Back in fall of 2012, Douglas Radecki conducted research focused on foodies and their relationships with food, beverages, and lifestyle, as a student in professor Vijay Kumar’s Design Planning course. During his course work, he continued to focus on the concepts that came out of this project. In 2013, Doug graduated with more than a Master of Design. He held the framework for a project called MyTap.
Doug has teamed up with Ron Kreutzer, MyTap CTO to build their MVP. Doug took the time to answer a few questions about how his experience at IIT Institute of Design led to this new application.
What was your experience prior to attending IIT Institute of Design?
I received my BFA from the School of Arts in Chicago. From there, I landed a job as an information designer at Conifer and discovered my passion for research. I started looking for a master’s program where I could expand my research skills and become a more well-rounded designer. Several of my colleagues at Conifer taught classes at ID, so it became the obvious choice.
How did MyTap evolve?
Professor Kumar’s Design Planning course taught me how to define my target audience and perform research to pinpoint their needs. During the project, I learned about the popularity of cider in England and how cider companies were designing their bottles in various colors to help promote interactions between it’s drinkers. I found this fascinating and was inspired to learn more about the food and drink market.
I discovered that most people have emotional connections between the food they eat and their overall experience, what we were calling a Discovery Passion Experience. By presenting this research, I narrowed the focus of my project to a very passionate group of individuals: craft beer drinkers. I saw this group as an up-and-coming market that this model could easily apply to, which deserved that special attention. I could finally join my love for meeting new people and learning about their passions with my drive to create well-designed tools. Plus, everyone enjoys doing research when it takes place at some of the best pubs in the world.
What is most innovative about MyTap?
That we will be the answer to what The Brewer’s Association says is the number on design challenge (and of course I want to design for the #1 design challenge) to the continued growth of the craft beer industry: education. More people are getting excited about craft beer every day, but many don’t know where to start or what they like about each style (there are so many varieties!). MyTap removes the guessing and serves up a tailored list of beers that you’re guaranteed to enjoy. In addition, It gives you the confidence to join in the next time your friends are nerding out about craft beer.
On the backend, we have an amazing set of technologies that help us better understand each craft beer and pinpoint what makes them unique. We are able to do this because of the close relationships we have been building with breweries. The most exciting moments have been when I think back to ideas around knowledge transfer that I learned in Kim Erwin’s classes and can see how our technology is taking making big data approachable and useful to someone standing in the aisle at their local liquor store.
Because we have taken a systems approach to this design challenge and was able to illustrate to the many stakeholders involved in the craft beer industry using a value web that was designed while at ID, we a foundation to continue to innovate in the brick and mortar digital space.
Where is MyTap currently and where is it headed?
The MyTap team has been beta testing both an iOS and Android native app and we are preparing for a soft launch in February 2016. The team and I have worked hard to develop an app we think craft-beer-loving-millennials won’t be able to live without.
The future of MyTap is becoming the mobile solution for brick and mortar’s need for an omni-channel approach to engaging their users. Using the internet to assist with shopping is quickly gaining popularity. Google recently determined that 42% of in-store shoppers search for information online while in-store. The MyTap team wants to support this activity by creating an app that makes in-store searching feel like your personal bartender is serving up the perfect beer.
In addition, we recently launched a beta version of their Kiosk app at The Hangar, a liquor store in downtown Albuquerque, NM. The kiosk allows shoppers to search the store’s inventory, create a MyTap account, and save their preferences for later. Based on our analytics, we have been able to see a great conversion rate of users stopping by the kiosk and spending time searching, as well as what are the beers they are most interested in based on our data. We are eager to collect more user feedback, iterate on all our products, and find new areas where we can use our approach to innovate.
What is one piece of advice for someone currently attending ID?
Discover your purpose, and you will find your passion. Then try everything; look at what you need to create the best product, and build those skills. Be flexible and bring out the best in your team. Allow your passions in life to impact your work, and vice versa and you will find like-minded individuals to help you find innovative solutions to the problems you care about most.
Originally published at www.id.iit.edu on January 22, 2016.