Inspiration

During the last 24 days the amount of people filing for unemployment benefits in Uruguay (total population of 3.5M) hit a record number of almost 60k [1]. Some of the hardest hit industries are food and beverage, hospitality and retail, which are heavily affected by the social distancing recommendations.

At the same time, local street markets are still functioning [2] because many producers depend on that income to support themselves and also because many consumers rely on them to buy affordable food supplies including fruits and vegetables, fresh and processed meat, honey, cheese, and other essential supplies. Unfortunately, this situation puts both merchants and consumers in great danger but the situation will go on until a general lockdown is enforced [3].

Informal workers are also among the most affected by the recent changes and are in critical need of alternative income sources [4].

Some of the people losing their jobs have skills they can leverage, or used to sell their products in local street markets, but are struggling to connect with consumers who are isolated.

The purpose of the app is to alleviate the consequences of the social isolation measures on the local economy by supporting local small businesses, informal workers and street fair merchants who lost their income sources.

At the same time, it will allow users to shop for essential products conveniently and safely, and discover artisanal products while helping support those in most need in their local community.

[1] https://www.montevideo.com.uy/Noticias/Casi-60-000-personas-se-presentaron-al-seguro-de-paro-en-24-dias-record-historico-del-BPS-uc748120 [2] https://www.elobservador.com.uy/nota/imm-solo-habilitara-ferias-que-venden-alimentos-y-tendran-exigencias-2020317201037 [3] https://www.elobservador.com.uy/nota/imm-sobre-ferias-que-incumplieron-decreto-por-coronavirus-estamos-atados-de-manos--2020323191539 [4] https://trabajo.ladiaria.com.uy/articulo/2020/3/coronavirus-y-empleo-preven-aumento-del-gasto-en-seguridad-social-e-incertidumbre-para-los-trabajadores-informales/

What it does

Allow users to discover and buy artisanal products not available through traditional retail chains, for instance: home-made meals, pastry, cereal bars, fruits and vegetables, natural personal care products.

Unlike existing on-demand grocery / delivery platforms, this platform is focused on supporting local small businesses and self-employment initiatives.

How we built it

Day 0 (Thursday) - We started with the project on Thursday afternoon, we brainstormed different ideas and came up with a short-list of 4, and invited our co-workers to vote with a deadline at the end of day.

Day 1 (Friday) - Early in the morning we had voting results and a winning idea was selected. We iterated on the concept, created a business model canvas and did additional research. Prepared surveys for both small businesses and consumers to better understand their needs and validate the product concept.

Day 2 (Saturday) - We did wireframing, sent surveys, and kickstarted development. By the end of the day we narrowed down the scope of the project and had the foundation in place for the 3 software components (backend, CMS and consumer app).

Day 3- (Sunday) - Continue with development and market validation. We started to prepare the project submission. The first functional version is completed by the end of the day. We also complete validation surveys with both producers and consumers.

Challenges we ran into

  • Having many ideas, agree on one to work on.
  • Scope of the solution in order to get progress on every aspect of the solution - analysis and research, validation, and MVP product.
  • Split responsibilities among the team.
  • Differentiate from current platforms available online. Address and support informal workers and handicrafts people, despite willing to help other kinds of business, decided to put our efforts on independent hand-made producers.
  • Validate the solution in each customer segment through an online questionnaire, having some limitations due to quarantine.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

  • Team conformance and share responsibility.
  • Functional MVP version. We complete a full cycle of product development in just 3 days, we set up the main idea and the basis to continue developing and refining the product.
  • Market validation.
  • Hand-made Producers questionary responses. There is a strong need for alternative sales channels.
  • Customers question responses. We validated there is a genuine willingness to support affected populations. First-hand conversations and feedback from producers affected by the situation

What's next for Martín Fierro

Refine product roadmap based on user feedback, and introduce functionality we left out of the scope for the MVP. Some of the ideas we have in mind are:

  • UX and usability improvements
  • Advanced filters (by geolocation, food type, price)
  • Online payments
  • Recurring orders
  • Promotions and bulk discounts
  • Order management features
  • Educational content on the merchant side: marketing and financial tips and tools
  • User reviews
  • Custom recommendations and other social features.
  • Merchant weekly / daily showcase
  • Simplify merchant onboarding by pulling content from Instagram API (pictures, comments, word cloud?).
  • Round-up or optional donations with each purchase to support ONGs and/or buy medical supplies.

We plan to get in contact with association groups of people facing issues due to covid-19 like: Street market association - http://www.asociacionferiantes.com.uy/ Handcrafts market - https://www.mercadodelosartesanos.com.uy/

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