In fall of 2020, I began building out a custom online marketplace to match parents who need school lunches with those who make extra. The marketplace, called Lunchy, utilizes a headless platform called Sharetribe Flex.
Out of Finland, Sharetribe has developed a number of marketplace products including their SaaS pay-as-you-go platform, Sharetribe Go. With Sharetribe Go, it is possible to very quickly spin up an online marketplace that can work for many business models out of the box. With what I wanted to do with Lunchy, however, it was clear I needed a more flexible platform.
Going with Sharetribe Flex meant taking on the responsibility (and cost) of development and hosting. Because Lunchy is an early-stage startup, ideally I would have used the lower-cost Go platform to prove out the concept, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to produce a minimum viable product without incorporating a more complex user structure that included schools as well as buyers and sellers.
Sharetribe Flex provides powerful APIs and all of the front-end source code to allow an enormous amount of customizability, without the necessity of coding a platform from scratch. This kind of flexibility is typical of an open-source solution, but Flex is also regularly updated with new features and backed by a full-time support. My experience with the team in Finland was always excellent, though since I am located in Toronto, the time difference meant that I needed to concentrate much of my communication first thing in the morning.
The front-end template used by Sharetribe Flex is based on REACT, a technology with which I had little experience. I engaged a development team from Australia and Vietnam Journey Horizons to work on the customization with me and the process was (and continues to be) a good one. Again, the time difference can make for a difficult schedule that included many late nights for me, but for a very reasonable investment I was able to build Lunchy into a minimum viable product that I could take to market.
Given the school closures due to COVID-19, Lunchy is currently on hiatus, but the experience of building it was a thoroughly fulfilling and efficient process. I would be happy to speak to you about it in more detail. Please contact me.