Not every software project starts with the idea or existing business. Some of them start from the relationship built through time, similar vision, and interests.
Who is Hublock?
Usually, we start by describing the company behind the product we have created. This time we will start by introducing the people behind the project and their relationship. Matthias is the owner of two logistics companies in Poland and Germany. The business is really successful so he has the possibility to focus on other projects. And Miko is our CEO and Superhero. If you already worked with us you may know him as the magician who can break down into prime factors your business ideas.
How did they meet?
Matthias had the web app he created with another company – Delivioo. It was a logistic & sharing economy software that allowed users to send the package with people that were already planning on driving in that direction. He needed to create a mobile app for that project and he found us through our ads. Matthias already had experience in creating software products so he knew from the beginning what company he was looking for and we were a perfect fit for him.
After creating the app we wanted to engage in making the app successful so when Matthias proposed to Miko to schedule a meeting in the Polish mountains, Miko without hesitation drove through the whole country to meet and talk.
The first vision of Hublock
There was no ready idea for Hublock at the beginning. Miko and Matthias discussed problems in the logistics industry and how they can resolve them and because they had the same vision they decided to build something together. With Matthias’ industry knowledge and Miko’s experience in building software and technical knowledge, they had a great start.
It was the time of ICO when startups were funded by cryptocurrency. They both had experience with cryptocurrencies and additionally, Miko had a chance to build a stock exchange in the past. They decided to use blockchain technology in the project. Currently, if you are a logistic company you need to build the trust of your customers as in every other industry. By using blockchain all of the transactions were based on technology which eliminated the chance that someone would change the opinions or driver’s data. It looked like a perfect solution.
Let’s come up with a plan
They had a lot of ideas but still no plan. They organized many meetings and created many Miro boards that right now are unreadable – too many problems and solutions in one place. They tried to figure out how to connect their logistic and technology knowledge and solutions that already exist and build one that will be helpful to everyone. It is hard to describe the whole process of their thinking as the project had so many pivots. Finally, they decided what they want to do and created the mockups. In this process, they also decided that blockchain is not really that needed in the project as they can use other technologies to simplify it.
Get the feedback first!
Of course, Matthias knew the industry so you could think he was sure what other companies need as well. But we always say that first, you need to ask people what they want to build the product they will need. Because it would be stupid not to listen to our own advice they decided to ask other people about the opinion on the product. They decided to attend exhibitions in Warsaw, Cologne, and Frankfurt. And they did it without the product. They even booked a booth and used a prototype built in Adobe to present the idea. It was a chance to speak with people like the Technical Director of Rossmann and get their inside on what the app should look like to attract big players.
To start the work on the actual application they hired two developers. One of them was already on GMI’s team and we knew he had experienced in the logistic industry as a driver so he understood the idea.
Even at this stage, the scope of work was always changing. They have released the feature, tested it, and then rebuilt it. There was always something that could be done better or differently. The first goal was to prepare a possibility to exchange orders between companies. Then they came up with a new idea that decided on the direction of their work for the future.
If you don’t know the logistics industry you probably don’t know how they operate. Most of them still use Excel or a piece of paper to manage all the work. All of the updates are sent manually by the people responsible for that. And they wanted to automate it.
Based on the experience from Zapier and User.com they have implemented a tool for automation. Each time when the new package shows up we can automatically add the driver, inform the customer, or send the notification to the warehouse. All of that thanks to the cubes with triggers, filters, and actions that you put on board to visualize your process.
Of course, the data in the system is not coming from the air. There was a need to implement a way of importing the data. Luckily, there was no need to build it from scratch. They have used a ready solution that allows importing data from the file or through the API.
The next big feature was to get rid of the rest of the Excel files in logistic companies and give them a place to manage all the assets. As the operator, you can add to the system all the warehouses, drivers, cars, and customers. Based on that information Hublock can help with managing the shipments.
To make it whole they developed a mobile app for the drivers. Based on the actions prepared by the operator or the automation the driver gets a list of tasks for the day. He needs to scan the package by phone and the system knows what to do next. Next great feature available thanks to the app is real-time tracking of the packages. The operator always knows where the driver is so there is no need to call them and interrupt the work.
In the beginning, the app was tested only by drivers who work in Matthias’ company. Matthias was always in touch with them so the feedback was immediate and fixing bugs was easier. Right now the biggest customer of Hublock is a logistic company from the UK that delivers shipments for Siemens. There are many new customers interested in the solution but the main goal is to target small and medium companies so in the future they can implement data sharing between them. It will help in the organization and will save money. As the operator, you will always know when other companies will have drivers in the neighborhood so they don’t need to send their own car, they can deliver the shipment by the car that already goes that direction.
Hublock & GMI
Hublock is a self-funded project that was created with the support of GMI. Right now, with new customers showing up Hublock managed to hire people for sales and marketing to grow even more. We are not planning on changing the development team at the moment but the project is getting more and more independent. It is possible that in the future we will separate GMI from Hublock completely but it will always be a part of GMI hub.