TL; DR: GINKAN is a Japan-based startup on a mission to build a foundation for the future global economy via blockchain technology and crypto tokens. The company aims to help speed the transition between our current centralized systems and the decentralized future via apps like SynchroLife, a platform that tokenizes restaurant reviews. Ultimately, GINKAN’s goal is to grow the app into a universal platform for identifying the best restaurants in the world.
Just a decade ago, online reviews seemed like a surefire way to unearth the truth about a product, bypassing marketing jargon and other commercial persuasions.
Today, the line between a genuine opinion and a marketing ploy is no longer clear. And, according to the folks at GINKAN, our dependency on centralized systems is partially to blame.
The startup, based in Japan, is on a mission to build a global token economy for the decentralized future. First on the menu is SynchroLife, an app designed to disrupt the current restaurant marketing model by tokenizing the review system and offering consumers AI-based recommendations.
“In recent years, the evolution of web marketing has made finding trustworthy information online increasingly difficult,” said Tomochika Kamiya, Founder and CEO of GINKAN. “Search engine optimization (SEO), market engagement optimization (MEO), curation sites, paid articles, and averaged scores may be great for marketing, but they make finding reliable information online complicated.”
In the restaurant industry, this means that, without substantial investments in online marketing, eateries that offer top-notch dining experiences may still fall below the radar.
“This hurts not only restaurant owners, but diners, too,” Tomochika told us. “Diners want to search for quality restaurants online, but they end up sorting through restaurants that are paying for online marketing. Many consumers have lost trust in online reviews and articles, seeing them all as advertising.”
With SynchroLife’s blockchain-based restaurant reviews and rewards, GINKAN is giving consumers a taste of the decentralized future that will ultimately build trust online. In the long-term, GINKAN’s goal is to serve as a bridge between new technology and the average consumer, helping to create a global token economy free of national boundaries.
SynchroLife: Restaurant Reviews, Crypto-Style
Tomochika told us that blockchain and distributed applications (dApps) have transformed the securities and finance industries in recent years, providing a way to track transactions transparently and publicly.
But the technology is also helping address everyday consumer needs. “I think services in which blockchain technology can solve basic problems have also really evolved, and consumers have started to embrace the technology,” he said. “For example, blockchain-based games have been steadily evolving.”
SynchroLife is on the same spectrum as a daily consumer service designed to introduce consumers to blockchain technology, token economies, and the cryptocurrency market.
“Over the past three years, we have been challenged by how to set up the incentive system and what user interface/user experience to bring to the general consumer,” Tomochika said. “We believe that winning in the restaurant industry will create a successful example of what token economies can do.”
SynchroLife’s token system helps solve the problems of review governance by rewarding trusted users who post high-quality restaurant reviews and content. Users can then leverage tokens to purchase gift vouchers that can be used to purchase dining tickets or as payment for meals.
GINKAN has successfully built a token economy compliant with Japanese law, but the company has faced challenges because of changing regulations in various countries. The app is currently available for use worldwide in English, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese.
“We already have almost 200,000 consumers using the service here in Japan,” Tomochika said.
Disrupting Outdated Marketing and Ad Models
SynchroLife offers several benefits for both diners and restaurants that make the solution stand apart from others on the market.
“Our centralized competitors have extensive restaurant information and search functions, but this has led to untrustworthy and clunky services,” Tomochika said. “SynchroLife prioritizes being able to find good restaurants fast and gives each user personalized recommendations using big data based on their social media posts, their tastes, and the areas they frequent.”
From a consumer perspective, current review systems feel like volunteer work. No matter how much time a user spends uploading photos and writing content, there are no rewards. SynchroLife has an advantage in this regard because the platform motivates reviewers to share quality content.
Restaurant owners also benefit from the platform. Many of SynchroLife’s competitors require monthly fees or an upfront payment to participate, regardless of the outcome. SynchroLife, on the other hand, operates under a results-based compensation model in which restaurants that join SynchroLife pay a fee to reward diners brought in through the app with cryptocurrency.
And because SynchroLife includes a customer relationship management (CRM) module and associated promotion services, restaurant owners are able to engage these customers in the future.
“Our competitors are focused on sending new customers to restaurants, and they do not offer services to help them create repeating customers,” Tomochika said. “SynchroLife offers restaurant services for CRM and promotions designed to tackle the major problems faced by owners.”
By resolving the marketing issues that restaurants struggle with, GINKAN hopes to help reinvigorate the global restaurant industry and lower the rate of restaurant closures.
From Local Dining Culture to a Global Food Platform
As a serial entrepreneur, Tomochika has more than 10 years of experience helping over 14,000 restaurants with their customer relationship marketing. He also has 15-plus years of experience solving problems in the restaurant industry.
GINKAN CTO Hiroshi Mita is also a serial entrepreneur with experience in robot research and development, blockchain and smart contracts, and UX for consumer products.
From their past business experience, both Tomochika and Hiroshi said they believe that the best way to run a business is to be honest and transparent with employees, investors, and customers.
“Our team is focused on our business vision and core values of sincerity and transparency while still having fun,” Tomochika said. “All 14 people on our team have a global mindset.”
Moving forward, GINKAN plans to leverage that mindset to evolve SynchroLife into a global food platform born from Japanese dining culture. “SynchroLife is designed to be a global platform like Instagram, and we plan to grow it worldwide to connect diners and restaurants,” Tomochika said.
Japan’s unique culinary scene, in which diners take pride in preparation, presentation, and service, serves as a perfect launchpad for the platform.
“Japanese diners are very picky when it comes to restaurant food and service, and SynchroLife has built a service that even these consumer food critics, who are always searching for a better dining experience, can enjoy and benefit from,” Tomochika said.
Users can currently cash in their rewards at over 18,000 restaurants, convenience stores, and other businesses in Japan, or save them as a digital asset to use as the platform expands. Eventually, the company hopes to create a world where restaurant reviewing — once a volunteer-based hobby — can become a monetized job like those of YouTube stars.
Next on the Menu: Accelerating International Growth
GINKAN has big plans to expand SynchroLife this year following a successful Series A funding round.
“We plan to complete our product-market fit for Japanese users and restaurants and increase our marketing spend while also moving further into overseas markets — particularly in East and Southeast Asia,” Tomochika said. “As such, we want to receive funding from more international investors in our next Series B round.”
The company’s future vision is inspired by the success of the Star Alliance, the most extensive airline membership program in the world.
“We will solve restaurant industry problems around the world, network, and create the Star Alliance of the culinary scene with a token economy utilizing blockchain technology,” Tomochika said.