It was 2014, and Shreelakshmi had just moved to Bangalore. She had just assumed her new role as “Head of Training & Operations” at jnaapti in February 2014. One of her goals was to bring more visibility to jnaapti. This is an account of her experience of growing a community with technical meetup sessions.
Shreelakshmi’s memories go back to the days when jnaapti was still a single person organization and was hardly known in the community. jnaapti grew to be a four member team in early 2014. It was during this phase that jnaapti was taking baby steps towards a bigger future that we are living in today.
We brainstormed on how to make people around us know jnaapti and the work we do. We started looking for various ways to conduct events which will help spread our learning philosophies. That is when we came across the site Meetup.com.
The First Meetup
They say the first step is always the hardest and so it was with our meetup journey as well.
The first meetup we conducted was on Python Bootstrap. Here we planned to talk about Python’s problem solving abilities and the simplicity with which we can solve problems in Python. We picked a few real life problems and discussed how to solve them in Python. This meetup was a great experience for Shreelakshmi for 2 main reasons:
1. This was the first time Shreelakshmi personally ventured out to invite people to understand jnaapti’s learning philosophies better.
2. We were unsure about the number of people attending it so we had planned to conduct this at jnaapti home. This showed that if we have a will, we will find a way!
It was scheduled to be at 5:00 PM. Radhika, Shreelakshmi and Radhakrishna were waiting while Gautham, as usual, was calm and composed. We had decided to go ahead if we had even one person attending it! We didn’t have a lot of furniture or great lighting to support the meetup. We rented out a few chairs each costing 10 Rupees, a fan to make sure there were no mosquitoes, and brought a packet of Tang to host our guests attending our meetup. We were happy when the first participant called to ask us “where is #725, jnaapti home!”.
The day ended with the positive reviews that the participants mentioned on the Meetup site.
Thanks @Jnaapti for the wonderful session,
This has given me a new dimension to work with when learning a new language.. – Gautham Dn
It was a nice session, changed the way I looked at programming languages. Highly informative and hope the meetup gets bigger in the future. ☺ – Mahesh Kumar
It was a great talk about fundamentals of Python language and how to explore more on the advanced features. Thanks for the time. Hope to see more such sessions. – Subramanian Olagappan
(Note: Corrected for grammatical errors)
We were happy and thrilled to have hosted 8 people that day. Gautham did make an impact in the hearts of the people who made it that day! Most of them have attended all our meetups religiously and always had very high regards for every Meetup we conducted ever since. This was the beginning of our Meetup journey.
Meetup #2 – First Meetup in an External Venue
We conducted this meetup session in a local training center in Indiranagar, Bangalore. We were paying for the venue, but thought it would be worth it.
Meetup #3 – Our First Paid Meetup
Within a week of Meetup #2, we decided to host a 3rd one. This time it was on “Thinking Scale With NoSQL Stores”.
Relational databases technology is at least three decades old. However, of late, people are skeptical about using relational databases in some specific use cases. Skeptics say that relational databases are not easy to scale while the so called NoSQL stores are much easier to scale. They say LAMP is outdated. The future is MEAN or something along those lines. Is this true? Do NoSQL stores solve the scalability and fail over issues? How do they do it?
Unlike in the relational world, there are no standards around NoSQL. What this means is that every NoSQL store has a different way of looking at schema design. How do we choose a specific NoSQL store? In this session we discussed how NoSQL design is different from relational design and how different NoSQL stores differ in their internal architecture. We specifically discussed NoSQL design approach in MongoDB and Cassandra.
We conducted this meetup session in a local training center in Indiranagar, Bangalore. In order to pay for the venue, we decided to charge the participants a nominal fee of ₹100/- per head. Participants were more than happy to pay for the session. However, the hassles of handling cash and change (before the PayTM/BHIM era) discouraged us from charging participants. We were frantically looking for alternatives to grow organically.
Meetup #4 – Our First Meetup with a Venue Sponsor
And boy, did we find an alternative! The next meetup was organized within a week and we got NASSCOM 10000 Startup Warehouse to sponsor the venue for our meetup.
It was at this time that we had built a feature called Playground in Virtual Coach and we wanted to put it in the hands on end users and get some direct feedback. We had close to 40 people attending this meetup and the conference room was packed.
We covered a lot of topics:
- Designing for various form factors
- Grid design
- Flexbox model – positioning without floats
- CSS Frameworks and Pre-processors – LESS, Foundation, Bootstrap etc
- Transforms and Transitions
We also successfully tested our product feature and called it a day!
Meetup #5 – Crossing the 50 attendees mark
A week later we organized another meetup at NASSCOM 10000 Startup Warehouse. The participant number was so large that we had to conduct this meetup outside in the work area, since the conference room was not big enough.
Meetup #6 – Our First Hackathon
Meetup #11 – Our First Online Meetup
Meetup #12 – Crossing 50 companies in a single meetup!
What started off with an 8 participant turn up became more than a 100 people turn up within a span of a year. The meetup on Future of Client Side Technologies was attended by over 100 participants and was sponsored by Akamai.