How we built a voucher app in response to COVID-19 in 2 days

Learn more about why we built a voucher app in two days, the tools we used and what we learned during the process.

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The Federal Council of Switzerland declared an «extraordinary situation» on 16 March 2020 in response to the ongoing and rapidly spreading outbreak of the virus COVID-19. In this situation, the Federal Council controlled the entire country centrally. The cantons now had only limited powers. There was emergency law. Meanwhile public life was shut down, the army and civil defence were deployed and restrictions implemented at the borders.

Businesses not providing elemenatry supplies were closed. The general sentiment on the business side of things quickly went from "let's kick the next decade of balling" to "let's reprioritize our budgets and try to survive".

We founded innohack in February 2019 but only just quit our part-time jobs at the end of 2019 to really kick things of in April 2020. A conceivably difficult moment to go out all guns blazing to do business development. At this point we had already had success selling our services (prior to the COVID crisis). Meanwhile the new and significantly altered situation left us no choice but to take pressure off the sales gas pedal.

So, we used the time to get creative. We had observed various posts on vouchers which were supposed to support a specific local business quickly with liquidity. We really liked the idea and challenged ourselves: How fast can we release a mobile app MVP built with no-code tools?

In two days, we built a landing page, launched a mobile app and onboarded ten local busiensses in need. The initiative was called hoi-hoi (www.hoi-hoi.ch) providing small businesses with the easy option to sell vouchers to their clients through our mobile app. Therefore they would be able to get a liquidity infusion during these difficult times. At the same time customers would be able to support their local business heroes.

🛠 We used the following tools:
- Glide to create the web-based mobile app
- Carrd for the website to inform about the project and to handle the registration process for business people
- Zapier to ensure background automation between forms, database and payment provider
- Stripe as payment integration and provider

You can find the project under: www.hoi-hoi.ch

Our learnings were:

🚀 Speed: No-Code Tools allow you to respond quickly. Other fast responders also used no-code-tools to build their platforms (Bubble, Webflow, etc.)

⏰ Reducing time to market by keeping operations lean and only automate key actions

🎯 Impact trumps perfection: when in doubt release!

🧐 On a critical note: make sure to spend at least as much time marketing the MVP as you spend on creating it in the first place

At this point, we would also like to mention that there were many other web-based voucher merchants popping up during the crisis. Some of which have forged great partnerships to relief the commission burdon or even doubling the voucher amount in favor of small businesses. Some of the many intitiaves can be found here:

Hamsterli is a Swiss initiaitve topping vouchers up with an additional CHF 50 per purchase.

https://hamsterli.ch/

#ensemble19 allows you to support local merchants by making donations and/or purchasing vouchers. The intitiave is supported by local municipalities in Western Switzerland.

https://ensemble19.ch/

vorfreude.kaufen is a non-profit initiative by guests for hosts in Austria

https://www.vorfreude.kaufen/

The German initiative kaufnebenan even manages to double the voucher price in favor of the business involved thanks to its partners Visa, Deutsche Bank and Postbank.

https://www.kaufnebenan.de/

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