After 20 years with Fujitsu, Domon decide to pursue his entrepreneurial dream. Taking note of the iPhone’s growing popularity in Japan after SoftBank’s landmark agreement with Apple in 2008, Domon decided that his company would develop iOS apps – with a local Sapporo twist.
Throughout Japan, people often profess their love for the local ramen style (including myself!) the same way that sports fans obsess over their home team. Domon, a self-professed miso ramen devotee, decided to tap into this national – and indeed global – ramen craze by creating an app-based social network for noodle addicts.
“I eat ramen at least 15 times a month,” he says. “Most Japanese probably eat ramen once or twice a month, so heavy eaters like me are a smaller – but more passionate – demographic. The App Store had a lot of general ramen apps, but nothing for the hardcore ramen fanatics.”
Domon’s startup, Clear Inc., launched “Mainichi ga Ramen” (which means “Ramen every day”) for iOS in January 2014 as an alternative to both general dining apps and ramen-specific apps that allow users to rank the shops that they visit.
“Our app is more about making a ramen record to share with other ramen lovers,” Domon explains. “Reviews, like those on Tabelog (Japan’s largest restaurant review site with over 50 million monthly active users), aren’t really useful because they are subjective – everyone has a preference about how hard or soft the noodles are, or how thick or thin the broth is. I might love a bowl of ramen that you hate, so sharing is more important than rating.”
Users are encouraged to snap a photo of their ramen on each visit. The images and check-ins can be sorted by date, individual shop, and ramen style. In addition to miso, Japanese ramen usually falls into one of the following categories, according to base ingredient: shoyu (soy sauce), shio (salt), or tonkotsu (pork bone).
Since debuting a year ago, Mainichi ga Ramen has attracted 15,000 users – 5,000 of which open the app at least once per month. More than 200 bowls of ramen are recorded on the app each day and, at present, there are 13,422 ramen shops in the app’s database. Domon says that, according to his research on the web, there are about 35,300 ramen shops across Japan.
“About 30 percent of our users are in or around Sapporo,” Domon says. “But I hope to see this app deployed all over Japan. Because it attracts serious ramen lovers, we can get more ramen-specific data than our competition.”
“I want to promote ramen culture everywhere, not just in Japan,” he says. “Ramen is popular around the world.”
The startup also launched a multi-language version of Mainichi ga Ramen, called RamenDays (available in English and both simplified and traditional Chinese), and an international version called RamenLove last September.
As a Ramen lover, let’s spread the word of mouth. Next time you’re in japan, you know you need this app. and you know where to find it ! You dont want to miss on a good Ramen spot !A few pictures of the app.