María Inti David

María Inti David

What I learned organizing the Crystal CodeCamp

11 min
Jun 2 2017
culture, travel, crystal
11 min
Jun 2 2017

As you may have heard, last month we hosted the first Crystal CodeCamp in San Francisco, California. This was a first for us, we already had experience organizing meetups in Buenos Aires, but never a large paid event in another country.

It took us 4 months of planning, many hours and a lot of brainstorming sessions to make it happen.

After letting a few weeks past by, so we had time to reflect on everything we did right and wrong, I wanted to take some time and write down my experience with this new adventure we embarked on 4 months ago.

As the Engagement Manager at Manas I’m in charge of all marketing-ish related things, from our inbound strategy to buying QR interactive cupcakes to celebrate our website launch. Last year I took on the role of Crystal Language marketing manager, as part of a join team effort to achieve some very special milestones in 2017. The thing is, in my time at Manas & Crystal I never had to carry forward such a big project (let’s not forget the wild adventure that was redesigning our website) so this was an opportunity to learn, experience and create something that could inspire and influence a group of people. Now, a few weeks past the CodeCamp, I can proudly say I’ve learned how to organize an event from 10.000km (6,000mi) away.

This was a huge challenge for me, not only because of the responsibility of organizing the first Crystal CodeCamp but because in the past few months I became a huge Crystal fan. As I got to work closer with the Crystal team I got the chance to see first hand what it takes to develop and keep a new language alive. Let me tell you, it’s not easy! I see the potential Crystal has, I see the community grow after every commit or tweet. I talk with other Crystal followers and I’m always amazed with their commitment and their passion. This wasn’t just another Buenos Aires meetup where we weren’t worried if people didn’t show up (well, we’re always worried people aren’t going to show up).

We had a lot to prove to ourselves, our sponsors and the community that has been supporting the language since the beginning.

Also, organizing the first Crystal Language CodeCamp required a big investment in team hours, from Dev to design, Q&A and marketing. We needed companies to trust us and sponsor the event. We needed to travel to the other side of the continent. We also needed to have the Crystal community on board, and some enthusiastic people who would be willing to pay to attend the classes. I won’t lie, there was a brief moment where I thought: what are we doing?!

You can head to twitter and search #CrystalCodeCamp. As you may see everything worked out great! It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t always fun but I learned a few important lessons I want to share with you:

  1. Listen to the feedback: a few days went by after launching the event site and we weren’t selling any tickets. We wondered if nobody was interested, if we had chosen the wrong location. So we decided to ask around. And it turns out the tickets were a bit expensive. So we decided to lower them a 50% and they started selling, fast. It wasn’t great to take a cut on the event profits, especially since all proceeds were going to be invested in Crystal development, but there couldn't be an event without attendees. In the future we should ask more questions, and listen more to the feedback we receive.
  2. Accept the things you cannot change: did everything go as planned? Of course not, and accepting those things I couldn't change was the hardest part about this experience. I couldn’t force the team to be more passionate about Marketing. I couldn’t teleport to San Francisco and take pictures how I wanted to. I had to accept those things I couldn’t change, while remembering that we were all doing our very best.
  3. Crystal Language community is the best: I can proudly say this, other languages should feel jealous about the amazing community we have. The support and cheers and well wishes we received during the CodeCamp were amazing. Not only that but the CodeCamp participants were also active members of the community, many of them had been contributing to Crystal for years! I truly hope we can continue to travel and meet the amazing people that forms the Crystal community all around the world.

Crystal CodeCamp SF 2017 participants

For me it’s very important to recognize the work of my teammates, I can’t finish this up without telling you some of the great things they did for the CodeCamp:

  1. Mati figured out a way to localize Crystal stargazers on GitHub. This gave us the perfect data to decide where to host the first international event.
  2. Martin helped with the CodeCamp organization even when he already had a full agenda. From deciding on the catering, to which companies should we send the sponsors brochure, to working as an intermediary between my crazy marketing ideas and the team expectations.
  3. Jony created another beautiful Crystal site, along with many social media flyers and the merchandise we gifted in the event (yes, those amazing mugs were his idea!). Not only he did all that but he did it in record time.
  4. Pau and Mauri made sure that our landing page was more than just pretty. They often go unrecognized, but truth be told as the Q&A team they make sure our, sometimes over the top, design and marketing ideas translate into user friendly sites.
  5. Waj and Gus travelled to San Francisco and delivered two days full of amazing classes with excellent content in a language that’s not their native one. I don’t know many people capable of such thing, and I admire them for that.

I want to thank Serdar for coming all the way from Turkey to speak at the event, and Twentify for making it possible. AcademyX for sponsoring us and letting us use their office and classroom spaces. StickerMule for providing us with stickers & merch to gift at the event. Eventbrite, for having a platform that allows us (and many others) to organize events from anywhere in the world. Also, a huge thanks to Erik, who volunteered to help us at the event. Not only his help immensely increased our capacity to attend to the participants’ needs, but he was also our eyes and ears in the classroom, making us feel like the rest of the Crystal team was there too.

Finally I want to thank my Crystal teammates for getting on board with the CodeCamp, I know it was a huge risk and investment for all of us, and also for giving me the chance to be part of such an amazing team. If you had told me 2 years ago that I was going to be part of a programming language team and that I was going to organize a CodeCamp in San Francisco I would have probably said that you were going crazy.

But it’s true, and I can’t wait to see what we do next.

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