Calling all developers: Code Crush 2013


Editor’s note: See response from EC leader Michael Burcham.

In the middle of May, developers and entrepreneurs will join forces to develop software solutions for a trio of deserving businesses selected by the Nashville Entrepreneur Center. The inaugural Code Crush, which is being held at the Microsoft offices in Franklin in conjunction with the EC, will give technology professionals the chance to code for a good cause.

“As a software developer, we have special skills that we have spent years perfecting, and as a member of the Nashville IT Community, we have a responsibility to help our neighbors,” said Wes Bowden, who is leading the event. “Why not combine our passion for building great software with the overwhelming needs our community non-profit organizations have for software solutions.”

The participants will be creating solutions for healthcare players MedQB, Inspire Health and MyMedMatch.

Code Crush is a ‘Habitat for Humanity’ model for building businesses,” says Michael Burcham, President and CEO of the Entrepreneur Center. “Working with the Code Crush team  to mobilize our tech community to build startup tech-enabled social enterprises has the potential to create a lasting impact on our community.”

The event is set to take place May 17-19. More information can be found below.

SouthernAlpha is a sponsor of this event.

Full Release:

Nashville, Tenn.-  May 17-19, 2013, the Entrepreneur Center will host the inaugural  Code Crush at Microsoft’s Franklin Campus. Code Crush 2013  will attract more than 100 technology professionals  for a weekend-long event to create meaningful solutions  for three social enterprise accelerator companies.

The inaugural Code Crush is a “Habitat for Humanity” model for building businesses,” says Michael Burcham, President and CEO of the Entrepreneur Center.  Working with The Code Crush team to mobilize our tech community to build startup tech-enabled social enterprises has the potential to create a lasting impact on our community.

The Entrepreneur Center fosters innovation and entrepreneurship by turning ideas into reality, helping to start businesses and create jobs. As a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, the Center is funded through sponsorships, partnerships, donations and grants. The Entrepreneur Center relies on support from leading corporations, successful entrepreneurs, those who have a vested interest in the Center’s success and IT professionals like you.

The Entrepreneur Center has selected three healthcare technology companies to participate in the inaugural Code Crush event:  MedQB,  Inspire Health and MyMedMatch. Individuals volunteering for the event will work in teams to develop a website for one of the three selected companies while competing against the other teams for prizes donated by the Code Crush Sponsors. Technology professionals are encouraged to sign up on their own or to bring their own team to compete for the weekend.

Wes Bowden will lead the inaugural Code Crush team initiative alongside the Entrepreneur Center.  Bowden has been involved in technology in Nashville for the past eleven years.  “As a software developer, we have special skills that we have spent years perfecting.  And as a member of the Nashville IT Community, we have a responsibility to help our neighbors,” said Bowden.  “Why not combine our passion for building great software with the overwhelming needs our community non-profit organizations have for software solutions.  If you are a developer, designer, or project manager looking to make a difference and use your skills to assist others, this is the place to be May 17-19th, 2013.  Bowden has led other successful major software development efforts in both government and commercial areas.  Wes currently works for Optum /United Health Group and is the manager of Software Build Engineering Services.

Sponsorships and Corporate Support
Corporate Sponsors are encouraged to contact the Entrepreneur Center and The Code Crush Team 2013 to participate in the program and their employees/volunteers can participate through VolunteerMatch.  VolunteerMatch strengthens communities by making it easier for good people and good causes to connect.  The organization offers a variety of online services to support a community of nonprofits, volunteer and business leaders committed to civic engagement.  VolunteerMatch’s popular service welcomes millions of visitors a year and has become the preferred internet recruiting tool, and the Entrepreneur Center is listed with VolunteerMatch.
Current sponsors include:

  • Microsoft
  • Cisco
  • Dell
  • Urban Code
  • Emma
  • SouthernAlpha
  • Centresource
  • Kickin’ Coffee and Tea
  • Wholy Crepe

About the Entrepreneur Center

The Entrepreneur Center serves as a gateway that fuses training, relationships and resources to cultivate economic development and drive Nashville’s future as the epicenter of entrepreneurial endeavors. The Center opened its doors in August 2010 after recommendations from the Nashville Chamber of Commerce.  It has been successful in partnering with local and state governments, private interests and the Nashville business community at large to raise the quality of resources available to the Middle Tennessee entrepreneurial and small business community.  Resources to help Middle Tennessee’s entrepreneur community include:


  • The Code Crush!

