On November 9, MongoDB hosted 200 attendees at their New York offices for the FinTech Hackathon. Sponsors including FinTech Innovation Labs, Yodlee Interactive, Dow Jones and Imagine Software awarded prizes for the most innovative and successful apps. MongoDB, Venmo, Bloomberg, and Dwolla contributed APIs, along with 16 other tech partners.
Developers had 24 hours to develop new financial technologies for consumers and customers alike. After a busy day of coding and networking, 31 groups shared their new applications.
Honorable mention was given to FinHack Thing of Wonder an app that collected and displayed financial news as bubbles floating across the screen. BizCredX, offering credit evaluations for companies trying to raise debt or equity capital, was awarded third.
SimplyShareIt snagged second using MongoDB’s API. They designed an application to automatically watermark documents or images, restricting unauthorized distribution, tracking when recipients opened the document, and engaging the recipient in a real time discussion while they read.
In first place was MangoFX, providing foreign exchange hedging solutions to small and medium-sized corporations with risk estimations and analytics, while executing hedges for end clients.
In addition to the overall winners, each tech partner awarded a prize to the application that best used their API. A complete list is below, and you can visit the FinTech Hackathon’s page to read about each project.
Oanda: Hedging Solution
Tradier: Trade on Rumor
Estimize: Peek Estimate
PsychSignal: Sentimize and Metricle
Imagine: Portfolio Hedge
Dow Jones: FinHack Thing of Wonder
Xignite: Equity Sentiment
OpenFin: SimplyShareIt, SocialQuant
Thanks to all our participants, as well as our generous sponsors and API partners. We saw some great projects and we’re already excited for the next hackathon. And thank you, as always, for your support of MongoDB.
Meet Ali Azhar: Senior Director of Territory Sales
This week we're featuring another interview with one of our outstanding employees. We're excited to introduce you to Ali Azhar, our Senior Director of Territory Sales. What is your role at MongoDB? I am the Senior Director of Territory Sales for North America. I also run the global renewals program, which we built out this year. I focus on hiring and leadership, while overseeing the efforts of the territory sales team, which has nine outside reps, supported by two inside reps and two sales development reps. Where were you before MongoDB? Why did you choose to come to MongoDB? I started my first business at 19, called Scholaraid, which I sold to Student Advantage four years later. I built and sold two other businesses, but my fourth business, an athletic apparel manufacturing company, failed in 2011 and I lost virtually all of my life savings. It was humbling, but it was also a blessing in disguise; it was a fantastic professional learning experience and it led me to MongoDB. I had a connection with the former VP of sales at MongoDB and once I found out what the company was doing, I started digging. I realized I wanted to be in a startup environment while growing into this new space in the technology industry. So I jumped on him like a spider monkey, and eventually convinced him to get me an interview. I looked terrible on paper since I had never worked for anyone or sold software before. But I had a 90-minute with Max, and must have proved myself because shortly thereafter, I got the offer. I accepted and became the 40th employee at MongoDB. By the time I paid for the movers to get all my stuff across the country from Florida and made the first payment on my apartment, I had about $200 left to my name, so the job came at the perfect time. What’s your hometown? I was born in Kabul, Afghanistan. My family and I came here when I was 3 years old as refugees from the Afghan war. My parents had become caught up in some of the politics and we had to escape. We left in the middle of the night and ultimately arrived in Newark, where we lived in the inner city for a few years. After my father learned enough English, he got a job as physician in Jacksonville, Florida, so we all moved there. Did you have previous experience using MongoDB before you arrived? If so, how are things different now that you work at MongoDB? If not, how did you learn MongoDB? I knew enough from my other companies to understand the limits of the relational database. This and the concept of dynamic schema are what made me interested in MongoDB in the first place. But