Introducing Gwap - Chicago Lean Startup Challenge 2014

September 7, 2014

Thank You CLSC 2014

Thank you Chicago Lean Startup Challenge (CLSC) and community!  The Gwap Team had the privilege of participating in the 2014 CLSC.  We started the challenge steeped in corporate thinking and "old school" business practices.  We emerged a more cohesive, nimble team focused on real live customers grounding our assumptions with feedback and data to develop our customers and iteratively build our business.  
Modern technologies including the web, mobile devices, and "big data" have transformed much of business.  However for shoppers and the retailers from whom they purchase the essentials of life, interacting hasn't changed much in decades.
Shoppers are deluged with coupons, ads, flyers, and marketing messages - most of it still paper. Shoppers want to save money and have access to the best products but have no time to search, clip, and manage a flood of promotions.  
Retailers market and promote much as they did in the 1970's.  Marketing is still very paper based in the form of circulars and advertising.  It's costly, independent grocers spend between $3k to $10k and 80 to 120 person hours per week to produce traditional circulars. They get little insight into what does and does not work and sparse information on the return to their hard earned investment.  Finally for independent grocers, Gwap's first retailer segment, attracting and retaining tech savvy, time pressed Millennials is vital for success.
Gwap's solution enables Retailers to capture what they've been missing all along - accurate insight into the Shopper's purchasing.   Is my promotion working? What is the promotion "lift"? Is the impact long lasting or temporary?  Which customers are most valuable? How will commodity price changes affect my promotion profitability? For independent grocers, Gwap lowers Retailers' risk by producing insight more timely and accurate than ever before. 
Armed with accurate, real time shopper feedback, merchants can create up-sell and cross-sell opportunities driving bigger "baskets". CPG (Consumer Product Goods) manufacturers and distributors are not left out of the party.  Gwap will enable CPGs to piggyback off the key Retailer-Consumer relationship.  Gwap provides the retailer the ability to drive the customers "path to purchase" - that is at home; on the go; and in the store.
Consumers get direct access to retailer promotions in real time through recipes, special events, and targeted promotions.  As shoppers they can adjust their shopping lists and purchase taking advantage of promotions that are most relevant to them and their families.
The opportunity is huge.  Gwap is starting in the independent grocery space.  Today grocers spend $50 to $75B driving the consumer's "path to purchase" from the shopper's initial need to the completed transaction.  This "shopper marketing" opportunity is all within an overall $600B grocery market. 
Gwap enables Retailers, CPG manufacturers and distributors a relationship with shoppers they never had before while unleashing the power of modern technologies to the retailing industry.
Check Gwap out!
What We Learned!

The Lean Startup methodology and the "get out of the building" philosophy pushed our corporate biases.  We realized we didn't need a fully developed product based on untested assumptions.  A focused MVP with even manual processes is more effective if it got us interacting with real customers.

We learned not to be "all things to all people" but focus ideally on ongoing customer needs solving "morphine" pain points rather than one off problems or "aspirin" problems that could be ignored or solved in many ways.
As a team we acutely realized the lean philosophy required a different mindset and is not for everyone.  As we focused on customer development we parted ways with our "sales guy" who insisted on selling what was then an undeveloped product.
Finally the most impactful learning was breaking our reliance on abstract research and verbose business plans and leveraging the business canvas to articulate the major assumptions regarding real customers and their most significant pain points.

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