A Day at a Hackathon as a Developer Evangelist


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API Hackday -- Nick's pitchI had a lot of experience participating at hackathons, but not too many participating as a Developer Evangelist. Last month’s API Hackday Denver edition was my first time representing SendGrid. I thought that the event, which took place at our Denver offices, would be an interesting glimpse into how the typical hack day goes by for us.

6am – Waking up!

The day starts early at the hotel, wake up with my alarm clock set at 5:30, 5:45 and 6 to make sure I don’t oversleep. Shower, put some SendGrid clothes on (always an easy choice), pack my notebook, chargers, my extra Innergie battery and grab some coffee at a café nearby.

7:30am – Breakfast

Arrive at SendGrid’s office to meet someone waiting at the door. One of the participants is right on time, so I go up with him and encounter other ‘Gridders already working on setting the space for the coming hours. The breakfast arrives, so we set all that up, move the tables around and start spreading power outlets.

9:30am

Been talking to different people since arriving, so I finally have time to grab breakfast as everyone sits down for the event opening. Fruits, bagels and one more cup of coffee to keep me focused throughout the day (can never have too much coffee)

Deck hacking at API Hackday Denver

10:30am

The event opening is over and some participants made 30 seconds pitches about their ideas afterwards. Now everyone is up and chatting, looking for groups and discussing what they are going to build in the next hours. I take the time to catch up on some email, in the hopeful attempt I’ll reach inbox zero someday. (It didn’t happen today).

11:40am

Just before lunch starts, I make my way around the tables to introduce myself to all the groups, ask what they’re building and see if they need some help. This is one of the parts I enjoy the most. It’s always fun to talk to people about what they’re building, how they got the idea, and how they plan on making it real. I share my thoughts and make sure to let them know they can ask for help–not just with SendGrid integration, but anything they may need.

12:30pm

Lunch time! We had some great food at this hackathon and for lunch we had tacos!

1pm

Lunch is over, so I start studying Rails and setting up my developer environment in my new notebook.

2pm

Some participants ask for help with SendGrid, so Nick and I go over, make sure their have their accounts provisioned and everything set up properly.

Ping pong at API Hackday Denver

2:30pm

Ping-pong time with the other Developer Evangelists. Gotta stay healthy!

3pm

Time for another round for checking up on the projects. I try to not get people’s attention unless they want or need to talk since it’s not fun when people stop you when you’re focused.

5pm

I finally get my developer environment set up and can start hacking for a couple minutes. I go around one last time just to make sure all the groups have their projects on HackerLeague and they’re all set.

5:45pm

One group decides to integrate with SendGrid at the last minute! We have 15 minutes and the group wants to integrate SendGrid with a Google Forms spreadsheet. Nick and I had never done it, so we make a quick Google search and find Zapier has an integration. The group manages to finish right on time.

6pm

Dinner is served, awesome food again, this time a myriad of pasta, chicken and salad. I go without salad because that’s bad for your health.

API Hackday Denver presentations

6:30pm

The presentations start. I get my camera ready and open up Evernote to write notes about all the hacks.

7:30pm

Presentations end and now is time for judging. All the sponsors get together and discuss the hacks. After some objections, arguing, and photos, we finally settle on the winners and best use of each API.

8pm

Winners announced! We get the prizes and hand them out to the winners, together with some more photos. I get jealous because I couldn’t get a Braven speaker.

9pm

Everything wrapped up, we chat with some more people, exchange contact information, get everything in order for the ‘Gridders to work and head off to a bar for some post-event celebration.

Some photos above from Mashery’s recap of the event


Heitor is a Developer Evangelist at SendGrid based in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Passionate about hackathons, games and entrepeneurship.

Heitor Sergent on Twitter

One thought on “A Day at a Hackathon as a Developer Evangelist

  1. Pingback: So You Want to Be a Developer Evangelist?

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