Concur Team "Grows the Good" at Dreamforce Hackathon

What happens when Concur developers come together to build a Salesforce app that helps business travelers save money and give back to the greater good?

Last week, a scrappy team of Concur developers travelled to San Francisco to compete in an event of epic proportions — the Dreamforce Hackathon of 2013, with the largest hackathon prize in history. To quote Dr. Evil from Austin Powers, “One. Million. Dollars.”

No wonder the Dreamforce Hackathon theme was mobile, because on November 19th, Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff announced Salesforce1, their new platform to help build customer-focused social and mobile apps that integrate with the cloud. Another predominant theme of Dreamforce Hackathon was philanthropy. What a happy coincidence, but I digress…

The Dreamforce Hackathon goal was simple:

Build a mobile app using any element of the Salesforce platform, including Force.com, Heroku or ExactTarget. We heard about the challenge and thought Salesforce + Concur would be even more interesting, so we rallied a team of top talent to build.

For a shot at a million bucks? Sure, count us in!

Team Philanthrifty Sets Out to “Grow the Good”

Designers and developers from our mobile and platform teams came together to form “Team Philanthrifty.” Say that three times fast.

We brainstormed and ultimately arrived at a hack app named “Soul Tree.” Our catch phrase was “Grow the good.” The premise of the hack was simple.

“Soul Tree” is a social game where you earn points each time you save money on business expenses. The more you save, the more points you earn. As you earn points, your virtual Soul Tree grows from a seedling to a beautiful tree. At the end of the game, the company donates a portion of those savings to charities of the players’ choices.

A Hack House, with Beef Jerky… and Michael Jackson

Team Philathrifty spent time in the Developer Zone of the event, as well as a kitschy little house in Noe Valley, San Francisco. At the “hack house”, the team was greeted by a life-size homage to the late Michael Jackson. He sat in front of the fireplace, watching us, and sometimes startling us, as we hacked.

While hacking, we survived on a steady diet of energy, laughs, stress, Red Bull and two-dimensional food, including beef jerky and mediocre pizza. Two-dimensional food is great for developers because it slides easily under closed doors. Only once were we interrupted by a meal of three-dimensional Chinese take-out. So inefficient.

The team worked hard right up to the submission deadline. We pushed so hard, in fact, that at one point during testing, the proverbial “warning light” came on. I received a nice email from Salesforce letting me know that we used up all of 5,000 our API calls within a 24-hour period. I see that as a badge of honor. We pushed it to the limit.

Ultimately, Team Philanthrifty didn’t make it to the final round of the Dreamforce Hackathon, but word on the B.A.R.T. was that we made it pretty far in the judging process. But as someone once said, the reward is in the journey, not the destination.

We learned a lot about brainstorming, teamwork, communication, living in the trenches together, and a little bit about each other. We learned we could do almost anything if we set our minds to it. And we were able to get productive very quickly, which is a testament to the strength of the Salesforce platform.

Above all, I was reminded that I get to work with a group of talented and highly-motivated developers here at Concur.

Were you at the Dreamforce Hackathon?

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