I gained a lot of knowledge on the job. It was trial by fire when I started two and a half years ago as an account manager, but I have a better understanding of MongoDB because of it. Have you had any personal projects where you’ve used MongoDB? I haven’t done any projects myself, but several of my friends have built startups whose applications now run on MongoDB. One in particular is Buycott, a social change mobile app that is gaining great traction. Bike or public transportation to work? Since I travel a lot, I’d have to say I take a plane to work. It might be between our New York and our Palo Alto offices, but from one day to the next I could be in D.C. or Canada, depending on where I need to meet with customers. What’s a typical day (or week) for you? My days are (literally) all over the map, Houston one day, or Seattle the next. I’ll visit executives at our customers’ offices to ensure their projects are running successfully on MongoDB. Because of our continued commitment to our open source community, I attend user group meetings to stay engaged with MongoDB users throughout the country. I also do a lot of sales coaching and strategizing with our sales team. I review our sales pipeline to see what opportunities are being generated by my team to ensure productivity from each member. This past year I also spent a lot of time interviewing sales candidates for our sales team. Whenever and wherever I can I also squeeze in a work out several times a week. My favorite workout is sparring (kung fu) or playing basketball. What do you love most about MongoDB? Externally, I love how disruptive we are and how we’re legitimately working to change the way the business world and the world at large writes software applications. We’re changing the mindset of developers; now they try to see what’s possible with applications, not just build applications within the context of what they’re already capable of doing. Internally, I love the culture we’re building within the business. It’s a phenomenal place to work. The environment supports ideas and innovation. There are very few if any people I come across that aren't kind and cooperative and willing to roll their sleeves up to help get the job done. I also enjoy how we look within to promote talent in the building and reward loyalty to the company before we look outside to fill a role. What’s the most challenging project here at MongoDB that you’ve worked on, and how did you succeed? Transitioning from an individual contributor to a leadership position was a big challenge, but it became an opportunity to create our renewals program from scratch. Our product is meaningless if we’re not renewing the subscriptions we work so hard to acquire. I was given free reign to create and implement the renewals program, which we’ve had great success with. What’s the most rewarding experience you’ve had working here so far? There’s not a single instance that’s more rewarding than the next. I’d have to say being able to work with the people I work with. I am constantly impressed by the quality and commitment of the people that work for our company. One of the best parts of working here is we get great feedback from our clients. I actually just received an email from a customer, called Perfect Market, today. They’d recently been named the 16th fastest-growing technology firm in North America. They said without us, they wouldn’t have been able to serve more than 1.5 billion page views per month. What’s your favorite airport lunch/snack food? I really love the Plant Organic Café at the Virgin Terminal in the San Francisco Airport. They make a great quinoa bowl, and their breakfast burritos are amazing. Name one secret skill you have, unrelated to work. I give great advice. My friends call me Dr. Phil because if they have a problem they know they can come to me for sound advice. Kindle or book? What’s your favorite book? The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle Describe your perfect weekend. Renting a beautiful vacation home somewhere, inviting my closest friends and family, and throwing an epic weekend party (preferably a long weekend). What’s your favorite wintertime activity/sport? Snowboarding How do you stay stylish in the cold? Hugo Boss Cashmere/Wool Knee length coat (pop the collar) If you're interested in joining the MongoDB Team there many open positions available in Engineering, Sales, Marketing, and Business Development. To learn more about open roles at MongoDB, please visit the MongoDB Careers Page .
