Project Sandcastle Kicks-off the Open-Source Movement in Boston

Last Thursday night, nearly two dozen members of the FinTech Sandbox community gathered in Elsen’s downtown Boston offices for the inaugural Sandcastle Sprint.

Founders and developers representing Sandbox startups AlphaPack, Bullseye, Elsen, Gather, Data Simply, Kyper Data, Prophis, and Volos came from as far away as London and the San Francisco Bay Area to participate. Each bounded up three flights of stairs to be greeted with a cold drink, a custom t-shirt, and fellow coders.

Project Sandcastle is a cooperative, community-led effort to solve problems FinTech startups commonly encounter when ingesting data from new sources. It’s an outgrowth of the Sandbox requirement that startups selected for the program be willing to give back. Sandcastle documentation not only helps the next wave of FinTech startups, but provides valuable feedback to data partners, and will ease the on-boarding process for both.

Looking around the packed offices, Jean Donnelly, our Executive Director observed, “Sandcastle is designed to socialize the concept of documentation so it can benefit the next group of startups selected for the Sandbox and become an ongoing process.” A healthy exchange sprung up amongst attendees centering on best practices of working with data partners. Zac Sheffer and Justin White of Elsen kicked-off the crowded session. Later, Elsen CTO and Co-founder Justin White mentioned, “The general enthusiasm from our fellow startups through the process has been overwhelmingly positive. I think they took Zac’s line (Zac Sheffer, Elsen other co-founder) about rising tides lifting all boats to heart because there were nothing but constructive efforts during the sprint.”

Specific Sandcastle objectives:

  • Help FinTech startups better-understand the available datasets
  • Expand accessible datasets
  • Allow new startups to make use of data more quickly

Over pizza and beer, teams were formed to address Thomson Reuters, FactSet, and Yodlee datasets, specifically. Thomson Reuters is a founding sponsor of FinTech Sandbox, as well as a data partner.

Sandbox participants are contributing links, ingest scripts, data descriptions, and helpful non-proprietary code to the FinTech Sandbox GitHub repository, which is available to all the startups in the Sandbox program.

Sandbox residents were quick to find value from working with one another and many mentioned the satisfaction from committing a “Pay it Forward” ethos to practice. The next Sandcastle sprint takes place in six weeks. The Sandbox is really looking forward to building further momentum from this high-energy launch.

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