Startups Case Study: Why SpoonRocket Shut Down

SpoonRocket

Although the on-demand industry is highly popular, not all businesses remain successful. Recently the food-delivery service SpoonRocket announced it was shutting down. Prior to closing, the business accomplished meal sales at a profit, but the cost of operations exceeded the funding they were able to raise. In addition, their business model of cheap, quickly delivered food did not draw in the customer base required to sustain it – many customers reported dissatisfaction with the quality of the meals, preferring to spend more money for tastier alternatives. The management attempted to organize an acquisition instead of terminating the business, but the deal ultimately failed.

Sprig, a strong competitor of SpoonRocket, has attracted many of the customers and ex-employees of the closing business. The SpoonRocket management team actively recommended Sprig as part of their closing announcement, offering discount coupons for SpoonRocket customers who chose to transition. Despite Sprig’s service being slower and the cost higher, many customers find its quality superior and its sustainable, organic sourcing appealing.

Several additional alternatives exist for ex-employees or customers of SpoonRocket. Caviar, a service that partners with restaurants in over a dozen major cities, allows customers to order from their favorite locations. For people who prefer to cook, DoorDash permits customers to order groceries from local suppliers for delivery in less than 45 minutes. Another option, Postmates, is headquartered in San Francisco, and aims to grant customers access to goods from any local store or restaurant.

Regardless of the reasons why food-delivery startup SpoonRocket shut down, the on-demand industry remains strong and its opportunities promising.

About Entrepreneurship worth knowing

Entrepreneurship is not all glitz and glamor like the movies would have you believe. Contrary to popular belief, entrepreneurs don’t work hard for 6 months and then become an overnight success. There is a huge amount of effort that is put forth and sustained for years before success happens.

Even though there are few things in this world that are more satisfying, challenging, and financially lucrative as entrepreneurship, it’s not for everyone. Everyone is not willing to put forth the effort or sacrifice what it takes to make it as an entrepreneur. Here are few thoughts about entrepreneurship that everyone should know.

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It takes a long time to become successful

When a successful entrepreneur is highlighted, it is usually their success and money that is at the forefront of the story. This leads readers to falsely believing that these tech billionaires and super successful entrepreneurs are merely “lucky”.

What they don’t highlight is the struggles and years of hard work and labor. Startup website Funders and Founders highlights the hardships of some of the world’s most successful billionaire entrepreneurs.

One infographic on the site, “Too Late to Start?”, highlights the fact that most of these successful entrepreneurs started their journeys between the ages of 35-39.

There are a million failures before a single win

Another common aspect of the entrepreneurial journey that people seem to ignore is the fact that the most successful entrepreneurs have failed a million times before getting it right. It take an incredible amount of perseverance to continue in the face of failure.

Many entrepreneurs sacrifice having a social life

Another extremely important aspect of being an entrepreneur is having to sacrifice a social life. You don’t realize how much time it takes to nurture friendships, marriages, and relationships with children until you become an entrepreneur. All of this has to sometimes be sacrificed for a certain amount of time to give your business the life it needs to survive.

If you read the stories of the world’s most successful billionaire entrepreneurs, you’ll see that being a successful entrepreneur is anything but easy. Yes, everyone wants to have the money and accolades of successful entrepreneurs but not everyone is ready to do what it takes to get it.

What do you have to say about entrepreneurship? Are you one? How is your story so far?

Pokémon Go

Pokémon Go

Pokémon Go has, no doubt, taken the world by storm. It’s estimated that the game has more active users than Snapchat. It’s the first widely popular augmented reality game and people have been willing to go to extreme measures to catch ’em all. Pokémon Go uses real world locations and virtual images to sends users on wild quests in search of the elusive Pokémon. Here are some interesting stories that demonstrate Pokémon Go’s influence on its players.

Gotta Catch ’em All

To be the very best you have to catch as many Pokémon as possible. The first one is usually located somewhere close by. But after that, you have to leave the comfort of your home if you want to advance in the game. Try going to places that are heavily populated to begin. Pokémon mostly appear in malls, parks, and tourist attractions.

Pokémon - Cubone

How to Track and Catch Pokémon

The map on your app will show you all the Pokémon that are near you. You can track one by clicking on it. One track will appear if you are close and more if it’s further away. Once you have found the Pokémon you must catch it with your Poké Ball. Throw it by tapping your Poké Ball and flicking it towards your conquest. Don’t hesitate. Throw it immediately to prevent the Pokémon from escaping.