  • Incubation space

  • Training

  • Networking

  • Educational materials

  • Mentoring

For more information, please visit:

  • mattg

    Will the participants be building software for non-profit or for-profit companies. The post is somewhat ambiguous about that point.

    • Wes Bowden

      The companies will hopefully one day become profitable adventures. But their journey has just begun. They are start-ups with potential to help improve lives. Our ask is that you volunteer and create some thing that matters. One day one of these companies may help you or someone in your family. This is why they were selected from many.

      • mattg

        So to be clear, these are for-profit companies and you are asking me to give my skills and time to them, under the guise of “creating some thing that matters”, with no compensation. Thank you for the clarification.

  • wgolden

    How were the companies vetted for selection? Will the next event offer the participants a chance to suggest organizations?

  • WalkerDuncan

    We’ve reached out to event organizers for further clarification

  • How would the intellectual property work at an event like this? If these are for-profit companies, why would developers provide free time to them?


    • This is my main concern as well.

      • Wes Bowden

        Please read above

      • Did. Still concerned and uninterested.

    • I can’t see contributing my free time to do some work to benefit a for-profit company. Sorry guys.

      • Jess H

        Josh, developers that are contributing see a bigger picture. The companies selected will do good things in our community. Not only will these startups create jobs, but they are helping people. These companies have a high social impact.

      • Jess, you sound like a cheerleader playing “reasons to work for free” bingo.

      • Richard

        How will these for profit companies “do good things” in our community exactly? Why not create jobs now by hiring these devs to create the needed sites instead of expecting people to “donate” their professional skills? I really do not understand in any way how someone could be delusional enough to actually be in favor of this.

    • exactly..

    • Wes Bowden

      Brian, Please read our posts and take time to learn more about the EC Many of Nashville’s top professionals galdly provide free time to the EC and the start up’s. If Nashvilles top professionals volunteer their time, why would not a developer? Are we not professionals ourselves? As for the intellectual property it would stay with the start-ups. These are start-up websites not huge applications for sale.

      • As the co-founder of a company that was one of the first graduates out of the EC, I’m quite familiar with it. I respect Michael Burcham and give his opinion and involvement the weight it deserves. That said, I can’t get behind the idea of asking for free work from skilled laborers for the benefit of for-profit companies.

        Your suggestion that “other professionals volunteer time, you are a professional, therefore you should volunteer” is flawed. Do you also expect lawyers to provide free consulting? Are accountants to file their taxes for free? That kind of devaluation of skilled labor is not generally appreciated. More importantly it’s not realistic, given current market demand for developers of all skill levels. You’re going to get what you pay for.

        The size of the company is also completely irrelevant. If these companies wish to employ skilled developers, they should approach developers directly and ask for work in exchange for some other good. Alternatively, they can pitch their ideas to investors who can assume risk on their behalf.

        “Why not?” is also a silly question. I have bills to pay. My skills are valuable to others. There are plenty of companies doing great things, creating jobs, serving the community and /also/ quite willing to pay for my services.

        I’m sure that there was no malicious intent, but I also take issue with the fact that the press release refers to non-profit work, while not necessarily clarifying that while this work is technically for a non-profit entity, that non-profit is basically a shell around for-profit companies.

      • nail/head: “this work is technically for a non-profit entity, that non-profit is basically a shell around for-profit companies.”

    • Wes Bowden

      These are start-ups and the work is around giving them a face. These are not huge existing applications for sale. Any code that is created for a project will become the property of the project. As for the why, I ask why not? Many of Nashville’s top professionals volunteer their time to help the EC and the start ups. What makes a developers volunteer time any different?

      • mattg

        You aren’t asking developers to mentor or advise the companies participating in this event. You are asking developers to develop a website for free, for a company that is focused on making a profit. This isn’t a matter of a professional coming to the EC to mentor a company for a few hours each week. It’s asking said professionals to devote an entire weekend away from their family and friends, with no compensation.

        It comes down to this. Regardless of the intentions of the companies, they have a focus of making a profit. In fact, at least one of the companies has links for investors, implying that not only is that company looking to make a profit, but is also going to try and make a return for investors.

      • 1. get developers to code for free.
        2. profits!

  • Call me old fashioned, but creating software for three healthcare startups is not “coding for a good cause.” Call it a hack-a-thon, or whatever you will, but to claim this is an event to help meet “..the overwhelming needs [of] our community…” is a slap in the face to all the other well-deserving humanitarian organizations in our community.

