Last Monday night, I was helping my husband Ken cut his hair at home, because all the barbers were closed due to covid-19. We realized that, as the disease spreads across the country, there are numerous local businesses, across every industry, from retail and gyms to salons and bars, are temporally closed. There’s no doubt that after this coronavirus pandemic, some of them may never reopen again.

Local businesses represent the backbone in America, employ over 60M people, almost half the total U.S. workforce. The most important thing for them right now is to keep cash flow, and survive through until everything goes back to normal.

That's why I've decided to build this website, and hope that this resource will help loyal customers to support their favorite places.

What it does is a donation website for local business owners, aims to provide local business owners an easy and fast way to binding with their customers.

Business owners can build their help page within a few seconds and share with their customers through emails and social media, asking customers for donations or purchasing gift cards. Individuals can make impact by donations to support their favorite shop in town.

How I built it

The website is built using Ruby on Rails framework. We are using Google OAuth to login in users and Places APIs to fetch local businesses data and Twillio for phone number verifications, and Stripe for transaction flows. For frontend, we've also used React and Bootstrap.

Challenges I ran into

Integrating with different third-party services was the biggest challenge in building this website. Stripe was especially tricky to handle with various moving parts. We've integrated using their client library and setting up webhook endpoints to sync data between our service and Stripe service. Integrating with Google Place Service was also challenging. We've decided to use React for business onboarding flow and used Google Places library to minimize the number of fields user have to fill. We've also used OAuth to authorize users to avoid asking for their detailed information.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

Great merchant on boarding experience, Powered by Google places API, business owners only need to type their business name, their business info will show up, including address, images. After phone number verification, automatically have a donation page. Business Profile page is also something I'm proud of. Which has a nice checkout card in which user can make donations without typing the amount manually.

What I learned

  • Using Various Third Party APIs (Stripe, Google OAuth, Google Places, Twillio)
  • Using React to create great user experience.
  • Rapidly prototype web application using Rails.

What's next for Support Local Business

  • I'd like to add a few more pages such as user's profile page where user can see their contributions and share their impact on social media.

  • I'd also like to explore allowing business to create gift-cards

  • Allow consumer users to search using zipcode to find their local businesses (near by search).

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