InspireTech @ Picwell

Picwell was honored to host the students of InspireTech this week at our Philadelphia headquarters.

InspireTech is a community partnership of tech companies and high schools in the Bucks and Montgomery County area that cultivates a passion for technology among educators and local youth. Their new TechTours program allows high school seniors to familiarize themselves with the breadth of the tech industry in the Philadelphia area, as they look to pick a course of study in college.

Our team had a lot of fun hosting a series of break-out discussions on topics ranging from probability and the Monty Hall problem, to web development and the physical reality of the Internet! I was also given the chance to share my story of working in the technology industry, and what it is like to be a CTO.

Picwell is a company that is grounded in a strong social mission - we are applying advanced technology to help millions of Americans make better decisions. Engaging with, and inspiring the next generation of technologists is an important part of this mission, and one that we are proud to support!

Femmehacks Take 2

And we’re back! Back at the Femmehacks hackathon, that is. A couple of weeks ago, Kelly, Elizabeth and I mentored at Femmehacks, an all-women hackathon created by students at the University of Pennsylvania. We were excited to help out and we brought lots of Picwell swag in the form of t-shirts and sticky-note pads.

This year, the event was held at the new Pennovation Center. There were so many students! It looked like the number of students this year had doubled compared to last year.

It was amazing getting to meet high school students and even middle school students who are interested in coding and software. I don’t think hackathons even existed when I was in middle school! For many of the young hackers there, this was their first hackathon. Throughout the day, we tried to help as many hackers as possible. Around dinnertime, Kento, our Co-op at Picwell, even made an appearance.

At the end of the Hackathon, we saw some really great projects.

We hope to be back in 2018!


Last Saturday, Clara, Aditya, and I mentored at Femmehacks, an all-women hackathon held on UPenn’s campus. We were super excited because Picwell was the leading sponsor for the event and we came bearing swag. I wish I had a picture of said swag, but all of it has been given away!

Here is, instead, a picture of us in the awesome Femmehacks photo booth:

Ok, let’s go through the day. In the wee hours of the morning (8:30 AM) the opening ceremony of Femmehacks commenced. Ani was there too! He gave a pump up speech about how thrilled Picwell was to be there.

Afterwards, Clara gave an excellent and super relevant tech talk on how to scale down a hackathon project. The talk was called “Unblocking Your Hackathon.” We have probably all experienced runaway scope: in a 12 hour hackathon, tight scoping is all the more important. To illustrate a doable project in the alloted time frame, we built a Chrome extension which highlights names on a webpage based on gender, making extensive use of existing work, in true hackathon style. Naturally, our live demo didn’t work because this is the law of live demos. Here is a screenshot of the extension in action:

Aditya and I were watching Modern Family while writing the Chrome extension, so we did all testing on the Julie Bowen Wiki page. Thanks, Julie.

After the talk, we retreated to the Picwell booth and all of the students got started hacking!

The rest of the day mostly consisted of us sitting and eating, with dabblings of mentoring. Being a mentor at a hackathon is much more relaxing than being a participant. The food was amazing. I really commend the organizers on this. There were donuts from Federal Donuts, sandwiches from Cosi, popsicles from Lil Pop Shop Snack, hummus from Hummus, and macaroons from Sugar Philly at the end of the night to top it all off.

During lunch time, Clara was on the Women in Tech panel:

We had some interesting conversations with students and the other mentors throughout the day and before we knew it, it was time for judging!

We had our own prize sponsored by Picwell for the best health and/or owl-related hack. It was a $200 Amazon gift card. There were 15 teams who submitted projects for judging and each of them gave presentations. The winning team in our category made a funny webpage with owl poems, haikus, and pictures. Here is them presenting their project:

All in all, it was a great day and hopefully, we will go back next year!

Intro to Pandas, Redux

Back in February, Picwellians Tyler Jorgensen and Clara Bennett developed and gave an introductory Pandas class through PyLadies DC. There has apparently been great demand for a repeat showing, so Picwell is pleased to announce that the class is being offered again this weekend!

Intro to Pandas will be held at the WeWork Chinatown in Washington, DC, on Sunday, October 11 from 2-5 pm. The class organized by the DC PyLadies chapter and Women Data Scientists DC, with space provided by Data Society.

If you cannot join us, you can find the complete course materials on Github.

In investment news...

We are very excited to announce the closing of our $4m Series A financing led by MassMutual Ventures of Boston. MassMutual was joined by several prominent healthcare investors including Trevor Fetter, Bruce Perkins and Paul Kusserow.

This investment will help us grow our engineering and analytics teams, extend our platform’s capabilities, and allow for continued research into more sophisticated mechanisms to help consumers navigate the complexities of health insurance.

Read more about this news on Philly