    • Wes Bowden

      Nashville Entrepreneur Center (EC) is a highly respected non-profit organization that is doing wonderful work in our community. The EC’s mission is to connect Entrepreneurs with Mentors and the Critical Resources they need to accelerate the launch of startup businesses. As an IT professional you are a critical volunteer resource they need.

      Many well respected professionals in Nashville routinely volunteer their time, knowledge and talents to mentor and help the start-ups in the EC. The lengthy list can be found here . As an IT professional why would you not do the same? Do we as IT professionals see ourselves in a different light than other Mentors?

      This event is being sponsored by some of the top technology companies in the world, Microsoft, Dell, and Cisco. We would not have their overwhelming support if this was some sort of “hack-a-thon”. Come out and join us for a fun filled weekend of coding competitions and build something that matters.

      • I don’t actually see a list. Perhaps you linked to the wrong page?

      • Wes,

        Would you please email me, cal at calevans dot com. I have a few questions that I would like to ask.


      • Hi, I have run/organized/sponsored/attended numerous hackathons all over the country with startups, established brands, and every type of group in between.

        In the last year, Microsoft has signed onto no less than four of them, Dell onto two, and even Cisco onto one. Whoever has told you they would not doesn’t understand the space very well.

        Also, I have mentored groups at Startup Weekends, Lean Startup Machine, and with various entrepreneur programs around the country.. that is *not* the same as building things for them. In the link you cite, the mentors are described as giving “personal feedback” and it says nothing about doing work for them.

        While I don’t know you or your intentions, I will give you the benefit of the doubt that your heart is in the right place.. but I believe you’re viewing and treating developers as a cog in the startup machine. It appears that you want a developer to “just build it” and walk away.

        If you are really looking to “code for a cause,” I suggest you look into Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK) – – or Code for America’s civic hackathons. I have personally worked with both organizations at both events (primarily in Austin, TX) and have found them to be great organizations with a fantastic mission.

      • Wes, you received tons of community feedback before renaming your event from Nashville Givecamp to Code Rush, including concern about the non-profit status of your selected “charities”. I can’t imagine why decided to leave this uncorrected in your messaging. As a result, you’re spending a ton of time managing your event’s perception issue and explaining how we’re not “seeing right”.

        The truth is, the beneficiaries of the event are for-profit companies. Simple as that. It doesn’t matter if they were hand selected by a non-profit, live in the same building, etc.

        My advice is to stop the spin. Be honest and clear. Explain the deal and let everyone decide if they want to help or not. But, please, enough with the non-profit nonsense; no one’s buying it and it’s a huge distraction.

      • For-profit start-ups with viable business models have plenty of ways to obtain funding in order to acquire the critical resources they require. Making start-ups sound like they’re equal to non-profits (which only exist to better their communities) is a bold spin.

        As talented professionals, there are many satisfying ways to contribute to our industry and community: open source projects, user groups, labs, and speaking at or helping with conferences.

        Your sponsors are interested because establishing relationships with start-ups in healthcare could prove worth-while. It’s not about altruism; it’s just good business.

        If there are future events that would allow me to donate my time and expertise to non-profits in need, then let me know where to sign up. “Opportunities” to work for start-ups without pay aren’t going to be compelling to top talent no matter what you call them or who is involved.

      • Wes,
        David IS a well respected professional who volunteers his time, knowledge and talents to mentor other _developers_, myself included. He is currently serving his second term as president of the Nashville .NET user group which requires a large personal investment. David is the last person you should be lecturing about volunteering.

      • Agreed. David has done MUCH for this community. I would have hoped that research would have been done before making a comment like that.

      • Recruiters and developers on the same team? The next thing you know I’ll be kissing dogs.

      • lolz

      • dogs and cats together

  • How dare they steal my idea.

      • Wes Bowden

        We are a group of proffessionals and will not comment on your unprofessional site

      • oh, mine was in jest to the comment above yours. Notice how I replied to that post and my comment was moved over to the right to signify it’s relationship to the post above.

        Also, it’s not my unprofessional site, I don’t even know who made that twitter account. Let’s not throw accusations around.

    • Wes Bowden

      We are a group of proffessionals and will not comment on your unprofessional site

      • I will reply to your comment about not commenting. Your a group of delusional suits trying to squeeze profits out of people’s good intentions. I may be unprofessional, but you are unethical.

