What was the scope of their involvement?
Stuzo gave us a large questionnaire addressing what we were looking to do. We developed that product vision internally, then went through a two-day workshop at their office. We spent that time ironing out what we perceived digital opportunities. Stuzo translated these into a product roadmap and backlog that could be prioritized within their agile process.
Then, development started. One of our biggest lines of business is check cashing. Because most of our business comes near paydays, we have a very spiky business, with most of our transactions taking place between Thursdays and Saturdays. However, there is a limit to how fast we can service customers.
The problem we’re trying to solve is underwriting customers’ checks in real time, while managing our risk. We have to make decisions on whether to accept items in the shortest time possible. One in 10 people will have to wait while we manually verify their check, so our concept was to have customers use a mobile app to digitize their checks ahead of time. After receiving a confirmation from us, they can come to a shop knowing that they will receive their money.
The second value proposition we’re looking to bring to customers is allowing them to check in digitally when coming to a store, then going to a special window to receive immediate payments. There are many logistical components to this, but this is our main vision.
At the moment, our only engagements with customers are face-to-face, between them and our tellers. Customers appreciate this kind of interaction, but the world has evolved to allow communication outside of stores as well. We haven’t gotten there yet, but we are launching a campaign to grab email addresses and leverage some of the app’s push notification capabilities, with the aim of engaging users outside of stores and driving certain behaviors.
What is the team composition?
We’ve interacted with their CEO, an account representative, the product owner, and a day-to-day project manager. There is a team of seven to eight developers, tech leads and QA testers working behind the scenes.
How did you come to work with Stuzo?
We needed expertise in building consumer-facing products related to financial transactions. They came highly recommended from some of our banking partners. We brought them in to discuss our use case and challenges. Of all the firms we contacted, we were most impressed by Stuzo. They focused on connected commerce and creating customer-oriented digital asset experiences. Plus, they’ve built mobile apps and websites designed to engage the customer directly rather than using distribution channels.
In addition, the CEO’s approach to discussing our problems resonated with us. He brought key experience and a lot of good ideas to the table.
How much have you invested with them?
We’ve spent around $250,000 thus far and expect to spend an additional $400,000–$600,000 in 2018.
What is the status of this engagement?
We started working with Stuzo in September 2017. The product is still in heavy development. We’ve pivoted somewhat because of business needs, but Stuzo accommodated this. We plan to launch a product to market in the June 2018 timeframe.