Four months ago I started working for SendGrid as a Developer Evangelist in Latin America. It was a big challenge to take on, and I’ve been in touch with more people than I can count in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru, and Colombia. Here are some of the challenges I’ve been facing and my impressions about them:
Hackathons have been growing a lot during the past couple years. They have been growing so much that they are gathering crowds of hundreds of people, giving 1 million dollar prizes, and causing some controversy. And now, there’s even a college league just for hackathons. But there’s a different story going on in Latin America.
Hackathons have not yet become these million dollar, thousand people events in Latin America. In fact, a big part of the hackathons that are happening are originated from the governments in different countries and states, that are asking developers to help them improve their lives through the use of technology and open data. I love these hackathons, but they are still few and far between, and they limit the creativity of the participants because of the theme. There’s plenty of room for hackathons like API HackDay, Music HackDay, or Magic HackDay to make their way here and help incentivize new projects and new hacks.
Organization / Interest / Events
The communities are becoming more organized each and every day, and there are more and better events each year. During the past month, meetups about Node, HackerNest (with the theme of Women in Innovation), and Docker have all began to form. One thing that can be improved is there’s not much communication between these communities, and its organizers, and there’s definitely a wealth of knowledge that could be shared.
Brazil vs. Spanish speaking Latin America
There’s a small division between events in Brazil and the other countries in Latin America. The main reason is simple: language. Unfortunately, and as much as they may sound similar, Brazilians speak Portuguese, not Spanish, and even though speaking slowly and with gestures may get a conversation going, it still creates a division between the communities. The good side of it is that a big part of the developer community has a good level of English, and that helps close the gap.
It’s also important to have a native Spanish-speaking person and another native Portuguese-speaking person to guarantee a good presence in all the countries. Even though Brazil is the only country that speaks Portuguese, it does have 200+ million people, and a growing startup and tech community.
It’s easy to see how much the developer ecosystem in Latin America has been growing in the past years. New communities are being formed, others are growing and becoming more organized, and the events are becoming bigger and attracting more people every year. There’s still a lot of work to be done to improve communications between key people, and that’s where my focus will be in the coming year.
Please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @heitortsergent if you’d like to talk more about the Latin America ecosystem.