I conducted an email interview with Leore, a cofounder of Lob. Like other innovative software companies, Lob has a developer evangelism program. They've sponsored several hackathons, including MHacks, HackMIT, and BitCamp
Lob’s mission is to transform bits into atoms - they make it easy to do that with their API, which powers companies’ paper mail via software. Lob is a graduate of Y Combinator S’13 and took venture from First Round Capital, Polaris, and Floodgate.
Q: Tell me briefly about your background
I Graduated from the University of Michigan in 2011.
After graduatiing, I went to work as a derivatives trader on Wall street.
In 2012 I left to start my first startup in Michigan - after that I moved to Seattle to work for Amazon Web Services.
After AWS I founded Lob and participated in Y Combinator’s Summer 2013 Batch.
Q: What does a dev evangelist do?
A dev evangelist attends developer-focused events to evangelize his/her product and to help participants with technical problems they face.
The role of a dev evangelist is both to serve as a mentor and also to help guide teams to build a successful product. Guidance can be in the form of recommending tools to use, answering technical related questions, or helping architect a weekend hack.
Q: What did you work on before you became a dev evangelist?
A: Before starting Lob, I was a Technical Business Developer Representative at Amazon Web Services.
Q: How long have you been running your Dev Evangelism program:
A: We have been running our Dev Evangelism program since we graduated Y Combinator in 2013. We have been attending hackathons ever since.
Q: What is an API or product (not your own) that you love?
Stripe. The documentation is crystal clear and their wrappers are constantly being updated. They have great wrappers on github and I can get Stripe integrated and running within a few minutes.
Q: What is your favorite hackathon format?
I like the competitive hackathons best. Competition incentivizes people to build amazing products. Competition fosters creativity and pushes people to create the best hacks.
Q: Tell me about a great event you’ve been to in the past year
YC hacks was pretty epic. There was a diverse and extremely talented crowd.
Not only were the hacks amazing but the mentorship, creativity, and overall atmosphere was at a higher caliber than other events I have been too.
Q: Throw a hackathon vs sponsor one - Which choice is better for a company who wants to get involved?
For a company just starting out, I would suggest sponsoring a hackathon. This will make hackers aware of your product and also allow you to get acclimated to the hacker community. This will also allow you to understand the fundamentals of a hackathon and see first hand what it takes to make a successful event.
Once you have been to 2-3 and have built up a reputation in the hackathon community than you can throw one yourself.
Q: Do you think hackathons are the future of education?
Hackathons have their place in education. They are a great complement to education but they cannot replace it.
A hackathon won’t teach you the fundamentals of programming but it will allow to experiment with new software and learn from the brightest peers around you. If you combine both you are bound for success.
Q: Where do the you see the dev evangelism scene evolving to?
I see the dev evangelism scene as the main way companies interact with top talent. The relationship between companies and young developers is constantly evolving. More and more dev evangelists are becoming mentors to these young developers and guiding them to their first job or startup.
Eventually, dev evangelists will be thought leaders and hackers will look upto these evangelists for guidance, career advice, and to access to top tier tech firms. The dev evangelists are the gatekeepers as they can see the potential of young developers.
Q: Anything (product, API, idea) you want to plug?
Yes, hackers should take a look at the lob.com API (lob.com). For experienced hackers lob is a great API to add to your tool belt.
We are also looking for talented engineers to help build the future of APIs for the enterprise.
Q: Is there anything I forgot to ask that I should have?