How we created a private freight service. From a business plan to development

    A brief sammari of the previous article : the decision to make the service was made, the idea was found, and it was necessary to start working.

    Today I will talk about how I analyzed the market on the knee, why it is important to maintain relations with former classmates and about other things that came in handy for me in creating the freight transportation service .

    According to the plan, we had to start in a year and spend 300 thousand rubles on it. I must say right away: we have exceeded both. Why? Details under the cut.

    Part 1. Business plan and positioning.

    The fact that the freight market exists, and it is very large, was obvious from the very beginning, but whether it was millions or billions, it was not so important for me. Therefore, all marketing research was carried out literally on the knee and limited to studying the topic in search engines and discussions with familiar carriers.

    The main thing that I learned from this analysis:

    1. As customers, we will focus on ordinary people with their everyday problems. Many people need to move, transport sofas or just some personal belongings to the country.
    2. As performers, we will attract private carriers and small transport companies.

    Therefore, the simplest business plan was based on figures based on my personal experience and competitors' indicators, which I managed to collect in open sources - attendance, the number of placed requests, conversion of requests into transactions, the cost of attracting one request for transportation through a particular channel.

    I will tell a little about positioning. In a global sense, everything is the same as with our competitors - customers place requests, carriers make their offers. And the customer chooses the best in terms of price / quality. But in some ways we are different.

    • We do not attract empty requests and do not offer customers to start an auction to find out the cost of transportation. On the contrary, when placing a request for customers, we must have the “Maximum Price” field. Thanks to this, we have a higher percentage of conversion from placed orders to real transactions. Now it is fluctuating at the level of 30%, and we plan to increase it to 40%. This allows you to reduce the cost of attracting one real deal.
    • We carry to the masses the idea that the service was created not only and not so much in order to get the cheapest transportation. With the help of the service, the customer will not receive a pig in a poke. There are reviews for this, and soon a general rating of carriers will appear, which will take into account a lot of parameters. We pay a lot of attention to rating development, it will be as objective as possible.
    • We constantly work with carriers - we train them to work with the site so that profiles are filled in, there are photos of cars and other important information. Now we are redoing the profile and the process of registration of carriers, we will request even more information, up to the numbers of cars and downloading documents.

    What is all this for? So that customers understand that carriers are real and guarantee quality service. If a bid is made for any request, this means that the carrier will transport everything that is described in the request, safe and sound, and for the price that is indicated. And all this so that carriers know: our transportation requests are real orders and real money.

    The monetization model is planned in the form of a commission from each transaction. Although, after the previous article, one of the Habr users proposed a very interesting model - freemium. Its essence: you can make, for example, 50 bets per month for free. If you want more, you can buy packages for 100, 500 or 1000 bets. This model seemed interesting to me, although its minus is that it will not be very transparent for carriers, since no one knows in advance exactly how many bids need to be made in order to receive one real order. I'd love to hear your opinions in the comments.

    Tip: if you do not immediately attract investments, then the business plan can be placed on sheet A4, but it must be. It is important to immediately understand the cost of attracting one user and how much he can bring money. Development is only the beginning.

    Part 2. Team Search

    Since I was planning to design the service myself, I needed a designer, programmer, layout designer, copywriter, tester and system administrator as a team. I’ll talk about how I chose the most important people in such a project - a designer and a programmer.

    Designer. From my experience it was obvious to me that design and interfaces in general are almost more important than the development itself. Therefore, I took on the team of the coolest and most expensive designer, with whom I dealt with other projects. I work with him piece by piece, since after the development of corporate identity and design, full-time loading was not required.

    Programmer. Here came the difficulty. Firstly, I didn’t have such a big budget for the salary of a programmer, and secondly, my knowledge was not enough to evaluate those. level of candidates. It eased the task that I was looking for a remote developer.

    What I've done:

    • Interviewed familiar programmers and did not find proper interest. Everyone liked the project, but everyone already had the main job.
    • He posted a vacancy on Huntima (then he was still) with a salary of 50,000 rubles. There were about 30 responses.
    • Conducted an interview. I conducted interviews in two stages. At first I evaluated the overall adequacy and personal qualities of the applicants. At the second stage, I was helped by a cool developer, my former classmate Oleg Maximov, who miraculously appeared in my life at that time. He already asked all sorts of tricky questions on the topic. After school, we did not communicate with him for about 5 years. Together we chose a suitable candidate, for which I am very grateful to him. Without him, I'm afraid it would have been completely different.

