Inspiration

eBezos’ mission is to set an example of encouraging sustainable consumer spending among ecommerce platforms. We aim to improve outcomes for our users in saving money and gaining better financial literacy.

Most ecommerce sites have the single motive to maximise their company’s profits by targeting users with products, and designing their platforms with clever UIUX that make purchases more likely. Combining this with the greater online shopping activity due to COVID-19, the ease and amount of spending for people will increase. This leads to overspending and consumerism behaviours emerging. Sadly, consumerism has been linked to negative environmental outcomes as well. Fortunately, the youth and young working professionals of today are more aware of their finances, and more easily reached through digital tools that can empower them to make more sensible financial decisions.

Personas are the virtual teachers/guides/companions eBezos uses to assist the user in keeping healthy finances during their online shopping experience. People are unique, and everyone learns differently. So having different kinds of teachers can make a more customisable experience.

What it does

WebApp Implementation

Currently, eBezos is a web-based ecommerce platform where users can shop, budget, and encounter helpful personas.

Let’s say Katie uses our product, And sets a monthly budget/income/saving goal of $1200, $2000, $500

What happens? a pop-up message appears when:

  1. the user enters the site.
  2. the user proceeds to their shopping cart checkout.

The content and personality behind a message changes based on the persona:

Comedic Cat

The funny persona: shames them based on items they are trying to purchase and cracks jokes "e.g. these sneakers might have been sourced from a country with child labour practices”

  1. “Ni Hao friend, you're probably about to buy something that supports poor labour practices in a developing country :’( MeowMeow
  2. “Hmm you got a coupon that can save 80%? Did you know that you can save 100% by not buying anything? Woof - I mean Meow Meow

Rational Raccoon

The logical persona: relies on comparisons, statistics, and logic to convince the user to make better decisions. "you bought a pair of shoes a year ago, on average - they last for 2 years - are you sure you really need this?"

  1. “Katie, people with your income usually spend $1700, I believe that you can manage your money better than them.”
  2. “You’re buying a new sweater? On average, a (item name) lasts for (average lifetime), do you really need to buy this now? Raccoon Noises

Budget Budgie

The money saving bird persona: uses the user’s budget and saving goals to make the user more aware of their finances. "you have x budget remaining for this month, I recommend waiting till next month to buy this"

  1. “Remember Katie, you planned to save $500 this month chirp
  2. “Katie are you curious to know how much per week you have to your budget after buying all of this? It’s exactly $30/week! Can you survive comfortably on that? Birb sounds

Chrome Browser Extension Implementation

We worked on a browser extension version of eBezos - as it would:

  • Have greater user adoption.
  • And pose less of an engineering challenge (relative to a full platform)

Uniquely, the browser extension detects when popular ecommerce sites are navigated to, when the user goes to their shopping cart checkout, and gives budget updates when clicked on.

We managed to scrape the total cart value in Amazon, however, we ran into issues in Firebase integration.

How we built it

We used a combination of React and HTML with JSX to create a clean, efficient UI. SCSS was also utilized to help us add functionality to our CSS when constructing the site.

When we were exploring implementing a browser extension, we also did a lot of development with Python, Selenium, and the Chrome Web Driver. With these three tools at our disposal, we were able to effectively pick out the prices for items a user is viewing on popular shopping websites like Amazon. From there, we would give that data directly to different “personas” that would provide spending advice aligned with their personality. (See the Butter extension below for more details)

Challenges we ran into

  • Time loss and starting with 1 less member than planned: At the start, we kept a spot for a 4th member we wanted in our team, and spent significant time addressing their concerns in joining us. It seemed likely we were going to team up – however, they decided to join a different team a couple hours into the hackathon. The time cost and team spot loss was not ideal.
  • Onboarding efforts wasted, and picking up the slack of a dropout: We recruited a new member halfway through the hack, to help us in UIUX, spending half an hour to onboard them. Later, that person became uncontactable and did not finish their assigned task at the agreed time – we learnt that they decided to pursue other goals and that person left the team after delivering nothing.
  • 1st Pivot: Aspiring for more despite limited manpower: initially we aimed for the ‘Most Useless/Most Funny Hack’ considering our bad start. However, we found that an aspect of our solution could be really useful for improving user finances, and got positive feedback from a mentor when we pitched it. We pivoted, throwing about 8hrs of work out the window.
  • 2nd Pivot: Being ambitious (and in hindsight, unrealistic): to meet the feedback from a sponsor – we pivoted from a webapp to chrome extension implementation. Our team has no experience in firebase, docker, and chrome extension development. Thanks to mentors pointing us in the right direction, we made some progress - however, technical errors, difficulties, and unfamiliarity led to not meeting goals.
  • Internet failure at the most crucial moment: Our member who led the critical frontend, lost their internet for about 2 hours before the submission was due.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

  • Resiliency: Each of us have other commitments, and all of us were tempted to drop out when each setback hit us. We pulled each other along and pulled through to stay in this. For example: one of our members will be pitching at 4.30am his timezone, and he has a full day of work starting at 9am - that’s commitment.
  • Ambition: While we all agree pivoting might not have been the wisest, we are proud of each other for trying. As we knew we could potentially build something cool and useful, rather than taking the easy way out.
  • Delivering a product that demonstrates our Unique Value Point: Not the browser extension we wanted, but it shows the value add we provide to our users.
  • Online Course Speedrun: we had zero chrome browser extension knowledge, so we did a any% speedrun for a 2 hour course on extension building.

Being able to submit despite team member drop outs, internet issues, time zone differences, and pivoting twice.

What we learned

  • We learned that working remotely with colleagues from 3 different time zones is challenging.
  • It’s not over till it’s over.
  • Early feedback makes pivoting more viable.
  • Pivot once, good on you. Pivot twice, what is wrong with you.
  • Limitations of learning from scratch.
  • Humans can...surpass their limits.

What's next for eBezos

  • Implement it fully as a browser extension in the future, thereby making user adoption and engineering easier.
  • Integrate with budgeting and banking APIs for greater integration.
  • Design with accessibility features (vocalise persona messages for the blind...etc).
  • Add gamification elements to the browser extension.
  • Incorporate ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad’ concepts into a persona.

Try it yourself at

https://github.com/salil-naik/hackharvard21

See our ambitious pivot attempt at

https://github.com/codejoey/butter-extension

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