TON Innovators: Connecton

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Welcome to another edition of “TON Innovators,” where we discuss the trailblazers and game changers in TON Ecosystem. Today, we’re excited to feature Connecton VPN, a leader in online privacy and security with a very special history. As the first VPN service powered by TON Blockchain, the Connecton VPN Mini App represents a significant leap forward in how we think about secure, private internet access.

Connecton VPN is one of our favorite TON Ecosystem products, showcasing seamless integration of blockchain into everyday digital activities. It is a standout case study for the power of TON technology. The product embodies the TON and Telegram principles of privacy, security, and ease of use, offering a practical blockchain and crypto application. This is the epitome of ‘Web3 under the hood’, making blockchain actually useful.

Now, let’s explore the very unique team behind Connecton VPN, their challenges, triumphs, and the exciting future ahead for their product.

This interview is for informational purposes only and does not constitute an endorsement, approval, or recommendation of the project. The views and opinions expressed in this interview are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect the views of TON Foundation. This is not investment advice.

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Connecton! Welcome to TON Innovators! To start with, please tell us your story. What inspired the creation of Connecton VPN, and why did you choose to build it on the TON Blockchain?

This project started from a personal need. I was in Cuba back then, during the protests of July 2021, when the government blocked many internet sites, and lowered the bandwidth to prevent people from livestreaming those events. Being a fan of Telegram and the ideas of freedom and privacy, I bought a server using cryptocurrency, made a simple integration with Wireguard (a VPN protocol), created a Telegram bot, and onboarded thousands of users for free, just to help people connect to the internet and bypass censorship.

A few months later, realizing the cost of maintaining the service, I introduced a pricing model. Many users subscribed, and I attracted new customers. This made a good amount of money, allowing me to scale by adding more servers and taking the project more seriously. It went viral, and some media outlets covered this VPN service, known by a different name at the time.

Faced with the limitations of fiat payments, I began exploring cryptocurrency payments. By September 2021, TON was gaining popularity, but few in Cuba were discussing it publicly. As a tech influencer, I promoted TON on my Telegram and YouTube channels, and on my podcast. Back then, the payment infrastructure was underdeveloped, and Wallet lacked a payments API. To address this, I created a payments gateway called TelePay. Unfortunately, due to limited merchant adoption and fierce competition from CryptoBot, xRocket, and Wallet, TelePay had to shut down a year later. However, the engine codebase is still available if anyone is interested (wink wink).

The turning point for the product came when influential investors connected to TON contacted me about acquiring the project, then known as Lugo Network. The best option was to sell, and they offered me the role of CTO, the opportunity to hire a team, and make this the leading VPN on TON. I accepted, moved to Serbia, and started anew.

After two years, with 80k+ users, 4 VPN protocols, 17 locations, and a growing team, we are ready to take the next steps toward decentralization and a new approach. Recently, our board of directors underwent significant changes; my partners left, and I took ownership. This required new decisions and a long-term growth strategy. The team has been incredibly supportive during this time. I am grateful for the past two years of collaboration with my former partners, but now we are looking to the future.

TON Blockchain is the perfect choice for building, thanks to its community, technical superiority, speed, and scalability. If any builders are still contemplating it, my advice is to start now—yesterday was already too late.

Connecton VPN is a real innovator as the first VPN on TON. What lessons have you learned from being a first mover in this space?

It was a challenge. The documentation was lacking back then, which forced us to be more creative and humble, finding new ways to deliver features to our users. Over these two years, TON Blockchain has massively improved, enhancing both the development and user experiences. Exciting new projects have emerged within the ecosystem, driven by great people.

We learned that being first is important but not decisive. Many competitors emerged later, proving that quality ensures a product’s longevity. When we started, didn’t have a VPN section, but now they do as more teams embrace the idea of a private, safe, and resilient internet.

Can you explain how Connecton VPN uses TON to enhance user privacy and security?

Connecton VPN relies on TON for its payment infrastructure, and our website is accessible on the TON internet via a DNS (connec.ton). Paying with crypto leaves no trace or records, ensuring complete anonymity. We only know basic data provided by Telegram (first name, last name, username, chat ID, and avatar photo), which can be changed anytime without requiring legal or real names.

The combination of Telegram and TON is ideal for those who want to maintain their privacy. We are currently developing a new way to use TON Blockchain to decentralize our service, making it completely on-chain, transparent, open source, and powered by a Jetton, along with new technologies we are building.

