merQbiz provides a modern solution to an old way of doing things–buying and selling reclaimed paper. The industry standard was to either use a broker (via telephone or email), or to phone/email your Rolodex of suppliers/mills if you needed to buy/sell. I learned a lot about how the paper industry works, how the recycling industry works, and how reclaimed paper (paper recycled either by consumers or by industries) makes its way back into paper mills.
merQbiz is an e-commerce platform that allows sellers (recycling facilities) to list their paper, and buyers (paper mills) to buy their paper. This product was incubated and launched by BCG Digital Ventures in March 2017, and backed by a large German company called Voith. Shortly after the MVP launched, BCGDV hired and built out a team dedicated to this product, from which merQbiz became its own company.
Uncovering The Problem
After several visits to customers, it became increasingly evident that our responsive solution for the website was not sufficient. In the photo above, you can observe the kind of environment that these customers work in; it's a warehouse that is loud, has a lot going on, and often there is so much that the customer needs to pay attention to and take care of, that being on his computer is usually the last thing on his mind. The responsive solution for the platform, while at least an option, proved to be woefully inadequate; network issues would prevent the site from loading properly, and the mechanism to take and upload photos, arguably one of the most important aspect of a seller's listing in this industry, was hindered by cumbersome web solutions.
A Rapidly Prototyped Solution
I set out to create a very quick prototype of a native mobile solution to put in front of customers during PPRC, the paper trading conference in Chicago of 2017. I was able to gather valuable feedback and validate that a native mobile solution would work best for these sellers.
You can view the prototype below. This app is currently being developed by a third party contractor working with merQbiz, using my prototype as the groundwork. It is scheduled to launch in September.