How to Battle

Once you have reached level 5 you can begin battling. You join a Pokémon Gym and battle other players. You have to pick a side; Team Instinct, Team Mystic, and Team Valor are the three opposing teams. To battle you have to enter a gym that is controlled by an opposing team. Select six of your Pokémon to use in battle. You can either attack or dodge. After the battle is over, the winning team gains prestige. Prestige levels determine how difficult it will be to defeat a gym. This is just a glimpse into the complex adventure game, Pokémon Go.

Stabbed, not stirred

ABC 7 reports that Oregon resident Michael Baker was out playing Pokémon Go when he approached what he thought was a fellow Pokémon Go player. Turns out, this other man was not playing Pokémon Go and instead turned around and stabbed Baker. Baker refused any medical service and continued playing.

“I basically risked my life,” Baker said in an interview with ABC 7. “It’s important to me. I gotta basically catch them all.”

Pokemon in Zoos

At the Toledo Zoo, a man and a woman were reported to have scaled a fence in order to try to catch Pokémon. Robin Bartholomy was one of the trespassers.

“It wasn’t the most responsible thing to do, but hey, gotta catch ’em all,” Bartholomy said in an interview with the Toledo Blade. The two, having been spotted by security cameras, were eventually caught by a tiger exhibit.

Dead On

Within days of the game’s release, Shayla Wiggins found a dead body while playing Pokémon Go. She said she hoped to find unique Pokémon by a natural water resource. She might have found Pokémon by the river, but she found something else too.

“I probably would have never went down there if it weren’t for this game,” Wiggins told CNNMoney. “But in a way, I’m thankful. I feel like I helped find his body. He could have been there for days.”

Laaija's Pokémon Adventure

Laaija’s Pokémon Adventure while it lasted.

Pokémon Go in India

In the early days of its release, even though it is not officially launched, Indians were fortunate enough to play Pokémon Go. Unfortunately, it is no longer playable and Indians have to wait for the official release of Pokémon Go.

So while you’re out there on the search for Mewtwo, remember to play responsibly.

React Workshop for JavaScript Developers

React

The Alaris Prime Team, recently, completed a highly performant re-write of the front end visual layer of Aditya Birla’s flagship eCommerce site ABOF.com. The team was able to make the site exceptionally fast, even on a low 3G Bandwidth connection in India. The CEO of ABOF happily claims their site is the fastest eCommerce site in India. You can read more about our journey, experience, and our learnings during that 5-month stint with ABOF.

We believe that it is a good practice to teach others what we experienced. We have decided to do an extensive 2-Day hands-on Workshop on React, for JavaScript Developers – React in-depth for JavaScript Developers.

Seats are limited to a max of 10 developers. Bring your development friendly computers.

We were planning to charge a premium for the workshop to make sure only the most interested developers can join and benefit. However, we have decided against it. but the seats will remain limited to 10.

Donate, and book your seat now – React in-depth for JavaScript Developers

Stop abusing Sass’s ‘&-rule’ while drugged in BEM

BEM is awesome and we all love it. Our team at Razorfish, India have successfully moved bag-n-baggage to writing BEM style class names. The best benefit so far is that it is easier to work together in larger teams and much faster while fixing bugs. The other advantage I’ve seen is that we can move and/or switch team members across projects without having to do an extensive knowledge transfer. They feel right at home and in ease with the patterns across projects.

So, when Sass 3.4 released with a well-defined &-rule, we went crazy and went BEM-BEM with it on everything we wrote. Here is how it goes;

This looks pretty good and harmless. In-fact, you feel that you can now avoid writing that classname, .block multiple times and thus DRY everything. Unfortunately, we realized that the moment we go deeper, wrote more codes, switch/add more people to the team – it was getting harder to do the usual global search to debug the codes.

Well, we ended up not using it. Thus,

What happens now is that we can quickly do a project-wide search for that ‘element’ or the ‘modifier’ with its full namespace as seen in the HTML. The question though, that might arise, is what happens if we have to change the block’s classname. Well, it is matter of an easy find-n-replace. With IDEs capability to select multiple selections, this should not be an issue at all. For instance, you can do a quick CMD + d in Sublime Text and Atom to select all the ‘block’.

So, the thumb-rule is to avoid &-rule for full classnames that you find in HTMLs but use it with ones that you do not really see it in your HTML code – pseudo classes.

