Forbes Japan: Earn Cryptocurrency for Reviews — A Chance for Success for the Restaurant Discovery Social Media Aiming to Take Down Tabelog
Forbes Japan writer Natsuki Fukuoka recently stopped by our office for an exclusive interview with our founder and CEO, Tomochika Kamiya. He asked deep dive questions about SynchroLife’s recent fundraising round, our competitive advantages in the crowded restaurant discovery industry, our services for diners and restaurants, our COVID-19 related support efforts, and more. Thank you Mr. Fukuoka. We’ve translated the interview into English for the international community, check it out below!
Original Japanese Article:
Earn Cryptocurrency for Reviews — A Chance for Success for the Restaurant Discovery Social Media Aiming to Take Down Tabelog
“Omotesando, meat, lunch” — when we don’t know where to go when dining out, many of us search for restaurants by putting in basic keywords like this in our cellphone.
Tabelog, Gurunavi, and Retty have made a business of this in Japan. Their strength is in their large number of restaurant reviews from users, and they have built their businesses by selling advertisement opportunities to restaurants. But in recent years, an increasing number of people have had bad experiences with these services — going to one of their highly-rated restaurants only to be disappointed.
The restaurant discovery industry is red ocean filled with competitors, but there’s one service trying to breakthrough with a “social media x blockchain” model. That’s SynchroLife.
SynchroLife is a restaurant discovery social media platform on a mission to uncover great restaurants that have been hidden by online advertising. It solves the problems of untrustworthy reviews and nontransparent search results by using artificial intelligence to analyze each user’s likes and dislikes to give personalized recommendations. SynchroLife currently has over 210,000 restaurant reviews for over 100,000 restaurants.
The most unique feature of SynchroLife is its “reward system”. It’s the world’s first service to offer cryptocurrency (1) rewards for posting reviews and supporting restaurants. Diners can also earn cryptocurrency cashback when dining at participating restaurants, and restaurants can join the platform for free with zero risks.
*1: In Japan, users receive loyalty points known as “SynchroPoints” which will be exchangeable for “SynchroCoin (SYC)” at a 1-to-1 rate in the future.
GINKAN, the managing company behind SynchroLife, recently announced a $2.6 million USD Series A funding round through a third-party allocation of shares led by MTG Ventures, Inc. This brings GINKAN’s total raised to $3.7 million USD.
SynchroLife says they plan to use the funding raised in this round to further develop SynchroLife to help users uncover truly good restaurants, to further develop their participating restaurant service, and to fund marketing to increase brand awareness and obtain new users. GINKAN is preparing to speed up the growth of its service, but how do they plan to win against Tabelog and Gurunavi? We spoke with their founder and CEO Tomochika Kamiya to learn more.
A New Evolution — Good Reviews x Recommendations
“I think the majority of restaurant discovery services are just the result of the evolution of online marketing. But for restaurants with a limited marketing budget and know-how, these currently existing restaurant discovery services have created a situation where it’s hard for restaurants to get noticed no matter how great their food is,” says Tomochika.
The truly good restaurants don’t come up with a simple search. But to fix this, you need to change the way marketing works between restaurants and diners looking for good food first. SynchroLife found one solution for that was building a social media platform.
“When looking for good restaurants somewhere other than online, most people usually turn to good friends or people they know have a similar taste in restaurants. So when building SynchroLife, I believed it would be easier to find good restaurants through a social media service than general information and news sites. Through social media, it’s easy to connect and share information directly with friends and people with similar interests,” explains Tomochika.
“Additionally, I know many people in the restaurant industry distrust online customer reviews. But not all reviewers are inherently bad. Because SynchroLife is a social media platform, our users are writing reviews to share with their friends and online followers who share similar interests. This has naturally led to less malicious reviews.”
The SynchroLife social media platform is also unique for containing artificial intelligence that analyzes the posts, activities, and user interactions of each user to determine their dining preferences. The search results are personalized to give users reliable recommendations, and it becomes more accurate the more it’s used.
SynchroLife currently has over 100,000 restaurants in the platform and is available in four languages and over 155 countries. They plan to expand overseas further in the future.
