Many economic sectors are struggling at the moment. So the City of Groningen, Studio Plakband, Appademic, Yes!, NOO, Startup Weekend Groningen and Founded in Groningen decided to bring together all of the Groningen entrepreneurial and creative talent. The goal? To come up with solutions for local retailers, the hospitality sector, beauty and grooming businesses, health- and daycare and education, by organizing two 26 hour long idea sprints.
Five teams of entrepreneurs, developers and creatives tackled three challenges for the second edition: supporting local bars and restaurants, help out daycare services and come up with ways to support professional soccer team FC Groningen and its sponsors when social distancing will keep on being the norm for the foreseeable future. The jury for this second sprint consisted of Wouter Gudde (Managing Director FC Groningen), Paul de Rook (City Alderman) and Jellie Tiemersma (Treasurer VNO-NCW Noord), moderated by Lian de Boer. These are the ideas, along with feedback from the jury:
It’s no surprise many bars and restaurants are immensely struggling right now. Delivery and take-out is an option for some businesses, but popular delivery apps are asking high profit margins. And what about post-lockdown? How can bars and restaurants facilitate their guests when social distancing is still the norm and they have very limited space? Two teams provided solutions.
The first team, represented by Patrick Trentelman (founder of the Spacetime Layers app) wants to use his existing app to offer hospitality businesses to be able to show their capacity, safety measures taken and their current menu in real time. “Red means full capacity, orange means it’s crowded and green means there’s still plenty of room at the bar or restaurant”, Patrick explains. “Restaurants can also update their menus in real time for example.”
The jury verdict: “It’s a very interesting proposition”, Jellie says. “But its success depends on the ability to do update in real time, which is the ultimately up to the business owners themselves, before it can be automated. So we would like to see more validation first, before the next steps can be taken. Are hospitality business owners really interested and willing to use the app?”
The second team, represented by entrepreneur Srinivas Sista (who also participated in the first sprint) wants to tackle delivery and distancing issues between personnel and customers. “We want to develop an app that helps customers order and pay at the restaurant and also decide if they want to sit there or take their order home with them”, Srinivas says. “This will limit contact at the restaurant and also provides a far less costly alternative to popular delivery apps.”
The jury verdict: “You’ve shown a large understanding of the problem and the market and it’s a clever concept”, Paul de Rook says. “But I’m not sure if this is right for high-end restaurants, where face to face contact is a big part of the experience. If you could partner up with bigger players in the hospitality sector, get them on board, you should have no problem with finding the necessary funding, marketing and rolling out of your concept.”
For disadvantaged clients, daycare services are essential to help them structure their day, give them routine, purpose and work experience to move on to regular jobs. Menno’s Kookerij is one of those organizations, where clients provide meals for customers. But with no customers, clients have very little to do.
Team 3 came up with the idea of themed boxes. “Multiple daycare organizations can supply products made by their clients. At first, these boxes can be picked up by customers and when demand grows, we could partner up with Dropper or Takeaway.com for example.”
Jury verdict: “We were moved by the pitch and the proposition”, Jellie says. “It’s great to hear that a few organizations are already on board, but have you thought about doing this on a regional level? We can help you find partners, like FC Groningen, to take it to the next step.”
With the soccer season cut short, many professional teams are struggling. When lockdown measures are slowly scaled down, large sports events are probably last in line to have restrictions lifted. This is a major problem for FC Groningen, with a stadium capacity of around 22,000. How can they facilitate fans and sponsors, when they have to prepare the stadium and business lounge to accommodate far fewer people? And how can they still generate revenue?
Team 4, represented by Wilbert van de Kamp, came up with a loyalty card, with special offers and discounts. “That way, you’ll have an alternative source of income for the team, but also for local businesses that are sponsors. The card will be €15, but free for season ticket holders and food bank customers, and it’s a low key way to support your soccer team and easily marketed, because it could be promoted by players for example.”
The jury verdict: “We like it, but we don’t think it’s feasible to implement it by May 13th. We’ll know more about social distancing restriction in the coming months, so this could be very helpful for the new season in September, if there are still restrictions.”
The 5th and final team came up with an alternative for business lounge seats. “Rather than use the stadium lounge, the team could host exclusive watch parties at unique locations in the city. They would still provide the same service, like catering, but outsourced to local businesses, that pay a kickback fee to host them.”
The jury verdict: “We would still need to come up with ways to make stadium seats attractive, because it will also be fairly empty. And we would also want to provide something for regular fans, but this is a very interesting alternative. When we know more about restrictions in the coming months, we would like to invite you to help think about this and possibly set this up.”
Check the pitches and jury verdicts here: