Growing Up Geek: How I Became a Developer Evangelist


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Little KunalWhen I was really little I used to ponder what I would do when I grew up. I remember thinking at the time, I wanted to be a Taekwondo instructor. I was taking karate lessons and realized my instructor basically got paid to teach people how to kick ass and I thought that was awesome. I had no idea I would grow up to become a Developer Evangelist for an awesome API company and basically get to do the same thing.

Kunal and parentsGrowing up I had two major influences that got me hooked on computers. The first was my parents. They both migrated from India to New Jersey with a physics (dad) and medical (mom) degree from India. They both decided that Computer Science was where the future was at. So in the late 70’s they decided to get a masters in CS back when classes were still taught with punch cards. After school they both worked at AT&T then Lucent for most of my childhood.

I still have memories where I must have been 5 or 6 and in-between commercials while watching Duck Tales or Darkwing Duck, I would turn around catch glimpses of my mom typing away at the keyboard. I had no idea at the time that she was coding in Assembly and how crazy that was. My dad on the other hand was a little luckier and coded in C. Most people have stories where they recount their dad teaching them how to throw a baseball or something outdoor related, for me it was writing my first program. He taught me how to write a really simple program where you would convert the temperature from celsius to Fahrenheit. You know, just in case I was in that part of the world and needed to dress appropriately ;) . I still remember the advice he gave that went something like, learning the language is not as important, but its about what you want to say and how you say it, that is

I tried to find the least embarrassing photo of that time period

I tried to find the least embarrassing photo of that time period

The other influence was my friends. When I was in middle school my friends and I all loved Visual Basic 4 and would hang out on the irc channel #w_trade, it was on the efnet server network . I still remember spending free time on weekends making Windows programs or writing scripts for mIRC. I remember thinking how cool I was when I gave someone on IRC the blue screen of death. Back when you had Windows 95 and sent packets that Windows didn’t expect to port 139, it would crash their computer. I promise, I’m good now… really. But back in Middle school I was in my acting out phase.

From there in high school I created the computer science club. I can’t help but to laugh how much of a dork I was. Over the years after high school and during college, I started to combine my love for programming with my entrepreneurial passion. I created K2Creations.com, a web design company that lasted a summer. I went on to build HomesExpress.com, to help people sell their homes online and many other little businesses.

Kunal the Evangelist

Promoting my last business aboard the DOer Express I met SendGrid and saw what evangelists do. I realized the practice of wearing multiple hats, technical and marketing, isn’t just for one-man startups. My geeky, entrepreneurial past really helped prepare me for my role working with hackers, startups and others who want to kick ass.


Meet Kunal, Developer Evangelist at-large for SendGrid and home-grown New Jersey hacker. He previously ran General Machines, which developed Deaftel - a phone service for the deaf that converts voice to text and text back into voice over a phone call. Since March 2013, Kunal has been working as a Developer Evangelist at SendGrid, helping enable developers to get the tools and resources they need to make awesome, creative stuff.

Kunal Batra on Twitter
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