How street-food vendors got Streatu the first 300 downloads & customers

By the middle of November 2021, the Streatu app was ready for download, and deployment in our pilot location of Sahakaranagar, Bangalore.

The next big challenge loomed at us: How to get people to trust the app, download it, & then place their first orders.

While we could have carpet bombed Google, Instagram and Facebook with ad campaigns, we took a rather unconventional, offline approach.

We got vendors to get us our first 100 paying customers. This is how we did it.

We got attractive sunboards printed, for about Rs. 200 each. We handed these to 10 our of most receptive vendors with high traffic, and requested them to give our sunboards a prime location in their establishments. They readily agreed.

The deal we gave vendors was simple: Give every customer who downloads the Streatu app a flat Rs. 25 discount at your store.

We gave each vendor Rs. 500, which was good for 20 downloads.

As a feedback mechanism, we put individual codes on each standee, which the customer had to enter after download to unlock the Rs. 25 offer.

Doing something to earn that Rs. 25 makes it feel inherently better than getting a hand-out. This step, with a running clock counter also prevented misuse.

We also got vendors to tell customers that there were three 50 rupee coupons inside the app, which could be redeemed while ordering through the app. This information was also displayed on the standee to reinforce it.

Surendra, who runs a food truck Mangalore Fish Point, got 64 people to install the Streatu app

The vendors did the marketing for us, and this quickly began showing results. Downloads began flowing in as it was targeted at street-food lovers, at street-food vendors.

Just 3 vendors got us over 150 downloads in a couple of weeks

And guess what, some vendors came back to us in a week, asking for more money as more and more customers wanted to download the app and experience it.

In a couple of weeks, we managed to get over 300 downloads without spending anything on digital marketing.

The next challenge was to convert the app downloads into actual users. This was easy as we now had space in customers’ smartphones. We used the app notification route to nudge them about their 50 rupee coupons waiting for redemption. The orders started flowing in.

Now, what was the point of going the offline marketing way when we could have adopted digital means?

  1. Creating trust: Customers trust vendors they eat from, and it’s easier to convince them to download an unknown app through a human nudge.

    2. Targeting the right audience: We could get real street-food lovers to adopt the platform, and give it a try.

    3. Vendor Engagement: We could keep vendors engaged even before the first orders came through.

Total cost of the campaign? About Rs. 7,000, for around 300 downloads. The download->order conversion rate was about 40 %. We spent about Rs. 18,000 on the coupons, which were redeemed thanks to notifications. We ended up getting 300+ orders in the first couple of weeks of operations. CAC: Well under Rs. 100.

Thinking in bets, helps. Bet small, bet often!

All of this gave us the confidence to move to other interesting approaches for customer acquisition and retention. That’s another story, for another day.

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