  • Wes Bowden

    The Code Crush projects were selected by the Nashville Entrepreneur Center which is the NON-PROFIT this effort is meant to help. To qualify, the projects had to go through the Entrepreneur Center’s program. They had to be a technology based start-up, they had to be in the healthcare field, and they had to have a high social impact. The idea here is to provide the framework for a reoccurring annual event where the development community could volunteer technical help to the Entrepreneur Center (EC) in their non-profit efforts which is helping launch worthy startups. Since the event is for the EC, I foresee them overseeing the vetting process for next year.

  • How are these projects licensed? MIT, BSD, etc? Will the code be open source?

    • Wes Bowden

      All of the projects will be built in .NET with a MSSQL backend. The projects when completed will be owned by the start-ups and it will be up to them to carry its development foward. Remember these are start up and only one even has a Web Site.

      • You should probably clarify that in your press release. By selecting a stack before anything is even started, you’ve eliminated a good portion of your potential market of developers willing to work for free.

      • Wow. This is exactly correct. The lack of information is concerning enough…

      • Well stated.

      • maybe tech companies will start offering internships where dev talent can work for free, like the entertainment industry does

      • jameswhite

        You should have led with these requirements. I could have stopped reading immediately.

      • Agree.

      • Wow. OK, I absolutely agree with Brian here. .NET is a closed-source platform. The developers you seem to be courting to come to this event would be open-source developers, as they statistically seem to put more money where their mouth is when it comes to altruism (e.g. work for free). While I agree with my comrades every point regarding the logical fallacy of trying to get us to apply our skills for free for a for-profit company with no tangible recompense, if you want to have a hope in heaven of attracting anybody both willing and skilled enough to accomplish the end goal, you can’t go putting strictures on the tech they use so to accomplish – *especially* not by specifying closed-source systems that nearly every single one of the most talented, most altruistic developers in Nashville with which I’m familiar *can’t even run* on their local machines (being Mac OS X- or Linux-based), and that has a poor reputation amongst the open-source community in general.

      • Well stated. Who even knows where these companies values lie, or what sort of citizens they are going to be in the community. I’d rather spend my time and effort in other events that’ll have a bigger impact and are much more transparent.

  • Ben Henderson said it well: “My advice is to stop the spin. Be honest and clear. Explain the deal and let everyone decide if they want to help or not. But, please, enough with the non-profit nonsense; no one’s buying it and it’s a huge distraction.”

    Not only is it a distraction, but you are succeeding only in ruining your reputation among a very well-connected and respected group of developers that span (at least) the southeast region. Many of us have participated in previous Give Camps that truly did benefit non-profits. Many of us already work for companies that are making a difference in others’ lives. Responses laden with spin are insulting to the very people you are trying to recruit.

  • Quote: “As a software developer, we have special skills that we have spent
    years perfecting. And as a member of the Nashville IT Community, we
    have a responsibility to help our neighbors,” said Bowden. “Why not
    combine our passion for building great software with the overwhelming
    needs our community non-profit organizations have for software

    So which non-profit organizations have needs for software solutions here? I see none.

  • Daniel

    Woooooow. Please tell me this is a joke. Asking for free work is one thing. Annoying, but no the end of the world. As a programmer, I get it a lot. I also say no a lot. No bigg whup. But to try to pass this off as some sort of benefit for the “community non-profit organizations”? That, my friend, is what we in the technical industry (and the rest of the freaking civilized world) call a “lie”.

    Yes, the EC is a non-profit. So is my church. So is the George W Bush library foundation for crying out loud. We’re not ***complete idiots***. The companies benefiting from this are *not* non-profits and for you to sit here arguing in the comments about it only adds insult to injury…

    Thanx for demonstrating that not only do you have zero respect for the time (and money) of Nashville’s talent, but that you think we’re all idiots, too. It didnt take long for the EC’s true colors to come out: they and the sponsors are already intent on sucking back out what little “investment” they have made in our city.

    Count me out.

  • Brendan Wovchko

    Wes —

    Due respect, but I think the mistake you are making is that you are assuming that the people making less than complimentary comments aren’t familiar with the EC. That’s not the case. I’m seeing comments here from people that run some of the bigger meet-up groups, well-known development shops, companies which have used the EC as a springboard to get started, long-time mentors at Jumpstart, and long-standing members and contributors to the start-up space.

    Those are just the people who are posting comments. There is a flurry of back channel email being sent on this topic and lots of chirping on IRC amongst the developer community. Virtually none if it is good.

