Next week, Brooklyn Bridge Ventures is running Devstackup. It's a monthly event where developers can hear from the tecnnical leads of startups using the same technology that they use--all in a fast paced format. Seven or so startups go up, talk about what they do, their team, the stack they use and the challenges they face. This month, we're focusing on iOS.
Without fail, over 100 developers RSVP to these things every single time. And yet, I always hear people say it's so hard to find developers. What's going on here?
Over the years, I've learned a few things about developers that I think you want to keep in mind when trying to get in front of them.
- Developers want to hear from other technical people. That's why it's so key to make sure your first technical hire is also outgoing enough to be an evangelist for your company. If not, you need a technical advisor--someone who can rep what you're doing from the technical side and explain why it's compelling. This event isn't business founders talking about their startups--it's the lead technical folks who can answer the tough questions.
- Developers want to sit next to other technical people. The last thing a developer at an event wants to do is to sit next to a businessperson looking for their technical co-founder. That's why this event is closed off to businesspeople. We check the list and remove any non-devs from the list.
- Curate your speakers. Every one of our startups are funded and viable for at least the next year or so. These are real companies with real products or who already have tech teams with serious chops who are well on their way to a launch. Too many times, I see events where the startups talking about what they do are... let's say... "aspirational". I hate it when a Meetup asks for two hours of my time and in return shows me a bunch of companies with founders who can't seem to make it happen and ideas that probably won't last until next week. Other people's time is valuable, so respect it.
- It's not about recruiting. Look, any recruiting opportunity starts with an exchange of information. I'll tell you what I'm up to, and I might ask what your situation is, but you need to create an event that works just as well for people who aren't looking for a job and don't want to get pitched. Every attendee is asked in the RSVP if they're interested in hearing about new opportunities--and if they say no, they're not contacted for that purpose. The speakers are told not to make it a recruiting pitch, but to emphasize the information about their company. What makes what you're up to so cool--and if anyone's interested in talking to you, they'll come find you. You don't need to bludgeon them over the head with a pitch. Just be awesome and awesomeness will find you.
- Build great relationships with respected members of the technical community. I run a weekly newsletter about interesting stuff going on in the NYC tech community. It goes out to almost 7000 people a week and I include a lot of the technical events run by language and technology specific Meetup organizers. In other words, I've already tried to create value for them by helping them market their groups. In return, if I have a compelling event, they're more likely to help me market what I'm up to. That's not why I do it, but it definitely helps when you approach the head of iOS developer meeting for a tweet or a friendly e-mail to their group if they know who you are. When people see that other tech folks they know and respect are going to something, others are likely to follow. What can you do to help someone who runs a technical meetup? Can you get them space? Offer to introduce them to a designer? Something other than throwing money at them for sponsorship is even more meaningful. Remember the average dev salary. They can buy their own beer.