Stamp Free

Logistics, Startup
Send and process letters and packages without stamps or printing labels with the help of AI
10
Agile Sprints
AI
Powered by Computer Vision
Micro-services
Distributed back end powered by AWS, built for scale.
Digicodes
Powerful random sequencer
Handle tens of thousands of unique Digicodes

About Stamp Free

Disrupting postage

Stamp Free are disrupting how we send and return items. In 2018, Stamp Free’s founder Hugh Craigie Halkett found himself stuck in a Tesco car park trying to post a letter. Then it dawned on him – isn’t there a better way of doing this? This is where the idea for Stamp Free came to fruition.

Stamp Free is an innovative startup utilising AI technology for sending and processing items, without the need for stamps or printed labels. They offer a Digicode for individuals and businesses to send items stamp-free. 

Our task was to work collaboratively with the Stamp Free team to build phase 1 of their mobile app development. Over 5 months we spent time understanding their data requirements before providing web and backend development services. The end result was a launchable MVP that could be shown to postal companies and organisations to generate sales and partnerships.

stampfree dash

Services Provided

This project required a fully agile development team, who worked closely with Stamp Free over  10 development sprints. Our developers built 2 mobile apps for iOS and Android devices. The first was for end-users to pay and send letters and parcels without stamps or any printed labels. The second app was for carriers so that they could scan and validate items.

A web app was built for admin users to validate and track items. We also provided comprehensive backend development services to produce all the mobile app logic.

Apple
iOS
Android
Android
react
React
typescript 1
TypeScript
Stripe 1
Stripe
download 1 1
AWS
kotlin 1 logo png transparent
Kotlin
node
NodeJS
ExpressJS

Objective

The key objective of this project was to design and create a functional app platform that would provide a viable alternative to a postage stamp. This project is the first phase of many, that will see Stamp Free revolutionise the traditional elements of the global postal service.

Stamp Free Mobile

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stamp free cta
Stamp free wireframe

The Challenge

Stamp Free is a disruptive new concept within a very traditional and regulated space.

There are many challenges for Stamp Free in creating the behavioural change needed to adopt this new app. The first of these challenges is to prove to postal services that this system can replace a postage stamp. For this reason, we took a phased approach to development, with the first project aim to build a working MVP.

Key Features

Generate Digicodes

Handle thousands of concurrent users without duplication, and protection against system abuse

AI

Using an algorithm trained by Computer Vision, read Digicodes and send to the back end for validation

Track Post

Follow the postal item throughout its journey, validate when it is delivered or processed

Micro-services

Distributed back end powered by AWS, built for scale.

Mobile 5

Partnership Goal

To enable the Stamp free to trail and demo their MVP with prospective postal companies.

Before

Stamp Free came to GearedApp with demo video and a list of user stories

After

Fully functional mobile apps for iOS and Android devices, web apps and back end infrastructure were created. Enabling them to conduct live trials.

brett-jordan-e-CqOxx8oXw-unsplash s5
With GearedApp, there’s more to it than someone doing a bit of coding. They really understood what we were trying to achieve and got our requirements exactly right. When the end product has the exact look and feels you had hoped for, you really can’t quantify that.
stampfree logo

Tim

Stamp Free

Choosing the Tech Stack

Stamp Free Mobile Designs

Mobile App

We use React Native as we do not need to develop two separate codebases for iOS and Android. React Native enables us to achieve high code reusability between the platforms. This saves us time and clients save money. React Native was originally developed by Facebook (Meta) and is well used and supported. It also improves maintainability as we are using the same coding language, JavaScript, across the majority of the platform

Apart from two end-user facing apps, we also created an MVP Android (Kotlin) app for Carriers. Using native technology enabled us to take advantage of existing and most performant camera modules and meant we could spend limited time on this feature.

The web app needed to be accessed across browsers and devices. For this reason, we decided to develop a web app using React using CRA and material-UI. React is the most popular and well-used frontend library/framework in the world. This makes it a wise choice for any custom web project as there are many resources and developers skilled in using React.

Key Benefits

Reduce development time
Accessible and responsive
Reduces cost for the client

Back End

The main back end application is structured as individual micro-services.