“Our reviews are growing daily as users visit restaurants they love and share the joy of a good meal on SynchroLife. Our format is good reviews x recommendations, and I believe this is the next form of evolution for restaurant discovery sites,” says Tomochika.
Original Cryptocurrency as Review Rewards
SynchroLife calls food lovers who are passionate about discovering new good food “eaters”, and the service specifically targets that kind of diner. In order to bring these eaters to SynchroLife and encourage them to stay as reviewers, SynchroLife created a “reward system” as we mentioned above.
“On typical restaurant review sites, there’s only 3% of users who actually post reviews. Why? Because there’s nothing in it for them, no reward for their work. SynchroLife used blockchain technology to build a system that pays reviewers for their high quality and well-received reviews on the platform,” explains Tomochika.
“Restaurant reviews are meant to be fun,” says Tomochika. SynchroLife chose to add rewards, not in the form of cash, but as SynchroLife’s own original cryptocurrency the “SynchroCoin”.
Tomochika explains, “Our number one priority is to keep collecting quality reviews in SynchroLife. We chose to use cryptocurrency for rewards because it’s usable worldwide and has the same value everywhere and to everyone. The reward system gives users their reward based on the trading value at the time they receive their reward. It’s designed so that as SynchroLife grows, the SynchroCoin will grow with it.”
Reviewers can earn SycnhroCoin based on their reviews and the reactions their reviews get from other users. Users can then use the SynchroCoin they’ve saved to purchases gift tickets for major brands in Japan such as the cafe chain Mister Donuts or superstore Don Quijote. After buying the tickets in the app, they can use them in person at stores.
“I’d like to connect our social media platform with other industries and services in the future — including finance, coupons, travel, and more,” says Tomochika.
A Model to Work Side-by-side with Restaurants
What benefits are there for restaurants to join SynchroLife? SynchroLife is actually free to start — there are no joining fees and no monthly fees. The service app for restaurants is also completely free. SynchroLife allows restaurants to promote their restaurant and do CRM marketing by only paying 1~5% of their total sales from SynchroLife customers as results-based-compensation.
Tomochika shares his thoughts on why he chose this system. “Before launching SynchroLife, I spent 10 years helping restaurants with promoting and advertising their businesses. Working with almost 1,400 restaurants, I learned that while restaurants are often dependent on online and print media, they rarely manage their own customer data. They might send out coupons or email newsletters through big media services, but they don’t know the important basics like how many times each customer has been to their restaurant.”
“Our goal is to build a business model that works alongside restaurants to benefit us both. That’s why we chose to require no monthly fees, and only take payment as compensation when restaurants get actual diners from SynchroLife or the CRM starts working.”
Lately, restaurants have struggled to deal with government requests to close due to COVID-19. When business gets tough, marketing is normally the first thing restaurants cut. But what about SynchroLife?
“COVID-19 has had devastating effects on the restaurant industry. But because SynchroLife has no monthly fees, there’s no risk or costs in continuing to use it. It’s a good business model for a bad economy,” answers Tomochika.
SynchroLife also recently released a feature that uses AI to recommend delicious takeout. They’re working to help restaurants recover in a post-COVID-19 world and helping food lovers find new ways to enjoy dining out.
“SynchroLife is a restaurant discovery social media platform where users uncover hidden restaurants offering amazing dining experiences. By opening this social media platform to restaurants, we’ve begun disrupting the restaurant industry’s traditional advertisement model with a token economy. We launched features for restaurants to attract customers both now and post-COVID-19 after seeing how dramatically the restaurant industry has been affected by COVID-19. Going forward, we will continue to contribute to the future betterment of the restaurant industry,” says Tomochika.
Thank you again to Forbes Japan and writer Natsuki Fukuoka for taking the time to speak with our founder and CEO Tomochika Kamiya in this exclusive interview!
You can read the original Japanese article below:
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SynchroLife is the app loved by eaters — the world's first social restaurant review platform with crypto rewards…
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Official Website: https://synchrolife.org
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SynchroLife Mobile App:
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Android Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=jp.co.synchrolife