We Focus On Interacting With The API Developer Community Where They Live
Another story I harvested fro a story by Gordon Wintrob (@gwintrob) about how Twilio's distributed team solves developer evangelism, was about how they invest in having a distributed team, providing an on the ground presence in the top cities they are looking to reach. I know this isn't something all API providers can afford, but I still think it was still an important approach worth noting.
Like with many other aspects of Twilio's approach, they are pretty genuine about why they invest in a distributed API evangelism team:
We also focus on interacting with the developer community where we actually live. We don’t think it’s valuable to parachute into a tech community, do an event, and then leave. We need to participate in that community and make a real impact.
I wish there was a way that smaller API providers could deliver like this. I wish we all had the resources of Twilio, but in reality, most API providers won't even be able to "parachute into a tech community", let alone have a dedicated presence there. I've seen several attempts like this fail before, so I am hesitant to say it, but I can't help but think there is an opportunity for evangelists in certain cities.
There isn't any startup potential here (let me make that clear), but I think there is an opportunity for developer advocates, evangelists, and would-be evangelists to band together, network, and offer up services to API providers. All you'd have to do is take the page from the Twilio playbook and execute in a decentralized way--where multiple evangelists could work together as a co-op. The trick is to bring together evangelists who actually give a shit about the space--something that would be very difficult to accomplish.
Anyways, just some more thoughts from my API notebook, inspired by Gordon's post. If nothing else, Twilio's approach should help guide other larger API providers, showing how important it is to invest in developers, in-person at the local level. The value brought to the table via Twilio's APIs has been key to their success, but I can't help but think a significant portion of their success has been the result of their investment at the local level.