Starting a cryptocurrency exchange is no easy feat. It can be difficult to compete and stand out. The crypto space presents unique challenges to aspiring ventures as well, with different regulations used all over the world. How can entrepreneurs in this space ace the launch of their startup, and how can they set themselves up for success? Amsterdam-based Blockport offers an interesting example for other startups. Let’s take a look at their journey and how a carefully-chosen tech stack played a role in garnering trust in their product.
From idea to funding: Blockport’s Initial Coin Offering
Blockport’s founders saw a great opportunity to satisfy growing demand for an easy-to-use cryptocurrency trading platform. They started doing research into decentralized exchange models and eventually put together a white paper detailing their roadmap for Blockport — short for “Blockchain portal.” The white paper would set the foundation for a very successful Initial Coin Offering (or ICO).
An ICO is a crowdsale campaign where supporters who are keen on investing in a new project can buy cryptocoins with fiat or virtual currency to provide funding for the project. It works like a crowdfunding campaign, except backers in this case do not donate their money, they expect a future return — much like an investor would.
Back in January 2018, Blockport raised 1 million euro worth of Ethereum within 3 minutes in its ICO pre-sale and followed up with a crowdsale later that Spring, bringing their total amount raised to 12 million euro worth of Etherium. With funding in the bag and 15,000 people waiting to use the platform, the founding team was eager to release a Beta version of the product. They also wanted to adhere to the roadmap detailed in their white paper, so they faced a serious time crunch to meet product delivery deadlines. But they faced a tough question: how to build a user-friendly, reliable and secure product in a couple of months. The answer to this question was ultimately two-sided: scaling up the team, and choosing the right tech stack.
Scaling the team
Building a team is difficult for any company. Add the pressure of deadlines and you’re in for a potential nightmare as a startup founder. Blockport decided to take a lean approach and hired Squads to go from 1 to 20 developers in a matter of days. This allowed them to hire vetted and highly skilled developers quickly, and easily scale capacity as their budget allowed. Squads also assisted Blockport with recruitment and interviews for full-time employees. With Squads’ help, Blockport is also building an on-call support team that provides 24–7 coverage for their production system from different time zones.
Today, Blockport employs 20 people from its new office in Amsterdam. But getting the right people on board was only half the battle. Choosing a tech stack was the other half.
Choosing the right tech stack
After careful consideration, Blockport’s founders decided to build the platform using a Microservices architecture. Microservices splits up a system in multiple simple component services. These services are usually structured around a company’s priorities or key capabilities. Each service can be deployed, changed, and then re-deployed independently without compromising an application (for more on microservices architecture check out this page from the folks at SmartBear). This approach makes it easier to add features to an application. For Blockport, it also meant “improving [the] system in a more seamless and secure way than what is sometimes the standard in crypto world,” as the company’s co-founder Kai Bennink explains.
Needless to say, security around a cryptocurrency exchange has to be airtight. Blockport is integrated with coin exchanges in the backend, and since they’re moving real money around it is important to keep out the bad guys. In order to do this all layers of security, from the hiring process to securing the API secrets, need to be examined. Squads infrastructure and development teams worked closely with Blockport security officers to ensure that there will be no leaks.
Acceptance Test Automation
Another key component of Blockport’s tech choices is acceptance test automation. Contrary to manual testing, which slows down iteration speed, Acceptance Test Automation allows repeating browser testing fast and for free to avoid bugs in new releases and minimize regressions. If you automate testing, you can just have a developer work on a feature and then make the merge request to run automated tests. If the tests are successful, the developer gets a green flag and the feature can go to production. Not having to manually test each feature makes it easier for Blockport to experiment with new features and launch improvements more quickly.
These tech choices have succeeded in providing Blackport with a foundation for success. Because they focus on quality and automation before features, they get an easily maintainable system that users can rely on.
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Where is Blockport now?
From a product development perspective, the team has made several improvements, including polishing their UI, enhancing dashboard performance and speeding up load times. They have amped security by extending their automated Know Your Customer (KYC) process, and implementing an additional check for politically exposed persons and Anti Laundering Money Legislation. Blockport users can now also withdraw their crypto balances from the platform to another wallet, and deposit their their FIAT funds using SEPA deposits.
With a new office and a live Beta, Blockport is now focusing on growing its user base and has hired its first marketers to lead this effort. The team is lucky to have a strong community behind it and has nurtured that community by communicating transparently about the company’s roadmap, challenges and goals. With a sold technical foundation and an oiled up growth engine, they’re on their way to securing a foothold in the crypto space.