Category Archives: Startup Fever


I’m Speaking At The Lean Startup Conference: Why Every Startup Employee Should Learn To Code

I’m excited to share that I will be presenting at the Lean Startup Conference here in San Francisco!  Eric Ries is well known as the author of The Lean Startup, a book and now a movement on how to run a lean company, learn what works and deliver what customers want.  It isn’t only for startup though and many companies have taken Eric’s advice to heart to transform their business and careers.

I will be giving an Ignite talk titled, Why Every Startup Employee Should Learn to Code, and will share examples and strategies that have worked from people learning to program, including myself.  This year I’ve seen people learning everything from Ruby on Rails and mobile development for iOS and Android to building interactive experiences with augmented reality  and predictive engines for discovery of local places to shop.  I will take people through  the mindset of someone new to programming, how the human mind learns new things, which programming languages are most popular and how you can get started learning to code.

In the talk, I will emphasize the importance of knowing your learning style according to VARK which stands for Visual, Aural, Reading and Kinesthetic.  You can find your learning style by answering a few questions using this online quiz.  I came across this resource and others a few years ago when I began teaching technology courses and would have the attendees take it before getting started.  It provided useful insight on how to present the course materials I’d created and ensure high engagement and retention of the content.

Did you know that Pablo Picasso was a lean entrepreneur?  During his “Blue Period” using a single color of paint saved money before he became famous and well known.  Very similar to today’s Silicon Valley startups on a ramen budget sleeping on futons.

Finally I will explore how employees who gain new skills for work like programming are more valuable because their cross functional experience overlaps multiple teams increasing their ability to directly contribute to the company’s bottom line.

The Lean Startup Conference Ignite event on Sunday is sold out but there are still tickets available for The Lean Startup Conference which is Monday and Tuesday.  Their Twitter handle is @leanstartup and hashtag is the same #leanstartup.

They will be live streaming the conference to over 200 locations that have signed up to be viewing hosts and I’ve included a list below:

United States


You can find the full list of Lean Startup Conference live stream locations viewing parties on the site.  Most are completely free but some are charging.

Again, I’m excited about this opportunity to present and enrich the lives of others on an especially important topic.  I’ll be at the conference so please do find me and say hello!

jump for joy

Devs, Designers And Startup Seekers: Attend The Foundry Group Job Mixer In San Francisco This Friday

Are you looking for an awesome job at a Startup or do you know someone who is?

The Foundry Group (aka Brad Feld and crew) will be holding a job mixer in San Francisco this Friday night for companies in their portfolio to find new talent!

Nine companies in the investor’s portfolio will be there (including SendGrid who I work for) and we’re looking for everything from developers to designers, product and sales plus people who are passionately interested in working at fantastic startups!  I’ll be there reppin’ for SendGrid along with one of our awesome HR people, Jessy Rozitis.

What You Need To Know

Register here to attend

Note: You must be 21+ to attend as there will be alcohol served.

On Friday, October 5th, 2012 from 6pm-8pm you have the opportunity to come eat, drink, and mingle with some of Foundry’s hottest tech startups in the Bay Area.

Foundry Group is a leading VC firm investing in outstanding early-stage companies across some of the most exciting themes in technology. The following Foundry Group portfolio companies will be showcasing their current and upcoming career opportunities and looking for exceptional individuals to join their teams:

• SendGrid – Email Delivery. Simplified. Jobs <– FTW!

• Singly – Social APIs, made simple.

Authentic8 – Bringing control to web apps by putting the browser in the cloud. Jobs –’s platform helps customers from startups to the Fortune 500 harness their social data. Jobs

Datahero – Analyze, visualize and understand the data that matters to you! Jobs

MongoLab – Provides scalable cloud-hosted MongoDB-as-a-service to application developers. Jobs

Pantheon – Delivers web content management as a service, with the flexibility and power of open-source. Jobs

Sifteo – A totally new game system. Sifteo cubes are wireless blocks with full color screens that interact with each other and respond to motion, unleashing a whole new world of games. Jobs

Memeo – Controlling your access of digital content: anywhere, anytime, any device Jobs

My Testimonial for Working At SendGrid

If we’re friends on Facebook and I know you live in the Bay Area, I sent you a message today along with my testimonial of working at SendGrid and what I think.  In case we’re not Facebook friends, read what I shared below:

It’s amazing! My co-workers are friendly, brilliant, honest, hard working and yet they also make time to have fun. They also hang out after work with each other and do really cool stuff to team build including CrossFit exercise challenges!

Our customers love our product and we work hard to keep innovating. It’s a complete breath of fresh air to work with such awesome folks!

I work as a Developer Evangelist which means I help to grow the adoption of our email API with developers through events, hackathons, documentation, partnerships and community building.  I wake up every single day excited to get started!  I work remotely from San Francisco but stay in touch with my coworkers through email, phone calls, Skype, 37Signals Basecamp and GroupMe.

