October 15, 2019 Spreading the Gospel
During my one and a half year tenure at Topcoder I’ve had many random conversations with people. One question that is usually asked is, “What kind of work do you do?”. When I explain that I am a Project Manager for design crowdsourcing at Topcoder, there is usually a look of intrigue and a prompting of me to tell them more about exactly what that is. At the end of my spiel about getting client work done using a pool of experts from around the world in our large community, there is usually a response of “That’s cool!” or an impressed reaction because they weren’t aware that this was even possible. There have even been situations where we will exchange information to speak further about possibilities of them utilizing the Topcoder platform to drive future work with their company. This led me to thinking about how many people don’t know about Topcoder and it’s expert community capable of handling design, development, data science and quality assurance; and how it might be helpful in their current company’s workflow. Outside of going to a huge showcase event, I decided it would be a good idea to attend two small tech Meetups in New York City, where I live, to spread the word about Topcoder. One of them was called Biohack the World: The Future of Fitness and the other was HackerNest NYC.
Biohack the World was an event that centered around science, technology, and big data in the world of physical fitness. There were presenters who talked about the latest advancements in gym equipment. A lot of this equipment is very interactive in the way users operate and choose workouts. There is also lots of useful data that is collected and displayed to users about their progress. Obviously there is a major opportunity here for Topcoder. Everyone in attendance were either people in the technology industry, people into physical fitness or both. I enjoyed listening to the talks and learned a lot.
After the presentations, there was time to mingle and network. There were very receptive vendors showcasing projects and products at booths who were eager to talk to people. They would proudly tell me about what they are working on and I would talk about Topcoder and how we could assist them in their journey. None of them knew anything about Topcoder or had even considered crowdsourcing their work, but I could see the wheels turning in their heads when they thought about the possibilities. We exchanged information and promised to be in touch. I then proceeded to talk to different clusters of informal groups having conversations about fitness and technology. I had fun talking about Topcoder and crowdsourcing. I fielded a lot of questions about quality and reliability, and was happy to be able to answer that our community is very professional, good at what they do and that we have a track record of delivering as well as any other tech company who services clients. All in all, it was a fun night and I had the opportunity to learn about a field I wasn’t aware of, and in return shared possible ways that Topcoder can be a part of this industry.
HackerNest was a different format. It was a Meetup with a collection of developers, designers, and other technologists to meet co-founders, funders and even future employers. There was no theme, just an informal gathering of people in the tech industry. So while there wasn’t as much of a focus as the Biohack the World event, the wide openness of HackerNest was also valuable. I mingled with a few different groups and met people working on a wide range of projects from dashboards for vehicles to AR for gaming. I had some interesting conversations with people from start-ups about how the Topcoder platform could help them with their products and services. This was a learning experience for both sides. A company representative would explain to me what their company is about, what they do, and what kinds of projects they are working on. I in turn would talk about what Topcoder is about, what we do, and what our awesome community is capable of. Once we made those exchanges we would bounce ideas off of each other, talking about what would be a good fit for Topcoder to work on.
I must say it was a positive experience going out to these technology Meetups, to not only learn about the latest in tech, but also to meet the people involved. I went into this thinking that I would meet a bunch of tech nerds who I would not be able to relate and talk to, but the exact opposite was true. I met a lot of smart people that enjoyed talking about themselves and what they do, but also were genuinely interested in listening to others. I’m grateful for the opportunity to expose companies to other possibilities of ways to get work done. My main takeaway from this experience is that while companies and individuals are working and moving along on their own, there is still a want and need for collaboration and building communities to help with their projects. I also saw how readily people are willing to impart information and are genuinely interested in helping others succeed. Hopefully with the contacts that I made, we can further link the Topcoder community with the larger tech community.