Since this March, nearly 79% of small businesses have suffered losses to some extent. As of September, data from Yelp shows that 60% of small businesses have permanently closed.

Thus, with a goal to bring awareness to this issue, help small businesses and our passion for supporting our communities, we decided to create a search engine that would allow users to discover local small businesses that they can support.

Why this product is unique!

Our product is particularly unique to support the financial welfare of numerous small family owned businesses and we want to shine the spotlight on them and help them in any way possible.

How does this align with Canvas

In the age of COVID-19, supporting small businesses have taken on greater importance as various obstacles stand in their way. To take advantage of our technological advancement, we have decided to create an application that supports the commerce industry, particularly for our local community.


What it does

To tackle this problem, we built a platform allowing users to search and explore locally owned businesses or services they want to support. Users can search businesses by tags, keywords or explore our homepage where we feature a “Spotlight: Business of the Day”. Each business has their contact information, description, location details, and a corresponding story associated with its founding, creating a more personal and direct connection between the business and customer.

How we built it

We’re a team of 4 Full-Stack Developers and 1 UX/UI Designer. We started off by building the design architecture of our application, our code architecture and researched tools/frameworks we wanted to use. In the end, we built our application using Microsoft Azure, MongoDB, MongoDB Atlas, HTML, CSS, MongoDB Compass, Zeplin, React, Javascript, Google Cloud, Java and Spring. We utilized Spring Data and Web dependencies and MongoDB Atlas because of how simple it was to expose REST endpoints and communicate easily with our CRUD database through ORM.

Challenges we ran into

Some initial challenges we ran into included sizing our React components as this was an area we had the least experience in, resolving merge conflicts in Github and formatting our back-end results correctly for the front-end.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We are particularly proud of the design aspect of this project. As we had one member experienced with design and marketing, she was able to guide us through the design process and help us create a website that was both aesthetically pleasing, fluid and easy to use for the user.

We’re also super happy to be able to hack for social impact and build an application with a strong purpose that can contribute to our local communities.

What we learned

We learned a lot about designing a webpage in React, and also gained some valuable experience in working with search query strings, and indexing databases based on pre-defined tags. We also learned about the importance of taking in the perspective of the user through our design and implementation processes.

What's next for Spotlight

In the future, we hope to expand our application to additional industries and make an even greater impact on our communities. As well, we currently only support local businesses around UW but we intend to extend our reach to encompass all of North America. We hope to also create a stronger bridge between customers and local businesses by building a two-way communication system, a blog, and adding more information regarding the businesses such as opening hours.

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