SaveLoveGive™ – VERA™ for Consumers (2012/2013)
SaveLoveGive™ was the branding campaign for the direct-to-consumer efforts of the VERA™ Platform at Validas. It was a modern, mobile-first response-design web-app that helped users save money on their cell phone bills, with an option to donate a portion of their savings to a charitable cause. We built it from scratch in under six months, on top of our wireless billing analysis engine, VERA™, and launched to an initial media fanfare that lead to over $4 million in consumer savings within the first six weeks of going live, and went on to raise over $100,000 in charitable donations in its first few months.
As the Chief Technology Officer, I was charged with leading the backend team and helping re-architect the backend to build in scalability and an API to interact with the new consumer friendly responsive interface. This involved moving from a SQL Server database to a NoSQL database as well as implementing a queue solution and multiple services to allow specific functions of the backend to be scaled independently from one another. Working with Scott W. Bradley who was leading the front-end development, and Leif Jensen creating the market-driven product and feature requirements, my team and I adapted our enterprise focused backend to a solution that was able to scale, was much more maintainable, and allowed us to move different portions of our platform to technologies that provided improved capabilities to handle the types of tasks we needed to serve our clients in a fast, efficient manner.
In addition to recruiting, hiring, and managing all development related project costs, I was involved in both leading the software engineering team and serving as an individual contributor to the implementation of this project. This was roughly a 6-month project from conception to our public launch featured on , Nightline, and a number of other major news outlets – which made for an interesting overnight scalability challenge!
My biggest areas of individual contribution in software development included:
- Improved existing enterprise backend architectures to be more modular and scalable in anticipation of our big launch.
- Architecture that allowed us to scale from 10 hits-per-hour to tens of thousands of hits per minute, in under a minute when the first news story hit the airwaves.
- Built a new screen scraping engine.
- Helped implement a new Queue solution and the necessary client code.
- Architect the data models necessary for storing our data in our new NoSQL database.
- Researched and selected the appropriate NoSQL database for storing our data.
- Size, configure and implement the NoSQL database cluster.
- Helped create a fully automated DevOps infrastructure.
Technologies used in this project:
- Riak – document-oriented NoSQL database
- Couchbase – distributed key/value NoSQL database
- Ruby on Rails – web-app framework
- Unicorn, Nginx and IIS – web servers
- Amazon Web Services (AWS) – cloud computing
- Opscode Chef – infrastructure automation platform
- Papertrail – centralized logging
- Raygun – error monitoring (C#)
- NewRelic – application performance and server monitoring
Check out more screenshots on Leif’s Behance page.
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