Back in December 2016 we got a message from Clement.
Clement and their partners had an idea: to create an App that makes it easier for people to order food from their favourite restaurants in Hong Kong.
To make it clear for you, they were talking about something along UberEats/Deliveroo lines, with a few twists.
We kicked it off early 2017 as a Design-only project with a fixed scope which, from a very high-level, looked like this:
2) User’s App → iOS and Android
3) Driver’s App → iOS
4) Restaurants’ App → iOS
5) Admin and Restaurants Back-Office → Web
By the end of April a big chunk of the entire scope had been dealt with. Branding and both the User’s and Driver’s App designs were concluded. The latter two with two completely different approaches.
Even though we were highly motivated, the scope was getting bigger and bigger at each iteration and new features kept being added without considering any implications it could trigger.
As an example, at one point the product would not only cater for food delivery — which is complex by itself, specially when a dedicated App for drivers is to be done — but would also do take-aways and dine-ins.
Besides, users could choose which transportation they would be taking, whether it would be walking, bus, metro, taxi or driving!
But even crazier, instead of relying on a third-party navigation App — I guess there’s not enough out there — to guide users from their location to the Restaurant, users could make use of Ketch-up’s in-App navigation:
With the increasing complexity, came uncertainty: deadlines were being compromised, budget was falling short and everything was getting out of hand. When we should be creating an MVP — Minimum Viable Product — we were designing a full fledged product, based on never validated assumptions.
Even though we were trying to adapt the Design to the Asian culture, the truth was our lack of insight on Hong Kong wasn’t helping. We didn’t know how the Restaurants operate there, we didn’t know how the system we were creating would fit into the Restaurants’ day-to-day operations, we didn’t know the market, neither did we know people’s customs.
For this matter we decided to fly over. Meeting the client face-to-face allows us to solve any communication gaps, increase trust and improve the bond between both parties. In any case we were confident we could help them on streamlining not only the product roadmap, but also refining the idea, shaping an MVP and defining a business plan.
The trip that changed everything
On May 2017 we flew halfway around the world to meet Clement and his team. We planned for 10 days which would be enough time to cover all the topics plus an extra to discover Hong Kong.
Already there, we had the opportunity to meet Thomas, their CEO.
The meetings started the very next day. We presented all the Designs and all the prototypes that had been done so far. Ketch-up got really impressed with all we had achieved, not only with the level of detail we had put into every single bit of our work, but also because of the overall quality.
Even though Clement had been keeping up with our work and iterating regularly with him, having the entire Ketch-up team in one room, at the same time, was a great opportunity to get a broader, deeper view over the product and to understand, in fact, how complex it was becoming.
Our goal then was to come up with a strategy and get a better sense on how things would operate on their side, not only from a company standpoint but also from a product strategy perspective. But beyond anything else, we wanted to help them understand the complexity of running such product.
Right on the first meeting, we found out Ketch-up was so fresh out of the books that everybody was focusing on getting funds and on setting up bureaucratic, company related paperwork.
It meant that at the time, not only our day-to-day communication was deprecating, but also other product related details were being relegated to second place. Business plan was falling short, product plan was barely existent, monetisation model lacked definition, KPI’s weren’t yet set, target audience wasn’t streamlined, unrealistic expectation were being held and development team was non-existent.
We had a lot to cover during those upcoming days — and hell yeah! We did!
The city is packed, traffic is jamming everywhere, Restaurants are crowded with people to have lunch, enormous queues exiting the main door. Very often people just quickly grab something, go back to the office, have lunch at their own desk and get back to work in no time.
We visited a lot of Restaurants, we got into their kitchens, we interviewed their staff and their managers, we understood from inside out how they operate and how they deal with take-aways.
By the time we were studying strategies and analysing the business, we came across the driver’s fleet expenses and the impact it would bring to the business. Due to the high demand for Drivers and the lack of resources available, their salaries sky rocketed- as one of the top developed cities in the world, low-end jobs like Riders have a big shortage in terms of man power, as new generations don’t want to pursue such career.
As a result, every competitor is fighting for the available Drivers and they sell-off to the highest bidder. Their salaries have been flying higher and higher over the past 5 years.
