Car rides with strangers in taxis can get a little too boring and a bit awkward at times, let’s face it, most of us resort to gazing at the outdoor scenery rather engaging in a conversation. Jordanian startup FunBox created a fun little twist to boring car rides by offering passengers a mini vending machine on the go! In other words, a chance to snack, engage in conversations, and enjoy the ride further.
You might be wondering how this all works, so let’s delve into everything you need to know about this newest startup!
The Idea Behind FunBox
Co-founders Tariq Yousef and Khaleel A’mar were once approached by a snack promoter. And because everybody loves a free sample of basically anything, they happily agreed to take it. What baffled the two Jordanians after they tried the snack was how the promoter never asked for feedback. Instead, he moved to distribute more samples to other people.
As businessmen, Yousef and A’mar pondered on the operations of snack companies. “We began discussing whether or not this approach is functional,” explained Yousef. “Market research is an increasingly important factor towards product success and viability. But when the agent never asked for comments nor feedback, we wondered how effective this product will be.”
The encounter got stuck in their heads for a while until they realized that this approach was used by many promoters from various companies. As they were riding in a car, they discussed a more effective way to both promote offerings while collecting market intel. They knew customer feedback was a necessity, but they were aware how hard it was to get a customer to stop and fill a survey, especially if they are in a hurry.
It was only when they snacked during their car ride that all the puzzle pieces fit together. “It was at a time when companies like Careem and Uber were emerging. We realized that several people use these transportation services and often do nothing than sit around. If we found a way to promote these snacks within these car rides and have the drivers engage with the passengers, we can collect feedback all while making the car ride fun,” informed Youssef.
How Does FunBox Work?
Yousef and A’mar reached out to the vendors before anything else. They collected the free samples these entities usually distribute and placed them all in one box. Their next step was to contact transportation companies. At the beginning, they were solely working with Uber Jordan, but they expanded their operations to Careem Jordan and Taxi Zain Iraq.
“The idea was to place this box in every car ride, whereby drivers will ask the passengers if they’re interested in purchasing a snack from the mini vending machine,” explained Yousef. The process includes scanning the QR code on the box that’ll lead you to FunBox’s mobile application. After clicking on the desired items, the driver hands it to the passengers and engages in a conversation, explaining the purpose of this service. According to Yousef, “Once the driver states the purpose of this service, they’ll encourage passengers to send feedback via the app. The feedback will be immediately recorded and shared with the vendors to help them collect more data before they decide to introduce their offerings to the market.”
Impact of COVID-19
The pandemic was a challenge to various business around the world. Like many other places, the transportation sector got heavily affected in Jordan. Yousef stated that after the increase in safety precautions and measures taken, the number of car rides per day significantly declined. This rendered feedback to decrease, especially with people opting to stay at home and avoid public transportations even from large transportation companies. However, with the now steady decrease of the virus and the slow reopening, FunBox is working to get back on track, treating COVID as no more than another hurdle on the way.
The Tank by Umniah
Like with many startups, incubation was a necessity they couldn’t forgo. Knowing the benefits that come with incubation, FunBox decided to choose “The Tank”. Throughout their time there, they have benefited from mentorship programs, workshops, networking opportunities, and strategy consultations. But every startup had its favorite thing about the incubator’s programs and offerings. For Yousef, it was the location that stole his heart. “The Tank’s facilities were extremely beneficial to us. In a time where we couldn’t find a suitable base for FunBox, the incubator was more than happy to open its doors for us. We were able to conduct all our operations, train, and meet with investors, vendors, and car drivers at the Tank. This has significantly made our lives easier.”
With plans to expand further in the MENA region, targeting UAE and KSA as a first step, Yousef, cofounder of FunBox startup, had a message to send to budding entrepreneurs out there. “Think outside the box, and don’t be afraid to create ideas that have never been heard of or were never seen. If you believe that your idea will change something for the better, then by all means, go ahead and work hard to make it happen!”