What inspired me to build this project? necessity. When the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic forced me to shelter in place I was lucky enough to be able to work from home. This was until MagicLeap --my employer-- was forced to pivot and left me without a job. With my newly acquired time off I quickly started cycling through ideas to make money. I looked into building a platform for digital nannies (StayHomePlayDate.com) and as well as producing face masks at scale (Protectivos.com). Nothing really stuck until I started noticing a problem with lines outside my local supermarket.
Long lines were frequently forming outside these essential businesses, forcing customers to wait for as long as an hour just to purchase a few food items items. I thought I could help build a queuing system with Mobile Wallet passes to let customers skip the line, like at Disney theme parks.
What it does
FastPass is a simple scheduling service that helps businesses operate in the face of COVID-19. It send out Apple and Google passes to customers so they can shop in a timely way. Businesses can check passes visually or scan them with a barcode or NFC reader to keep an accurate count of shoppers coming inside. Automated reminders and welcome notifications help customers along their journey while following established protocols.
How we built it
Our team was able to build the FastPass solution with a ton of functionality in about a week but we keep adding new features daily. It's a true testament to the power of the Apple and Google Wallet platforms and so we are offering it for free. Not just free to use by businesses that need it, but free to copy and reuse as well. You can check out the full system source here. The frontend was built with Webflow and TypeForm and the backend with Redis, PassNinja, and NodeJs.
Challenges we ran into
Our main challenge was defining what the product should do. We talked with several business owners and laid out a set of features could work for them. Once we had an idea of what to build, getting something working was pretty quick. The Redis datastore was awesome once we got it setup, nothing better than just having variables persist. We had some trouble installing the
jsonredis module in the redislabs.com enterprise cloud database since it didn't appear to be supported there. However, we found
redis-json module on
npm to get going. Redis is almost like a faster version of mongo-db. The PassNinja's API was a great way to generate passes for both Apple and Google Wallets without much fuss. After creating an account on passninja.com and setting up a default pass template, we had something to sow people.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Installing passes in the mobile wallets is pretty novel and really catches people's attention. It's a great way for businesses to establish workable COVID-19 protocols that are easy to enforce. The automated welcome notifications when shoppers arrive at the store ave definitely been a highlight so far. Although we're offering the system for free, we're tracking all the engagements so we'll be able to provide future business value as patterns start to emerge.
What we learned
We're currently deploying FastPass in Puerto Rico and some parts of Miami. The diverse audience in those markets has forced us to have to add localization to our site and service. Using Typeform has been a savior since we can make quick modifications to the form entry without needing to change any code. That has helped us iterate much faster with customers.
What's next for FastPass
We're gaining a bit of traction and we have plenty of businesses that are interested to hear the pitch. We're limited with man power so looking for clever ways to automate our onboarding process to bring our Customer Acquisition Cost.