And as you can imagine, for a startup it would represent a big chunk of the expenses which would force Ketch-up to change something that’s established in their roots from foundation as part of their most fundamental values: not marking-up food prices nor charging any fees to the end-user.
With this, a much clearer picture was starting to shape in our heads: there was an opportunity in Hong Kong’s F&B industry to be filled in by pick-up platforms.
Fuelled up by the conclusion we made, we jumped to the white board and we drew two columns. On the left hand side we had the Must Haves, on the right hand side the Nice to Haves. The goal was to understand which features are in fact fundamental versus which ones are disposable for a first version.
It was quite an easy process until the Delivery and Pick-up subject came along. Would both be Must Haves or Nice to Haves?
Even though it generated the biggest chunk of discussion, based on the Hong Kong eating habits, on the defined target audience, on all the competition — UberEats, Food Panda, Deliveroo — on the level of operations required to cover both services: the development costs and the Driver’s fleet running costs, it was quite obvious.
It was their opportunity to do something different for the industry. To make both the Restaurants and the User’s time worth it. For the first ones by reducing the queues on their doors and still keeping the same revenue stream and for the latter ones by allowing them to actually skip those endless lines.
Understanding the Restaurants’ POS. At one point we considered integrating with POS services but we ended up ditching the idea as it would increase costs. On the left, POS and printers; On the right, a “POS expert” letting us all know about it.
As a result from such analysis, the MVP was getting naturally shaped up:
1) Allow Users to authenticate
2) Allow Users to define pick-up radius
3) Allow users to browse restaurants
4) Allow users to find dishes
5) Allow users to place an order
6) Allow user to pay using Apple Pay and Google Pay
7) Allow user to be notified to pick-up their orders
1) Allow Restaurants to receive and view orders
2) Allow Restaurants to accept orders
3) Allow Restaurants to reject orders
1) Allow Admin & Restaurants to authenticate
2) Allow Admin & Restaurants to create dishes
3) Allow Admin & Restaurants to define Restaurants schedule
Estimating and planning
From a very high level, the only thing missing was a launch date.
But to get there we needed to estimate the MVP — both design and development — and then to plan each sprint until we get a reasonable launching date.
When we made up our minds about flying over in the first place, we decided to bring a set of people that could be useful throughout the workshops. From Designers to Project Managers, from Front-End to Back-End developers, we were more than entitled to get those estimates done.
The opportunity to build the whole product in-house would be great: first because we knew we could make a great job and second because it makes sense to have both the Design team and the soon-to-be Development team in one single place. Communication would be better, hand-over would be easier, cooperation would be simplified and, more importantly, we could reduce Ketch-up’s time-to-market.
It took us a while, but after a series of workshops, after drawing the user stories, the flow maps for all the Apps and even low-fi wireframes we got a comprehensive overview of the MVP which allowed us to get to a pretty accurate estimate.
We were facing at least 5 months of continuous Design and Development with a team of only 5 people — 1 Designer, 1 Back-end developer, 1 iOS developer, 1 Android Developer and 1 Web Developer — and our goal was to launch in early 2018. Tight!
After all this time, Thomas told us we made him understand how important he would be for Ketch-up and how we fundamentally changed his perspective of things.
I remember during your visit, the major role you guys played was to facilitate us in realising the problem, and to share with us on what we were lacking at that time — the approach to tackle such a big dream.
– Thomas Hung, CEO of Oopsie
After almost two years of having Thomas leading the company and collaborating very closely with us, I can confidently tell you Ketch-up wouldn’t be where it is right now without him.
We discussed many things during those very intense 10 days spent in the meeting rooms, from 9AM to 9PM. During lunch times we were studying restaurants and during dinner times we were mingling in kitchens.
Not only was our trip valuable on helping Thomas realise the value he could bring, but also to make the whole team understand that building such product isn’t child’s play and it requires serious commitment, planning and a well coordinated team.
We came back with a fresh new product plan, a defined MVP, goals for the upcoming months, a launch date, a target audience, KPI’s, a better knowledge of the Hong Kong culture, a development team and a highly motivated CEO ready to take on the leashes of Ketch-up.