Give Local - connects local restaurants with patrons to help support them buy buying gift cards

Give Local

Portrait of the maker

Brent Summers & Justin Mares


Expert level
hours to build

A no-code app gets acquired by USA TODAY

What is it:

Give Local - connects local restaurants with patrons to help support them buy buying gift cards

Maker Insight:

Here is a video from the Maker about the making of this product.

What did I learn:

1. Product Strategy: Create something quickly. Build it minimally for just what you need for the site to start.
Identify the elements that you need at a minimum to work. Brent shared the first version of the site created in Bubble. What I noticed was that many of the extra features you see on the site today aren't there. One of which is a map feature.

I think this is obvious now, but requires great product discipline to just stick to the absolute bare minimum when creating something. Brent talks about speed in creating. The way I interpret that is building what you need, validating and then adding on features as you need them. Great example here. Because if Brent did not, they would have waited a long time to build something and it might not have taken off in the manner that it did. Speed allowed them to be first, get traction and get the attention of USA Today to partner together.

The features in the first version of this app were the following:
1. landing page
2. add a restaurant with a pop up form
3. share button
4. page for complete listings of all restaurants
5. page dedicated just for each city with listing of the restaurants
6. API connection to Google Maps

Brent said the last part was key because it promoted more sharing of Give local. Because people are going to be more apt to sharing the city they live in than the entire country.

2. No-code tool Feature: Bubble - creating workflows within the app are key to building a full web app.

What's interesting about this?

Brent wanted this to run by itself to get it out so quickly.

Brent said the key was make it community based and run by itself
So to do that Brent said, "We needed to create different database entries for each restaurant, then created a workflow when someone adds a restaurant. And uses Google Places API, if that city did not exist on the database, it would create that city and create a page for that city with the restaurant on it, so they did not have to do a lot of manual workflow."

I don't know the full details of how this worked, but I would imagine this reduced the manual effort on Brent's part and the part of the user. To make sure this was legitimate, they needed to be able to trace the restaurant back to an actual address.

3. Product strategy: Getting viral growth that led to USA Today taking interest in 4 days. What were the things the needed to be able for this to happen. Because USA Today is not going to take notice unless you demonstrate traction.

To get people to act, BJ Fogg, Standford professor, teaches an easy formula to remember when thinking about products. B=MAT. To get a (B) behavior change you must have the other variables in place otherwise the behavior does not happen. (M) sufficient motivation, (A) action to take and (T) Trigger external or internal to do the action.

Below I outline all three ingredients were in place that explain the Give Local story.

1. Mission - Having a why behind what you are doing that can bring people together and want to give their time to support. One the front page just below the hero, Brent and his partner put the mission of what they were doing. Also, the name of the site. (motivation - People want to help their local establishments because they love eating at them and have a sense of pride supporting them.)

2. Create a tool - Have people use it for a tool, stay for the network. They allowed people to add their favorite restaurants that they would like listed so that other people could support by buying a giftcard. The way this worked is the Makers put two primary buttons at the top of the page. One button was add a restaurant, the other was to share. Once a user added a button you could fill out a short form to add your restaurant linking to the restaurants page to buy a giftcard. (action - how easy is it to do what you are asking someone to do? Once you landed on a page, all you had to do was fill out a form with a few questions to add a restaurant and as a user you felt great because you contributed to the mission)

3. Share to help the mission - now that a user has added their favorite local restaurant they then made it easy to share on your favorite social network. (trigger - by seeing it spread through social media, this allowed other people to know about it through word of mouth)

Because they were able to build so quickly, and get traction so fast, they were able to get the attention of USA TODAY.
Partnering with USA Today to help spread the word and grow the platform by taking it national.

More here:

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