In the future, we will rely on TON Blockchain for almost everything. As TON continues to grow, we will contribute to its development, enhancing both the value of Toncoin and its technological capabilities to promote greater freedom.

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What are the key features that set Connecton VPN apart from other VPN services available today?

Completely anonymous, high-speed, minimalistic, and easy to use—Connecton VPN is accessible within Telegram through a bot and a Mini App, primarily paid for with Toncoin. Built by a team unafraid to show its face in public, we don’t log, analyze, or share users' traffic with third parties. Our service embodies what a real VPN should be: focused on the people first.

For those seeking true privacy, anonymity, and freedom, we aim to be your gateway to the internet, protecting you whether you're on public Wi-Fi or at home.

While big VPNs aim for more control and profit, often compromising their integrity, we strive for greater decentralization, transparency, and on-chain integration, giving control to the people while knowing less about them. Our goal is to serve, which sets us apart.

If you visit our support chat, you’ll see we treat people like friends, making us approachable. This personalized approach truly makes a difference.

What are some misconceptions people have about VPNs and blockchain that Connecton is addressing?

Many users believe VPNs can work miracles, and the tech community strives to provide the best experience. However, some governments take serious measures to block VPN connections, and many streaming services work hard to detect VPN usage. Despite this ongoing cat-and-mouse game, centralized authorities cannot control the free flow of information and human exchange.

There’s also often confusion about what a VPN does. Essentially, a VPN just routes your traffic through someone else’s server. Your internet traffic goes to a secondary location before reaching the open internet, then returns to you. All that traffic is encrypted and protected, so no one can see the websites you visit or your activities. It’s like going to a costume party with a mask on—you can enjoy yourself while remaining anonymous.

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How does Connecton VPN handle user data, and what measures do you have in place to ensure privacy?

We collect the minimum amount of data possible and plan to reduce it further when we go completely on-chain. Our team follows best practices in cybersecurity to protect our databases and services, ensuring your information is secure. Even if a breach occurs, there’s nothing to see—we essentially don’t know who our users are.

For traffic, we use the latest cutting-edge technologies and safe, tested protocols like Wireguard, OpenVPN, Trojan (not a virus, that’s the name), and ShadowSocks. We will also add Vless/Vmess soon.

We keep no logs and have zero knowledge of user traffic. Privacy is built into our service. And when you pay with Toncoin, it’s even more private.

What has been the community response to Connecton VPN, and how have you engaged with your users?

The community's enthusiasm is what drives us every day. Seeing messages of appreciation in support and knowing people are happy with a reliable service they can trust is our biggest motivation.

Financially, a growing number of people are paying for the service, ensuring its long-term sustainability.

Thanks to the Notcoin team, we recently gained thousands of new users in just a few weeks, further expanding our community. I want to thank all our ambassadors, supporters, friends, and customers for their support. More Twitter spaces are coming, along with a new set of products like games, tools, and other exciting features you will enjoy.

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How does Connecton VPN plan to stay competitive in the rapidly evolving VPN market?

The future is decentralized. We don’t aim to compete with those who grow by controlling and accumulating data. Instead, we plan to go completely on-chain and open source, powered by smart contracts, tokens, and decentralized VPN protocols.

The potential for growth in a decentralized infrastructure is virtually infinite. You can’t block something that multiplies itself. Governments may block our servers, but we can refresh them and they won’t be able to block all the servers of all participants in this new, future network.

We also plan to build hardware, allowing you to host your node server at home and receive payments from people using the VPN.

Are there any upcoming features or expansions that Connecton VPN users can look forward to?

The immediate plan is to work on this:

  • $CON, our token, a Jetton on TON Blockchain.
  • Increasing the number of locations.
  • 2 new VPN protocols: Vless / Vmess.
  • Mobile, desktop and VPN apps, while keeping Telegram as the main way to access and interact with the project
  • Our own VPN protocol.
  • A decentralized P2P VPN.
  • Games, tools, and a section to explore other ecosystem apps.

And this is just the beginning.

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Finally, what advice would you give to other developers looking to build on TON?

Start now. Talk to your users, listen to their feedback, use $TON for payments, and integrate as much as possible with the blockchain. Don’t hesitate to approach other teams. We have good relationships with Wallet, Notcoin, and other major players. They are accessible and eager to spread crypto adoption.

Join the TON Community channels, participate in local events, or organize one yourself, and get to know other builders. Integrate, get some Toncoin, and use it in your daily life. It’s best when you use your own service.

Most importantly, give back to your community and contribute to the development of TON. This is built by all of us. Every contribution matters.