Category Archives: Adventures in Consulting

I’m Joining SendGrid As Developer Evangelist

I will have a new, full time role starting in April: Developer Evangelist at SendGrid 

How do I feel about it?  Amazing!

What will I be doing?

I will help developers adopt SendGrid as a platform to help them be more productive.  How?  By helping them focus more on their app and less on email.  This will take shape as I attend conferences, meetups, hackathons and network with startups in the Bay area.

I will be part of the Developer Relations teams at SendGrid which is currently four strong (five counting myself).  I will build awareness, customer relationships and cool apps with SendGrid to showcase the power of the platform.  I will help to improve and documentation, resources and social content around the product.

Am I leaving San Francisco?

While SendGrid is based in Boulder, Colorado and I will visit the offices frequently, I will stay right here in the Bay area.  What you will see is an increase in my attendance to even more local events that are developer focused.

What is SendGrid anyway?  

It’s an email platform for developers to improve the number of emails that get delivered to the inboxes of their customers.  What type of emails?  Transactional ones — for example, one of SendGrid’s clients is Pinterest.  Every time someone repins an item of yours, you get an email notification about it (unless you’ve adjusted the settings).  Well, in the case of Pinterest developers, they don’t have to spend hours building out and then maintaining an email system to send out those notifications.  Instead Pinterest hands off the notification emails to SendGrid’s servers to do the heavy lifting of getting all those emails into customer inbox’s.

Added benefits for the developers include analytics on delivered, opened and bounced email plus clicks.  There are actually several API’s including the event API, the parse API, newsletter API and more!

What is a Developer Evangelist?

When I redesigned my site here at a few months ago, I wanted to think of a new tagline that represented my passion, skills and experience.  What did people remember about me?  Well from technology to hair to moving to San Francisco, it’s my contagious enthusiasm!  Combine that evangelical skill with a target audience of developers and you have the role of developer evangelist!

Now wait a minute Adria!  Aren’t you a consultant?  

Haven’t you been helping companies solve all sorts of problems for the last six years?

Yes, that is true.  I have been a problem-solver-for-hire since 2006 helping companies big and small with technology, the cloud, email management, social content strategy and more but — since last year, I have been seeking something more tangible.  Something I could point to and say, “I was a part of that.  I built that.  I created that.”  Last year I wasn’t really sure what that looked like.  I explored a lot of different options.

Over time, I took a look around my circle of friends, peers and mentors.  I examined what they did for work and how they spent their free time.  I know I looked up to Scott Hanselman, a friend and mentor of mine.  Scott works at Microsoft and while for many years I thought this was like working on the Star Wars Death Star, I finally took a look from a different angle and realized how much Scott enjoyed his work and how he was participating in things that mattered to him.  He’s been making his Hanselminutes podcast for several years, started up a new podcast called This Developer’s Life

I also took at look at Sasha Laundy (in the yellow), a friend of my roommate’s had been making some nice moves as well.  Not only had she been cutting it up at Twillio, her Women Who Code group was doing an amazing number of events with solid attendance.  She’s now moved to working at Codeacademy in NYC doing what she’s most passionate about: education.

Through these new lenses of people employed full time by their employer yet making things happen, I decided that working for someone else wasn’t the the problem after all but finding the right company to work for was.

You can maintain your identity, values and a balance between life and work.

Founders Panel: How to Build Your Startup Team

Once I was able to process that, I began exploring what I loved most about consulting and looking for a job that would allow me to do those as often as possible.  I saw Eric Koger, CEO of ModCloth, speak a couple weeks back on how startups should go about building their dream teams.  On the panel with Eric was:

  • Julie Hartz of EventBrite
  • Rick Marini, Founder of BranchOut
  • Christian Wiklund, CoFounder of Skout

and Liz Gannes of AllThingsD was the moderator.  My biggest takeaway was something that Eric said about halfway through and that was to let talented people focus on their, “genius-level skills” like they do for the founder of ModCloth Susan (who is also his wife).  Susan isn’t burdened with administrative tasks; she focuses on what she does best – finding amazing pieces and artists that match the style and essence of the ModCloth brand.

I held values close to my heart and it paid off.

One thing that has been important to me if I ever were going to work for another company full time is the culture.  After visiting Zappos in 2010 with Mig Pascual late one Saturday evening after Blogworld in Las Vegas, I realized people could still be happy at work.  As Mig named off the ten core values at Zappos, I saw his eyes saying, “I love my job and I’m supremely happy to be here”.  I asked myself how I could find a company that I could feel that happ about.  The Zappos Culture Book simply reinforced this reading story after story from employees who had been with the company two, three, eight, nine, ten years.  Could I find the same thing in the tech sector?  In a startup?  I knew from then on that how people felt at work still mattered.  I continued to consult for companies but never forgot the look in Mig’s eyes that night.

Was I asking too much?  How does one find a unicorn anyway?  Shouldn’t I just buckle down and do the work regardless of the culture?

It wasn’t until last November that I experienced something similar as I had with Mig but this time it was Emmanuel from SendGrid telling me about his experience.  I was impressed that he’d had such a positive experience in seeing the culture of the company transform in a short period of time.  Accountability throughout a company and putting development first is important in a company that well…develops!

I network with the intent to build good connections with people doing interesting things.  I am happy to announce here on my blog that for the first time in six years, I am accepting a full time position with a company!

What’s next?

With a narrow focus on building value through communication at SendGrid, I will be spending a lot more time programming in rails, php and other languages.

You’ll still see me around the Bay area and at conferences so make sure to stop me and say hello!

My Experience Working With Venafi At The RSA Conference

Last week I had the the opportunity to work with a Venafi, a high tech security company at the RSA Conference.  I helped them promote and raise brand awareness with conference attendees and I had a fabulous time doing it!

I co-hosted a Jeopardy style game show booth with Venafi’s senior sales engineer, Chris Neely, from the UK.  We led an audience of 25-30 people through Jeopardy questions on the management of enterprise keys and certificates (EKCM), giving away Kindle Fires to the winners of each session.  We knocked about 40 sessions over four days, doing about two an hour.

The booth was awesome!  It shot up about sixty feet with two large monitors for the questions and each audience member received a wireless voting device.  This was the brainchild of an amazing event and marketing firm called Eventige.  They contacted me after finding my blog and YouTube videos of work I’d done with other clients.  They were very professional, timely and made sure everything went smoothly.  After the event, they put up photos from the event on their site plus they created a video on YouTube highlighting their work:

Chris and I told jokes and stories interwoven into the case studies to make the sessions engaging, memorable and fun.  Lots of laughs going on!  We received a ton of positive feedback from Eventige, Venagi, the event attendees and our winners!

I had some really interesting talks with Venafi customers from Home Depot and Microsoft as well as several of the sales engineers.  I completely felt in my zone working this conference booth as a technically engaging individual who happens to have a great smile!  I’m glad I was able to partner up with Venafi and Eventige to successfully deliver a great experience to RSA conference attendees (and not feel like a booth babe!).