Building a mobile app and pivoting to a software development agency.

Losing a battle, winning the war.

How building a grocery delivery app got us into software development.

The Thorn in the Flesh

Pigeon shopping is an app-based grocery delivery service in Nairobi. The service allows users of the app to shop from selected grocery stores and have their shopping delivered to their doorstep in under an hour.
Launched in June 2019, the co-founders wanted to address the time spent in supermarket queues everyday and create a more delightful experience around shopping errands.

What made the problem even more pressing was the inconvenience of having to queue for your everyday shopping after a tiring day in the office. Express checkouts in stores didn’t feel so “express”.

“It was very tiring, especially after long workdays to have the patience to accommodate queues in grocery stores, it was extremely unpleasant” Evans quipped.

The co-founding team(which later became the leadership team in Vorane Studios) fully understood that bringing a product to meet this need was no mean feat.

Building from the ground up

Driven by the need to scratch their own itch, the team embarked to work on a building a product that solved the problem of having to run supermarket errands. Very quickly, the team embarked on a series of interviews with grocery store stakeholders and users. They documented the problems and built their minimum viable product within two months.

The team executed the development of the product in fast iteration cycles, shipping features regularly and deploying their MVP in June 2019 as an Android mobile application.

Beautiful pivots and unexpected results

For a bootstrapped startup, the realities of business margins began to quickly dawn on the founding team. Despite having over 100 downloads in the beta program and serving grocery delivery orders in a small locality, the team was confronted by having to constantly experiment on grocery pricing which was ultimately unsustainable without a war chest of capital runway to scale it up.
Furthermore, the need to accommodate various stakeholders to enable the platform’s viability was a capital intensive and slow process.

For Evans, closing deals with various business stakeholders was a particularly frustrating experience.

Despite the challenges faced while building the product, other opportunities began to present themselves for the founding team. Armed with the experience from launching the application, the team was able to replicate better results for other businesses and start-ups looking to build their own apps quickly. The attention and networks built while working on the product proved valuable for the pivot to Vorane Studios(A product development company building digital products).

The lessons on organizing the agile development process that’s at the core of how Vorane builds digital products were directly borne out of the experience of building Pigeon shopping and has served Vorane and its clients with immense value. Building and shipping features in two weeks are the heartbeat of how Vorane organizes its development process, extremely keen on delivering incremental value that can be quickly tested and improved.

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Dominic Mulinda
I think better with a pen in hand. I help world-changers build digital products, fast!