Setup Dropbox to manage your screenshots on Mac OS X

There are quite a lot of Screenshot management apps for Mac OS X. I like most of them but I also like Dropbox a lot. With the Screenshot management feature from Dropbox, you can now do away with all those Screenshot apps and use the tool you already have.

First, enable Dropbox to handle your Screenshots.

Dropbox Screenshots

Second, drop your OS X screenshots automatically into Dropbox’s Screenshot folder.

Via the Terminal

Or use a utility such as OnyX

OnyX Screenshot

I’m guessing you can do this on Windows and Linux too if you can automatically drop your screenshots to the Dropbox/Screenshots folder.

Now, the screenshots you take with your OS X is now in Dropbox and the URL is copied and ready to be pasted anywhere.

Aside: I use Hazel to clean up my Screenshots folder to remove file older than a month. You can use any of your favorite cleaning utility to clean yours to avoid Screenshots piling up your Dropbox folder.


Just in case:

  • CMD + SHFT + 3: Fullscreen Screenshot.
  • CMD + SHFT + 4 & drag crosshair: Screenshot of your desired area.
  • CMD + SHFT + 4 & Spacebar: Screenshot specific app, dialog boxes, etc.

The missing step to all Productivity Advices – Disable Notifications

We all want to boost our productivity and avoid procrastination. The problem is that we live in a world where it’s a norm to check our phones as soon as we wake up, read and send email at the breakfast table, catch up on Twitter and Facebook in the Bathroom. It is no longer surprising to hear terms like “screen-off days”, “no phones at the dinner table”, “no devices in the bedroom”, “screen-time for kids”, “phone jammers in the classroom” et al.

Many articles about productivity have been written and published by industry pundits, time management experts and productivity gurus. They are all good, and honestly I tend to read anything that helps productivity and try to practice the ones that suits me.

I’m no productivity guru nor a time management expert but I have experimented with quite a lot of routines and disciplines. I have somehow come to the realization that none of these productivity advices, tips, tricks and routines are useful and effective if we have one thing constantly nagging us – Notifications. So, I’ll focus on one, just one, sure shot routine that will change the way you focus and increase productivity.

Stop the Notifications.

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A Smarter WordPress Theme Design & Development Workflow with node.js, ruby, sass, bower and grunt

WordCamp Mumbai 2014

I was lucky to be one of the speakers at the WordCamp Mumbai, Mar 15-16, 2014. When I stumbled upon their Call for Speakers, I was excited with the speaking opportunity and an uncanny chance to visit Bombay after so many years. Thankfully, the organizing team accepted my proposal and thus, presented and spoke on, “A Smarter WordPress Theme Design & Development Workflow with node.js, ruby, sass, bower and grunt.”

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The Making of Autochrome v3

Autochrome v2

It all started with an eagerness to create one of the simplest WordPress Photoblog. After a rough work with the first version of Autochrome, the second version saw a huge improvement in speed, crispness and a clear focus to the photos. Autochrome v2 leveraged the powers of WordPress while achieving minimalism and simplicity to give users a no-nonsense WordPress Photography Theme.

What we wanted to achieve with Autochrome v3

We really wanted to push the limit with Autochrome v3. We knew we needed to do something different so users can achieve more with the third version. There were few interim version of Autochrome which were never published but rather thrown away because they were not good enough, not worthy to be the successor of Autochrome v2.

While continuing and even pushing the envelope on minimalism and simplicity, we knew Autochrome v3 have to be faster, way faster, and have a laser focus on the Photographs and nothing else.

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MetaRefresh (2014): The Design Superheroes who uses Modern Design Workflows

At the MetaRefresh 2014, I’m doing a 3+ hours workshop on how designers can leverage modern design workflows, weirdly titled – The Design Superheroes who uses Modern Design Workflows.

Today, the rate at which Front-End Development Tools and Utilities gets introduced are mind boggling. It is indeed quite hard to keep up. Getting familiar with few of these tools and mastering it will help designers get things done quicker, better, produce optimized results and participate with the whole team – contributing to writing production ready codes and be able to run repeatable task easily. The result will be that designers can concentrate, focus and dedicate more time on designing products, applications and systems instead of just ‘making things work.’

MetaRefresh 2014 Workshop

MetaRefresh 2014 Workshop – The Design Superheroes who use Modern Design Workflows.

The purpose of this workshop is to initiate and ignite that idea amongst designers who code and breath life to their static designs. Check out the Workshop’s Companion Site for more details.

It will be a long way after this workshop for a designer to become a ‘superhero’ in design but it should be a good start.