Not every project starts with an idea or an existing business. Some start because of a built relationship, similar interests and a shared vision.
We usually start by introducing the company behind the product we created. This time I would like to start by introducing the people responsible for this project and their relationship. Matthias is the owner of two logistics companies in Poland and Germany. He is very successful, so he can focus on other projects. Nick is our CEO and Superhero. If you have already worked with us, you may associate him as a wizard who can take your business apart.
How did they get together?
Matthias had a web application developed by another company, Delivioo. It was a logistics project that allowed users to send packages thanks to people who happened to be planning a ride in a given direction (similar to BlaBlaCar). He needed to create a mobile application for this project and found us through our advertising.
Matthias already had experience working with a software development company, so he knew exactly what he was looking for, and we proved to be the perfect partner for him.
Once the application was created, we wanted to be involved in the process of developing and promoting the application to achieve the expected results. Therefore, when Matthias proposed a meeting in the Polish mountains, Mikołaj did not hesitate for a moment and drove all the way to Poland to have a talk.
Hublock’s first vision
In the beginning there was no concrete idea for Hublock. Nick and Matthias were discussing problems in the logistics industry and how to solve them. Since they have a very similar view on the world they decided to create something together. With Matthias’ knowledge of the industry and Nikolai’s experience in building software, they had a great start.
It was the time of ICOs, when startups were funded by cryptocurrencies. They both had experience with cryptocurrencies, plus Nikolai was already building a currency exchange. They decided that they could use blockchain technology in the project. Nowadays, working in the logistics industry, it is hard to build trust with customers, with the rest as well.
By using blockchain, all transactions would be based on technology, eliminating the possibility of changing opinions or driver information. This seemed like the perfect solution.
Let’s make a plan
They had lots of ideas, but still no concrete plan. They held many meetings and created a lot of boards on Miro that have now become indecipherable – too many problems and solutions in one place. They tried to work out how to combine their logistical and technical knowledge with solutions currently available on the market to create a comprehensive solution that would be useful to everyone.
It’s hard at this point to describe the entire thought process that led to the current state, because they changed direction so often that they don’t remember it themselves. Finally, they started working on the project by creating mockups. At about the same time, they decided that blockchain was completely unnecessary because other technologies could be used and the process of building the application could be simplified by doing so.
First, collect feedback!
Of course, Matthias knew the industry very well, so you would think he was well aware of its needs. Even so, it would be foolish not to heed his own advice. We always explain to our clients, to build a project that people want to use, ask them what they need. So they decided to start by meeting potential customers at trade shows in Warsaw, Cologne and Frankfurt. And they did it without a product.
They even rented their own booth, and all they had was a prototype built in Adobe so they could present their idea. This gave them a chance to talk to influential people like Rossman’s Technical Director and gather their opinion on what they should do to get bigger players interested in the app.
To start working on the app they engaged two developers. One of them was part of our team at GMI, plus he had a background in the logistics industry as a driver, which allowed him to better understand the product vision.
Even at this stage, the scope of work was constantly changing. They were building features, testing them, and then rebuilding them. There was always something they could do differently, better. The first goal was to create the ability to exchange orders between companies. In the meantime, however, they came up with an idea that determined how the product would look.
If you don’t know the logistics industry very well, you probably don’t know how it works. Most companies still use Excel or a piece of paper to manage their work. Any changes are made manually by the people in charge. And they decided to automate it.
Based on their experience with Zapier or User.com they created an automation tool. Every time a package appears in the system, you can automatically assign a driver to it, inform the customer, or send a notification to the warehouse. All thanks to tiles, triggers, filters and actions, which are connected to each other on the board visualizing the process.
Of course, the data in the system does not come out of thin air. They also needed to implement a way to import data. Fortunately, there was no need to build it from scratch. They used a solution that allows data to be pulled from a file or through an API
The next major functionality was to get rid of the rest of the Excels in logistics companies and provide a management solution. As an operator, you can add all warehouses, drivers, vehicles and customers to the system. With this information, Hublock can support shipment management.
To complete the picture, they also created a mobile application for drivers. Thanks to the actions prepared by the operator, the driver gets a list of tasks for the day. He has to scan the shipment with his phone and the system already knows what to do next. Another great feature available with this app is real-time shipment tracking. The operator always knows where the driver is, so he doesn’t have to call him and disturb his work.
At first, the app was only tested by drivers from Matthias’ company. Matthias was in constant contact with them, which allowed him to collect feedback on an ongoing basis and quickly fix bugs. Currently Hublock’s biggest customer is a logistics company from the UK, which delivers shipments for Siemens.
There are more and more companies interested in the solution, but the main goal is to attract small and medium companies, which in the future will help to create a data sharing system. This way, you as an operator will know that there are drivers in the vicinity heading to where you need to deliver and you won’t have to arrange your own transport.
Hublock = GMI
Hublock is a self-funded company that was created with the support of GMI. Now with an influx of new clients, the opportunity has arisen to hire great people for sales and marketing to grow the business even further.
We have no plans to change the development team, but the project is becoming more and more independent. It is possible that in the future we will completely separate GMI from Hublock, but it will always remain part of the GMI hub.