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How an Entrepreneur Built an Epic Product in a Week with Make

Apr 29, 2021 | 5 minutes
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One of the prevalent myths about automation platforms is that they aren’t powerful enough to build a fully-functional product.

The narrative tends to limit the capacity of these tools to automating discrete tasks and building minimum viable products (MVPs).

This may stand true for a number of solutions, but not for Make.

We started to debunk this myth a few months ago when we published the story of finn.auto. By using Make to build its digital infrastructure, this car subscription company posted a 17% increase in process efficiency and a 75% increase in time savings.

Most importantly, their strategy paid off. Less than two years after launch, the company raised a staggering $24.2M in Series A funding.

Before anyone screams “black swan!”, we are here to share another success story that produced amazing results in record time.

In this case study, we will show you how a bright entrepreneur with an idea and no time to waste helped thousands of people during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is the story of Dare to Care Packages.

A platform for helping others

Dare to Care Packages was launched in 2020 to tackle two key problems provoked by the advent of the pandemic:

  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages

  • Assistance to self-isolated individuals

To address these challenges, an online platform was launched. Through it, people could donate resources, purchase “care packs”, or apply to volunteer.

At the same time, the platform allowed hospitals and general practitioner offices to either request PPE items, and donate them as well.

In addition, the platform offers full, real-time transparency regarding its operations. Anyone can see:

  • How many packages and items have been delivered

  • The destination and time of deliveries

  • The amount of money donated

On top of the accountability factor, the decision to publicly display this data is instrumental to let everyone know the actual impact of their actions.

The results of this initiative have been quite encouraging.

So far, Dare to Care Packages has served 500,000+ people during the height of COVID lockdowns in the United Kingdom.

In the first few months of the pandemic, they shipped ~30,000 PPE items and ~20,000 meals to medical staff and isolated people.

Perhaps most importantly, it also brought thousands of donors and companies together for the greater good.

Now, let’s take a closer look at how this was achieved.

Lo and behold

Dare to Care Packages is the brainchild of Jon Lo, an entrepreneur with plenty of experience in building and scaling online businesses.

As the pandemic unfolded, Lo - who is also a developer - understood that COVID lockdowns were putting extra pressure on two key sectors:

  • Self-isolated individuals

  • Medical staff

The idea of a platform where people could donate and purchase “care packs” looked promising enough. However, and given the circumstances, time to market had to be lightning fast.

After considering his options, Lo decided to power every aspect of the business with Make.

“No other tool on the market - code or no-code - combined the required power, flexibility, and ease of making changes that Make provided. I have full-stack development expertise myself, and I still chose to use Make.”

Jon Lo - Founder, Dare to Care Packages

Overall, there are three reasons why Make was the better choice when compared to any other tool on the market:

First, Make allows for the creation of complex logical chains, an aspect none of its competitors can match. This was crucial, as the goal was not just to automate the mundane, but to power an entire platform.

Secondly, it’s easy to implement changes to automated Make scenarios. The dynamic of the pandemic forced Lo to design (and redesign) solutions from the ground up in hourly timeframes. Once again, Make showed its strength.

Lastly, time to market. By building the key digital infrastructure with Make, Lo was able to go from idea to launch in a week. That’s “god mode”, quite literally.

Now, let’s take a look at how Mr. Lo used Make in Dare to Care Packages.

Dare to automate

Make was used in three main areas:

  1. Product and operations

  2. Growth

  3. Data collection

Lo relied on Make to automate dozens of processes, but for the sake of simplicity, we’ll only stop at the most interesting ones.

1. Automated route planning, notifications, and sharing order data

On top of raising funds and selling “care packages”, Dare to Care Packages also handles delivery.

Delivering thousands of packages is quite the challenge for a small organization, and automation made the whole process easier.

By using Make's HTTP module to make API calls to last-mile delivery app Optimoroute, Lo was able to automate route planning. This allowed Dare to Care Packages to:

  • Coordinate dozens of drivers on a daily basis

  • Deliver around the country

  • Send hundreds of items at once, multiple times a week

In addition, Lo turned to Mailgun and Twilio to send an automatic email and SMS notifications regarding deliveries.

To conclude, he used Make to automate orders that required the involvement of a third-party supplier.

Whenever an order for a third-party supplier was placed, Make automatically duplicated the order in the supplier’s ecommerce system.

The supplier would then prepare and send the order on its own, avoiding unnecessary bottlenecks and centralization.

2. Accelerating growth and impact with automated ads and content

Make was also applied to programmatically control Google Ads and to automatically create content via BannerBear.

This boosted the company’s notoriety and helped them raise £100,000 in the first few months.

The initiative gained them the support of hundreds of donors, venture capital firms, and financial and academic institutions.

3. Automatic data gathering for increased productivity and transparency

Dare to Care Packages publicly displays its impact data on its website.

However, a lot of the data that they were dealing with was confidential in nature. Make helped filter this data and display it in real-time, effectively enabling an automated privacy layer.

On top of this, Lo used Make to create integrations for Clearbit and Monkeylearn, which allowed the team to qualify leads and classify support tickets, respectively.

Results that matter

On top of helping thousands of people and medical professionals during the pandemic, Jon Lo achieved two important milestones with Dare to Care Packages.

First, he demonstrated that powering a business with Make is not only possible but also a cost-effective way to deploy and scale.

“Make was super reliable. In a crisis like COVID where lives were on the line, Make never let us down”, he said.

The final milestone is a heartwarming one: For all these efforts, Lo was recognized with the Forbes 30 under 30 award.

As if launching a product in “normal” conditions weren’t hard enough, Lo did it in a few days, offering a first-class exhibit of strategic thinking and product development along the way.

Hopefully, this story will serve as a gentle reminder that limitations are, more often than not, self-imposed.

Let’s keep building amazing products, and happy automating!

senior-content-writer-saas

Martin Etchegaray

Senior Content Writer and Editor at Make. I enjoy writing and reading about history, science, and tech.

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