Articles by Tim Falls

Director, Developer Relations at @SendGrid. Passionate about bringing people together around things they love. I tweet at @TimFalls.

How You Can Prepare for a Hackathon

Spongebob's Imagination

Just showing up at a hackathon and hoping for the best can work out fine. It can also be unfulfilling because you might not get everything out of it that you’d want. That’s where preparing just a little bit ahead of time can make a big difference. This post covers some areas you might not consider, such as adjusting your mindset, setting some goals and understanding which hackathon archetype best describes you. Get Yo’ Mind Right That is, put yourself into the hacker mindset and prime your brain for thinking creatively, efficiently, and adaptively. What’s that mean? Some things are better communicated via GIF. But really, be ready to make decisions quickly and rethink them even faster. Be prepared to

Snow Monkeys and SendGrid: A Match Made in Japan

Community, Partnerships
SendGrid for Snow Monkeys

In December, we launched our partnership with Kozo Keikaku Engineering in Japan. In February, Brandon and I ventured back across the Pacific to visit our friends and jumpstart our involvement with the Tokyo developer community. It was such an amazing experience, I deemed it worthy of some real estate on the blog. Hopefully you’ll find the story as enjoyable as our trip. Hacking across Tokyo Music Hackday Tokyo Once again we joined the MHD crew for a weekend of hacking, which is always music to our ears. It was a packed house with around 200 people in attendance for the opening reception and approximately 150 developers building apps throughout the weekend. Since our friend, Mager already wrote up a nice review

AirPair Helps Developers Help Other Developers

Community, Partnerships

Upon meeting with the founders of AirPair last week at the Pivotal SF offices, I was immediately excited to work with them. Today, we’re happy to announce our inclusion in the launch of their Trusted Partner Community. What is AirPair? AirPair is an online platform that delivers pay-as-you-go remote assistance from leading software engineers via video chat and screen sharing. AirPair gets requests for help ranging from technology startups needing instant programming expertise for building apps, to businesses who want to call on external insights for help with their own internal IT implementations. The leading experts in AirPair’s network can be located anywhere in the world and cover a wide range of software languages and tools. The company has over 1,000 experts, many of whom

Every Startup Needs Its Historian

SendGrid v1.0

A great band once said, “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”…And now, a not-so-great, self-proclaimed startup guy is saying — well, you get the point. [this blast from the past, brought to you by a true 80’s baby] And “To: All” a Good Day… Each of us has received it—the email to: It’s oftentimes an unwelcomed one. Sometimes it’s an outage report, sometimes it’s a new hire, and sometimes its relevance to the entire company is absurdly questionable. In some cases, it sets off a flurry of reply-all‘s, each of which begs the same question around mass relevance. However, every so often, that “email-to-all” is as welcome as pressing the snooze button (sorry, I’m writing this in the wee hours of

WHY is a Hackathon?

Hackathon in the dictionary

A question often asked: What is a Hackathon? Google’s definition (above) is more or less accurate. Wikipedia says it is an “event in which computer programmers and others…including graphic designers, interface designers and project managers, collaborate intensively on software projects. Occasionally, there is a hardware component as well.” Also fairly well stated. Nick was able to explain hackathons to his parents in a pretty easy to understand way. And our friend Jon at Twilio educated us on their history and evolution. “What,” to me, is not the best way to ask the question. Inquiring Outside the Box Rather than explain a hackathon in terms of “what?” it may be better explained by answering “why?” “Why is a hackathon a thing?” For all of these reasons: Community. To learn & teach. To solve problems. To

Developer Relations in 2013: Expanded Team and Presence

We take up a large portion of a stadium row.

