Dog Food Tastes Good

At Inventables, we are all about eating our own dog food! If you know what I am talking about, great. If you think this is gross, read on for clarification...

Dogfooding means a company uses the product that it makes. At Inventables, we create team exercises where we use the Inventables materials site like a customer would in order to learn what is missing or broken so that we can improve the quality and usability.

For our first Dogfooding experience, we teamed up with popcorn company - Popcorn Palace, located in Chicago. We wanted to test what it was like to use the Inventables website as a popcorn container designer. Would our site be a good resource for them to find new materials that would enhance the look and function of their popcorn containers?

Initially, we decided to visit Popcorn Palace facility to get into the mind-set of the Popcorn designer. After touring the plant, speaking with their team and eating a lot of popcorn Inventables felt we could help them find some exciting new materials on our website.

We returned to the Inventables office and each began to search our site for materials that could be used to enhance the popcorn container. We submitted our inquiries to the vendors and waited. Then waited some more.

While some of the vendors responded, others did not. Our initial reaction was "What the heck?" We had spent time and effort submitting inquiries to these vendors and never heard an answer. So we took a step back and started investigating why this was happening. After receiving some more feedback from our vendors, we realized that there was no way for a vendor to reply within the website to further evaluate if the lead is worth paying for or to let the potential buyer know why their intended use is not a good fit. This was eye opening and prompted the launch of a new Reply for Free feature to improve vendor response.

Additionally, we were able to make a couple exciting successful connections to active vendors on the site. We have two successful prototypes (pictured below) that we are showing the designers at Popcorn Palace next week for them to evaluate.

This material came from nylon fiber graphics company Fiberlok, which specializes in dimensional printing and heat transfer stickers.

This prototype was a combined effort between the Marwen Art School holiday card program and a local custom packaging designer CreateIt Packaging to create interchangeable slip covers for the popcorn tin.

On top of having some cool prototypes to share with the Popcorn Palace team, eating our own dog food helped us realize a very important feature we needed on our website!


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