Everybody eats. Almost everybody eats out. With such a large audience to serve, tech hospitality is one that keeps on growing. It’s the rough competition that comes with this kind of industry which often causes a company to consider pivoting and propelling itself out of the present and into the future. Which is exactly what Flypay have done with their new platform Flyt. Their Digital Designer, Matthew O’Connor, talks us through their rebrand and their new mission.
“It’s our job to eliminate the pain points of eating out which, unsurprisingly, falls under transactions."
Three years ago, Flypay was founded by Tom Weaver and Chris Evans after seeing the potential to improve transactions in the hospitality industry using tech. They’d conducted research which showed that waiting for the cheque and paying the bill in a restaurant would take an average of 10 minutes (but in some instances up to 1 hour). So, they developed an app which allowed customers to pay in full or split their bill whilst seated at a table in a restaurant serviced by Flypay. Making the process simpler, faster and happier.
The thing that set Flypay apart from it’s competitors is its integration with ePOS (Electronic Point of Sale) systems. Also the reason why they house such a large number of developers - because they talk directly to ePOS. Their competitors fell behind and didn’t do this. Leaving Flypay at an advantage, where Weaver and Evans found grounds for their pivot to focus on Flyt.
Flyt, the new platform
Their partners began approaching Flypay asking whether they could provide an integration platform for them to build their app around. Flyt is their new platform which sells operators the ability to talk directly to ePOS systems. “With this as the foundation, we can then talk to other service providers to become plugins for booking or ordering so that they then appear on our platform for the operators. Then whatever they need is there and you’ve integrated without any effort because we’re doing the integrations for you”.
"More flow, less hassle."
‘More flow, less hassle’, is Flyt’s new mission statement. Even the name is Norwegian for flow. It’s purpose is to create an experience which really keeps things moving and makes things faster for the hospitality industry and the customers it services.
“Gourmet Burger Kitchen is one of the first companies to use the Flyt platform and with it have enabled customers to order at table via an app, pre-order their food for collection and order for delivery via deliveroo.”
Matthew explains that the new pivot has also driven a change in format across the office. “We’re now split into teams of eight to ten people which are each in control of a vertical. We have a team focusing on plugins, a team focusing on APIs, a stats and insight team and lastly, a new platform team”.
“I joined the company around it’s inception as the person to ‘make things look nicer’. A lot of people were using us, we needed to at least make it look a bit better! Since then we’ve been making apps for various chains and when the idea for Flyt came about around seven months ago, my role has very much been around the new platform. I’ve been working alongside the CTO planning exactly how we were going to do it and building interactive prototypes.”
Despite the changes in purpose, Flypay’s culture remains open and friendly with heaps of autonomy. Matthew tells us that there are no set directions, he is usually presented with a problem and asked to work towards a solution. A similar format for everyone in the business, given control of their own time with the flexibility of their own hours. Rewarded by Friday’s free beer tap, complements of various breweries which are Flypay customers.
Design at Flypay
"UI is the thing I like the most, simply because it makes a lot of sense."
When first joining the company, Matthew worked solely on Web Design, following his background of two years freelancing as a Web Designer. “You can actually see over the years how my work has changed. My apps were always heavier with heavily branded nav bars, whereas my more recent work is a lot more simple and native to the platform.” He built the first website for Flypay but then over time they hired another designer to focus on print and another to focus on web so that Matthew could hone his skills and focus on Interaction and UI design.
Moving forward with the new setup, Matthew currently sits as the only designer and has been placed in the plugin team but works across all the company in parallel. Before hiring new members to the design team, he will be analysing design across the company over the next few months, assessing where are the problems and where he needs help. “Next time we hire, we need to pull in the best people. I think it will be a UI person first, who needs to be good with UX.”
“UI is the thing I like the most, simply because it makes a lot of sense. I like the simplicity that comes with building for iOS, it’s like lego putting these things together. Figuring out what works.”
One of the biggest challenges Matthew has faced whilst working at Flypay, is the lack of industry standard tools which enabled the team to work together. Developers have tools like Github which have been set up for years to help them collaborate. “This issue is harder for designer than it is for developers. Finding a tool which helped the design team express themselves was tough.”
After being the first team in their company to adopt Slack as a means of expression, Matthew also trialled prototyping tools and after finding Marvel, has found it incredibly helpful in their design process. “I discovered Marvel through Designer News at the beginning of 2015. We trialled a couple of others but Marvel’s simplicity and intuitive core made it the right choice for us.”
Marvel is used mainly by Matthew, but is occasionally used across the company. His CTO has even got on board. When they were sketching up ideas for a new feature, his CTO had sketched everything down on paper and was explaining the flow, before being presented with Marvel which could link together all of his sketches effortlessly.
Another place they have found Marvel useful is when presenting to stakeholders. “We used Marvel in a few presentations before getting our last investment round, where we spent a day putting together a project showing what our service would look like when we changed our branding to look like a clients.”
Recently, they built a project for a UK pizza chain to show them the customer journey of a family visiting one of their branches. From the family joining the queue, to pre-ordering their food before they sit down to paying their bill. “We use Marvel for a lot of presentations to make it look shiny for clients. It really helps.”
“Marvel has benefited the business massively by improving our speed and iteration. It’s great for internal testing and is a place we can go to get our ideas from sketches to something that is really quite real.”
"As a designer it’s always quite exciting to start from scratch."
“Rebranding has been a really fun project. As a designer it’s always quite exciting to start from scratch. Developers have to deal with debt from years and years before whereas we literally start again.” Releasing a new development driven platform is a big step and Matthew has found inspiration in looking at similar company who are doing it well now, like WordPress which has benefited from being open to developers.
After launching Flyt last week, Matthew is preparing for their first round of live user testing and the changes and challenges that will bring. Pivoting brings with it a refocus of purpose and an exciting future of new customers.