This post was written by Booodl CEO and Founder, George Freney.
Helping people find local retailers that are likely to sell products they want and instant message chat with them.
There are three things that combine to create the trigger to embark on the startup journey: a purpose, a belief and a problem that irritates you. Once the decision is made, you get cracking, inspire some amazing people to join you on your mission and start setting out to validate your hypotheses. It’s all part of the journey toward solving that problem and achieving that purpose. The path is winding; unexpected things happen, new insights are unearthed and the market changes. In many ways, these unknowns are what make it so interesting and exhilarating.
I am privileged to work with an incredible team of people building Booodl. I am privileged to have the support of amazing investors and advisors. I am also very lucky to have the support of my family.
After many twists and turns with numerous hypotheses invalidated (and some validated), the Booodl team is certain we are onto something very, very interesting.
The journey to this app release
The problem that got Booodl started was simple: I forgot to buy products from the shops when I was at Bondi Junction. Now these were not groceries from supermarkets, they were things like jeans, socks, shoes, headphones, USB cables and aftershave – things I needed but never really thought about. I wanted a simple app that let me list the products I wanted to buy, reminded me when stores nearby stocked them, and made it easy for me to buy them. Simple, really!
Early on I fell into the trap of thinking about all the things an app like this could do for someone, rather than ‘what are the single most necessary features that people need now’. That mistake took us on journey that consumed a lot of time, energy and money. But there is always a silver lining: it made the team smarter, more focused and lead us to where we are now.
So, in September last year we set out to prove that:
- People would add products to a list, value receiving notifications about stores nearby, search for stores nearby stocking those products, instant message chat with them and buy via the Booodl app.
- Retail stores want, and will pay for, a product that enables them to be easily discovered and instant message chat with customers.
A version of Booodl was released in April that has all the features required to prove this. It has been validated – we know that people and stores use and want Booodl.
When we went live back in April we described Booodl as having five primary actions:
- Capture – to literally ‘capture’ something you want by taking a photo, typing the product name, scanning a barcode, or snapping a pic of something from a magazine. You see it, you want it, you capture it.
- Check-in – what next? You check that product in (i.e. add it to your list). That means you’ve signaled your intent to buy it and we’ll let you know when it’s stocked nearby.
- Connect – whenever anything on your list may be available nearby, we’ll connect you with the retailer and you can decide if it’s the right time to buy.
- Communicate – when you receive a notification from Booodl (i.e. ‘connecting’ with a retailer) you can chat directly with them to see if they have the specific size/colour/style you’re after.
- Transact – eventually, you’ll even be able to purchase what you want then and there, and head in-store to pick it up when convenient.
I covered this in Inside Booodl #7: the 5 actions back on 12 February.
Since April, we have learnt a huge amount through direct user and store feedback, and by analysing our data.
Our key learnings are:
- People love to shop local – they like to know what stores are nearby, what products they stock and they want to be able to connect with them (without actually going in-store).
- You don’t always know exactly what you want. You need to be able to add non-specific wants to your list (i.e. Nike running shoes).
- Retail stores’ number one objective is to engage with local customers and entice them to visit the store.
- Stores believe that they need to interact with local customers via instant message because it’s already the primary method of daily communication.
The new version of Booodl
So, rather than focus the majority of our attention on growing users and retail stores, we decided to undertake a major product evolution; the release that is going live today. As part of this we are sharpening how we explain what Booodl is for users and retail stores.
For users – Booodl is the best way to find local retail stores that stock products you want, and chat with a retail shop assistant.
For retail stores – Booodl is the best way to be discovered by local customers and to chat with them.
I gave a presentation recently at an event that touched on the major trends that underpin why this makes sense now.
The objective for the changes to the app are to:
- Make it simple to find stores that are likely to sell products you want
- Make it easier to chat with local retail stores about the products you want to buy
- Add absolutely any product (specific or vague) to your list. Now you can add things like “blue jeans” or “USB cable”.
Making this simple is not straightforward. Our UX and Product team worked super hard over the last few months. Check out the story in our Product Update blog post.
The technical challenges were not small either. Raj (CTO) and his team have build some very clever tech to make this work. He’ll be sharing a blog post about that later this week.
For those of you that have been using the Booodl app a lot, the changes take a little bit of time to get your head around. Don’t worry though, we are sure you will like them. We’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback so please email us at any time.
This is a new release and a major change, so please have a little patience as we stabilise the tech and tune it up for optimum performance.
What is in store for the rest of 2015? Lots!
In mid-August there will be a release that combines the features that enable a retail store assistant to chat and transact with a Booodl user into the user app. This will allow retail shop assistants to download Booodl and start chatting with their customers straight away.
Around September, any retail store will be able to create their profile on Booodl and start being discovered, chatting and even accepting in-app purchases. Keep an eye on our blog and social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram) to know when this is available. In the meantime, stores can pre-register interest at the bottom of our website.
From September through the rest of the year we will be working hard to grow our retail store network so that users can chat with any retail store in Australia.
Our vision is to make it beautifully simple to find a local store that sells the products you want and chat with someone at that store via instant message. It is a big vision, to make it work we need your help – please spread the word 😀