How Pebble does Developer Evangelism with Thomas Sarlandie - (shownotes)

Brief overview of Thomas's background

  • Originally from France.

  • Pronounce Thomas in the French way!

  • (JNC worked at an accelerator in Santa Monica, we funded,, Thrdplace (who recently spoke to Barack Obama))

  • 2012 - Thomas sold his mobile development company in France and moved to California,

  • eventually joined Pebble because he wanted to work with a company making hardware in addition to software

Tell me about Pebble

What does a dev evangelist do?

  • Thomas communicates Pebble product/software with the developer community

  • (messed up… confused developer community with developer team)

  • It’s Thomas’s job to represent the developer community (using Pebble’s stuff) to Pebble decision makers

  • Also talked to Jawbone and other companies to make sure Pebble plays well

  • Pressure of having to go out and physically show off Pebble’s stuff puts pressure to make it well internally

What is an API or product (not your own) that you love?

  • mentioned Jawbone, Misfit

  • Thomas is most excited about Bluetooth low energy (BLE)

  • BLE helps you interact with a bluetooth device without going through the manufactured for iPhone (MFI) process.  We owe a lot to Apple for making BLE a possibility

  • Prior to BLE, wifi was the best way to interact with hardware from iOS/Android

  • Rfduino, Bean, Nordic, etc are examples of BFE hardware

  • edited at 15:00 for redundancy and background noise

What is your favorite hackathon formats?  

  • Prefers large events because of critical mass

  • Competition doesn’t matter so much, many developers attend to have fun.  

  • Deadlines force you to finish and have something to show, “forced constraints” (see also Parkinson’s law)

  • Thomas has noticed a few seasoned hackathons attendees get very good at making projects that seduce the judging panel

  • Online events can bias a “play to win” mentality

  • Thomas likes themed hackathons - NASA themed hackathon (space apps challenge) is very good

  • Clarification … Space APPS… (not Space-X - LA company)

  • SpaceApps is distributed with ~200 global cities

  • A few great college hackathons are PennApps, HackMIT, HackTech

  • HackTech was 70 degrees and sunny (in 3rd weekend of January 2014!)  Weather in Santa Monica/Los Angeles is awesome :)

  • Doing an API talk at beginning is important, clarify that you are there to help them and how they can find you

  • It’s important to be proactive to meet teams as an evangelist… Thomas loves to go talk to teams making hardware of any kind … drones, arduino, BLE, etc

  • It’s important to have multiple interactions with developers and show you’re helpful

Throw a hackathon vs sponsor one - Which choice is better for a company who wants to get involved?

  • It’s hard to throw a hackathon.  Companies should start by sponsoring a few.

  • For most companies it doesn’t make sense to throw your own hackathon.  You can do a developer summit instead.

  • Pebble does a developer summit (100+ people in Oct 2014).  Invites an international group, 14 different countries. No hackathon, but they do give people time to work on their projects during the event

  • Pebble Dev summit had robot building competition this year

  • Point of the summit is to strengthen informal relationships and get feedback.  Increase their comfort level giving HONEST feedback later on bc they’ve met the team.

  • Pebble Dev Summit facilitates the magic of meeting offline for everyone who attends

  • Pebble also does meetups

  • If you want to do a meetup, it's pretty easy to get free space.  Pay only as a last resort.  Checkout coworking spaces, service provider’s offices (Law firms in particular want to meet tech people), and startup’s large offices.  

  • (In LA checkout General Assembly, LA-Reef,, ROC, and local startups.)

  • You can also do events online to increase global reach - Pebble challenge in March-April via ChallengePost

  • (JNC tangent about ICANN51 global summit in Los Angeles and events that circulate locations)

Where do the you see the dev evangelism scene evolving to?

  • Not sure what the future is regarding hackathons.  Right now we see a lot of huge, school organized events (Major League Hacking).  It’s amazing, but not clear whether it will continue to scale

  • It would be great to consolidate the events, get them better organized, and extend the duration from 36 hours to a longer format.   Would help sponsors support more and engage

  • College hackathons are just 1 aspect of Dev Evangelism.  (Other aspects are documentation, speaking, human-centric design)

  • Developer Evangelism Podcast is [a great thing to push the community forward]  :)

  • It would be great to have Dev Evangelist conference for many companies to meet and discuss best practices

  • Metrics for success will be necessary going forward for Dev Evangelism programs for meeting business goals.   

  • JNC speculation - Dev Evangelism is still early adopter/innovative stage, but will spread widely in the future.  Companies can learn from the most innovative Dev Evang programs

Anything (product, API, idea) you'd like to plug?

  • Use Pebble!  

  • Checkout, our online developer resource to help you program Pebble in C and Java

  • Pebble is a platform for defining what applications on the wrist will become prevalent in the next few years

  • How to get in touch with Thomas -->

  • TWITTER: @sarfata (best option)

  • Facebook -

  • (JNC sidebar - one tip for hackathon organizers - learn how to use twitter effectively… hit me up @JNCONKLE for a primer)