First Hackathon A Success for INI Student Team

October 23, 2014

First-time hacker team wins $5K prize for Curio app

An INI student team was recognized at the Salesforce $1 Million Hackathon in San Francisco, winning $5,000 as one of the top entries in the category.

The 48-hour hackathon, held Oct. 10-12 as part of the Dreamforce conference, attracted approximately 1,000 hackers and developers from the Bay Area coming together to build mobile apps using the Salesforce platform and Heroku cloud services.

Susana Lau Hou (MSIT-SM), Tomokazu Yoshida (MSIT-MOB) and María Luisa Carrión (MSIT-MOB), all second-year students in the bicoastal MS Information Technology programs, were interested in experiencing their first hackathon. "This was the first one we saw approaching," Carrión said. "We went in not planning to win, we just wanted to do something simple that we can actually develop in that time."

Although none of the members had experience using Salesforce tools, the large scale of the challenge presented lots of opportunities to be flexible. They formed a team with Daisuke Tsuru, a friend of Yoshida's, and got to work on their project, Curio, an interactive quiz app.

The multiple-choice questions, drawn from customer data in, are designed to test prediction skills of sales staff, asking how well they know their customers. In addition to testing and rewarding sales teams, the simple format lends itself well to teambuilding exercises or training modules as well.

Their app earned high points in innovation from the judges, with Lau's interface design also receiving praise. Curio finished in the top 12, as one of the back-up winners behind the top 10. And while winning was exciting, the team says the hackathon was also great professional preparation for working in app development after graduation in 2015.

They also learned the importance of a great pitch, Carrión explained. Even though it had been a long two days, with little sleep, no showers and delays in judging, the team was determined to present with enthusiasm and poise — which clearly paid off.

And they've already got their eyes on the next hackathon challenge.

This article was originally published on the Silicon Valley campus blog. Pictured below, left to right: Susana Lau Hou, María Luisa Carrión and Tomokazu Yoshida.

Curio team