COVID-19 has left no industry unscathed. Among the numerous businesses and individuals that have felt the affects of COVID, none are more hurt than the restaurant industry.
Over the course of the pandemic, the industry has seen an overall decrease of customer traffic by 54% and revenue streams in general have declined by 25%. This has left the industry vulnerable and not secure for the future. Our team have focused our efforts on the "reopening" of the restaurant industry to the rest of the world. As COVID allows for business to begin their day-to-day operations we have noticed the confusion surround this process.
The Pandemic Pioneers have created a solution that will not only simplify the world 'reopening' but also improve and encourage safe practices to end the spread of COVID-19. We are proud to present Sporkify!
John Phan: (A computer science sophomore at University of Indianapolis) He has had experience, in the past, with building websites and decided to take on the challenge within this project. He provided a sample front end layout with coding language, built more back end features like creating routes to get data and worked to create the final website design seen in the demo. He worked closely with Coach Gunner to develop Heroku. Eventually, he worked with a professor to fix the Heroku bug and establish the website on Heroku. He the worked with the team to create the final submission.
William Young: (A student-athlete at Purdue University studying mechanical engineering technology) He served as the prototype expert during the S.O.S. challenge. His largest contribution to the group was the physical prototype, he designed, engineered, and executed the Sporkify scanner that is seen within the product demo. He used a micro controller with the Arduino IDE as well as sensors, batteries, and 3D printers to refine and test the working prototype. He finished with the product demo and worked with the rest of the team to create the final submission.
Thomas Dziwlik: (Project Manager, Sophomore Entrepreneurship @ Butler University) Served as the project manager for the duration of the challenge. Worked to conduct internal and external meetings in order to further the team and create the overall final submission. He created and set-up a managing platform as well as divided up tasks to each the "Go Squad" and "Pro Squad". He divided his time between both squads, but focused mainly on the go-to-market strategy. He created the four components as well as helped to shape the final presentation. He has enjoyed his time with the team and has learned a great deal!
Khushboo Jain: (Business Analyst, studying Finance @ Purdue) Served as a business analyst within the scope of the project. She worked closely with Thomas on the "Go Squad" to help develop the go-to-market strategy and the presentation seen in the final submission. Using her financial background she took the lead on the costing method as well as end financials in the presentation. After working through the components seen in the slideshow, she offered any extra help with the rest of the team and the final submission.
David Fuqua: (Software Engineer, Senior Applied Statistics) Served as the software engineer and worked closely with John and Will in the "Pro Squad". He spent the majority of his time learning and applying his skills to the software side of the website platform. He worked with the coaches to fix bugs and challenges found along the way and in the end helped with the final submission. He learned a lot and had a lot of energy through the duration of the challenge.
How did you decide on this customer segment, problem, and solution?
The team as a whole worked together to identify points of conflict within the restaurant industry. Once we narrowed down the challenges, we then focused on who it would impact. Then the 'Go Squad' worked with our coach and SME to identify 2 potential customers.
From there the 'Go Squad' worked on a rough outline of the profiles and that gave our 'Pro Squad' a better idea of who they were building for. After the rough sketch was done, we as a team conducted research to support our problem and target audience.
After the research was complete, we found that the solution did not have to be complex, but rather simple and cheap to accommodate the revenue loss in the industry. Thus the free website and low-cost scanner were created. From there we worked as a team to refine and develop the idea more until the final submission above.
How did your team build and iterate on the solution?
Restaurants and small businesses are going through a very difficult time due to the COVID 19 pandemic; this problem is challenging because it not only hinders company revenue but poses and significant threat and challenge to customer’s safety. Our original idea was to host a webpage containing all the up-to-date restaurant information from Yelp; this idea, however, would be no different than Yelp’s main webpage. Because of our ability to borrow data from the Yelp webpage, we created a solution that utilizes the information on Yelp to keep customers aware of adapting situations while adding another dimension to the service. We have developed a visitor counter to work alongside the website, providing the number of people in a shop or restaurant at one time and displaying that data on our website in real-time.
Due to the constantly evolving uncertainties in our world today, the CDC has provided safety regulations specifying the number of people that can be present in a shop or restaurant. The visitor counter can give any business owner hands free and automatic capacity regulation AND share that information with possible customers so that they can make well informed and safe decisions for themselves and their families.
Our group divided this task into three parts: the front end, the back end, and the prototype development. For the back end of the website, we CONNECT route to the database, GET route to render data from the database, and POST route to update the information to the database. The prototype was made up of an esp32 using the Arduino IDE, infrared sensors, a battery, and a 3D printed case. The visitor counter endured many iterations to the programing, battery, and infrared sensors to test and refine and improve the product. To see the testing number for the scanner, enter Indiana, California and New York in the search bar.
If you had another 5 weeks to work on this, what would you do next?
Our team would hone in on the visual aspects of both the scanner and website platform. We would work to make the site more detailed as well as add new features from interviewing potential customers. An example would include: creating an authentication page for anyone wants to fix the counter or figuring out how to 'update' Arduino data into the database every ten to twenty minutes without stream of data coming. These are examples of possible challenges that lie ahead and extra time would allow us to fix them beforehand.
We would also like to conduct more research and primary data recovery. We would hold both virtual focus groups and interviews to talk to potential clients about their own suggestions. With the timing of the project and the size of our solution, we found it difficult to include all of these kinds of research into our final solution.
We would also look into new potential products for after COVID has past. Would our website still be necessary? Is the scanner preforming at max efficiency? How could we continue to improve the 'reopening' of the world around us and that extra time would allow us to find the answers.
The timeline in of its self has provided a challenge, but one that the Pioneers were able to overcome and one the would allow future growth.
What We Learned
As a whole our team has learned a lot. From scheduling meetings, to faulty prototype designs, to the detail need for a business model. Our team and both of the squads have developed their individual skills as well as the skill of teamwork to create an amazing solution that we are all very proud of. This challenge has allow the right balance of challenges and growth, but also utilization of skills already developed. We thank the TechPoint Company and the opportunity they have given each of us!