It’s Just About Time for CajunCodeFest Round Two


Betty Tanory and Robert Tanory (left of Cookie Monster) with their team at last year’s CajunCodeFest

Looking for an excuse to get away with your wife for a few days? Just sign the two of you up for a marathon coding event. That’s what Bobby Tanory did when he entered himself and his wife Betty into the CajunCodeFest competition in Lafayette, Louisiana last year. There they formed a team with seven others and competed with more than 100 contestants to come up with an application aimed at fighting childhood obesity.

“I immediately signed up after I looked at the CajunCodeFest website and read that they were doing a free crawfish boil. If you live in south Louisiana, you just can’t pass up a free crawfish boil,” Tanory said.

In reality Tanory, a software development team lead for home hospice care company Amedisys, knew the competition was going to be no walk along the bayou. That’s why he enlisted Betty, a former kindergarten teacher, to contribute her perspective on childhood obesity. Their team, BE CAMP VB, also included an assistant professor of physics, an IT entrepreneur, and a physician among other talented people.

In the end BE CAMP VB came up with the winning entry, PlayFit, an online aggregator of community activities designed to be a tool for regions with high rates of obesity. The team won $25,000 and the chance to enter into the Health DataPalooza national competition, which is what’s at stake this year, too.

The upcoming CajunCodeFest is themed “Own Your Own Health” and will be held again in Lafayette from April 24 – 26. Tanory will also be there again. Here’s a Q&A with him about what to expect:

Q. Can you talk about a health issue relative to your community? 

A. I think obesity is Louisiana’s number one problem. We eat a lot of fried food, our cities are not usually friendly to walkers or bikers, and it’s really hot most of the year so that’s an excuse for people to not go outside and exercise.

Q. What can you tell us about the different types of talent/ brain power of the people you encountered at the competition last year? 

A. One of the greatest things about being involved with CajunCodeFest last year, as well as attending the Health Data Initiative Forum in Washington, D.C., was getting exposed to new ideas from talented people from all different industries. It was really invigorating. Something crazy happens when you get people from the tech industry, government, insurance agencies, teachers and doctors in the same room. It’s almost impossible to not create something new out of that mix.

Our team consisted of people from different industries, and the more everyone talked, the more I felt like I learned. It was like our team was a microcosm of the greater competition — we were diverse, so we got exposed to new ideas, which then made us think differently, which led to new ideas.

We didn’t know each other so we just spoke openly and honestly, and everyone listened and nobody judged. It was a perfect brainstorming session. Not only do you have some of the best developers in the area presenting their genius ideas, but you also have Todd Park (CTO of the U.S. government), Dr. Ramesh Kolluru, Sean Nolan (Microsoft HealthVault), etc., cheering you on.

Q. What advice would you give to people that they can use during this competition?

A. Get plenty of sleep before the competition because you won’t sleep during it!

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