What inspired us?
The social distancing measures for COVID-19 suppression made us feel helpless in the comfort of our home while there were people and businesses suffering tremendously. We felt the desire to help but didn't know how to. This continued until one of our team members got an email from his barber asking for help. It was a really personal email to all his clients explaining in a very transparent manner how if his clients bought products or booked haircuts it would help him to a great extent. The response he received was great and a few weeks later all his clients received another email thanking them for helping him not shut down. This led to the idea Break Even, it’s simple if more people knew exactly how their local businesses struggle they would be able to help. A clear call to action from both local business and the public.
We are aware that businesses are suffering. Most of us want to support them but do not know exactly how. Break Even is a solution that creates an interface that could visualize exactly how much help a business needs in real-time. Customers then get a definite way to act and help the community to ¨break-even¨.
The problem we are solving?
1) Giving a platform to local business to share their struggles transparently.
2) Helping community understand how they can contribute positively to this crisis.
Thus, this interface quantifies the dire support that the businesses need which can be tangible enough to make a direct connection with customers.
Based on market research conducted on over 100 consumers 84.8% of people knew the local business around them were struggling but did not how to help
Create a platform where local businesses can showcase how many services they need to sell to break even so that they don't need to shut down. This visualization will make it clear to local communities/how to help and to what extent. This creates a possibility of uniform distribution of support from the community to the businesses that are struggling more than others. The local businesses that need an extra push to reach the break-even point on a daily/weekly/monthly basis will be prioritised.
By providing a platform that visualizes how much local businesses are suffering it creates possibilities for getting the right help that is needed either from the public or even other stakeholders that would like to support. By doing this we stop businesses from shutting down which directly impacts the economy of a country, additionally there is a knock on effect that by saving local business you are saving people's jobs and helping the economy run in tough times. This solution is easy to be implemented on a local, regional and international level since this is a problem that is being faced worldwide with a clear call to action that has direct impact.
How We plan to Build it
We created Break Even in Figma and made a clickable prototype as a proof of concept and foundation for iterations to develop our concept. Beyond this, we used After effects to more easily display our idea and present the solution. To take this further we want to first create our platform as an app. In this app, we would include sign-up for businesses to create the badge and also to initially submit manual updates about their orders. After initial testing, we will make this as automated as possible by integrating it with their ordering services API to read live updates of orders and sums. For business owners using this app a business owner creates a 'Tag' where it clearly states the number of services required to be sold to break even. This 'Tag' is easily integrated to other platforms that the business owner has such as Instagram, Facebook or their own websites. In the future we would like to integrate this 'Tag' in bigger ordering platforms such as Uber Eats, Foodora, OpenTable etc.We want to develop our “Tag” in our MVP package to confirm our idea of intended value and usability.
It has come to our attention that the interface can be misused by businesses to float their daily costs and exaggerate the requirement of orders in our application which might cause problems to other small businesses that may be struggling more in the community. This becomes an obstacle to create a reliable and transparent platform. However, we are working on some local Mitigation techniques. For example, in Sweden, all the financial details of any registered businesses are available online (https://www.allabolag.se/). We are investigating to use this open-data resource to not only authenticate the data provided by the businesses but to also help businesses in the calculation of the break-even point.
Our team is based in Sweden, where no complete lockdown measures have been taken due to COVID-19 yet, we have concluded that the concept is still valid for a lot of businesses. We think that the concept will be much more useful for other countries which have been impacted drastically. Since the aim is to just create an online interface in the form of an app and/or a website, it is easily scalable to other countries.
Our team is not aware of any other services globally, which showcases the status of the struggling local businesses in a transparent way directly to the consumers to provide them with a definite way to act.
Accomplishments that We are proud of
We decided to interact with as many business owners as possible to understand the situation at ground zero and then start the development considering their valuable feedback. We are very grateful with the support from the community and the business owners as well. So far, within a week since we started to work in this idea, we have 6 businesses fully on-board for the pilot testing which we aim to implement in the coming 2-3 weeks.
What we learned
The COVID-19 shutdowns have impacted a lot of local businesses around the EU ranging in all sectors. Both large chains and small local owners are affected. We could see that when the time comes there is a big need for a systematic restart of the economy where both the community and the businesses need to help each other. In the meantime, there is a need as well for the businesses to reach out to their customers who are already ¨online¨ and the customers do want to help the businesses directly as well if only they know a definite way to ACT.
What's next for Break-Even
We truly believe that this idea needs to be implemented as soon as possible since the businesses are struggling all over the EU due to lockdown and social distancing measures in different countries. We aim to finalise the online interface (app/website) and take at least 25 businesses in Sweden online for pilot testing within the next 2-3 weeks. Then with continuous iterations depending upon the feedback from the users and the stakeholders, we aim to expand to all the Businesses affected in the entire EU region in the coming months.