Being completely new to the scene in Colorado, I decided to attend Boulder Startup Week to dive in. Boulder is amazing – densely packed creative agencies, innovative startups, and the most picturesque of mountainous backdrops. Thanks to Pivotal and Gorilla Logic for showing me their hip offices, and serving up some great beer.
The highlight of the trip, however, was meeting a true developer ninja Alejandro Bautista Ramos and speaking about his experience on the StartupBus. This route, from Mexico to Colorado, intrigued me. Politically, the border between our countries is a firestorm of opinions. But here is an example of cross-border innovation, collaboration, and utmost positivity. I had to dig deeper, and I had the opportunity to ask Alejandro a number of questions to see what his team created in mere days, packed on bus heading to Boulder.
An Interview with Alejandro Ramos from 5/27/16.
Who is your team, and what is your background?
My team is made up of 6 people: David Mimila, marketer strategist and main hustler, Dulce María Villareal, economist, David Hernández, expert in design, Hugo Ortiz, accountant, Guillermo Vivancovitch, mechanical engineer, and myself, systems engineer. No one on the bus had ever met before but we shared the same vision of developing a better financial application.
How did the idea come about?
Before getting into the bus, we had a meeting at the BBVA Bancomer main offices in Mexico City. When we were proposing our main ideas we shared the same vision of an online platform that could give us control to all our finances. At first we talked about only a platform that could store all our credit and debit cards regardless the bank but as our trip on the bus started, we realized that we could add several features such as a smart agent that could tell us which card would be better to pay for our purchases or which card would give us better reward points.
Did the bus make for a good hacking environment?
Undoubtedly, yes! The bus united us as a strong team because we had to overcome technical problems, for instance, the Internet access was limited in some parts of the road so some of us relied on our 4G bandwidth from our phones but this wasn’t enough; however, we did 2 main stops (Nuevo León, MTY, Austin, Texas) in co-working spaces where we had the opportunity to use the WIFI access to continue working or just have some rest (traveling in bus over long distances isn’t the most comfortable place to sleep).
What APIs did you use, what runtime did you write it in?
We mainly used an API from PayBook which basically gives you access to most of the transactions of the Mexican Banks and the SAT (the Mexican Tax Authority). We mainly wrote in Python for doing the back-end and we went with angular.js for the front-end.
What did the judges think?
At first, the judges were impressed when we showed the retrieved data from our banks already graphed and distributed in the different charts. One of the judges thought that this was another MINT app because of the similarity of having all your credit and debit cards into one platform. We thought so the same at day 1. We explained that our platform will be more like a financial personal assistant because it will let you know at the moment which card would be better to use when paying for something, which card will give you the most reward points or how healthy are your financial accounts. The judge then changed his mind as so we did during the bus.
What’s next with the product?
Work! Work! Work! We already had a meeting and we are giving a follow-up to the project. We have already bought our tickets for participating into another Startup event to present the full prototype working and we look to get in touch with investors or alliances that can help us to develop the full potential of this product.