It's apparent that COVID-19 pandemic is not only a threat to humans health, but also a huge danger for the economy of all countries. Small & medium businesses suffer the most, as they have little to no liquidity protection to survive through months of lockdown & self-isolation. The situation is even worse for the offline-first companies which have no representation in the web to leverage online purchases or delivery.

I made BackSME, the prototype of the platform letting the companies offer coupons to their customers for future products. The only thing it requires is registering with Stripe so all the raised funds go directly into the pocket of the company.

Why Stripe? It's de-facto one of the standards for the online payment & checkout services used across the world in more than 30 countries. However, if there's a demand, I'd be happy to consider other alternatives as well. For the record, I'm not affiliated with any of them.

If you're interested in using this kind of platform for your business, please fill out a very brief Google Form, or just reach me out in Twitter (@sainnr). Of course, if you know any business for which you think BackSME could help, just send them a link!

What it does

BackSME provides, perhaps, the easiest way for any business to offer their future services online to their customers. Even if you were a small local offline-only company like a barbershop or a tiny pastry shop, you can use it just by getting a Stripe account and listing your products. Then, outreach your customers in the way you like (SM, emails, paper mail, postcards etc.) so they could pay you now to save from the immediate bankruptcy.

That's it! Your customers will be performing purchases directly with Stripe checkout and will receive a generated coupon for the product they chose. In turn, the payment lands on your Stripe account and can be transferred to the business account directly. Nothing payment-related is stored or processed by BackSME. In the worst case of coupons loss or BackSME getting down for some reason, you are always able to use the Stripe transactions history directly, as a backup.

How I built it

The tech stack is merely MERN running Heroku with cloud-hosted MongoDB, both are using a free tier. It relies upon client-only one-time payments with Stripe and doesn't store any sensitive data, neither cards nor passwords. All the code is presented on GitHub.

Challenges I ran into

The main one is packing potentially a huge solution into a 2-day prototype.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

  • a full-fledged real-life demo that shows the concept including payments
  • the simplicity of the service, both internal (tech stack) and external (trivial to use)

What I learned

  • Stripe made things extremely easy, so integrating payments is a piece of cake
  • more hands-on experience with MERN

What's next for BackSME

The main goal so far is to collect companies interest. If there's any interest in BackSME, I'm extremely excited to push it forward to minimum viable product (MVP) and make it available globally.

The MVP scope is planned to have:

  • security & robustness to the existing demo version so it could be used for the real business case
  • a simple mobile app could be a good add e.g. to manage coupons as QR-codes & simplify issue/redeem process
  • blockchain could be a good addition to guarantee the safety & transparency of all transactions
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