21 cities, 11 countries, One Year as a Developer Evangelist


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Martyn at the MIDEM Music Hack Day in Cannes (photo by Ben Baudart)

Friday 27th July 2012 was the day I concluded the interview process for the role of Developer Evangelist at SendGrid.

After talking with all of the team and the VP of Marketing, my final ‘chat’ was a late afternoon call with CEO Jim Franklin. An interview that will stay with me because we hardly talked about work stuff, mostly the kind of British food Jim liked and, somehow, something about trousers.

Jim wrapped up the call by saying that he should probably let me get on. After all, wasn’t the Olympic opening ceremony about to start?

It was a great interview process, very different to the usual two interviews I had done for previous roles. Each member of the team brought something different to it, from my initial screening call with Director of People Josh Ashton, to my slightly awkward call with Swift that was split into several component calls as his Skype connection kept dropping whilst taking the train from New Jersey to Manhattan. Every conversation topic, whether it be code, beer, events, travel or trousers made me want to work there more.

I had some backup too. Sitting on the roof of the office I was sharing with Soundcloud, Mobile Roadie and Urturn on Rivington Street with my friend Stevie Graham (then of Twilio) a few weeks earlier, I mentioned my upcoming chats with the SendGrid team.

“I know those guys, Fallsy Baby (referring to Director of Developer Relations Tim Falls), B-Money (long standing Developer Evangelist Brandon West), Swift (Swift). I’ll email them if you want.”

He did so. His email was along the lines of “If you don’t hire him, then we will.” Much appreciated, Stevie!

Fast forward a year and I’m writing this whilst sitting in Moscow’s Domodedovo airport with PayPal’s John Lunn, heading back to London after working at their Battle Hack event this weekend. Russia, along with India and Israel is just another country I’ve been to this year that I didn’t think I’d be visiting any time soon.

If I had to sum up the last year in a word, it would be ‘travel’. I knew coming into the job that being the only Developer Evangelist outside of the US (until very recently) meant I was going to have to cover a lot of ground but I couldn’t even imagine some of the trips I’d end up making. Ticking off countries I probably would never have visited otherwise but had always wanted to see.

From hackathons and technical workshops, to conference speaking, mentoring and community support, I’ve done at least one of these things each week for a year. Professionally, I feel I’ve taken a huge stride, mostly because there are very few limits to doing this job and that has allowed me to stick all ten fingers and thumbs into as many pies as possible and really stretch being the only public face of a US technology company in Europe to the limit. I’ve learned a lot and I know I’ll continue to do so.

I live in London and there’s some sort of tech meetup, hack day, conference, event, drinks every day of the week, with plenty of companies willing to support them and foot the bill for pizza and beers – London’s startup community didn’t really need my help. The UK startup/tech scene is bigger than just London and there are great things happening in Scotland, Newcastle, Manchester and Birmingham that don’t always get the support or the recognition they need to grow.

The SendGrid supported Startup Beers in Newcastle

The SendGrid supported Startup Beers in Newcastle

So that’s where I spent my time. Lending support where I could to ensure, if nothing else, people who work in tech in some of those cities can get together each month, have a drink and discuss ideas.

Every month I go to Newcastle and Manchester and spend a day meeting companies (whether they use us or not) and in the evening anyone is welcome to come out and have a drink.

I felt it was important to just have a regular presence in those cities, to show them that our support for the tech community in the UK wasn’t fly by night. I’ve met loads of great people doing this and these events are a real highlight of my month.

I’ve been fortunate to have always had great jobs. Each move building on how good the last job was, but right now, I can confidently say that this is the best job I’ve ever had and I can’t wait to see what the next 12 months will bring.

Note: One thing I’d like it to bring is some more Developer Evangelists to help me out over here and join our awesome team (who also make this job a lot of fun). So if you’re a community supporting developer who doesn’t mind bouncing around Europe every couple of weeks, let us know.


Martyn Davies is a Developer Evangelist at SendGrid and a creative developer based in London. He has worked in technology for over 14 years with a background in both the music industry and technology. A serial hackathon organiser, mentor and startup advisor, you’ll find him presenting, demoing, hacking and chatting at hack days, conferences and meetups in the UK & Europe on a regular basis.

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