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How to build a web app tasty enough for a Dragon | clients Y/Hangry on Dragons’ Den

Author: Harry Cobbold
YHangry Dragons' Den thumbnail image - screenshots of episode

The avid Dragons’ Den enthusiasts among us will know that this season has seen some of the most exciting and innovative startup businesses to date, a huge number of which have been tech-focused endeavours. YHangry is no exception. It’s founders Siddhi and Heinin took the Dragons’ Den by storm in Episode 8 which aired on 20th May 2021, winning the backing of not one but two Dragons; Tej Lalvani and Peter Jones.

YHangry had already hit headlines earlier this year, for winning investment from a number of well-known moguls including Carmen Rico from Blossom Capital, Eileen Burbidge from Passion Capital, as well as a number of celebrities including Made In Chelsea star, Ollie Locke. In fact the past 12 months have been filled with successes for the business, as they also secured a coveted spot on the Google for Startups incubator programme.

If you missed the episode, a brief background; YHangry is a private chef booking app, serving up the perfect solution for at-home dinner parties for as little as £100, including ingredients (and they can do the washing up afterwards!). 

We were lucky enough to work with YHangry from 2019 – 2020, building their web app. There are a huge number of transferable lessons, so here are some top tips for other tech startups looking to gain investment.

How it all started…

When YHangry came to us, we could see straight away that they were a hugely promising startup, the idea was unique, addressed a gap in the market and Siddhi and Henin showed tremendous business acumen and ambition. What they needed was an app that would be robust and scalable as the company grew.

The proposed idea had complex requirements and needed to combine four different interfaces; a marketing website, a booking app for users, a job management portal for chefs and an admin portal for the YHangry team. Each one needed to be consolidated down into an easy-to-use interface, so that users (whether they be chefs, customers or team members) could easily and intuitively navigate their options.

Top tips for building an investable web app

Where’s your gap in the market?

What are your competitors doing and what can you be doing better? These are all things we took carefully into consideration when deciding on early features and what to include in the first version of the product. It’s vital that you only include features that are going to provide value to your users, which you can do by completing in-depth customer research. YHangry went one step further, creating a very basic MVP of the product to test initial traction in the market, before investing in building out their technology. This allowed them to prove there was a clear demand for their proposition and gap in the market before building the technology to scale their business.

User research

This is an absolutely key component of any great business but is so often neglected. Like YHangry it’s always best to release your platform as a minimum viable product (MVP) with the bare minimum features required for customers to buy into the service. This allows you to learn from your users and build out the technology based on what real customers are requesting, rather than your assumptions. This wastes far less time building features you don’t need and means that the ones you do release are designed completely in accordance with your users’ wishes. A few of the user testing strategies we use are: 

  • 1-1 discovery calls,
  • Focus groups,
  • A/B testing various page layouts,
  • Session recordings,
  • Bottleneck discovery using Google Analytics, Google Data Studio and a KPI dashboard.

What are your metrics?

If you’re a startup looking for investment you need to be incredibly clear from the get-go what your aims are and what metrics you’re going to try to hit. Investors will want to know all about your conversion rates, lifetime value and profit margins. They’ll also want to see that you have a clear handle on the factors which affect these. It’s important to remember that while these numbers might not look great now, they’ll want to see that at scale your unit-economics will make you profitable in the long run.

Is your tech success-proofed?

When building something of this nature there are a few extremely important things to consider; 

  1. Is this technology scalable? What kind of traffic can it withstand and will you be able to maintain performance at scale? For example, you wouldn’t want your app to crash if your traffic were to blow up following a feature on primetime BBC One!
  2. How easy is it to add new features? We work on a continuous improvement model, only releasing new features once they’ve been rigorously tested with users. This means we spend far less time building things which don’t work leading to much higher user retention and overall satisfaction. 
  3. Speed – does the app run rapidly even with heavy user traffic? 

And of course, if you’re going into a situation like the Dragon’s Den, make sure you have your numbers and knowledge down by heart completely so that you can withstand attacks from Dragons like a champion… isn’t that right Heinin?

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