What does SendGrid do?  We help companies get emails delivered to the inbox and provide analytics to app developers.  Specifically we focus on transactional email which is considered to be new user welcome emails, receipts, invoices, alerts, password resets and the like.  Our customers include Pinterest, foursquare, AirBnb, Uber, Spotify, Hubspot, Path, TaskRabbit, SlideShare (acquired by LinkedIN), Dribble, Zaarly, Quora, GetSatisfaction, Flipboard and more!

If you know someone who’s looking to work at a company that is making big steps to innovate and disrupt technology, tell them to come tomorrow night to this event.  It’s a social mixer + job fair.  I’ll be there reppin’ for SendGrid so stop by and say hello.

It’s been a blast working at SendGrid and I’m more than happy to encourage you to attend this event.  I truly can’t say enough good things about working there at SendGrid.  The people, the product, the culture – It’s all pretty awesome plus I get to do what I love which is help people feel empowered through technology.

SendGrid Open Positions

That said, here’s a list of some of our SendGrid job postings we have:

  • Developer Evangelist in Berlin, Germany
  • Software Engineer for Newsletter App in Orange County, CA
  • Software Engineer for Mail Processing in Orange County, CA
  • Sales Representative in Denver (LoDo)
  • UI Designer in Orange County, CA
  • Web Engineer for R&D in Providence, RI
  • Technical Writer in Orange County, CA
  • Technical Account Manager in Boulder, CO
  • Software Engineer for System Integration in Denver (LoDo) or Boulder
  • Software Engineer for R&D in Providence, RI
  • Senior Accountant in Boulder, CO
  • Online Marketing Manager in Orange County, CA
  • Information Security Manager in Denver (LoDo) or Boulder
  • Information Security Manager in Orange County, CA
  • Inbound Marketing Manager in Boulder, CA
  • Director, Big Data in Orange County, CA
  • DevOps Engineer in Denver (LoDo) or Boulder
  • DevOps Engineer in Orange County, CA
  • Technical Support Representative for Compliance in Denver (LoDo) or Boulder
  • Customer Support Representative in Denver (LoDo) or Boulder
  • Customer Support Engineer in Denver (LoDo) or Boulder

Good luck and contact me if you have questions about the positions.

Mega Startup Weekend

Everyone Has A Voice When It Comes To Tech And Sexism [VIDEO]

This blog post isn’t about the endless, circular argument on the lack of women in the tech industry.  Instead it’s a slice of my life  that I wanted.

I received an email this morning from Chris Yeh who was one of the judges for the event letting me know he’d blogged about the incident with the startup that pitched their social photo event discovery idea using women in bikinis and I was moved to share my experience.

Update: I’ve uploaded a video of the pitch.  You can watch it below or click through to YouTube.

This weekend I was in Mountain View for MEGA Startup Weekend.  It’s an amazing event where people gather to build amazing things over the weekend.  Developers, business people, designers, product people and anyone who wants to roll up their sleeves and experience the feeling of awesome on 54 hours.  There were people from all over the world including Brazil, Hawaii and Denmark.

The Pitch That Needed One More Voice

Chris Sey speaks up at 00:06:10 in the video.

Wow, what just happened?  Did this team just flash flesh on stage for points?

After the guys were done pitching, the judges asked questions about the startup’s business model, customer acquisition strategy, competition and so on.  But Chris Yeh, one of the judges and more importantly a prominent figure in Silicon Valley due to his being a VC investor, Standford and Harvard graduate, entrepreneur and all that awesomeness, spoke up about the bikini slides.  In fact, he addressed that first before he asked his question about their business:

“Hate to be a buzz kill but I’d warn you about throwing up pictures of bikinis .  This is what gives our Silicon Valley a bad name.”

My jaw dropped.  The audience roared with applause.

Was this guy standing up for me?  Was he standing up for us?

Wow and I don’t even know him.  As I write this now in the hotel room in Mountain View, tears are falling down my cheeks because the acknowledgement meant so much to me.  I didn’t realize that it would have such an impact on me but it did and I want to share that.

I waited with baited breath to see if the guys from the team would acknowledge Chris’ statement in their answer.  They didn’t and I felt disappointed because this seemed like one of those movie moments with a happy ending.

You can hear in the video that when they’re asked what sets them apart from competitors, they actually say, “bikinis”.

I was sitting in the front row next to the Elizabeth who pitched the first idea, 500>, which was about creating a network to improve the effectiveness of medical devices in developing countries.  I’d seen her and her co-founder pitch the first night.  I turned to her, said something positive about what Chris said and we nodded in agreement about the power and impact of what had just happened on stage.

A lot was going on in these few minutes when I realized I had another new feeling – As an attendee and representative for my company was that I felt like I belonged and that the guys on stage were out of place.  Amazing!  Because of this, I had the courage and better yet, the sense of entitlement, to march right up on stage and thank Chris after all the pitches were done.  And that’s what I did!

