FOCUS Co., Ltd.
I want to spread the charm of forsythia tea! What is the new financing scheme created by the agricultural DAO?
Converting forsythia tea into NFT and realizing promotion even for unions without funds
Forsythia tea is a healthy tea that contains more than 6 times more polyphenols than spinach. This tea has a delicious natural sweetness and is caffeine-free and recommended for everyone. Such a forsythia tea production association was facing problems such as a shortage of bearers and a lack of promotional funds. FOCUS Co., Ltd.
(Headquarters: Minato-ku, Tokyo; President and CEO: Hisoka Kada) is collaborating with OUCHI DAO (Representative Junma Kawasaki) to tackle this issue with a completely new scheme called Agricultural DAO that utilizes NFT. increase. We asked Ms. Kanako Ogawa, the person in charge of sales of Rengyocha, who is a member of the Rengyocha Research Society Corporate Association, and Hisoka Kada, CEO of FOCUS Co., Ltd., to talk about this project.
Forsythia, established as the town flower of Shiunji Town
-What kind of plant is forsythia?
Ogawa: It is a plant with beautiful yellow flowers in April. In flower arrangement, it is called yeshunka and is used as the first task of spring. Forsythia seeds have been used as herbal medicines since ancient times.
About 30 years ago, Shiunji Town in Shibata City, Niigata Prefecture, which produces forsythia tea, established forsythia as the town’s flower. At that time, I distributed two forsythia seedlings to each household and asked them to plant them on the side of the road. It came to be called Rengyo Highway.
-It was originally established in Shiunji Town as an ornamental plant. Please tell us how you came to use it as an ingredient for tea. Ogawa: The fruit of forsythia has been used as a crude drug, but Dr. Seibu Sansho of Hokkaido Medical University noticed that both the leaves and stems contained the same ingredients, and together they made tea. It all started with the question of why not.
More than 6 times the polyphenol content of spinach and delicious -What is the appeal of forsythia tea?
Ogawa: As an ingredient, it is characterized by its rich polyphenol content, with a prephenol content of 8290mg per 100g. This is more than 6 times more than spinach, and I think it’s attractive to be able to easily take it in the form of tea.
Also, health tea has an image of being bitter or not tasty, but it is really delicious with a natural sweetness. Isn’t it the best when it’s delicious and good for your body?
Kada: It’s really delicious, isn’t it? When I first heard about it, I had an image of a peculiar healthy tea, but it’s not like that at all. It’s a delicious tea that you can drink after meals, so I think it’s amazing that you can get a lot of polyphenols with this. I don’t feel like I’m doing my best to drink for my health. It’s caffeine-free, so it’s safe for women and children, and it’s also recommended for middle-aged and older men.
Ogawa: Recently, it is being used more and more, such as being sold in rice flour cookies. Also, not only the taste but also the aroma is good. You can use it as an incense burner, and if you crush the branches, they make great bath salts. The other day, I used green tea leaves in the sauna as a bath, and it was very well received. Lack of workers for forsythia tea production is an issue
-Mr. Ogawa, how did you get involved in forsythia tea?
Ogawa: My hometown is Shiunji Town, and I grew up drinking forsythia tea and watching the manufacturing process from a young age. I really liked forsythia tea and was confident that it was a good product, but I felt a sense of crisis that the producers were aging and the situation could not continue.
While working in another job in Tokyo, I first became involved in forsythia tea as a volunteer. That was about 6 years ago now. Forsythia is a plant with a strong vitality, so it can grow even if left alone, but harvesting and processing require manual labor and physical strength.
However, the producers are mainly silver crew in their 70s and 80s, and it is an urgent task to train young bearers.
For 16 years since 2007, the Forsythia Tea Research Association, which produces forsythia tea, has been operated solely by volunteers. It’s difficult without it.
So, my mission was to somehow get more people to know about forsythia tea and lead them to buy it.
If you actually drink it, the charm should be conveyed
-What kind of promotions have you been doing since Mr. Ogawa got involved? First of all, I thought that the charm would not be conveyed unless people actually drank it, so I opened a lot of stores at real events. In Niigata Prefecture, organic markets, regional events, and in Tokyo, we have sampled and sold at antenna shops in Niigata, and we have a pop-up store at Scramble Square in the midst of Corona. We also held a forsythia festival.
Thankfully, visitors have praised it as “delicious and easy to drink,” and many people buy it on the spot after tasting it. There are many repeat customers who purchase from the EC site.
After that, as part of branding, let’s review the price and
presentation of the product. We’ve been selling it at a very low price so far, so we set the price to convey that it’s really good. In addition, the utilization of the Web such as EC sales is an initiative that I started after I participated.
I wanted them to recognize the value of what they were producing. -How did the members of the Silver Crew who have supported the union react to Mr. Ogawa’s new initiative?
Ogawa: I had a lot of bumps in the beginning. Everyone wanted to “provide a lot of good things at a low price”, and there was almost no idea of increasing profits. I felt that it would be nice if I could have a banquet at a hot spring twice a year with the profit of forsythia tea. That’s fun, and it’s not a bad thing at all, but I strongly thought, “With this profit structure, young people won’t grow, and forsythia tea will die out.
When I proposed to package the product in small portions and set a new price, there was a lot of resistance at first. However, after I became involved, all of the forsythia tea stock was sold out. I was able to finally get the people involved in the silver crew to understand that the forsythia tea that we make is so valuable. I got it. It took me about a year to get there.
Then, in 2020, we finally decided to start full-scale development in the Kanto region, but due to the bad timing of the corona crisis, development was almost stopped for the past two years.