    I know just about everyone who has posted a comments here thus far. None of them are mean spirited or anti entrepreneurial. I’m sure if you asked for their support on how to get this event back into good graces with the community, they’d be willing to help.

    I’d encourage you to treat this feedback very seriously.

    At minimum, this is the third initiative in recent months that the financial community has backed that has touched the wrong nerve in the tech community. The two others, User Group Roundtable and Platform Showdown, were abandoned by the Technology Council due to backlash.

    I’m happy to help if you’d like to call on me…


  • So, Mr. Bowden for full disclosure you can say that you have no ownership in any of these for profit companies? And that you aren’t getting any sort of financial compensation for this or the promise of in the future?

  • I object to the adulteration of the concept of “social business” as presented here by the Nashville Entrepreneur Center. Social businesses are not merely businesses that have a social component, like Facebook, or businesses that (arguably) provide a benefit to society, like healthcare. Frankly, every business should fall into the latter category; that’s business ethics. Social business as defined by Prof. Muhammad Yunus is a “non-loss, non-dividend company designed to address a social objective…It is distinct from a non-profit because the business should seek to generate a modest profit, but this will be used to expand the company’s reach, improve the product or service or in other ways to subsidise the social mission.” Social businesses do not make a profit, but they are not non-profit because they are self-sustaining, i.e. they do not rely on donations and volunteers to perpetuate their business model. They are only similar to non-profits in that they focus on social benefits instead of financial gain. It is clear that MedQB, Inspire Health and MyMedMatch are for-profit entities, who should certainly be paying wages for the development of their businesses. Providing business training to new entrepreneurs is one thing, but if their business model cannot survive in the competitive environment of real market forces then it deserves to die on the vine. That is capitalism. Furthermore, even if these were social businesses, they would also recompense their employees because social businesses are by definition self-sustaining enterprises that do not rely on volunteer labor. Again, capitalism!

    Considering the Nashville Entrepreneur Center’s hypocrisy of promoting the Horatio Alger story of the 53% who create all the jobs instead of living off of government welfare (as if that’s what the 47% actually do) – while the NEC takes millions of dollars in government welfare from Metro and asks developers to help build their companies for free – I guess the raging sense of entitlement displayed in this request shouldn’t be that much of a surprise. If the NEC wants to be taken seriously as a non-profit requesting volunteer labor, then it needs to stick to the work of non-profits. I’d love to see them involved in the Civic Hack Day at the beginning of June, or a Hacks of Kindness event as was previously mentioned. I’d also encourage them to focus on the development of actual social businesses in Middle Tennessee instead of simply for-profits who might provide some sort of benefit to society. Granted, those kinds of businesses are better than incubating strip-mining ventures or child pornography websites, but I would hope that all of our local entrepreneurs could aim to do more good than harm while also making a profit.

    • *bows down in submission* damn! very well said!

  • coding for free for charity: good deed

    coding for free for profitable business: what?

    i have gladly offered #UX, #marketing, #contentstrategy advice / mentoring / friendship / support to many non-profits.

    startups looking for help: mentoring, helping and advising — sure thing, up to a point, after which proper business arrangements are arranged.

    working for free under not really disclosed arrangements for existing businesses? no.

    unless, whoa, is there such a surplus of talent that the tech industry is attempting to do what the entertainment/media industries do and have people work for large and profitable businesses for free? that would be an epic paradigm shift.

  • I’m more than confident, that all of the members of these organizations are welcome to the local c# user group. Why don’t they spend some time learning how to program and actually make their product?

    I’m sure the local user groups have been fulfilling their “responsibility” for years…

  • It looks like I missed a very controversial talk. There are several legit tennessee based Public Charities (and 501(c)(3) ) that could use some technical help. Hell, even Pet ResQ 911 (yes I am on the board of directors/co-founder) is one. I could pull together a list of other non profits that aren’t in the animal welfare space pretty easily. It seems like this talk hijacked NTEN’s (a non profit for technical people to help other non profits) agenda/purpose. Does anyone have a recording audio or video of what was said? I didn’t see the talk, but I am curious to see what caused the reaction we are seeing in this discussion thread.

    • There wasn’t a talk, so no video or audio exists.

      You should be able to get the gist from reading all of the comments and Michael Burcham’s response from the EC (see top of page). The key issue was around misleading messaging, with for-profit firms being portrayed as non-profit companies in the eyes of the vast majority.

      • Thanks. That makes sense. He should have called it for what it would be, a twist on the private public partnership. However it looks like the basis for the ppp had a flaw as you already pointed out.