Our team aimed to accomplish something with a social impact. We considered what problems could be felt by portions of the population that are uncommon in North America. This brought us to think about East and Southeast Asia and the large influence of the informal sector composed of night markets and fake markets in these regions. We wanted in some way to improve upon these markets without restricting their freedom with additional regulations and requirements.
What it does
StreetSavvy is an application that connects small businesses and their stands with interested consumers. Individual vendors can create product listings along with location tags for their booths while customers can search for products that interest them in their area. For example, a customer in Taiwan would be able to pull up the app and view all the menus of the street vendors down a busy street in a night market. This service brings some the benefits of formal businesses, such as easier consumer accessibility, to the informal sector without restricting these independent vendors with too much red tape.
How we built it
Challenges we ran into
Nobody on our team had experience with Android App Development so we had to get over the hurdle of learning a new skill in such a short period of time. By extension, we also had a hard time learning how to integrate APIs into our system.
What we learned
In developing our project and receiving feedback from various groups, we learned that there is much more to consider outside the technical side of the product. We had to brainstorm and examine potential problems with funding, fraud, or even the response of vendors when met with such a program. For example, we considered what would happen if vendors with similar products but not as competitive prices were suddenly pressured to advertise their merchandise. Those with higher prices may actually be forced to diversify in their products because consumers would be able to clearly see cheaper alternatives. On the other hand, the listings are, of course, purely composed of self-reported data, which maintains elements of the informal sector.
What's next for Street Savvy
If we had more time to improve our product, we would work on including a messaging component between vendors and customers. This would allow interested customers to communicate with vendors in a manner similar to customer-vendor communication with platforms like Alibaba. Although this feature would require the creation of an account, we would still make the application accessible to those who do not wish to make an account if all they hope to do is browse through nearby listings. In addition to this, we would hope to add registration fees for vendors in order to gain revenue to maintain the service while also providing another way of verifying vendors' identities.
Moreover, we would spend time improving and polishing our existing features. For example, we originally intended to allow vendors to include photos of their products with their listings, but did not have enough time to implement this feature. We would improve upon our list view function to better match our original design. This would involve spending more time with the Google Maps Distance Matrix API to determine the real-time distance between customer and vendor.