I came into TechCrunch Disrupt not knowing what to expect. Luckily, this was something I was doing with two friends from college who had participated in a number of hackathons during undergrad.
Like many hackathons, there were a number of API prizes. Since Andrew and Michelle were both consultants at the time, many of our initial ideas revolved around Concur
, the popular business travel expense management system. Andrew and I are both avid Swarm (previously Foursquare) users, not only as a way to keep up with our friends, but also as a way to find new restaurants to try in New York City. After a few hours of ideas bouncing back and forth, I thought about how where we choose to spend our money is a way we make recommendations. That idea eventually evolved into CorpSquare, a webapp where business travelers can go to see how their coworkers have chosen to spend their money while on business travel.
Since employees would already have to upload their expenses to Concur, it would be simple enough to aggregate the data that a business already had to make recommendations to employees. There was almost no barrier to entry for employees to use CorpSquare to find restaurant recommendations while traveling for business.
Given the limited time we had to work on our hack, we wanted to keep the site very simple. Users simply searched for the city they wanted to travel to. Our initial mockups of the screens were done quickly to help us all get on the same page as far as the functionality went.
On the site's landing page, users would enter in the email address they used with their Concur account.
Once the user searched for their destination, they would be brought to a simple map listing all the restaurants their coworkers had been, based on the business expenses that Concur already had.
Users can see a map with pins on where their coworkers had been during previous business trips.
If a user selected one of the restaurants, a popup module would open to show basic details about the restaurant. We want to keep this interaction similar to other maps interactions so it would more accurately follow the mental model users have for interacting with a maps application.
Basic details about the restaurant would be displayed.
After working through the night to get our hack working, we realized that someone needed to pitch our idea. Though I knew I would be thoroughly outside of my comfort zone, I stepped forward to make the presentation. Where else would I get the chance to present in front of hundreds upon hundreds of people, talking about a project that I had seen from start to finish?
I definitely underestimated my nerves before the event. However, I got up on stage and did it
. I don't particularly remember getting up on stage, and have yet to re-watch it myself. In spite of my serious nerves, the judges liked what we did, and awarded us the Concur Award for Best Use of the Concur API.
Michelle and I continued working on CorpSquare with the founders of Paradine
for a few more months to see if we can use our idea of taking Concur data to make recommendations for business travelers. We talked about other search criteria users could be interested in when trying to look for a restaurant while traveling. We introduced a concept of "liking" or rating restaurants, similar to how other review websites work. We kept it basic with hearts because we didn't want to burden users with yet ANOTHER way to rate restaurants.
Hearts would visualize the user's rating of the restaurant.
We also introduced profile pages. Much of the information would populate from Concur, but it would allow users to keep track of places they had been, and allow them to search for restaurants for upcoming trips.
Most of the data would be pulled in from Concur and TripIt (which is owned by Concur).