How does a union with no funds do promotion?
-Meanwhile, Mr. Ogawa consulted Mr. Kada.
Kada: Mr. Ogawa asked me if there was a better way to spread the use of forsythia tea. The first thing I found difficult was the lack of funding, as it had been run by volunteers. FOCUS runs a business that introduces products to the general public and influencers, so we can match them in terms of what we are working on, but of course it costs money.
So, the next thing I thought about was crowdfunding to collect funds. However, in the case of crowdfunding, about 20% of the collected funds are taken to the platformer as a fee. Furthermore, even if funds were collected through crowdfunding, how would Mr. Ogawa find an
advertising agency and spread the word? I have to solve it. The initial cost is high, and in order to succeed, it is a world that cannot be established unless someone who understands the know-how of crowdfunding to some extent intervenes.
That’s how I arrived at a platform called “OUCHI finance”, where I tried to sell lotus tea as an NFT.
Sell forsythia tea with NFT and make promotion funds
-Please tell me in detail what kind of scheme it is
Kada: In the first place, OUCHI finance is a decentralized exchange operated by OUCHI DAO (representative Junma Kawasaki), and I am also the COO of OUCHI DAO. OUCHI finance is a platform mainly for buying and selling NFT real estate. The number of OUCHI token holders has already reached 8,000, and it will be possible to raise funds by converting and selling forsythia tea here.
Converting forsythia tea to NFT means not only selling tea, but also recruiting supporters to support forsythia tea. In particular [Image 13
・With one seedling nameplate
*Includes one message of support for producers
・Forsythia flowers (every April)
・Forsythia tea 30g (every October)
・Distribution of OUCHI tokens equivalent to 5% of EC site sales The above is granted to the NFT purchaser as a right for 3 years. We have been selling a limited number of 50 units since the beginning of September, but some people have purchased multiple units due to their popularity. What everyone who has purchased this product has in common is their enthusiasm to support a new agricultural initiative called forsythia tea and blockchain.
This is the beginning of the first agricultural DAO conducted by OUCHI DAO. It is a scheme that the funds collected by purchasing this NFT will be used as it is for the promotion of Forsythia tea conducted by FOCUS. In this form, the union does not bear any financial burden.
You don’t need to have detailed knowledge about NFT
-What was the reaction when you told this story to everyone in the union? Ogawa: As expected, it was difficult to get people to understand me, since they are in their 70s and 80s.
In the first place, what is blockchain, what is NFT? In a sense, I remember when I was told at the time of signing the contract, “You’ve definitely been deceived. You’re going to take all your assets!” [Image 14
Kada: As I just explained, the funds collected from the purchase of NFTs will be used directly for the promotion, so the union will not bear any costs. However, it seems that misunderstandings occurred in the contract, and they thought, “There is no such thing as a good deal.”
Ogawa: But Mr. Kada explained it to the person who directly doubted it on ZOOM. As a result, I feel that I was able to understand that it was like “a crowdfunding without taking out”. I could tell that he was really polite and spoke with love.
Kada: I think it is difficult to get people who are not familiar with blockchain, NFT, SNS, etc. to understand the mechanism correctly, not just the elderly. That’s why I’m okay with it now. OUCHI DAO and FOCUS will handle everything, so there is no need to bother the producers. [Image 15
Perhaps in the future, I think that you will be able to realize “Is this what it was?” For those who purchase NFT, we will present one seedling in the form of a forsythia seedling in the field with the purchaser’s name plate and a message to the producer. I think that when these seedlings are lined up in the field, they will be interested in the producers, so I think they will feel that it is worth explaining again.
-Agriculture and blockchain have the furthest sense of category Kada: That’s why the response from the OUCHI DAO community was amazing. It is a so-called agricultural DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization), but there are almost no cases in which DAOs are directly involved in agricultural production in Japan. Two passions support this project: I want to support the wonderful tea called forsythia tea, and I want to be involved in the birth of new value creation.
I want to make forsythia tea a successful example of agricultural DAO [Image 16
-What are your future goals for this project?
Ogawa: Anyway, I want to increase the opportunities for people to actually drink forsythia tea. We have already decided to exhibit at Blockchain EXPO and Organic EXPO, and we will also be entering events such as department stores in the future. Furthermore, we would like to expand our business to overseas countries with tea culture, such as Singapore, Malaysia, and Dubai.
I personally think that forsythia tea is really good, and it is well received by the members who drink it in the company.
Also, if this project succeeds, it will be the first example of a new form of crowdfunding in Japan, so it will give hope and courage to rural agricultural producers who are also suffering from labor shortages, financial difficulties, and product recognition. I wonder if it will be done.
The great thing about this scheme is that even if you don’t know anything about NFTs or blockchains, you can leave everything to us because we are in the middle. If you are an agricultural producer who is having issues with fundraising or promotion, please feel free to contact us.
OUCHI DAO will exhibit at Blockchain EXPO Fall, which will be held at Makuhari Messe for three days from October 26th (Wednesday) to 28th (Friday), 2022. On the day of the event, we will be selling forsythia tea and selling forsythia tea NFTs at the booth, so please come and visit us!
Click here to apply to visit Blockchain EXPO Autumn
OUCHI DAO booth “2-12”
Company name: FOCUS Co., Ltd.
Date of establishment: March 2017
Capital: 193 million yen (including capital reserves, etc.)
Representative: President and CEO Hisoka Kada
Head office location: Albergo Nogizaka 406, 9-6-28 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-0052
Business: Advertising, website creation, application development, marketing consulting
Details about this release: