September 18th 2018
Whill Inc. has raised a $45 million Series C funding round after quietly moving its headquarters this summer from San Carlos to Yokohama, Japan, where it began eight years ago.
The 500 Startups alumnus, which was featured in The Pitch five years ago, declined to talk about the shift. Its wheelchairs are now being designed in Japan and built in China. Its former headquarters in San Carlos now serves as its U.S. sales and distribution hub.
The new funding was led by SBI Investment Co. Ltd., Daiwa PI Partners Co. Ltd. and Daiwa Corporate Investment Co. Ltd (affiliates of Daiwa Securities Group Inc.) and Whiz Partners Inc., as well as Endeavor Catalyst and others. This funding round brings Whill’s total funding to around $80 million.
“Whill began in 2010 with the voice of one wheelchair user saying, ‘I’ve even given up going to a convenience store just two blocks away,’ and today we have grown into a brand used by people all over the world,” CEO and co-founder Satoshi Sugie said in the funding announcement.
Sugie was a Business Journal 40 Under 40 honoree last year.
His 70-person company is targeting an aging world population that is expected to grow from 900 million people over the age of 60 worldwide in 2017 to more than to 2.1 billion people by 2050.
“Our goal is to build a service that can be utilized normally like public transportation,” he said.
Whill launched its Model Ci in the U.S. in January at the Consumer Electronics Show, where it won the Best of Innovation award in Accessibility Tech. In April, it expanded sales into Canada, then into the U.K. and Italy in July. It said it will use the new funding to broaden its geographic footprint across other European countries through new partnerships, branches and hiring employees.