Using Meteor to launch a successful startup in 6 weeks


Summary

This is the short story of how we helped two veteran founders build a great MVP web app with Meteor in 6 weeks to kickstart their new company, prove their market and fulfill their vision. Today U-Feast is a successful startup with a proven product and a great track record on their way to raising a $500K seed round later this year. U-Feast has hundreds of customers and practically every event they’ve hosted has been sold out.

Deliverable:

MVP Application with Meteor

Time:

6 Weeks: November 24th, 2014 - January 5th 2015

Resources:

  • Karl Danninger - Project Lead / Developer
  • Tony Semana - Developer
  • Michael Hofweller - Product Manager

Stack / Tools / APIs:

  • Meteor Development Framework
  • Heroku
  • CrowdTorch API
  • Stripe Integration
  • CSS3
  • HTML 5
  • UI/UX Design

Why all startups should use Meteor

Anyone looking to test a new app should be using the Meteor Development Framework because it enables teams to quickly and affordably build, launch, test and iterate on new ideas. The framework is hyper-efficient allowing you to write an obscene amount of JavaScript relatively quickly. This the core mechanism in the essence of finding a product-market fit. With its natural modern UI, it’s also a lot easier to make great looking pages / apps.

Meteor has over 7000+ packages available and an open-source community that is incredibly helpful. It is also one of the top 10 most starred projects on GitHub. In short - the momentum will ensure that this framework will be around for a long time.

Not to mention that the full-stack framework enables you to build mobile applications for Android, iOS and web all using one codebase.

In six weeks, our product team researched, designed, built, and shipped a sexy, simple web app MVP written using Meteor.

Backstory

It started when our founder Paul received an email from Kenn Koid, CEO at Photobucket in October 2014. He and his Partner Terry, an angel investor from the York Region Angels (Toronto), were looking for someone to help them launch a new startup. They were set on creating a company to throw one of a kind culinary events and needed a web application to launch the brand, post events and manage ticketing. They called their company U-Feast.

Problem

A few phone calls later we had Terry and Kenn in the office for a discovery session. In the meantime I did some research on foodie culture to get my head in the right mindset for our discussion.

Talking with the U-Feast team in person allowed us to dive into their vision. Fundamentally we wanted to get a strong grasp of their UVP; understanding this is crucial to creating our solution.

Terry and Kenn had a great idea but was looking for expertise to conceptualize the right kind of MVP product and get platform off of the ground. More importantly, in the end they needed a data-driven team to prove that their idea worked without wasting a lot of time and money.

Solution

After our meeting I sat down with our lead designer Karl and founder Paul to discuss what kind of solution we should build. When Terry and Kenn approached us they had a great idea, but were unsure of what the experience should look and feel like.

We knew the best way to tackle their problem was to start small. Our team proposed an MVP testing the assumption of whether people will use an online platform to book culinary events in Toronto. To test that theory we focused on the following (small) feature set.

MVP features:

  • Account creation.
  • Voucher creation.
  • Event pages with Map.
  • External CrowdTorch API Integration (for ticketing and payment).
  • Houston administrative back-end for content changes and account management.

The team at OK GROW! created the initial design concept for U-Feast sketched out on canvas paper. After a few iterations we settled on the final experience and invited Kenn and Terry back in to jam on our concept. After a good 2-3 hour session we settled on a great concept and were just ready to put it into our designers hands to bring it to life.

When looking at designing the app our objective was to minimize friction in every step between landing on the U-Feast home page and registering for an event. We want people to find events, and buy tickets without any fluff in between. We don’t need them getting lost on different pages and dropping off. At the core of the minimal UI concept is reducing button clicks and screens to an absolute minimum when looking at the event registration flow overall.

A reduction in screens allows our team to more accurately measure how effective our design is in converting traffic to paying customers. We could also drill down and potentially determine if the problem is coming from not from design, but by, let’s say - copywriting; are users not understanding the value of these events?

Or perhaps ask why they are dropping off on an event page? Insight like this is extremely vital to the initial success of the app and the company.

We also believe that startups don’t have to come up with every solution themselves. Instead of spending unnecessary time building a custom ticketing and ecommerce solution, we advised U-Feast to integrate with an existing one; CrowdTorch.

On the back-end, we opted not to implement anything sexy, so we used Houston, a ready-made admin UI for Meteor. It simply allows the admins to modify users and create events. This was a quick and dirty solution, but it was necessary. In the end it saves Terry and Kenn money and it gets the job done, our focus is always on proof of concept with a new startup.

Outcome

The development team at OK GROW! delivered the U-Feast MVP in 6 weeks. The U-Feast application was shipped and live on January 9th.

As part of our relationship with all clients, we offer ongoing product management pro-bono. Our team installed Mixpanel and Google Analytics on the U-Feast platform and I’ve set up a few conversion funnels ready to take in data. We have a regular account call established and talk every 2 weeks.

U-Feast has sold over 350 tickets through the platform, thrown 6/6 sold-out events, and gained press from radio (Zane Caplansky’s Lets Eat!), as well as several web media outlets and foodie blogs. Every event features celebrity chefs from around North America.

What our team has enabled Terry and Kenn to do is prove their business model and product-market fit using a simple, well-built minimum viable product that we were able to ship in a very short period of time. Since then we’ve added more value to the app by iterating. First on the application’s UI and then on the ticketing flow by replacing the clunky CrowdTorch platform with a custom Stripe checkout.

Terry & Kenn are now on their way to delivering their next two U-Feast Tuesday events in September and October. Suffice to say we’re excited to feast with Terry and Kenn again very soon.

Meet the OK GROW! team on U-Feast:

Karl Danninger; Project Lead / UX / Developer Michael Hofweller; Product Manager Tony Semana; Developer

Interested in testing the market for a startup or idea? Send us a quick message at hello@okgrow.com

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