Small business owners and sole proprietors have experienced sharp revenue drops after Covid-19 resulting in many businesses having to make cuts or close down. This has resulted in an increase in unemployment which in turn severely impacts the general well being of the population. In addition, it is these distinctive small businesses that give New York City its personality and attract tourists. The adverse impact on businesses is toppling the economy, all the while the larger franchises and monopolies are making huge increases in their own profits and putting the locals out of business.
What it does
We propose an app where businesses in the same neighborhood with similar domains are matched (using a similarity learning ML model). They can then connect and establish partnerships forming a collaborative ecosystem focused on collective growth, rather than fostering a competitive environment where businesses' trample on each other to succeed. In addition, the app will connect the businesses to potential customers and help them get more reach. The app will also help the business owners streamline an online ordering system should they wish to expand their reach via e-commerce. A dashboard in the app will provide insights into the business's profits and sale trends, impacts of promotions they ran, and other data analytics, as well as propose strategies they can implement to grow and evolve.
The app will be marketed to customers as an e-commerce assistant which they can use as a search tool to see what local businesses within their specified budget and distance range offer the products/services they are looking for and are interested in. The app will also let the customers directly order from the business if they offer a delivery service.
The app brings together small businesses and consumers in a discovery platform. Based on the consumer’s previous spend (from their linked bank data) and location, the app recommends small businesses in the vicinity via the app. Consumers can click to learn more about the businesses, and leave reviews after they have visited the business, or used their services.
How we built it
We established what the community of small businesses could be better served thinking past the COVID-19 pandemic after the botched stimulus checks that were designated to go to them but larger businesses snagged them. From there, we laid out a few basic panels on Figma establishing the low fidelity wireframing that could serve as templates on how a potential user or small business owner would navigate through the app.
Simplicity was a high priority of the development as any confusion or ambiguity would leave the users less likely to utilize the app. With both the business owners and customers having different interfaces, we wanted to have the app be the best place for business owners to both have an idea on their customers through an analytics dashboard and connect with other owners.
To match businesses for potential partnerships we need a distance metric that takes into account the geographical location and the domain, services and product categories of two business and outputs a value indicating their similarity. Using this metric, we can suggest 3-5 other businesses for that the owner can partner with. This can be done using a Similarity Learning ML model that is typically used in recommendation systems and rankings.
Challenges we ran into
Being able to shrink down the scope of our idea to a place where we could complete what we wanted to do. Lack of programming knowledge to implement the idea to the fullest extent. Starting later than most groups. Learning how to use Figma to create the panels.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Coming up with many ideas and narrowing it down with the help of our mentors to create a hack in the allotted time frame. We learned about UI/UX design, and how to use Figma. Being able to establish our pitch on how to present our finalized idea in a concise manner. Thank you to our mentors, Fiona and Mansi for your help! :)
What we learned
We learned about low fidelity and high fidelity wireframing in Figma with the help of our mentor Fiona. Along with learning how to create a prototype and link together the frames with mentor Mansi. Additionally, we had a better understanding on how much small businesses have been affected over the last two years with the importance they put on society.
What's next for Businesses Run Together
An analytics dashboard backed by programmed data, consumer pathway and other pathways. A Google map tracking pop up when you leave the store to leave a review, and establishing a marketing plan with QR codes to download in local established areas