The food truck industry is a billion-dollar industry with a strong future of projected growth. However, the onset of the pandemic profoundly impacted the food service industry as a whole, sparking our curiosity to explore how food truck vendors navigated these challenging times. To gain valuable insights, we conducted interviews with food truck owners in the Metro Detroit, Michigan area. Interestingly, a significant number of vendors expressed dissatisfaction with the existing platforms available in the market, revealing their reliance on these platforms solely due to the absence of superior alternatives. Our interviews with food truck vendors in the Metro Detroit area unearthed several key insights:
- Burdensome Service Charges: The average mobile food ordering service in the market imposed a substantial 15-30% fee per order, depleting the vendors' already slim margins. Consequently, vendors resorted to advertising inflated prices on these platforms, inadvertently shifting the burden of service charges onto the customers. This resulted in customers having to pay not only for their ordered items but also an additional service charge, ultimately eroding their inclination to tip generously.
- Geolocation Obstacles: Food trucks, by nature, frequently change their locations throughout the week. Communicating their whereabouts to potential customers in the vicinity has been an ongoing challenge, impeding their reach and revenue potential.
- Fragmented Menus and Operational Inefficiencies: Existing platforms in the market compelled food trucks to maintain separate menus on each platform, leading to outdated menu items and pricing discrepancies. The absence of centralized management further exacerbated the difficulties associated with auditing and tracking orders, hindering operational efficiency.
Identifying the significant challenges faced by both customers and food truck vendors, we recognized the need to focus on essential features to create a successful solution. This led to the birth of NomStreet earlier this year, our innovative platform is poised to address these pain points and revolutionize the food truck industry.
What it Does
NomStreet is a user-friendly platform that provides a seamless experience for customers while offering easy integration for food truck vendors via Square.
NomStreet allows customers to discover and order halal food options from nearby food trucks using their mobile devices. Through the platform, customers can conveniently navigate a map to find food trucks in their vicinity, filter vendors by cuisine, and explore detailed information such as reviews, ratings, and the latest menu. Orders can be easily placed using Google Pay (with Apple Pay support coming soon), and customers can track their order status, receive pickup notifications, and access receipts.
For vendors, NomStreet integrates smoothly with their Square profile, populating their menu on the application and processing orders directly. All orders seamlessly appear on the vendor's existing point-of-sale (POS) system. Additionally, NomStreet allows halal food trucks to share their live location with customers and control their availability on the platform, all at no cost to the vendor. To sustain the service, NomStreet charges customers a flat fee of $0.99 per order.
How we built it
We built out the square integrations points (i.e the vendor registration, menu and checkout flows) during this hackathon. Being a bootstrapped project with limited time and resources we elected to use react native for the mobile application and NextJs for the website and API (hosted on Vercel). We also use Firebase for authentication, hosting the database and logging/monitoring. All mockups and design work was done in Figma. Square SDK was used for integration with square.
Challenges we ran into
The biggest challenge I personally had was to get over the fear of mishandling money in the checkout step. I spent a significant amount of time making sure that the flow was one that maintain sufficient security. Additionally, with the recent major updates from NextJs (version 13), a lot of the backend application had to be restructured to play nice with the latest release.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We take great pride in the remarkable progress we have achieved with NomStreet within a relatively short time frame. Despite not being in full production yet, we can already glimpse the promising future ahead. NomStreet represents our first venture with significant potential to establish itself as a viable business. Undertaking the initial steps of incorporating NomStreet and gaining insights into the legal and logistical aspects of running a business has been an exhilarating experience for our team.
What we learned
Our journey with NomStreet has revealed that building a map-based application integrating with a payment system is far more intricate than meets the eye. As a solo founder, I have gained a deep appreciation for the invaluable role of tools like Trello in documenting progress and, most importantly, managing scope creep effectively. This experience has provided us with crucial insights and strategies to successfully navigate the complexities of developing and managing a comprehensive technology solution like NomStreet.
What's next for NomStreet?
Throughout our journey, we have identified numerous valuable features that would enhance the NomStreet application. In the near future, we are excited to implement push notifications, enabling proactive updates to customers regarding their order status. Additionally, we intend to collaborate with Square to facilitate delivery options for customers, eliminating the need for in-person pickup and providing a seamless ordering experience. These upcoming developments will further elevate the convenience and user satisfaction offered by NomStreet.