I was there on behalf of the company I work for because we’re global sponsors along with Microsoft, Google and others.  I’m a developer evangelist for SendGrid.  I talk with developers about how to integrate and leverage our API.  I embrace my inner nerd and am becoming a social geek, especially through conferences.  This is my third Startup Weekend.  The first one I attended last May in San Francisco was a phenomenal!  Steve Blank spoke about entrepreneurship, testing your assumption, failure and being memorable.  That event gave me a data point to work from to explore and identify the intersection of passion and purpose.

So basically, I’m a Startup Weekend fangirl.

Now at first I was thinking, “Is this sexism?”.  I mean isn’t usually thought of as you feeling uncomfortable about statements, images or inferences?  Well, it turns out sexism also includes the context of reinforcing stereotypes.  From Wikipedia:

Sexism, also known as gender discrimination or sex discrimination, is defined as:

  1. prejudice or discrimination based on sex
  2. conditions or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex

Sexism can also be defined as a process of disempowerment.  That is, removing power or ownership from a person.  It turns out that before 1875, women were not even considered people in the United States.  This blocks you from owning and amassing things like property and wealth.  In Chile, a woman’s property automatically will be the responsibility of her husband upon marriage.  Weird!  I still remember in old Twilight Zone episodes where these sorts of old laws and societal expectations pop up like women not being allowed to own bank accounts or go to the local pub.

I’ve felt frustrated about the use and objectification of women in slide decks at tech conferences and blogged my thoughts on it.  But this time was different.

So how was I going to tell this judge that I really appreciated what he said?

Approaching people who were on stage is an uncomfortable thing for me but I realize that most people feel uncomfortable about it and if you want to make progress, you need to step out of your comfort zone.  I ‘ve been making it a goal of mine to approach speakers after events on the regular.  For example, I went up to Alexis Ohanian in NYC after his moving presentation at Ignite about how we all can make a difference in making the world a better place.  Not only to congratulate him on his message and delivery but let him know how his company has made a difference in my life.  When you meet people that you know of but they don’t know you, it’s a crap shoot on how things will go.  This is why it’s so powerful when a mutual friend makes the introduction.  Alexis recognized me and I asked for a coffee meeting.  We met a few days later at that delicious bakery to chat about technology.

Friday, another powerful thing happened on the Startup Weekend stage.  Sponsors were being introduced and talking about their companies.  Sharon Vosmek, the CEO of Astia was asked to go up and talk about the company.  She immediately did something that made me (and everyone else) take notice – The guy before her had stepped up near the podium on the left side of the stage where the organizers were and talked about his company sponsoring Startup Weekend.  Sharon on the other hand took the mike and then walked to the center stage and said, “I don’t do side stage, I do center stage”.  Wow!  Seeing Sharon own her power, the audience attention and the moment like that was epic!  I saw her speak last year at BlogHer Entrepreneur on the very same stage at the Microsoft building.  Afterwards, I approached her to share how her actions and statement made me feel empowered.  It felt amazing and I felt solid about making a connection with her.

My takeaway from all of this is acknowledgment.

Thank you for acknowledging my experience
Thank you for acknowledging my power
Thank you for acknowledging my pain
Thank you for acknowledging me

Intent is often a big discussion point when it comes to this type of thing known as sexism.

  • Did he or she mean it in this way?
  • Did they intent to hurt someone?

The better question to ask is one of awareness out outside of the self:

  • Will this alienate anyone?

After the event, I talked with one of the guys from the team and told him I would have liked it if they’d acknowledged what the judge had said.  He explained they didn’t mean to show the bikini photo three times but only twice.  My friend Kimberly Dillion who participated as well this weekend, has an MBA and a marketing background said that once for the shock value and laughs would have been more understandable from a marketing perspective but using it several times and leaving it up for QnA made their product look weak like it couldn’t stand on it’s own.

We all get offended by things.  Dave McClure made this point over and over in his presentation on Friday and put in a disclaimer slide (in Comic Sans).  I get that as well and enjoyed Dave’s presentation 102% Fuck you! (you had to be there)

I see why they put in the bikini slides.  One of the guys on the team likes the ladies.  He made this clear with his pitch on Friday night called, “Where The Honey’s?” which would have users take photos and you could judge how fun the scene was.  As you can see, this pivoted into their pitch app, SnapMo.  He likes women, I get it.  He thought other guys in the audience would identify with him on this.

Overall, I feel the Startup Weekend community handled it really well.  We addressed it, acknowledged it and moved past it.

It’s important that people go to events that can change their lives.  Stories bring people to these events.  Look at the success of Burning Man by word of mouth, photos and video.

In fact, the job I landed was through networking and introductions at a previous Startup Weekend event.  When Frank and Ahmed, c0-organizers of the Bay Area chapter heard I was working at SendGrid, they both made positive comments about how cool it was I came to an event, I mentored and now I was working for one of the sponsors.  It felt great to close the loop and be a part of this successful effort.

  • Could I have stood up from the audience and said something?
  • If there was a woman on the panel of judges could or would she have said something?

The important thing is someone spoke up in real-time.  Let’s make a pact to speak up in the moment when we see things we disagree with vs grumbling about them afterwards.