Networking Platform for Entrepreneurs to Share Sustainable Innovations

Categories : All, Finance, Microsoft Development, Social Networks

Client Requirement


The site’s online network is an internet -based crowd-sourcing platform for entrepreneurs, investors and experts working on sustainable innovations for the world’s poorest and most disadvantaged population. The platform will act as a solution to solve the problem of sustainability at the BoP (Base of the Economic Pyramid).

Modeled as a unique online marketplace of buyers and sellers, the network will cater to people working jointly to discover solutions for sustainability problems. Also, for people working to raise finance and get support for scaling these solutions.

The aspect of the project is allowing entrepreneurs, investors and experts to connect with relevant people for the purpose of asking and providing resources to each other. Entrepreneurs are prof it-generating enterprises ranging from an idea and prototype to existing businesses promoting innovative solutions at the BoP level. Investors include angel investors, social venture f unds, traditional venture capital & private equity funds, corporate & development banks and other interested institutional investors. Experts and service providers work across sectors and domains such as Legal/IP, F inance, HR & Training, IT, Marketing and NGO professionals on the ground with the disadvantaged populations.

The site helps entrepreneurs, investors and experts to present themselves as an individual or a company. They can showcase their offerings (Products & Services), build network, ask for
resources and exchange resources.

Core entities of the system is creating member prof ile, defining their roles and being a part of any company. Creating profile—ow n or company’s —is to showcase their expertise, area of interest, company establishment, achievements etc. Creating profile and providing more information is likely to attract more network connection to solve various requests or challenges.

After establishing profiles, one can setup offerings (Products & Services). From the Product & Services sections, one can showcase own or company’s offerings as solution, fund or services. Offerings are yet another way of demonstrating an individual’s company’s services or products. Posted solutions can be useful for others who have any challenge and similar requirement.

One can make request and put forth challenges to a selected group or the entire network he is part of. Request can be post based on offerings only. Requests can be responded, forwarded or referred to others. There can be a reward attached to a shortlisted response.

There is a directory listing for members, companies, solutions, funds, services, requests, events and challenges. There is filter and advanced search option available for searching and dri lling to various criteria.

Project Challenges

Team faced the following challenges:
  • Incorporating web usability principles while developing numerous features designed for enhancing the users’ community networking experience.
  • Harmonizing the simultaneous execution of various integrated features and options while maintaining consistent load balance with optimized site loading.
  • Developing a rich UI application that is easy for usability and navigation purpose . Many complex, customized widgets had to be built as a requirement based on UI and usability.
  • Ensuring more complex relation between data and its consistency. Each entity or information is being used in various places in conjunction with other information. Showing most relevant information at various places by clear way of presentation is the main challenge as almost all information is similar to different entities.
  • On platform, member can interact as an individual or a company. Building database to manage such a scenario is complex aspect of the system. Based on the type of interaction, different workflows will be initiated along with the rights to manage.

Technologies Used

Operating System & Server Management Red Hat Linux OS, Multi-Server Architecture with Staging & Production Environment through Version Controlling releases, Server Optimization, Security & SSL Implementation, Scheduler for Back-ups, Alert Monitoring System Integration, Server Performance Tuning at regular intervals, Software Firewall Configuration & Maintenance
Development Tools & Environments PHP5+, Microsoft Visio, Zend Studio, Symfony Framework, Java Script, AJAX, HTML5, CSS3, SVN etc.
Database MYSQL Database Server, DB Clustering, DB Optimization, Master Slave Replication, Query Optimization, Scheduler for Backups


Project Leader 1
Developers 4
Designers 2
Quality Assurance Testers 2


The following four-tier development approach was adopted to equip the site with numerous features and functionality mentioned below:
  • The Database layer containing MySQL Server Database, Tables, Triggers and so on.
  • The Data Access layer containing the Data Access DLL responsible for accessing data from the database.
  • The Business layer DLL consisting of all the business logic procedures for modules such as Requests, Challenges, Profile, Showcase, Offerings, Directories, Fund, Circle etc.
  • The User Interface layer which forms the Graphical User Interface of the website .


N-tier architecture was adopted to efficiently meet the needs of the enormous website. Following are the layers involved which are loosely coupled with each other:
  • User Interface Layer: This will include the page level layer which will be accessing the other layers beneath to present the data.
  • Business Specific Layer: This acts as a bridge between the User Interface layer and Database layer. This will contain all the business logic for the different components involved in the project.
  • Database Specific Layer: This acts as a bridge between the physical database and the business logic accessing the data.
  • Physical Database Layer: This includes MySQL with the tables, views, stored procedures etc.

Development Highlights

The design approach was built around PHP 5 and MySQL SERVER 5 due to the social networking nature of the website. Modules like user profiles, company profile, offering, requests, challenge,events, fund and circle were developed in PHP such that they can be executed directly from the UI layer. In order to most effectively access the database in an object-oriented context, an interface translating the object logic to the relational logic was used to communicate with the relational databases in an object -oriented manner.

An intermediary abstraction layer was created for accessing data from the database. Triggers were used only for complex updation and deletion of data from multiple tables and were entirely avoided with conditional syntax to ensure smooth performance of the website. The UI layer was kept free of any business logic with images, applications and data being called from their respective servers. Web usability guidelines were strictly followed during development and the interface was made easily navigable through judicious use of AJAX, CSS and HTML controls. The site was developed and fully functional within a span of 7 months.

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