Yesterday I said that I was going to start analyzing my day to day life to find problems that a product could solve, to start planting some ideas for the foundation of a startup. I sometimes have a terrible short term memory, so throughout the day I wasn’t really actively thinking about it, but tonight I did some reflection on my day to try and identify some day to day nuisances. At first, I couldn’t think of many annoying parts of the day (except work itself). Then I reflected on lunch…and the juices started flowing!
Last week, some of my coworkers and I went to a sushi restaurant a few blocks from our office, which is in downtown Dallas. Walking back, we took a different route than normal, and happened to walk past a group of food trucks. I, for one, LOVE food trucks. The hit-the-pavement entrepreneurial spirit of food trucks enamors me, plus they almost always have very unique and tasty food! I ran up to one and asked how often they were here, and the guy told me every week. So today, my coworkers and I walked over to the same spot and had our share of food truck eats, which were insanely delicious! More importantly than the food of this awesome culinary adventure was the observations I was making. There were 5 food trucks, all with phenomenal menus, that were smack in the middle of a city boasting tens of thousands of people within a couple mile radius, at lunchtime, with less than 40 people there between the trucks. Hell, the McDonalds in the building next door to me is busier than that. I found that sad, as I know how hard these food truck owners work to craft their menu, buy and maintain their trucks, and grow their businesses. As I got back to my office, my coworkers were asking me how often the trucks are there, and if there are different ones near us during the week. I had no idea how to answer that, so I turned to some creative internet searching of food trucks in Dallas, Yelp, Facebook, and Twitter. It seemed that every source I looked at had some different schedule for the trucks, varying lists of which trucks are around and what they serve, and just an overall lack of trustworthy information.
Thinking back on this, a perfect app idea fell into place. The problem is simple, and it’s two sided: customers don’t want to go sifting through a ton of different information sources to find food near them, and food vendors need a way to inform customers of their whereabouts and specials that is not cumbersome to their potential customers. Food trucks do well when they’re visible. People see them, and think “ooh, that’s what I want for lunch!”. I think that if an app existed that proactively informed people when food trucks were near them, it would remove the burden of searching that keeps the vast majority of potential customers from finding a food truck, drive business to the trucks, and serve as an avenue of marketing and brand recognition for the vendors. I feel like something in that space would be a win-win for everyone.
Once this idea hit me, I filled up a good 4 pages in a notebook about the problem statement, some UI mockups, back end and technical considerations, and use-case scenarios. I was kind of baffled by how easily and quickly the ideas flowed. Revenue streams, technical infrastructure, and research questions (imagine the analytics you could obtain from what people like, share, and respond to and how that can improve a food trucks business and marketing plan!) all came to mind nearly instantly. I have a vision now, and a problem I’m passionate about. Will this be the segway into my tech startup I’ve been dreaming about? Who knows…all I care about right now is getting this app into a prototype phase and going from there.
This does, however, open up a potential focus for a startup that I didn’t consider before…a company that builds web and mobile applications that serve a consumer need, but also gather analytical data that shed light on specific research questions.
I’m stoked. Let’s go!