Here are the winners of the TradeKing / Loyola API Challenge!

bigdog posted on 05/18/11 at 11:12 AM



I'm proud to announce the results of a fun experiment with our new API, an initiative we called the TradeKing / Loyola API Challenge. We developed and ran this project in partnership with Prof. Paul Tallon of Loyola University Maryland and his fantastic students. 

I'll start with an interesting backstory to this. A few years ago, Prof. Tallon invited me out of the blue to speak to a class he was teaching at Boston College. I did so happily - and made a great contact in Prof. Tallon, who shares many of my interests in innovative uses for tech in finance, the future of online investing, and similar topics. We kept in touch after the speaking engagement. 

When Professor Tallon invited me earlier this year to visit his class at Loyola, one of a handful of classrooms in the country outfitted as a "trading room" with state-of-the-art Reuters terminals, etc., the timing was right on. We were about to launch the beta of our API, and our CIO Dan Raju and I were brainstorming ways to generate some initial interest and activity in TradeKing's API. We thought: let's try something really different. We proposed an "outside the box" idea to Professor Tallon, and he immediately got on board. We agreed to present a challenge to Paul's finance students, one that would hopefully pair them up with their counterparts in computer science. The mission: to build new first-gen apps for investors and traders using our API. 

It was a win-win for both TradeKing and Loyola. For the students, the Challenge offered a real-life business problem with many facets: make a great finance-focused technology application for investors. In the process, students gained valuable skills in product management, technology/development team work and competitive analysis as they vied to create investor-ready apps that broke new ground. They had to pull together a working, first-gen app quickly that offered true value to its users. We offered cash prizes for the winning students, plus they were offered extra credit toward their class grade based on their efforts. 


The benefits to us were several, too. We wanted to test-drive our API and its nascent documentation with a handful of real developers. We also wanted to "seed" our site with an array of sample apps built on the API. We were also just plain curious to see whether students would rise to the challenge.


I have to say: the results were even better than we expected. Student response was tremendous, and the apps and ideas they produced were inventive and surprisingly useful for first-gen work. We even hired a great summer intern out of the effort, too! 

The Challenge, which ran from March 23 to April 30, judged students in four API-related categories:
 

1) best and most creative use of the Tradeking API functions in a working app

2) best combined use of the TradeKing API in a working app also utilizing another publicly available API (e.g., Google Finance, Yahoo! Finance, Facebook, Twitter)

3) best technical documentation of a completed and working app and 

4) best submission of a Strategic Vision and Execution Plan document advising TradeKing on how to improve and expand upon its API strategy.  


Dan, Paul and I picked the following students as winners in each category. I'm proud to share a little info about them now:

Categories 1 and 3: Tony Florida & Stephen Febish

Florida, a Loyola junior who is also on the school’s Varsity swimming team, and Febish, a senior who participates on Loyola’s Varsity cross country and track and field teams, are both Computer Engineering majors. The team produced an innovative and well documented Android application that clients could use to interact with their TradeKing Accounts, WatchLists and perform multiple core brokerage functions. Florida had this to say about the experience: “The Challenge was a wonderful experience for both of us.  It was my first time working with an API, so I learned a great deal about that as well as about trading stocks.” 

 

Tony will also be joining us this summer as a paid intern in our Charlotte office. Tony, glad to have you onboard!

                                                   

Categories 2 and 4: Paul Donovan, Paul Kelly and Michael Radovich

Donovan, Kelly and Radovich are all Loyola seniors. Donovan is a finance major and also serves as Vice President of Loyola’s Financial Management Association. Kelly, a marketing major and information systems minor, spends time conducting marketing research for Howard County Maryland in an effort to better the community and drive the local economy. Radovich is a finance major and a member of Loyola’s Financial Management Association.  He also writes investment articles for MarketNewsVideo.com and ETFChannel.com. 

This trio created an impressive and thoughtful application that integrates TK's watchList functionality with Twitter. We were particularly impressed with the team’s thought-provoking and relevant API vision document. The team's comment about the experience really sums up the benefits of real-world learning we were aiming for. As they put it: “It was great to utilize what we learned in class and apply it to the TradeKing competition.”  


Congratulations to everyone who won, and thanks to everyone who participated! This is just step-one in launching our API to the world, so stay tuned for more innovative projects soon.

[image: trophy 1 | the both and | shorts and longs | julie rybarczyk by Shorts and Longs | The Both And on Flickr]


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Posted by bigdog on 05/18/11 at 11:12 AM

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