MACH Aligned for Retail (Microservices, API-First, Cloud Native SaaS, Headless)
Across the Retail industry, MACH principles and the Mach Alliance are becoming increasingly common. What is MACH and why is it being embraced for Retail? The MACH Alliance is a non-profit organization fostering the adoption of composable architecture principles. It stands for Microservices, API-First, Cloud-Native SaaS and Headless. The MACH Alliance’s Manifesto is to: “Future proof enterprise technology and propel current and future digital experiences" The MACH Alliance and the creation of this set of principles originated in the Retail Industry. Several of the 5 co-founders of the MACH Alliance are technology companies building for retail use cases: for example commercetools is a composable commerce platform for retail (built completely on MongoDB). MongoDB has been a member of the MACH Alliance since 2020, as an “enabler” member, meaning use of our technology can enable the implementation of the MACH principles in application architectures. This is because a data layer built on MongoDB is ideal as the basis for a MACH architecture. Members of our Industry Solutions team sit on the MACH technology, growth and marketing councils, and actively are involved with furthering the adoption of MACH across the Retail Industry What is MACH, why is it important for retail? The retail industry has long been a fast adopter of technology and a forerunner in technology trends. This is because of the competitive nature of the business leading a drive towards innovation- its vital that retails are able to react quickly to new technologies (e.g. NFTs, VR, AI) to capture market share and stay ahead of the competitors. Retailers have realized that to be able to deliver new and value-add experiences to their customers, they have to cut back on operational overhead that leads to increased cost and build standard functionality that can either be bought or re-used. This is where the benefits of MACH comes in- it's all about increasing the ability to deliver innovation quickly while lowering operational costs & risk. Microservices: An approach to building applications in which business functions are broken down into smaller, self-contained components called services. These services function autonomously and are usually developed and deployed independently. This means the failure or outage of one microservice will not affect another and teams can develop in parallel, increasing efficiency. API-First: A style of development where the sharing and use of the data via API (application programming interface) is considered first and foremost in the development process. This means that services are designed to aid the easy sharing of information across the organization and simple interconnectivity of systems. Cloud-Native SaaS: Cloud-native SaaS solutions are vendor-managed applications developed in and for the cloud, and leveraging all the capabilities the cloud has to offer, such as fully managed hosting, built-in security, auto-scaling, cross-regional deployment and automatic updates. These are a good fit for a MACH architecture as adopting them can reduce operational costs and frees up developers for value-add work like new unique customer experiences. Headless: Decoupling the front end from the back-end so that front ends (or “heads”) can be created or iterated on with no dependencies on the back end. The fact that the layers are loosely coupled decreases time to market for new front ends, and encourages the re-use back-end services for multiple purposes. It also de-risks change in the long term as services can function independently. Where does MongoDB come in? MongoDB is an enabler for MACH, meaning that using MongoDB as your data layer helps retailers and retail software companies. achieve MACH compliance. Our data model, architecture and functionality empower IT organizations to build in line with these architecture principles. During a digital transformation, where a retailer is modernizing a monolith into a microservices based architecture, they're looking for a data layer which will enable speed of development & change. MongoDB is the "most wanted" database 4 years running on Stack Overflow's developer survey- this is because our document model maps to the way developers are thinking & coding, and the flexibility allows for iterative change of the data layer. When looking at API based communication, the standard format for APIs is JSON, which again maps to MongoDB's document model. The idea with API-first development is to develop with the API in mind- why not store the data the way you're going to serve it by API. This reduces complexity and increases performance. Cloud Native and SaaS products have become the norm as retailers wish to reduce maintenance and management work. MongoDB Atlas, provides a database-as-a-service, guaranteeing 99.995% uptime, automatic failover and self-healing and allowing DevOps engineers to spin up databases in minutes or by API/ script. Many retail software companies are also built on MongoDB Atlas- for example commercetools, which provides an ecommerce solution as a SaaS product. Headless architectures require a data layer that is able to adapt and change for new workloads. The ability to change the schema at runtime, with no downtime, makes MongoDB's document model ideal for this. Performance and the ability to scale for new "heads" is also important. MongoDB is known as a high performance database and can scale vertically automatically or scale out horizontally seamlessly. So MongoDB becomes a great choice for retailers choosing to adopt a MACH architecture (see figure 1 below). As a general purpose database with high performance, a rich expressive query language and secondary indexing, MongoDB is a really good fit as a data layer as it is capable of handling operational and analytical needs of the application. FIgure 1: Example of a MACH architecture Want to know more? Are you interested in a transition to MACH? Dive into our four part blog series exploring each topic in detail and how MongoDB supports each of these principles: Microservices API-First Cloud-Native SaaS Headless