six months ago, PROTOCOL has attracted more than 2,000 users from over 50 countries, including some well-known Japanese companies and venture capital firms such as the SoftBank Vision Fund.

As CEO of PROTOCOL, Honda will use its global influence and connections as a footballer to create a bridge between Japanese, Asian and global startup ecosystems. Honda even interviewed several founders, he met on the platform and invested in 10 companies.

Also read: Understanding the traction measurements that investors are looking for in an early start-up phase

Honda has been hailed as a top-scoring Asian footballer in the history of the World Cup and the only player to have scored a goal and an assist in each of the last three tournaments. He was thrown to star status in Europe as the first Japanese player to reach the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League and score in the knock-out phase for CSKA Moscow.

Before PROTOCOL, Honda established the KSK Angel Fund in 2016 to invest in new startups. In November 2021, the KSK Angel Fund supported more than 90 Japanese and international firms.

“I am now considering investing in about ten companies. Not limited to this premium amount, I plan to continue angel investments by using KSK Angel as much as I can to create at least a slightly more peaceful and bright future for future generations, “said Honda in a interview.

Two years later, he teamed up with Hollywood actor Will Smith, a VC company Dreamers Fund. The fund was supported by Japanese institutions such as Nomura, Dentsu and Shiseido, targeting Silicon Valley startups. Its primary goal and value is to act as a bridge to connect Japanese companies to the knowledge, personal contacts and commercial perspectives of the global startup market.

To date, Honda has managed a portfolio of over 180 companies through the two funds.

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Image credit: PROTOCOL

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