Evangelists, Developers, Entrepreneurs, Leaders--business terms, or church terms?

January 1, 0001

In my mind, I often equate “business startups” with “pioneer church planting movements” and look for lessons that can be learned from businesses.

It’s no surprise this article caught my eye: “From Startup to Rapid Growth: How SendGrid Scaled Their Developer Evangelist Strategy http://buff.ly/1u7932E via @CMXSummit” “Startup” and “Evangelist” in one line is a big flag for thinking goodness, in my content filter.

There are lots of technical terms in this piece which need some translation.

But they hint at different roles in church planting movements that can be important.

SendGrid is a rapidly growing startup. In 5 years it has reached 230 employees. During that time they have a community team which has grown into *14 developer evangelists *and community managers. The SendGrid product is aimed at developers in other businesses who use SendGrid to send mission-critical emails. In other words, SendGrid is a platform used by other people to launch their own businesses. (Are you a platform for other people to launch churches?)

Developers are people in other enterprises who are creating tools that their users use, either for their own businesses or for consumption. Do you see that? SendGrid is powering businesses that power businesses. A developer evangelist, we’re told, is a type of community builder.  They (1) bring people [developers] together, (2) teach them how to use the SendGrid technology, and (3) serve as the ‘foot soldiers’ for technical products. Developer evangelists “go out and build a relationship and learn about the customer [other developers] and what they’re trying to do, and then help them however we can.” Developer evangelism is a growing role within big companies, and it’s obvious to me there’s a role for this in DMM.

In fact, people are doing this role now, just perhaps without thinking of in these terms. When a missionary goes into a remote place and finds an existing believer who wants to launch a movement, and teaches them what we know now about how movements work - isn’t that akin to a developer evangelist? Developer evangelists are finding people who are trying to develop products, and teaching them how to use new tools.

Back to the article, the first guy SendGrid hired to do this, Tim, realized ‘how vital community building was to the success of the business’ and proposed to change his title. The path of changes: Marketing Coordinator > Community Guy > Director, Developer Relations > Director, Community.

When they first began, it was all about building relationships, trust, and value into everything they did.

Consider the following roles they have identified, and think about parallels in the DMM world:

  • Developer Education: through hackathons, technical workshops, kids+code, women in tech, code schools
  • Startup/Entrepreneur outreach: through the SendGrid Accelerate program and their involvement with accelerators, co-working spaces, incubators, and others throughout the world
  • Developer Experience at SendGrid: maintaining public documentation, managing open-source projects, facilitating product feedback from the community and through usability testing (hacking on our APIs/webhooks/beta features), monitoring and contributing to developer forums and social media
  • Misc/Events – speaking, attending, sponsoring conferences and organizing, attending, supporting meetups and offline events