October 13, 2014

The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat: Dreamforce 2014, the Largest Hackathon in the World. Recap of 57 Hours & 3 Minutes

Before I show you anything, I'd like to share a story with you. Please read it...this is an excerpt from an old Chinese fable, The Story of the Farmer:


There once was a farmer who had only one horse. One day, for no reason, his horse ran away to the nomads across the border. Everyone tried to console him, but he asked them, "What makes you so sure this isn't a blessing?" Some months later his horse returned, bringing a splendid nomad stallion. Everyone congratulated him, but he replied, "What makes you so sure this isn't a disaster?" Their household was richer by a fine horse, which his son loved to ride. One day the son fell off and broke his hip. Again, everyone tried to console him, but he said, "What makes you so sure this isn't a blessing?" A year later the nomads came to force across the border, and every able-bodied man took his bow and went into battle. The Chinese frontiersmen lost nine of ten men. Only because the son was lame did the father and son survive to take care of each other. Truly, blessing turns into disaster, and disaster to blessing: the changes have no end, nor can the mystery be fathomed.*


No matter what the day brings, whether it feels like a victory or a defeat, never assume anything.
No one can ever know what the future truly has in store. Out of all the places I have seen or visited, I have never seen so many brilliant, and passionate people gathered together as I witnessed at the Dreamforce Hackathon.

With speakers such as Hillary Clinton, George Clooney, and will.i.am preparing speeches about dreams, passion, and the future of technology; thousands of extremely talented developers from around the world have come to pour their talents and time into new ideas to try and win it all, and in some small way, make an impact on the future of our world. I am proud and honored to have been part of it all.


The night before judging, everyone crammed to wrap up.





Mobile app design has a hairstyle of it's own. I call this one the "Antennae Tower"...


My teammates and I continue to hack inside the purple tent.


Some aren't up for the all-nighters, but they tried their best.


Favorite late-night nosh were these little salads - yummy brain food!


Day 2.5: Welcome in the Salesforce Judges. They judged projects within 3 Categories:

Design Criteria- Create Mobile Apps utilizing these platforms:
  1. Force.com
  2. Heroku
  3. Force.com + Heroku (We created our mobile app in this category, utilizing both platforms)
Judging criteria:
  1. Innovation
  2. Business Potential
  3. User Experience
  4. Use of the Salesforce1 Platform
Time to present before the judges walk away: 3 minutes.


So here come the judges, and they certainly didn't come in short supply. Most of them had a background in Salesforce, and they were normally grouped in packs of three.


Last minute to get that final commit in! (Apple Jacks and coffee for breakfast are really choice for this type of pressure.)




Team pic - let them come, we were born ready for this moment.


In order: Justin, Matt, (me), Jourdan, Adam, and Whitney.


Our goal was to make something so simple - an automated tool to help sales professionals locate nearby clients (current and potential) while they are out in the field, with just the touch of a button.
You can find more details about our project, SilverCloud®, here.

After judging commenced, we were able to walk around, see demos, and hang out with some of the other teams.

New besties from Wit.ai - talk about the Internet of Wearables! These guys are creating amazing experiences, stay tuned for more when I chat with them one-on-one later. Here's a peek at their site, did someone say, ROBOTS?? https://wit.ai/



Snippit of my victory in the paper drone flying contest...just hit the purple bucket! Sounds easy but was tougher than it looks. You had to adjust the flight path using one hand and an iPhone application. 

         

Only 4 of us actually hit the target. I think my fellow winners were as enthusiastic as I was. 


(Will show you how epic this thing is in it's own post later on).

I have one more story to tell you before signing off for today - this was our judging booth neighbor, Bryan Sosa. "Excuse me", he asked with a thick Spanish accent, "would you mind observing me while I practice for the judges? I have no one else on my team". 

Of course! I tried to act like a stern judge while he gave me his app pitch.


Bryan, (only 19 years old) tells me about the app he developed to forecast the exchange rate VAR (value at risk), that predicts any loss that may occur due to changes in foreign currencies. Called FXR, this will save innumerable amounts of money for banks and other financial institutions. (Wow) as a team of one, he flew all the way here from the University of Colorado (chosen mainly so he could practice for the triathlon in an Olympic pool) and decided to execute the idea on his own. His first prize was a lego kit for utilizing Mulesoft software to import the data into the app.


Bryan attends school in Colorado, but moved to the united states only a year ago. Growing up without a lot of money in Guatemala, his parents worked very hard to make sure he gets a good education in the US. He and I became fast friends as he told me his story and let me practice my broken Spanish with him. These are a few pictures of where he is from, and the nearby surroundings - the beautiful city of Guatemala, and it's older neighbors, Santa Maria de Jesus and Antigua.

After all of the semi-finalists were announced, our team name was not called to a grand prize - however Bryan's was! I couldn't have been more happy for my new friend. He will find out the final results tonight after the judges revisit all of the semi-finalist projects.


We all started home, and Bryan said that he wasn't expecting to win so did not have a place to stay. I offered our apartment and air mattress up to him and happily accepted. After I explained our project and platform, Bryan, also a certified force.com developer, offered to help our team get SilverCloud® onto the app store. 

Sometimes...remembering we are all in this together, you just have to be one another's angels.

Goodbye for now, and I can't wait to experience the rest of the week's events...along with a little fashion retail therapy ;) so stay tuned for more excitement on the way.

xoxo - Julia




* The Story of the Farmer - a compilation As told by Executive editor, Elise Hancock, in the Johns Hopkins Magazine, November 1993, page 2 and As told by Chin-Ning Chu, in "The Asian Mind Game: unlocking the hidden agenda of the Asian business culture -- a westerner's survival manual," New York:Macmillan Publishing Company, page 182. (1991)