Authors

Inspiration

Following shelter in place orders in the Bay Area, we noticed that fears surrounding COVID-19 caused striking imbalances in our local supply chain. This impacts vulnerable populations immensely, especially the elderly and families who do not have the luxury to buy large volumes of items at once, or subscribe for delivery services. Furthermore, people who are apprehensive about entering their local grocery or convenience stores due to large crowds have few low-to-no-cost opportunities to obtain essential items.

In the spirit of restoring equal distribution of goods and services, we wanted to build a platform that mitigated surpluses and deficits through trade. Enter Barter: an application that allows community members to exchange items in a mutually beneficial manner.

What it does

Barter enables its users to trade for essential items they may need during the COVID-19 pandemic. Amid stockouts, delayed deliveries, and crowded stores, barter humanizes transactions by encouraging community-driven trade.

Upon signing up, users can fill a form for the items they need. When they post an item they are willing to trade, they have the option to indicate the quantity and expiration date, if the item is perishable. Then, barter matches individuals to one another based on mutual interest and proximity.

Users can also track the number of completed barters, posted items, and requested items from their profile page.

How we built it

Given social distancing guidelines, we are aware that encouraging interaction through a trade may be problematic. However, we wanted to mitigate the risk of exposure to COVID-19 by providing a pop-up dialogue that contains WHO guidelines on best practices during the pandemic. We hope that this dialogue discourages people who are experiencing symptoms from engaging in trades.

In terms of a broad risk assessment, we felt like barter could be safer than exposure to large crowds at grocery stores. In this vein, our solution could potentially encourage social distancing and reduce store traffic by facilitating barters.

Challenges we ran into

Given social distancing guidelines, we are aware that encouraging interaction through a trade may be problematic. However, we wanted to mitigate the risk of exposure to COVID-19 by providing a pop-up dialogue that contains WHO guidelines on best practices during the pandemic. We hope that this dialogue discourages people who are experiencing symptoms from engaging in trades.

With regards to a broad risk assessment, we felt like barter could be safer than exposure to large crowds at grocery stores. In this vein, our solution could potentially encourage social distancing by reducing traffic at stores through barters.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

Building a complete use case
• Configuring Google Authentication
• Designing landing page
• Building a database for users, items they are willing to trade, and items they need

What we learned

It helped us to identify our teams’ strengths early on to delegate work accordingly. We divided our group of 5 into engineering and design teams early on so that we could streamline our work, and collaborate across teams.

We were also motivated by some of the insights we heard from the Youtube panel, especially the advice to "build a quick hit" and "develop a prototype that can have immediate impact in your local community."

Finally, we appreciated the concept of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) for this hackathon, because even though we were excited about the idea of having a seamless platform, it was easier to build the most basic features to begin with. Rather than trying to build on the features at once, it helped to prioritize the features that demonstrated our proof of concept. We took note of exciting features that were not essential to our product’s functionality, and placed them in a project pipeline for later use.

What's next for Barter

We hope to launch a pilot in the Bay Area so that we can identify gaps in our user interface. Ideally, we will conduct  focus groups to further our user research and collect relevant feedback to iterate Barter further.

Our current MVP allows users to input trades for goods only, but we aim to expand this to services in the future as well. We were motivated by Andrew Yang’s concept of “time banking”  (https://www.yang2020.com/policies/modern-time-banking/), especially after it was clear that there were few applications that made it simple for individuals to exchange services, especially in a time of great need and uncertainty.

As we continue to iterate barter, we hope to add features to enrich the user experience. These features will include “Barter Buddies,” in which users can form trade groups, badges that users can collect based on accomplishments, and one way trades: an option to give an item away with nothing expected in return.

We envision a world in which communities can inspire the equal distribution of goods and services to reach their highest collective potential, one trade at a time.

Try It out

Hackathons

Technologies

javascript, mysql, node.js, react

Devpost Software Identifier

256118