My First Week At SendGrid


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It’s been an exciting whirlwind so far to join the developer relations team at SendGrid! In my first week I attended a conference, traveled to the SendGrid offices in Anaheim, met customers and my new co-workers plus enjoyed one of the most delicious hamburgers I’ve ever had!

Boulder, Colorado is the official headquarters for SendGrid so many people asked if I would be moving after accepting.  I will stay in San Francisco to connect with the developer community here through local events and conferences!

I blogged the announcement here and am currently seeking co-working space in SF near downtown.  I’ve made it my personal mission to seek out customers and partners in the Bay area to learn about how they use the product and listen to their feedback so we can make it better. I can’t tell you just how excited I am about this new role!

I’m joining a team that is now five strong that includes Tim Falls, our SendGrid Community guy, Elmer Thomas, Brandon West and Mike Swift. We’re in Boulder, Anaheim, San Francisco and New York and just posted an opening for a Developer Evangelist in Seattle.  Join us?

Photo from left to right – Swift, Elmer, Tim, Me, Brandon

My First Week

Monday – HR Orientation
Tuesday – SFbeta event, ordered Macbook Air
Wednesday – Flew to Anaheim, CA offices
Thursday – First team meeting, hello coworkers and founders
Friday – Wrap up with Slater’s 50/50 bacon burger

My first week got off to a pretty good start with Tim, Elmer and I winning the SFbeta event! It’s described as a startup mixer where companies demo and talk about their products while people have a few drinks, appetizers and socialize.

There was a contest to make things a bit more interesting – Attendees voted for their favorite booths based on content, engagement and schwag. We had a constant stream of visitors that landed us 105 poker chip votes! As the winning startup we also got to have our photo taken with the SFbeta team by Julian Cash who shoots everything from tame wedding photos to Burning Man. Very talented artist!

I then hopped a plane the next day with Tim for Anaheim. Even though Boulder is the official headquarters for SendGrid, the three founders work out of the Anaheim office. No I did not go to Disneyland (yet). Arriving at the office, I received a very warm welcome! A lot of the engineering staff are in this office as well as web, billing and QA. Support is split between the two locations and internationally giving customers true 24/7 e-support. It was near the end of the day so I dropped my things at the hotel and we headed out to dinner.

Thursday was amazing!  The entire Developer Relations team got together in the conference room and we discussed goals, ideas for building awareness and engagement at hackathons and for the new folks like Swift and I, we got access to essential tools like Pivotal Tracker, Github, Hootsuite, Google Calendar, Skype, Basecamp, Zendesk and GetSatisfaction.  Tim shared the company vision for our team and we began to break down and assign action items.

I sat in my first agile meeting which was a scrum of scrums. Did you know an entire company can be agile? That’s right. Participating in sprints, counting points and holding stand up meetings. I was really surprised and happy to see that SendGrid had adopted the agile process throughout their entire organization. In 2011 they began working with Pivotal Labs to overhaul their process.  I had the opportunity to talk with Emmanuel, one of the SendGrid engineers I met last year at Startup Weeeknd, and he described an amazing, internal transformation of the company through this process.  Well, to see it in action was a beautiful thing as well.  The entire organization including administration, billing, HR, marketing, operations and the web team, is agile.

What does an agile company look like at 5pm on a Thursday?  It blew me away to see the office was empty. Everyone had either gone home or were working out at CrossFit (yes! They *ahem, we* love working out…together!).

  • Is your company agile?  If not, what’s holding you back?
  • Does your company use Pivotal Tracker or another project management and bug tracking tool?
  • Do your engineers do pair programming and Test Driven Development (TDD)?

Had another great dinner with SendGrid coworkers, and this time the conversation went pretty geeky – but by the end, our minds and stomaches were satisfied.

My week ended with a group of us from the Anaheim office heading to Slaters for lunch with Isaac, one of the three co-founders. Now you might think at first Slaters is a regular burger restaurant, but Brandon, one of the developer evangelists from Boulder assured me there was more than meets the eye.

I have to admit I’ve never tried deep fried pickles until that day, but they were delicious!

I ordered the most extreme burger of my life which was a 50/50 burger (the patty is half beef, half bacon) topped with gravy, anchovies, peperoncini and melted blue cheese. Oh, did I mention I also ordered a maple bacon shake to go with that?

Slater’s 50/50 burger 50/50 burger topped with gravy, anchovies, peperoncini and blue cheese

Getting Down To Business

Ok, ok, that all looks like fun, but I’ve been getting real work done too!  I’ve been putting a lot of thought into how to be the CEO of my job.  Tim Falls shared this concept with me during the interview process.  Brad Feld, one of the TechStars mentors, wrote a post on this a few years back after hearing Mark Pincus, CEO of Zynga say it.   Good read.

Since coming on board, I’ve spent time:

  • Getting to know my co-workers
  • Learning the company and team goals
  • Defining my work objectives and goals for the year
  • Identifying action items to own as part of the team
  • Raising awareness of my new role at SendGrid within my network
  • Getting access to the tools I need to use
  • Reading documentation, release notes and roadmaps
  • Connecting with other developer evangelists in SF
  • Identifying conferences and events to attend
  • Meeting with partners and customers
  • Scheduling training for Pivotal, Salesforce and SendGrid
  • Getting to know the other team’s objectives and goals
  • Competitive analysis of the market space

Whew! Big list and I’m still not done. Next up on my list is developing a deep knowledge of the SendGrid API.  I’ll start of with Rails and PHP but will eventually explore others. You can check out our API libraries here http://docs.sendgrid.com/documentation/api-libraries/

A big difference than what I’m used to…

For the last 6 years, I’ve worked as an independent technology consultant. This has led to all sorts of interesting projects, public speaking and blogging. I’ve loved the independence, the triumph of finishing a cool project and the travel. Before that, I spent the first part of my IT career working for companies of all sizes and shapes; corporate giants like American Express and small companies like Geeksquad before the Best Buy acquisition. I remember going to see ‘The Matrix’ with the Geeksquad crew and founder Robert Stephens the night before it opened. Eventually, I got tired of the corporate grind, as many of us have, and decided to go into business for myself. I’ve had some amazing experience and learned a lot along the way. I’m ready to focus all my energy and enthusiasm in one place and see the fruits of my labor realized.

Upcoming Events

You can find me at these events in April with SendGrid:

I’m looking forward to being a part of the success here at SendGrid!

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Adria is a developer evangelist at SendGrid. Originally from Minnesota but now living in San Francisco, she attends hackathons, conferences and local meetups showing developers how to leverage the SendGrid API. Adria has been a speaker at SXSW, O'Reilly Web 2.0, BlogHer and is involved in helping women programmers like herself learn to code. Loves bacon, snowboarding and endless Wikipedia surfing.

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