Partner Connect App

The shifts in supply and demand brought about by coronavirus and lock-down highlighted the need for transparent, sustainable and resilient local supply chains.

The demand for online grocery deliveries went through the roof. But many small farmers previously supplying the hospitality sector saw a 25%-100% fall in revenue.

Those who continued trading, experienced:

• Inflated advertising costs as many businesses rushed to a new sector
• Up-front investment to adapt packaging, order preparation and delivery methods
• New payment methods
• Need to partner with other local producers to diversify product range

In this challenge we decided to focus on helping local businesses collaborate using a smartphone app.

They already self-organise using whatsup groups and word of mouth. We designed the app wireframes (see link below). It has a message board, an ability to search by business type and connect with others, as well as data-driven demand insights including demand shift predictions. It will help them build a community, a robust network of local small businesses that are otherwise unaware of each other's existence despite their proximity, and react to changes together. Also can connect with a partner in another industry sector or region if they see demand changes in that direction.

Farmer collaboration quote:

“We added new complementary products such as: olive oil, dehydrated tomatoes, chickpeas, corn, rice, things that can be combined with salads. We distribute them from Home Garden, a company that packs them locally.”

Our video pitch:

App Designs password: covid19

Link to producer stories:

Link to slides:

Our Story

Coronavirus panemic has disrupted food supply chains with demand moving away from hospitality and towards home consumption, local shops and NGOs. Wastage is prominent amongst producers (small farms who lost out on sales to hospitality), whilst self-isolating or panicked consumers are struggling to get delivery slots.

Supply chains can be fragile, and the small businesses behind them in a crisis situation struggle to pull out as they have nowhere to turn to, no safety net to fallback to. This is where we come in offering a solution that has a potential to disruptthing in the supply ecosystem, with impact in a grand scale starting from a small region in Romania and potentially expanding all over Europe.

We evaluated several options, all derived from real challenges faced by producers, that have become now imminent because of the pandemic and have looked at thebusiness needs from a specific case study, coming from a region in Romania where Sebastian in our team comes from and speaks from experience. He speaks of a success story, where local businesses had to pull resources together and come up with innovative ways to survive during this thunderstorm of covid-19. It all happened using whatsapp groups and word of mouth as means to organise and adapt to the new circumstances; this showed the clear need for an app that could facilitate their collaboration.

We can provide them with the tools that could help them build a community, a robust network of local small businesses that are otherwise unawareof each other's existence despite their proximity. The app can also give them the much-needed market insights in order to be able to make critical decisions that could even become a life line, especially in times when they need to act fast to prevent a looming financial disaster. In better times, they can always turn to it to improve what they have, built on other people’s experience and increase their profits. The app can provide a real time basis shift in demand for their industry and theycan view recommendations on what they can do based on what other similar businesses are doing. Using the app they can find other businesses to partner with, collaborate and pull resources. Together becoming more resilient to crises.

During the weekend we have spent our time discussing the business problems, weinitially started with an idea on the client side, until Sebastian joined in and provided us with information and data from real businesses in Romania and then we reached a consensus as to which specific one to address. We then proceeded to prepare designs and a presentation to make our case for why we believe we can make adifference. We put all our energy and resources understanding the business needs and putting together a concrete proposal that would address the problem. Time got cut a bit short when we realised that the video was mandatory and we haven’tsharpened our video editing skills prior to this hackathon. Whether we were able to make it in the end you must know if you are reading this.

It is devastating to think that there are farmers out there as an example that comesto mind, that from one day to the next can end up with huge amounts of perishablegoods that they have to throw away because of a sudden hole in the supply chain and no idea when the demand has shifted. We would like more than anything tosolve this problem and we feel that the answer lies in data. A privilege that they can’tafford as small business and currently only enjoyed by the major retailers who arebig enough to afford it and need it much less. The answer also lies in building acommunity around them. The crisis is teaching us all that we need to change ourways of working and we need each other to get through the difficult times. It is foreveryone’s benefit share knowledge and resources, which could come in manydifferent ways. As an example could be a shared workforce. Information about whatothers need locally and what you need for your own business can be found in the News feed section you will see in the designs, inspired by other apps that have donethis successfully. This will be invaluable in times of crisis as a tool, it doesn’t already exist and couldhave big impact to small businesses of multiple industries and isn’t not location-specific, it is something that can be used all over Europe. It just needs the right people coming together to create something of real value. Sebastian gives us one example of a business that increased its profits by 3% because of a new product that came out after collaboration with another business selling a different product. And that is one product for one company.

We have included mobile app designs to give a rough idea of what we had in mindbut as immediate needs we will be focusing on using some basic tools like typeformsurvey (to collect supplier info) and even spreadsheets, more manual communitymanagement and even calls with suppliers. This will inform how to build it intoplatform and give us time to prepare and plan things really well before fledging a fullyengineered solution.We will be needing some initial funding to cover the costs of setting this up initially in Romania using all the basic tools while working towards a prototype with the help ofa UX designer (aiming to have an initial prototype in 2 weeks to start with).

Once weare ready with the product we will need a Community manager to help us withgetting the businesses registered, explain the product etc and of course marketing. The value of your solution(s) after the crisis.

After the crisis it can still be of great value, providing the already registered userswith insights on how to make better decisions for their business, increase their profitsand prepare them for how to cope and react quickly when there are unexpected influxes or holes in demand.

App Designs password: covid19

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