The micro-service structure allows us to granularly deploy our application to offer more flexibility. This means that we can respond to high traffic on particular services. For example, creating a Digicode, and balancing the load across the platform, and the whole system isn’t hit at once.

This allows costs to be kept in line with usage, rather than scaling the whole platform based on targeted usage. It also helps with platform resilience – if one section was to break, it wouldn’t take down the whole app.

The technology used included Node/Express.js on Stamp Free’s AWS environment. AWS allows Stamp Free to scale up infrastructure in line with usage. It offers a competitive edge when it comes to pricing at the volumes, Stamp Free is looking to achieve. We verified the Digicodes using a custom Python visual recognition module. Stripe was integrated into the system as a payment provider.

Key Benefits

Highly available, scalable and durable
High level of security
Performant and comprehensive backend

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We'd love to help

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stamp free cta

Project Delivery

Stamp Free required the development of a technical solution to replace a stamp using a digital code. The app was built to allow users to generate a code to write on their parcel in place of a stamp. We also had to build a set of API services hosted on AWS  to support this. In future, the platform will integrate with postal services to verify stamp free postage.

The main aim of GearedApp for this project was to ensure that we build an initial version to:

Architect the solution foundation
Demo the solution
Gather user feedback
Stress test the solution (by an external party)
Pentest the solution for any security vulnerabilities (by an external party)

The solution was built with a long-term view in mind, including the ability to integrate with a postal services’ own mobile platform. A technology stack that allows for scaling effectively overtime was chosen without the need for rebuilding the core backend.

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How Agile Helped

A key objective of this project was to prove the concept to postal services and customers. This technology is a completely new idea and involves a large behavioural change to a highly regulated service. The MVP had to prove that a few key components do work and can work well together.

In order to get a testable MVP platform, we started with a review of the business logic, agreed on implementation and created early estimates. 

We had a specific budget planned for the project which meant we had to regularly review and reprioritise the desired functionality to make sure we do not exceed it but also make sure we’re adding value to the end-users and deliver enough functionality to test all the components.

Agile gave us flexibility to make changes quickly, demo and evaluate the incremental releases to the platform. 

Our Agile Process

To get the best outcome for your project you constantly learn and iterate and reiterate your ideas throughout your project. Our Agile development process means that we iterate and have regular scrum meetings. We communicate with you throughout the process with each sprint lasting two weeks. This ensures we are all on the same page with the priorities and there are no nasty surprises. We work efficiently and with quality at the heart of everything we do.

Learnings

This project was a great example of the importance of step by step iteration. Stamp Free came to us with a demo and the Digicode logic. It took some time to review these as a team and understand the complexity of the logic. By validating the core functionality first, then working in small iterations, helping us work through these together to produce the best solution. 

Another important learning across this project was working with AI. Working with two AI specialists we integrated their handwriting recognition code with our system. Collaborating with these experts helped our teamwork efficiently to deliver the apps.

Key Takeaways

Approach the idea step by step and iterate based on the feedback you receive
Focus on validating core functionality first, especially when it's so new and bespoke 
Expand the team with experts when appropriate.
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Outcome

This project equipped Stamp Free with an MVP of their postal stamp disruptor. Stamp Free were able to prove the viability of the idea and demonstrate it to potential clients. Following our collaboration, the Stamp Free team has grown their Management Team and raised £425,000 at a pre-investment valuation of £2M. They have also secured grant funding from Scottish Enterprise’s High Growth Ventures programme. Stamp Free is now working on the second phase of the project.

Stamp Free is leading the way with handwritten recognition technology. The potential use cases for their product go beyond the postal system. The team hope to continue developing their vision with parcel codes becoming commonplace in homes across the UK and around the globe.

As a testament to their vision, Stamp Free received the Retail and Customer Service Innovation of the Year award at the 2021 Parcel & Post International Expo.

stamp free outcomes

I have experience of working in Agile and it can be chaotic but it’s great because it’s flexible. We certainly needed the flexibility. Agile was perfect for us because it meant we could have weekly conversations to prioritise the next step. Using online tools like Slack made communication really easy and meant we could talk throughout the process.

stampfree logo

Tim

Stamp Free

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