From the first meeting we sat down to discuss what would become donut we committed ourselves to providing our users an unparalleled level of transparency around what we are building and why.

Why? Because we are building this for you — not for ourselves, or our investors, but for anyone who wants to invest in crypto, but doesn’t know where to start. Our community ultimately decide if we are one of the 95% of start-ups who fail, or the 5% who survive. We want to build donut with our users at every stage of the journey, and to do this we have to be as open & transparent as possible — even if it’s uncomfortable at times.

Therefore, we are launching ‘making dough’, a monthly series that will follow our journey and allow everyone to see what we are building, how we are approaching it & ultimately open up a channel for feedback. We will explain why we have made certain product decisions, the alternatives we explored and the resultant, constantly evolving, product roadmap.

The story so far…

never forget

It all started when Neel & Jordan, our founders, met on Ef Berlin & started to build Elephant (R.I.P). Elephant was designed to allow anyone to build a portfolio of traditional financial assets (stocks, ETFs) alongside crypto assets, based on a user’s risk profile.

Whilst Elephant gained early traction, we made the tough decision to focus our efforts on solving a smaller problem: simplify crypto investing. Why?

Several reasons:

  1. Future-proofing: We truly believe that the future of financial investment will be in diversified crypto assets. We want to be forward looking, not just reacting to the present day.
  2. The problem(s): ‘people don’t know where to start with crypto investing’
  • Jargon: blockchain, token, coin, ICO, NFT, utility token… very few people understand what this all means, especially if you’re new to the space
  • Process: 12 steps to buy IOTA? There has to be a better way — especially when we are talking about digital investments. Anyone who has purchased a variety of different assets will understand this pain.
  • Trust: The noise, hype and extensive media coverage of the space leads to a lack of trust, and ultimately consumer adoption.
  • Allocation: many people we spoke to don’t know what to invest in and how much to allocate to this emerging asset class.

3. The space: we truly believe that trust needs to be built in this space, not only onboard customers, but to increase adoption and take crypto mainstream.

The pivot

cliché pivot GIF

The decision wasn’t easy and was the result of many debates and over 90 user research sessions.

We reached out to everyone on the waitlist and spoke to loads of you all across the world. A massive thank you to anyone that took a call with someone from the team — we used your feedback and insights to focus down on solving acute problems in the crypto space.

We took these insights & customer problems and started testing product concepts with users alongside potential brand ideas. We quickly designed some basic screens, threw them into InVision and held in-depth sessions.

The feedback we received from these screens led us to a clear direction for our first MVP — enable users to build a portfolio of crypto assets that suits their interests.

We used all of this information to come to a decision as a team. We used Brian Armstrong’s Decision Framework to come to a decision — you can check it out here. We’re going to be using this framework moving forward on all decisions that require team input, but ultimately have a clear owner.

The brand

With a new direction, product and mission we came to the decision to build a bold new brand. So with Wolff Olin’ ‘Naming Handbook’ under our arm, we went to the whiteboard…

After considering hundreds of names, realising that calling an investment product ‘ice cream’ was not the best idea, and going a little crazy in the process, we finally settled on donut.


  1. Donuts are round, like a portfolio/coin/money ✅
  2. It doesn’t sound like a traditional FinTech product — we want to appeal to everyone so wanted to stay away from words like ‘coin’, ‘financial’ and ‘invest’ ✅
  3. Who doesn’t like a nice donut? They are comforting, friendly and tasty ✅

Our good friend George, threw together an awesome brand for us to iterate on (which will evolve with the product) — you can check out this here.

Iterating quickly

So, whilst the rebrand was being baked, we started building our first MVP which would allow a user to answer some quick questions & get matched with a crypto portfolio that suits their profile. Once we had a flow that provided enough value for users, we started testing with users again… this time with donuts in hand.

What’s amazing about the stage we are at is being able to bake in feedback into the product super quick- in this case even between sequential user tests. This allows us see if certain changes can alleviate the problems our users are facing.

This is something we are committed to maintaining as we grow — as in many companies we have worked previously, growth impacts the ability to iterate quickly.

In this case, after the mornings tests had been completed, we designed new screens and implemented them over lunch ready for customer testing that afternoon…

What we learnt:

  1. Users want to see the platform before they put money in (obvious in hindsight)
  2. Users want to test the product without committing
  3. Trust is key
  4. Education is more important than we first thought
  5. Donuts bring all the users to the yard

Looking ahead

We’re now focusing on our main piece of user feedback. People want to see where their money is going. So, thats what we are building — and core, we’re excited about it. We’ll dive into this build in more detail in the next instalment of ‘making dough’, so stay tuned!

If you fancy testing out our prototype you can book a slot here, you may even get a tasty 🍩 for your time!

P.S. if you don’t like baking puns, you probably donut like these updates…

We ❤️ your feedback

Your feedback is super important to us, so if you have anything to share get in touch:


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