Mobile app for tracking food trucks in the District

In class, Professor Buttry discussed the concept of “jobs to be done,” which holds that customers do not really buy products; instead, they hire them to get jobs done. The purpose is to discover key “jobs” that customers cannot adequately address with current solutions and find a way to serve them — make it easy for customers to accomplish an important job or to satisfy a specific need.

While having a barbeque Korean taco for lunch at the Takorean food truck near the Navy Yard Metro station in Southeast D.C., I spotted an opportunity for new growth. I zeroed in on an unfulfilled need, which is, to adequately satisfy the growing customer demand for street-food. Lunch options in Southeast are very limited at the moment. But food trucks offering different gourmets popped up in the redeveloping part of the District during the last few months.

Currently, food trucks owners use a combination of tools to promote their business, such as Twitter, Facebook, and the Food Truck Trucker on Google Maps. Still, they have not fully utilized all available tools to provide frequent location updates and fulfill the customer’s needs. Although excited food truck fans follow the local Twitter feeds on a daily basis, they are not always well informed whether or which of the food trucks will actually be there for lunch. One of the reasons is that these tools are not mobile.

Another more convenient way for customers to follow food truck schedules would be via a phone application. According to the Washington Post article, “Track food trucks with the Food Truck Tracker,” as of July 2010, such mobile app doesn’t exist but it would be the next best thing to do.

I interviewed regular food truck customers to identify a solution that would effectively and efficiently accomplish “the job.” This is what I discovered: food truck fans are eager to receive frequent location updates in an easy and convenient way (the key “job”). They are looking forward to the launching of a mobile app that would address this need (the solution).

Considering content, distribution, and monetization is vital when initiating a new business opportunity, such as the one present for the aspiring mobile app developers.

Content – In the age of technological revolution, this is an exciting time for mobile app developers to show creativity and come up with a mobile content for food truck fans that would bring convenience to the customers and satisfy a specific need. The mobile app for trucking food trucks should include constant location updates, advanced schedules, and possibly the description of the services provided by all vendors that are part of the network. The content should be distinctive, easy to use, engaging and flexible to customize.

Distribution – Distributing content could be one of the biggest challenges in turning an idea into reality. Getting wide mobile application exposure could be achieved by distributing the content across multiple platforms, such as Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, Palm and more. The target audience for the mobile app would be food track customers, especially in redeveloping areas such as Southeast. That way, mobile consumers would have an easy access to information essential for fulfilling everyday needs. To share mobile content, developers could also use Twitter, Facebook, and other social media networks.

Monetization – Turning a business opportunity into profit is an important part of the equation. To maximize the profitability of the mobile application, developers need to have good marketing strategies to reach a wide audience. Creating effective mobile content and ensuring distribution across multiple platforms are essential steps to monetize the idea. Mobile app developers could charge customers a fee for using the application or charge street food vendors to “list” on the app. Selling advertising could be another way to make profit. Finally, to generate successful and sustainable business model that would maximize monetization, mobile app developers should provide technical support and ongoing innovations including regular maintenance and constant enhancements such as new functionalities.

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3 Responses to Mobile app for tracking food trucks in the District

  1. Delece says:

    Great idea, Doneliya. I also think selling advertising could be a great way to make money from this app. I imagine the placement and size of the ads could be similar to those on Pandora’s mobile app. Those ads are small and discreet, and if users don’t want to see them they can always press the “X” in the corner of the ad to remove it. Another business model could be a web site that aggregates all of the latest updates from food trucks. It could start off as a local business venture, but if the food truck market is popular in other parts of the country it could also go national.

  2. gijess says:

    Wow, great post Dolly! You really hit every possible monitization outcome for applications for food trucks.

    I think Delece hit the nail on the head and found a great “jobs-to-be-done.” I would LOVE to see an app that aggregates all of the updates from food trucks, that way you don’t have to look at them individually.

    I think good businesses understand the power of partnership. Sure, they want all the attention on their own company, but the power of a network can bring so much more to a business than one might receive trying on their own.

    Who would ever think that something as grass roots as a food truck could create a technological need. It just goes to show that if you have a good product, you got to keep up with the times in order to stay successful.

  3. Jaclyn Kurin says:

    Doneliya wrote that food truck business are using social media tools like “Twitter, Facebook, and the Food Truck Trucker on Google Maps,” to reach larger audiences. Other entrepreneurs are doing the same. For example, professional political cartoonist, Mark Fiore, has expanded his audience by employing the powers of the internet in a slightly unconventional manner. Fiore takes the classic editorial cartoon (usually a static image), and transforms it into an interactive animated message.

    When I saw that Mark Fiore was going to lecture at Georgetown for the Mark Twain series, I made it my business to be at the reception. During the Q&A portion of the event, I asked Fiore about the benefits of being a journalist who actively uses the internet as a platform to host his animations. I also inquired about how web-based platforms have enhanced the distribution and monetization of his content.

    Mark Fiore enthusiastically stated that he is at the height of his career, thanks to the internet. His political cartoon animations have sound, music, and characters that talk and move. This animation appeals to people on so many levels, making it easier for everyone- from homemakers to professionals to texting tweens-to follow his work. Ultimately, Fiore’s main goal is accomplished, since he now efficiently and effectively communicates his message with a larger audience.

    In terms of monetization, Fiore says the internet has been incredibly helpful in bringing in more commissions and opportunities to profit. Recently, the iPhone added an app that allows users to download Fiore’s cartoons for a small fee. Even though political cartoons are pretty old craft, with Mark Fiore they’re doing well on a new type of cartoon network.

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