We have grown up in an America with 70% of students graduating with debt and 40% of seniors still struggling. Student debt has weighed down full families, creating an unsustainable economy fueled by lending and never-ending issues.
We wanted to create a system which can work perfectly in our capitalist economy, using basic market principles such as investing and pairing it with quantitative measures to measure risk and provide a way for everyone to prosper!
What it does
InvestInMe is a platform that connects students to investors. Students who need additional money for tuition and related expenses can raise money by "percentages" of their incomes to prospective investors, who speculate the value of the students using our calculated "student risk score".
This a unique interpretation of "sustainability" as it focuses on ensuring we utilize our capitalist markets to ensure sustainability of personal finances (through elimination of student debt) and sustainability of the economy (by reducing any chance of loan default).
How we built it
We have developed an iOS App using Objective-C for the investor and student interfaces. Along with that, we are using PHP for server along with MongoDB to manage the important data. For now, we are working with CapitalOne's Nessie APIs to interface with our mock bank data. Our PHP and MongoDB server is hosted by Google Cloud, which only took minutes for us to get set up and running.
Challenges we ran into
We had to work with a lot of different factors and different methods to make a measurement that would work with most students. Making the perfect "algorithm" to calculate the risk score of a student involved many sources of data and different approaches of thinking. We also had one of our laptop' screen fail at the last minute, causing us to revert to an earlier version of code.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We were happy that we were able to start to make a prototype in the 24 hour hackathon, with something that has potential to create new industries and change peoples' lives.
What we learned
To accomplish this, we had to research about markets and how typical investing worked. Then, we had to improvise it in a mockup using a NoSQL database (MongoDB), which was a new experience for all of us. This was also the first time we hosted an application using Google Cloud and I really enjoyed their easy-to-use and efficient interface.
For the second developer, Monal Mahajan, it was his first hackathon and he learnt a lot about rapid server side development using PHP and MongoDB. We are happy to go home having learnt many new skills!
What's next for InvestInMe: Economic Sustainability with a Debt-Free America
We would love to improve our student risk scores, adding more parameters to refine the process. Along with that, we would love to launch this in the real life after needed additions, such as verification of data and actual banking data. Another addition needed for release would be additions to design, adding pleasing colors and styling as necessary. We hope to launch this as a viable investment tool for many, as well as a life saver for millions of students.