Local producers, like farmers and fishermen, are undoubtedly the driving forces of the today's food supply chain, trade, and market. However, one of the major issues seen repeatedly in almost all countries with a lot of local producers, is that they can't sell their short-lived produce in time before they rot. This is because most of the local producers must rely on companies or middlemen to come to their place, and directly buy the produce from them. These companies and middlemen would then most likely supply it to shops, restaurants, and other companies, at a much higher price. Then, these shops, restaurants, and companies would also resell it to their own customers. This cycle happens repeatedly, which then leads us to the other problem, that consumers like us normal people, especially people in developed countries, must pay a very high price for the produce. This is our inspiration to create a platform which will help local producers sell their produce quickly and efficiently, while also ensuring that the final consumers at the very end of the supply chain pay a much cheaper price for their fresh products, along with having many more choices to pick from.

What it does

Connext is a platform which directly connects local producers to consumers, supports partnership between SME's and local producers, and encourages the local producers to learn more about technology or finance services. The local producers can sign up on the platform, and add products to the platform. They can also specify their production capacity, and the stock. Customers are able to search on the platform for products, and they can specify very specific attributes of the products they want, in order for the system to get the exact product they want. When they come to a product they are interested in, that are able to click on the text feature or call them through the app, without having to dial the phone number, which some eliminates confusion and personal data problems. Customers can make 2 types of orders, which are features for 2 different types of consumers. Normal people who want to buy the produce in small amounts may do so by making a one-time order, while larger businesses, like factories or restaurants who need the produce all year long can make a long-term order, which the local produces must constantly ship out fresh products. For example, a long-term order could be to ship out the 50kg of the produce every 28th day of the month. All customers have many options for payment of their products and shipping fee, like bank transfer, credit or debit card, and e-wallet payment. After the payment is confirmed, the local producers will get a notification for whenever they need to ship out the products. An AI will also help them predict how much they need to produce in order to keep up with the demand. If they don't have packaging materials, they can request for the supply drop-off after paying a packaging fee. After they've packaged their materials, they can simply schedule a free pickup at their place, so they don't have to go anything with all of their produce. We will completely handle all of the logistics, by hiring our own delivery trucks to be part of our fleet, which ensures that all of the produce is delivered in a good state, that each type of product is handled correctly, and lessens the overall price of delivery. After the delivery is complete, the customers can click on a button to confirm that they have already received the products, and that they have arrived in good shape. The money will be immediately stored in the local producer's NextWallet, but a 1-2% commission fee will be deducted from that total. This is an e-wallet with many features, like money transfer, buying from other local producers, shopping online, taking out a loan, and using the e-wallet for offline transactions at local shops. By making all the money they receive go into this e-wallet, it encourages and almost mandates them to learn more deeply about online financial services and technology. If they don't understand how to use any features of the app, there are tutorial videos for them to watch, and support forums. Some local producers don't have hardware to run this app on in the first place, so we will offer "free" hardware to eligible local producers, but they must pay a 5% commission fee to us for all the money that they make through the platform for the next 1-2 years, depending on how much they make. Some local producers don't learn about technology very quickly, so we will also offer assistant services, where an assistant will come to their place, and teach how to use the app, while also helping manage the orders. This will cost the local producers an assistant fee.

How we built it

In the future, if the platform were to be built, there would have to be a team who speak local languages come to aid in making the app in different languages that the local producers speak. The UI/UX would have to designed to make it easy to use for everyone. After the UI/UX is made, the programming would start, which would take a few months to complete. Key feature of the app which require a lot of attention to detail would be the NextWallet, the logistics and tracking system, payment system, and system of orders along with the AI to help manage the production capacity. We will need to find partners to help manage the financial services in our application, like national banks. Then, we would need to find human resources to be our assistants and customer service team. Finally, we would get to publicize and market the application, by using flyers, posters, and online advertisements to attract different groups of target customers.

Challenges we ran into

A challenge that we ran into is that the local producers don't know how to use the technology that we're making for them, or even had any hardware to run the application on. Therefore, we would give these commonly excluded people some opportunities by giving them the "free" devices, where they would have to pay us a 5% commission fee for all the orders they make for a period of time, much like a loan system. Upon receiving the hardware, they will be briefed simply on how to use the hardware, enough so that they will be able to navigate to find the tutorial videos and watch them themselves. The tutorial videos will be on many topics, like how to use the platform, using NextWallet, how to implement their knowledge, and just about the internet or online financial services. Another worry that we had was that we saw that many e-commerce companies might copy our innovation to try to compete with us. However, we have many unfair advantages and unique qualities, which are that the application is offered in the local producer's own language, companies or middlemen can't sell on this platform, it is beginner-friendly and very supportive of learning, the delivery is completely managed for them, it can be used for long-term orders, there is a built-in e-wallet, and that we are the very first ones to ever create this kind of platform.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

The accomplishment that we are most proud of is understanding the pain point that is experienced by almost all local producers around the world. This is by researching and surveying different people to see their perspectives on the topic. It was relatively difficult to realize what was the real problem that was causing this, and why it is happening. Therefore, we are very happy to present a possible solution to this problem. Also, we figured out how to make simple-looking UI which would make it easy for the local producers and beginners to use. This was also difficult, as it requires a lot of feedback from people to see if it was really as simple to use as we think.

What we learned

Something we learned during this hackathon is about teamwork skills. For example, we learned how to manage time, because we had very limited time to create all of the UI, idea, and the pitch. We had to start from scratch, and do all of the research ourselves, because this is a completely new application that has never been thought of before. To manage time, we must find the talents of each person, and distribute the work accordingly, and equally at the same time. We also learned to work in a team, to be patient, and to accept that we all have weaknesses and strengths in different things. We believe that these skills are important, as collaboration is key to create a successful start-up, or in almost any other field.

What's next for Connext

We believe that this platform has the potential to grow into a global platform that is needed in society. Our plans are to start in the in Southeast Asia, where there are a lot of local producers. If we succeed, we will expand to other parts of Asia, then to Africa, and eventually to Europe and all other continents. This means there will be diverse customers selling all different sorts of their produce online. We hope that this application will lessen the oversupply of produce, bring technology to a new group of users, and have them implement their knowledge. Our application is designed to be a starter platform, and a bridge for them to cross into the technology world, which will ultimately improve the overall life quality of these local producers.

Built With

  • davinciresolve17
  • googleslides
  • microsoftword
  • photoshop
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