Bstow case study preview

The Challenge

Bstow is a free web app that automatically rounds up user’s purchases and sends the spare change to the charity of their choice. Bstow’s founders needed to create a functional, high-performing MVP within a month to validate their business idea while ensuring the app could scale quickly and efficiently.

The two biggest challenges in building the app in such a short timeframe was the need for enterprise-level security and integration with multiple services. The Bstow app required users to store their banking while also integrating with various third-party services which would enable the app to communicate with a multitude of banks and non-profit organizations.

The Approach

Bstow hired S&F to develop a highly scalable platform with a robust database, presenting an MVP under a strict deadline. S&F chose Node.js for the backend and Angular.js for the frontend. The out-of-the-box solutions for these frameworks translated into less code and faster development.

To guarantee a seamless user experience, S&F designed the Bstow UI as a single-page application. To ensure scalability and high productivity, developers utilized MongoDB for the database and RedisDB for storing user session data. User’s financial information was secured using SSL connection on all levels, random salt to protect user passwords, as well as token-based authentication and role-based access control. Finally, the team audited the code for security vulnerabilities, making sure that credit card information inputted by users could not be leaked.


The Outcome

S&F successfully delivered a functioning MVP within a month by adopting the most efficient frameworks and working in an Agile-based environment. The app included separate dashboards for admins and users which provided an easy way to view the amount of donations given and collected each month. By enabling batch processing, the app made it easier for admins to process donations and then send those contributions on a monthly basis to the respective non-profit organizations.

One of the major challenges on the project was to integrate the Plaid API that provides access to APIs of various banks. Having discovered that only a few banks supported both endpoints the app needed (for collecting basic account data and for receiving user-authorized transaction data), S&F resolved this issue by reaching out to Plaid’s support team and refactoring the code.

As a result of our iterative approach to development, we were able to present a working demo at the end of each sprint, which allowed Bstow’s founders and our team to collaboratively prioritize features and ensure the MVP was delivered on time. Additionally, by performing testing with real users along with manual app testing, we were able to observe the app in a real-world environment which allowed us to identify different user flow situations.

The Secret Sauce

The availability of popular developer tools and access to a large network of open-source communities helped achieve the desired outcome impressively fast. By leveraging existing frameworks and add-ons available for Node.js and Angular.js, S&F was able to ship an MVP within a very short amount of time. In addition, by using coding best practices and standards, S&F built a robust and flexible application, ensuring that future business and technical requirements can be implemented with ease.

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