One thing @twilio did right from the start and better than everyone else

and that’s building a human-driven platform for developers of all skills.

Evangelising, advocating and pushing the boundaries of teaching code

When I started working in the world of startups, after leaving a data & analytics consultancy job, I have had the chance to work alongside a lot of super clever developers.

The first time I met a developer evangelist from Twilio (and I think it was Rob Spectre himself) I was hanging out with Florian, my old boss and he introduced me briefly to what Twilio does and their platform…

Shortly after, I had gotten myself a co-work desk at White Bear Yard in the middle of the city of London. As I sat down to enjoy my first day in the new space I realised that desk was previously owned by Danielle Morrill — as there was a pile of high quality printed 500 business cards left behind on the table. I tried to reach out to her on Twitter and then walked into Twilio’s HQ in London — but she had already left the company by then and the good people of Twilio just told me to dispose of them!

From that moment onwards I actually started noticing more and more that Twilio developer advocates were everywhere and started playing a big part in my life. Why? They were the coolest role models to look up to in the space!

Advocating the passion to code

Unlike other pushy developers, the Twilio evangelists were always happy to help you debug your code — even if it wasn’t Twilio related. They just strived to help the world of hackathons and coding a better playground for everyone. Needless to say, it felt good to know that if you were stuck with some code — you could always pop at the Twilio table and get help, a bunch of stickers and a friendly high5 or hug (depending on the mood and time of the day!)

These guys weren’t just doing their job, they were living the hackathon life and philosophy at its fullest.

Operations & KPIs

Unlike many other companies who just threw money into senseless hackathons I am pretty sure that Twilio evangelists had a super tight process in place to pick which places to be and how to make an impact:

  1. Any event they went to, they would be sponsoring it
  2. They made sure to wear their red jackets at all times
  3. Had personalised promo codes to redeem free credits and stickers to hand out
  4. Covered as many events as possible and always tried to demo their product on stage at any possible time
  5. Extremely passionate and creative

In fact, one of the ex-evangelists of Twilio UK after leaving the company started working on his own project: a platform for Dev. Evangelists to track their KPIs.

Tracking of engagement on social media, promo redeemed vouchers, interactions and best of all — they could tell if anyone had interacted with Twilio because their platform had analytics built in. Every time you sent an SMS to a demo number they would have your number — and each unique number would be a person interacting with their platform. Very different from just showing 20 lines of code on a screen. These were actionable demos!

Not just hackers

But most of all, the Twilio evangelist team were comprised not only of hackers at large — the passion and their involvement in the collegiate coding scene has been enormous and has probably helped a lot of people nurture their passion for coding with their incredible motivation after winning a Twilio prize — because let’s face it — Twilio is extremely simple to use and anyone could integrate Twilio into their project due to the nature and multitude of usecases.

Cool prizes for every hackathon they would sponsor were given. Tons of “swag” handed out and always a big smile on their face.

Twilio Hero programme: For aspiring evangelists, teenagers / early twenties college students and more generally developers who had shown a keen interest in Twilio could become officially recognized as Twilio ambassadors or Twilio heroes! They were like Twilio evangelists but work on a local scale (city, college, local hackathons near their home)

I almost became part of the dream

I always wanted to join Twilio. In fact in the summer of 2014 I applied and somehow managed to get through the interview. However because of how life goes I decided to not continue the interview process and instead joined another company — and although I think I’ve missed out on an incredible opportunity I believe I had an incredible experience anyway. I still wonder what would have happened though…

Other fun memories of Twilio in my career so far:

  • The VIP afterparty during Twilio Conference in London (with Jeff and the management team)
  • the Websummit twilio party
  • the Cyberpunk Twilio Xmas party
  • Twilio on stage at the London NodeJS Meetup with the real time feedback system (Phil Nash)
  • Twilio at AWS’s event in Las Vegas with a booth bigger than AWS itself
  • the Twilio UK evangelist team 🔥
  • Rob Spectre’s fist bumps and bear hugs!

Thanks Twilio for setting the sail straight for the community of coders, API driven SaaS and community builders!

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