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START.ac is probably the first crowdfunding site built with Drupal.

It is the brainchild of Rod Turner. As you explore our site, you will discover the many features that set us apart from the CROWD; hopefully, you will glean something else as well. START.ac is not just a place to upload your project; Rod's objective from the beginning, has been to build this business in such a way that world class executives and entrepreneurs will want to play meaningful roles by leading, educating and advising our Project Drivers along the way.

Rod has handpicked a great startup team, and over the last year has developed a comprehensive CrowdFunding platform that will upgrade current models and introduce this type of funding to an expanded audience.

Blisstering Solutions took the challenge of implementing this idea.

“I sought out Blisstering for their Drupal expertise and breadth of web, mobile and tablet development projects.” said Rod Turner, START.ac’s CEO and Founder. “I was not only looking for a technology team, but for a long-term partnership that understood the needs of a startup – combining product development and real-time solutions for optimal future growth.”

“START.ac is an ideal client to utilize our m2Serve technology for rapid development of its CrowdFunding website and future mobile apps. With over 100,000 hours of Drupal development under our belts, we have the technology and the team to bring START.ac to the cloud” said Sunit Gala, CEO of Blisstering Solutions.
About Blisstering Solutions
Blisstering Solutions is a Drupal Services, Solutions and Products Company offering a full range of services to build your Drupal Solution. That includes custom module development, theming, performance and testing – and to extending your Drupal site to mobile, tablet, Facebook and cloud.
Founded in 2007, Blisstering has over 100,000+ hours of Drupal development under its roof. We are headquartered in San Francisco Bay Area with offices in India.

Why Drupal was chosen: 

Drupal 7 was the ideal choice for START.ac, it not only provided good flexibility to implement the business logic but also enough scalable power to help create a sustainable solution. The chosen CMS / framework needed to have a good backend architecture so it could scale as content grows, and still would be easy enough to manage on a day to day basis. Other factors such as ease of access, site administration were considered. From a framework point of view, we needed something with good abstraction at all the levels, good API exposure to customize and built our own logic on top of it. Drupal proved to be more than a match in this regard. It was clear once development started that, we would had a very solid backend architecture and with the assistance Drupal contrib we could built an awesome web portal on top of it.

Describe the project (goals, requirements and outcome): 

High level requirements

  1. Ability to help entrepreneurs to START their idea
  2. Good UX to help quickly find projects
  3. Support for Disaster Fund Projects.
  4. PromptPayProgram™ to allow Project Drivers to claim their funds if a project reaches funding before deadline.
  5. Integration with Apache Solr
  6. Crowdfunding Payment Gateway Integration
  7. Rewards and returns for Funders
  8. Project Dashboard for Project Drivers, to know the status of their Projects with one glance.
  9. Social media integration, to find your friends on START.ac, follow them.
  10. Blogs and Forums.
  11. A social portal in itself, where the community can help and fund each other.

Other highlights,

Projects:

Projects on START.ac are a way to showcase your idea to the world, we had the challenge of making this process as streamlined and optimzed as possible. A project on START.ac also has many states before it can become a fully live fundable entity. So the idea always was not only to make it easy for the admin but also to make it as easy as possible for a Project Driver to get his idea out there and help him to achieve his goal. With power of Drupal and Drupal contrib this challenge was accomplished.

Crowdfunding model:

One of the major challenge was introduction and integration of a crowdfunding model, there are many out there we used Paypal. Integration of Paypal Adaptive payments was done with Drupal 7 core empowering the use of entities. This integration was done as a standalone module, so other modules can leverage its APIs. (Adaptive payments API for Drupal 7 will be released soon on D.O) . This standalone integration helped us to implement PromptPay Program™, NOWRewards™ for START.ac.

Rewards:

One of the big challenge was to incorporate rewards structure into the project component, with the use of entities and fields this was made possible. Rewards components were also tied with many other components like Payment, Users, Profiles. This was achieved with the use of modules like views, rules, context, panels.

Optimizations:

We have used techniques such as LABjs. We also employ Varnish, memcache, yottaa for optimizations. We also use services such as New Relic for continuous monitoring. START.ac is hosted on Acquia cloud hosting solutions.

Modules/Themes/Distributions
Why these modules/theme/distribution were chosen: 

Backend and architecture: Modules such as Entity API, Field Collection, Voting API helped to create a solid backend along with the new entity concept & field API. Entities were extensively used for information architecture and integration.

UI: START.ac has a very rich UX, which meant modules like Panels, Ctools, Views were heavily used to create displays and layouts that would provide an ideal user experience.

Automation, Admin & workflow: Rules, workflow, Rules Scheduler, VBO, Flag were employed to implement as much business logic as possible out of the box so that there was minimal need for introduction of custom code. Which also meant the site was very easy to maintain from a day to day administration perspective.

Theme: Omega base theme was used to create a sub theme. Omega proved to be a very good starting point. The zone & section templates provided by the theme and a very good theme API meant we had lot of fun customizing various aspects of the theme and tweaking it to our needs in a sub theme.

Organizations involved: 
Community contributions: 

Adaptive payments API integration for Drupal 7, to be released soon.

Project team: 

For Blisstering Solutions:

  • Swarad Mokal - Lead / Architect / Developer / Themer
  • Gaurav Kumar - Architect / Developer
  • Aditya Ghan - Developer
  • Prateek Jain - Lead / Developer
  • Marta Olsen & Gauri Mohile - Project Managers
  • Neha Pujari - QA team
  • With support & mentoring from Sunit Gala & Saumil Chheda

For START.ac:

  • Rod Turner
  • Hilary
  • Ken
  • Jayni
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