This past weekend (August 25-26, 2102) my self, the Lovely and Talented Kathy, and my friend Jacques Woodcock, hosted a two day “developer centric” event in Nashville called CoderFaire Nashville ’12. CoderFaire Nashville ’12 stands out among all of the projects I’ve put together in one important way. This was the first time I put together a team to build the project instead of doing it myself. I learned a lot putting on CoderFaire Nashville ’12 but this is the one most important lesson I took away.
You can’t do it alone, you have to have friends
I’ve been doing little ventures for a long time. None of my ventures went very far though. They were always “side hustles”. It has taken me until this point in my life to realize I can’t grow an idea as big as I want to on my own, I have to have help. CoderFaire Nashville ’12 was the first time I actively sought out a team to help. So, in the order of appearance, here are the friends of mine that worked tirelessly, supported the me, and took my little idea and grew into something that was successful beyond my wildest dreams.
- Kathy Evans – EICC
Even those of you who know me don’t realize what a pain in the ass I really am. Some of you have an idea but it’s only a small glimpse of the reality. Sometimes it seems like I have a new idea for a business every weekend. My darling wife Kathy is really the only person on Earth who has had to suffer through all of them. She helps me see my ideas in the harsh light of reality. That isn’t to say that she dismisses them all – or even any of them. She helps me talk them through and sort the wheat from the chaff.
As the first person I told about CoderFaire Nashville ’12, she is the first person who could have shot it down. Instead, she recognized the passion I had for the idea – and for helping developers – and encouraged me to pursue it.
- Scott Gordon – Vaco
The second person I told about CoderFaire Nashville was Scott Gordon. If you are in the Nashville tech scene, you know Scott. If not, he stands with only one other recruiter that I will talk to on a regular basis. Scott, more than any other recruiter I know, understands how to talk to a developer without insulting them.
I knew I needed some seed money to get CoderFaire Nashville ’12 off the ground. I also knew that if I didn’t think this through, CoderFaire Nashville could become a feeding frenzy for local recruiters, nobody wanted that. Vaco, through Scott Gordon, caught the vision of what could be at a local coffee shop one morning. I didn’t even make it through my entire presentation before he said “We’re in, how much do you need?”. Now I am not a good salesperson and Scott is not an easy man to convince to part with money. Thankfully though, Scott saw the possibilites early on. Because fo their vision, we made Vaco the only recruiting company at CoderFaire Nashville ’12. Thanks to Scott – and of course my friend Alex Nadell – developers were treated with respect by the recruiters, and not as marks, targets, or just chum in the water.
- Keith Casey – Twilio
The third person I shared the idea of CoderFaire Nashville ’12 with was my good friend and business partner Keith Casey. Keith is a Developer Evangelist for Twilio. That’s not entirely true. Keith Casey is the P.T. Barnum of Developer Evangelists.
Where most companies, setup a booth at a conference and hope people drop by; Keith sets up a playground for developers and only sells when people pause playing long enough to ask “So, what does twilio do?” At a recent conference we both attended, I hear another vendor tell him “The only traffic we’ve gotten today are the ones we’ve picked off the edge of your crowd.” Keith is just all kinds of awesome.
Keith has run, and attended hacking events all over the US. He knows what developers like and because he’s a good friend, Keith will tell me if an idea sucks. I already knew that Vaco was in and they were going to sponsor the lounge area. I already knew that I wasn’t going to allow marketing booths, I wanted something useful for developers, I wanted the Lab. What I wanted from Keith was ideas on how to make this useful to companies like Twilio. Companies that sponsor events like this. Companies like Twilio don’t lay out money because they like events, they do it because they know that at certain types of events, they can get the attention of developers. I wanted CoderFaire Nashville ’12 to be the kind of event that these companies wanted to be a part of. Keith listend, and then added the one ingredient that we didn’t have, the Hack Day.
Honestly, I thought if any part of the event was going to fail, it was going to be the Hack Day; wow was I wrong!
- Jacques Woodcock – Kite Web Consulting
Finally, I knew what I wanted to build, I knew I had enough many to get started and if I had to, enough room on my credit card to handle the rest. I also knew I needed a partner. I needed someone who could fill in where I lack. It had to be someone wih a strong enough ego to go up against mine and someone who I could work with. At BarCamp Nashville ’11, I had the privilege of working with Jacques Woodcock. (He is actually the reason I even got involved in BNC11) I saw Jacques work the sponsors of BCN11 like a master craftsman. He knew who to talk to, what to say, and how to get to a yes. Honestly, the man is a magician. I knew from the beginning that I wanted Jacques as my partner on CoderFaire Nashville ’12, but I wasn’t sure I was salesman enough to pitch it to him.
Thankfully, in addition to being a wizard at showing sponsors the value of being involved in events, Jacques is a visionary. Like Kathy and I, Jacques saw what CoderFaire Nashville ’12 could be. He agreed to come on board as a partner. He did so much more than I asked him to do. Jacques went above and beyond to make sure that CoderFaire Nashville ’12 was a great time for the attendees and the sponsors.
Jacques, thank you so much for taking my little idea and making it something I could never have dreamed of. You are a friend, and I am in your debt.
There are a lot more people that worked hard to make CoderFaire Nashville ’12 what it was. I fear that if I start naming people I will leave someone important out. I do want to say thank you though.
Thank you to everyone who volunteered your time – great or small – to make CoderFaire Nashville ’12 happen.
Thank you to each and every one of our sponsors, I singled two of them out in this post but honestly, every one of you is special and helped make this event awesome.
Thank you to the speakers who took the time to craft the sessions. I’ve put on a lot of events in my career but I’ve never been so proud of a schedule as I was of the CoderFaire Nashville ’12 schedule.
Thank you to the attendees. That you for showing up, thank you for listening to the speakers, thank you for engaging with our sponsors. Thank you for being the secret ingredient that made CoderFaire Nashville ’12 one of the best conferences I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending in any capacity.
Thank you to my friends. I say with all sincerity and humility, I couldn’t have done this without you.
Until next time,
I <3 |<