Scaling What I Do At API Evangelist
23 Feb 2015
In my day to day operations, I get regular calls from VC's (Venture Capitalists) looking to better understand APIs, the role they are playing within specific industries, working towards a better awareness of how they will impact their portfolio. These conversations almost always end with the question, "what can I do for you?", something that always leads to the next question, "what does scale look like for API Evangelist?". A verty interesting set of questions...
Interestingly, the answers to these questions are directly related to another common question I get from people in the space, "how do you make money?". I'm fortunate. I get to scale API Evangelist exactly as I see fit, because I get to choose who I take money from. All money has strings attached, and I want to make sure these strings lead me in positive directions, and never hold me back, or force me to make decisions that would be negative for the API space. This is something that is much easier to do in 2015, than it was in 2010, when I first started API Evangelist.
This leads me to yet another question I get from people, “how do I do what you do?”. A question which I do not have a good answer for. Honestly I do not fully understand how I got here, and not sure folks can deal with being as broke as I’ve been over the last five years, something that only recently has changed with the support of my partners, 3Scale, WSO2, and Restlet. I did not set out to build API Evangelist using a single plan, I’m making this shit up as I go along, and honestly I do not remember all the decisions I’ve made over the last five years, resulting in my current position.
So why am I rambling on about this? Because it brings home what scale actually means to me at API Evangelist. There is no scaling API Evangelist in a Silicon Valley VC sense. It isn’t something you can throw money at, come up with an algorithm, and grow. I’m obsessed with the API space, and the potential (good & bad) of APIs, which motivates me to read, hack, and tell stories that share my experiences—that is it. The only way to scale that is to incite others to embark on similar journeys, share the stories I’m telling, fork my code and projects, and hopefully begin developing their own stories, and tools, so that I can depend on them, in the same way.
I get a lot of people who engage me daily, and most of them want something from me. Some of these folks are on their own true API journey, sometimes running parallel to mine, but often times they are not, or maybe they are for just a short period of time. I just wrote about being Swagger.ed Last Week, and Now I’m Seeing Visualizations, showcasing Swagger driven API visualization work by Chris Spiliotopoulos (@chefArchitect), who fits into this story, because he is what I envision when it comes to scaling API Evangelist.
Chris has been in the shadows, reading my work, listening to my ideas, and internalizing them in his own world, then he works to find something he can contribute that doesn’t just augment my own ideas and work, but advances them forward, potentially delivering value for the entire API space. Chris doesn’t need anything from me. He is looking to find his own way, and add value in a way that matches his own skills, wherever he can, in a way that amplifies the overall value generated. I wish I could explain this type of scaling to everyone, but hopefully the handful of folks who actually get what I am rambling about, will step in an help me scale the API Evangelist network over the next five years--thanks Chris!