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How to create a widget for sending cryptocurrency transactions directly from Google Sheets: The startup story of Cpaytoday

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Continuing to share success stories of entrepreneurs and startup founders who have gone from an idea to launching their MVP.

Today, we're going to share the success story of entrepreneur Sergey Sigalov, the founder of the startup Cpaytoday. Read on to learn how Sergey came up with a solution that allows for payments in different cryptocurrencies directly from Google Sheets, and why so much effort went into research before starting development.

What it does: The Cpaytoday widget enables companies working with cryptocurrencies to make payments without leaving Google Sheets.

Time taken from idea to launch: 5 months, with 2 months dedicated to development and 3 months for moderation and passing Google's checks.
Website: cpaytoday.com

We wanted to get rid of the headache

The idea for Cpaytoday was inspired by an existing business. At that time, I was already the founder of Wind4Tune - a service that allows for online team building for distributed teams.

Wind4Tune is used by over 600 companies worldwide. We have many partners and freelancers who need to regularly send money, including in cryptocurrency. Every time we needed to make calculations in crypto, it became a headache.

The main problem was the amount of time it took. That's when the idea came to create a product that would simplify working with partners and freelancers, allowing for calculations and money transfers in one window.

Customer Development primarily

Before starting development, we validated the idea for viability. To do this, we conducted customer development interviews with potential users of the new product. In other words, we decided to first identify the problem and then create a product that solves it, rather than the other way around.

We spoke with financial directors and management of companies that deal with cryptocurrency payments in some way. We conducted over a hundred interviews in total.

Our target audience consists of companies with 20 to 200 employees who fully or partially make cryptocurrency payments to their employees, freelancers, and partners. This includes not only Web 3.0 companies but also marketing agencies, game developers, and others.

During the customer development process, we asked clients to show us their current user journey: the systems they use for reporting, the systems they use for cryptocurrency payments, the networks and tokens they use for payments, how they manage documentation, and how they track statuses, among other things.

After conducting interviews with potential consumers of our new product, we made three key findings. Here they are:

  • 90% of companies use Google Sheets or the Notion app for reporting.
  • 98% of companies conduct transactions with tokens on TRC, ERC, or BSC networks.
    Almost no one thinks about document management.

Based on the results of customer development, we made three key decisions:

1. Make the customer journey even shorter. If a company uses Google Sheets for reporting, they should be able to perform other operations there as well, such as making payments and managing documentation.
2. Support major blockchain networks. The solution should work on TRC, ERC, and BSC networks, which are used by potential clients.
3. Add support for major tokens. Our solution should work out-of-the-box with major tokens. Users should also have the ability to add new tokens if needed.

We couldn't do without a SWOT analysis

In addition to Customer Development, we conducted a SWOT analysis. Special attention was given to indicators of cryptocurrency acceptance in a particular country and the current or potential level of government regulation in this field. We also studied competitors, analyzing not only the product but also the history of development, investments, potential product changes, as well as barriers and restrictions associated with the chosen development path.

Such a detailed and comprehensive analysis helped us understand which markets currently have high potential and which ones could grow significantly in the coming years.

Key features make the difference

Cpaytoday simplifies the process of sending cryptocurrency payments. Here are the key features we've added to the MVP.

  • Payments can be made right where you manage your reporting – all within Google Sheets. No need to spend time entering data elsewhere, uploading files, and so on.
  • You save time. We aggregate payment lists, reducing GAS costs during transactions.
  • Transactions are entirely secure. Cpaytoday is a non-custodial solution, giving users full control over their cryptocurrency assets without sharing private keys with anyone. When you initiate a payment, a request is sent to the user's wallet, where they can review all transaction information and either confirm or reject the payment.
  • Convenient installation and support. The widget can be installed from the Google Workspace Marketplace, making the solution easily accessible and fully tailored to the internal interface.

Cryptocurrency payments in a native environment

Most or even all similar multisenders operate on their websites, each network having its own site. You visit the site, connect your wallet, enter details, and send tokens or NFTs.

With Cpaytoday, there's no need to navigate to a different site with its own interface. Here's how it works:

1. Open Google Sheets. Input wallet addresses in one column where you want to send funds, and in another column, specify the amount of tokens to send to each address.

2. Open the Cpaytoday widget. Choose the network and currency. If the desired currency isn't available, add it.

3. Initiate the payment. Highlight the addresses and amounts for sending in the sheet. After the Cpaytoday widget automatically calculates them, click "Send Payment." The widget will suggest wallet options for sending, such as TronLink, Metamask, Coinbase, and others. All that's left is to confirm the payment on the wallet side, and all selected transactions will be sent automatically, saving the user's GAS.

Technology Stack and Development

We created a document outlining the product vision and gathered references. We sent all of this to the developers and discussed with them the features that the MVP will have and what else is needed from us to start the work.

For Google extensions, there is no low-code platform available, so we have to work in a separate web interface for development. Therefore, the choice of a low-code approach was not an option for us.

During the development process, we used the following technology stack: Google Apps Script, Google Cloud Console, React, TypeScript, TronWeb, Ethers, Wagmi, MUI, CSS-in-JS, EVM, and Tron Blockchain.

On the contractor's side, the process involved a manager, a frontend developer, and a smart contract developer. Here's what they were responsible for:

  • Manager: Took charge of organizing the process, setting tasks, and addressing issues and challenges.
  • Frontend Developer: Coded the widget.
  • Smart Contract Developer: Wrote smart contracts for the service to operate on EVM and Tron networks.

The Metalamp.io team helped us create the MVP. We didn't attract investors and funded the MVP entirely with our own resources. However, in the future, we plan to seek investments as we see significant potential for Cpaytoday. The product could become part of a larger ecosystem, assisting companies in conducting business.

Check out a video demonstrating how Cpaytoday works.

Tron, which we defeated

The most challenging part turned out to be working with the Tron network, specifically configuring and integrating wallets from this network into our widget, as well as writing the smart contract. This complexity arises from the unique characteristics of the Tron network, which differs from EVM networks.

Developers spent a significant amount of time delving into the documentation, which proved to be outdated and incomplete. Due to a lack of clarity on where and how to identify errors, the technical team struggled to catch these issues. Even when errors were found, they only received error codes, providing little assistance.

Eventually, we resolved all these issues, but it took time. The development of the MVP took 180 hours, and the configuration of smart contracts required an additional 63 hours.

The good old-fashioned manual testing

The MVP was tested by both the manager and the developers. They went through various test cases, examined borderline scenarios of using the service, checked how the widget performed in different browsers and on various devices. When they identified errors, they addressed and fixed them.

The bugs were fairly standard. For instance, a transaction failed because the data wasn't being transmitted to the widget. It turned out that the format of the entered data differed from the application's logic. Adding variations to input data formats resolved the issue.

No significant issues arose during testing, as the widget doesn't have a plethora of functions.

The MVP is hitting the market

The widget is ready. The developers have already uploaded it to the business app store. We faced some challenges with Google's security levels and approvals, but that's all behind us now. Our widget got the green light a week ago.

Downloading and installing Cpaytoday is free. There's an embedded fee for each transaction when using the service.

We'll soon be presenting the product to a broader audience and promoting it.

Two pieces of advice for anyone looking to create an MVP

  1. Don't start development until you've conducted Customer Development. Talk to several dozen potential consumers to validate your hypothesis, uncover insights for the future product, and find early adopters.
  2. Keep your MVP small. Start with a simple version of the product and don't try to build a massive ship at the initial stage.

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