    I worked with the programmer on full time, but remotely. The office was not and is not intended.

    Tip: work remotely or in the office, but find colleagues - people who will be really interested in your project. This is more important than the vast experience behind.

    Part 3. Management and organization of work

    I must say right away: no one helped me in managerial matters. In terms of management, I did everything myself. I used the previous business experience ( see the previous article ), the second higher education (Faculty of Economics, St. Petersburg State University) and previous work experience. If something is missing, you have to fill your own bumps and gain experience in the process.

    What we use for remote work:

    • For communication - corporate chat Slack. For work, it is much more convenient than skype. It can be integrated with other services - Jira, Github, Google Docs. Also there is excellent synchronization between computer and mobile devices and file hosting. You can switch between teams. All this allows you to keep your finger on the pulse.
    • For iterative development - Jira with an Agile add-on.
    • For documents - Google Docs.
    • Repository on Github.

    Of course, we did not escape the classic difficulties of the remote - in communications and performance evaluation. Here you just need to remember that miracles do not happen, you will need daily work, rallies, like in an office, control points. Do not think that you are laying iteration for a week, and the work itself will do as it should. I am sure that there are developers who do not need to "kick", call and ask: "Well, how is our task, which you should have closed yesterday?" But they haven’t met me yet.

    Tip: for effective remote work it is much more important than for the office to properly organize the process.

    Part 4. Interface Design

    Before looking for a team, I started designing interfaces and developing a fully interactive prototype. Why myself? I had experience in designing interfaces, and to optimize the budget, of course. It turned out to be far from simple and took a total of six months in parallel with another job. When you start to delve into the details and think through the little things, there are a lot of them. We are still correcting some serious errors in the logic.

    I made a prototype at Axure. Since the prototype was supposed to be tested on users, it had to be fully clickable and interactive. Then it was not obvious to me that it was necessary to start something working as soon as possible, and not to lick the prototype. In fact, it was not possible to conduct normal testing on the prototype, as soon as I already wanted to move on.

    After the launch of the project, a feedback was received from the first users and the errors became clear, it became clear how and what should be so that it was really convenient. My opinion is that no testing can replace real users. Improving interfaces after launch is just beginning.

    Tip: you can make a clickable prototype and test it, but most likely in reality much will be different. Start as fast as possible.

    Part 5. Design

    After the prototype was ready and tested on friends and acquaintances, the design phase began. We spent a lot of time on the development of design and corporate identity, since again we devoted a lot of time to trifles. I still believe that the devil is in the details, and that they need to pay a lot of attention, but there should be a measure. Then all the same it was necessary to sacrifice some little things and speed up the process. This is known to all and written in many books, but only in the process we managed to understand and feel exactly where this golden mean is located.

    The development of design and corporate identity took about 6 months. At this stage, the first money was spent, and for me there was no way back. I began to work many times faster, but everything depended not only on me.

    Part 6. A little about development.

    I will try to talk about what technologies we used and about other details in the next article. The development itself took us 4 months, and another 2 months went into testing and fixing bugs.

    These last 2 months have been the hardest for me. After the main functionality was ready, and we moved on to testing, I thought that here it is, we’ll start now and finally get the first real user. I tested the service, everything more or less worked. Small bugs got out, which we quickly fixed. But then I asked my friends to join the test. They began to write and call me and say that they could not even register or post a request. That is, the main functionality did not work. It turned out that they did it differently, the way I didn’t even think about doing it.

    We were repairing something, but after a week, other people again could not do anything. And then I realized that I needed a professional tester. It took 2 months before the project really started working. In early May, we launched a beta, and already on June 1, the service worked fully.

    Tip: for testing you need to lay 20-30% of the time from the development itself.


    The development and launch of the first version took about 18 months. Estimates increased to half a million rubles.

    We did a good job and got the result. We finally started, received the first users and the first real request for transportation. It was like a breath of fresh air, as the forces were already running out, and at least some results were needed. It was a very pleasant moment.

    But then came perhaps the most important and difficult stage - marketing. We needed to get enough of the first users to make it work. So that customers place requests daily and receive 3-4 bids.

    By the way, now we are at the very beginning of the journey, we are only gaining traffic, we are only trying different channels for attracting users, so I will be very glad to receive advice in the comments on how to do this better. We are also in search of a competent marketer in order to reach the next level and increase the scale of activity at times and finally reach the breakeven point.

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