’Tis the season to remember. When we all reminisce about the year gone by, celebrate the wins, and appreciate and (most importantly) learn from the losses. We experienced a bit of everything in 2013. In case you missed any of the fun, here’s a recap. People First Developer Relations at SendGrid was born in April 2011, when I delivered a proposal to our executive team and received their blessing to build a team. We ended 2011 with three team members. In 2012, we added three more and doubled in size. We opened 2013 with a team of six and will close the year with eleven amazing people (oh so close to another year of doubling!). Team members are scattered across

Marketing to Developers: Relationships Over Leads


I recently had the pleasure of speaking to an audience of my peers at the awesome Defrag conference, held annually in Broomfield, CO. I spoke on a topic that I’ve been thinking about for some time, about how we’ve approached the community side of the SendGrid business. Here’s the complete slide deck. Let me know what you think, by commenting below or tweeting me @TimFalls. My Thesis As entrepreneurs, I believe our time is better spent building relationships rather than “generating leads.” A handshake is worth more than a click. A personal connection will create more opportunities than a cold (or even luke warm) email. This, IMHO, is where marketing should be focused today.   At the same time, I

Protips to Discover the Inbox Unicorn

Best Practices
Illustration from Histoire générale des drogues
National Library of Medicine #2396074R

This post is a narrative, a reflection, and a testimonial; but most importantly, it’s a self-service guide to composing better emails for your readers (complete with #protips!) Last night, I was perusing my “personal” inbox, as I do during most evenings. Much of my non-work stuff shows up in the “Social” tab of the Gmail inbox, and that’s where I found myself going through the Unread’s – you know, the daily/weekly digests, notifications/alerts, newsletters, etc. While many (if not most) regard these emails as useless, I actually (kinda, sometimes) enjoy them. Why? Because they require minimal action and almost zero brain power, unlike those that I process within my “professional” inbox throughout the day. They represent a nice break from the norm – I

Nine Principles to Communicating With Your Community

Best Practices
Customer Success Story: Pinterest

Last week I received an email from Pinterest’s CEO, Ben Silbermann. So did millions of other people. After reading said email, I was inspired to write about it. I’m guessing millions of other people weren’t similarly inspired, so I’ll do my part in sharing what I think is a great example of communications, from which other companies can learn. First things first — here’s what Ben had to say… What’s so special about this email? It’s human — he leads off by introducing us to his family. It’s engaging — those links lead to his personal Pinterest account, where you find pics of his [super cute!] kid and a cool video that you might even re-pin. It’s relatable — he tells us how he uses the

You Don’t Have to Write Code to Be Part of the Developer Community

Tim Falls: Thumbs Up!

I meet a lot of people, from all over the planet. I’ve met an especially large and diverse group of people over the last 3+ years, within my role at SendGrid. Most people I meet are operating within a world similar to mine, professionally speaking: think startups, tech, [insert geeky buzzword here], etc. I’m not a developer, yet time and again people assume I am. And they assume that you have to be able, to code to be part of a developer community. Most conversations begin something like this: Other person: “What do you do?” Me: “I lead a team of Developer Evangelists. We’re crafting a global community of developers, by helping them make the internet a better place for

The Geeks Fly at Midnight

Geeks on a Plane Southeast Asia

Since 2011, SendGrid has been participating in amazing mini-adventures around the world, with some of the planet’s brightest techie travelers. This Saturday, we embark once again, with a group of fellow geeks, to explore the startup communities of Southeast Asia. Geeks on a Plane combines “Travel & Technology.” However, that is certainly an oversimplification of the franchise that our friends at 500 Startups have established over the past several years. #GOAP, as you’ll find it on the twitters, gathers a bunch of geeks –  entrepreneurs, investors, intrepid intrapreneurs of startups and large companies, journalists, etc. Once gathered, the geeks venture out to a region of the globe, and make several stops within that region, each of which involves complete immersion into the

A warm welcome to The Family


As highlighted on the blog last week, Martyn and I recently had the pleasure of spending some quality time with the Paris startup community. After spending our weekend at Music Hackday Paris, we had a full Monday to enjoy the city, so we did what we do in such a situation – we met some awesome people and discovered how we could help them be even more awesome… Just a week before our Parisian journey, Mr. Jim Franklin introduced me to the kind folks at an up and coming accelerator called The Family. “TheFamily is an accelerator for early-stage startups to drive them from [0] to [1] through education & unfair advantages.” That last part – the “unfair advantages” –