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Leading DevRel at a Silicon Valley startup

Moving to San Fransisco and working for a startup in Silicon Valley has been a dream of mine for a while. After all, it is the startup tech hub of the world. As a fresh college graduate last year, I got a chance to make it a reality.

I want to tell the story of leading developer relations at an early stage devtool startup called Fig. It all started with a Twitter DM, that lead to an interview, that a few weeks later, led to me moving across the country to San Fransisco.

The work

To set the scene, we were a small and scrappy team of 6 having recently raised a seed round of a few million dollars. And we just needed to execute.

The fast pace was no joke. In the first week, we spent about 12h a day at the office for onboarding, that then decreased to ~10.5h a day. The founders spent even more time working. We prioritized tasks on a week to week basis which led to me being able to work on a wide variety of things. In terms of the 3 pillars of developer advocacy, I was lucky to do work in every pillar.

What I did

What I did while I was at Fig can be broken down into five primary areas:

1. Discord

I helped grow the Fig Discord community by DMing new users and answering people's questions. At one point, I sent a personalized DM to every single user that joined until it become unscalable.

I also livestreamed myself contributing to Fig's open source repo weekly on the Discord to encourage our users to contribute and did a livestream with Nader + Fig's CEO. I ended up helping them scale their Discord community from 1k members to over 2k over the two months I was there.

2. Twitter

I came up with our Twitter strategy and executed, posting a variety of tweets over an average of 5 times a week. Fig was a very visual product so I also recorded a lot of short videos and GIFs to show it off.

We also ran promotions and giveaways on Twitter. Fig was invite-only at the time so we partnered with popular developer influencers to give away hundreds of Fig invites and increase our userbase. I ended up growing their Twitter from 2k to over 4.5k followers.

3. Open Source

Another thing I did was manage our open source repo. Along with a part-time team member, I reviewed dozens of PRs with some back and forth with our contributors to make sure we were pushing quality code and following best practices.

I also submitted several PRs myself – a total of 63 commits and 19k lines of code. Some of this code was generated using CLI parsers and scripts that I wrote. You can look through my commits here.

4. Writing code

Yet another thing I helped with was the frontend for our Fig settings app. I redesigned and reimplemented it, fixed some bugs, and added features to make it easier for users to customize their settings.

I also helped with creating parsers for popular CLI tools like curl and GCC. I did this to programatically grab all the different options and arguments of a CLI tool and generate a completion spec so Fig could autocomplete for them.

5. Developer Experience

The final thing I did was help improve the overall developer experience of the product. I collected feedback from users each week through Discord chats, Twitter DMs, zoom calls, and my livestreams and relayed it over to our engineering team.

I also revamped our entire documentation to improve the UI, base it on the Divio system (seen below) and write a few extra guides. Naturally, our docs used Next.js and were hosted on Vercel :)


Lessons Learned

Overall, my work contributed to us getting thousands of more members in our Discord and Twitter, which lead to more OSS contributors, more Github stars, and significantly more users. I'm proud of what I did at Fig.

It was a hectic and rewarding couple months and even though it didn't work out in the end, I'm extremely thankful to Fig to giving me my start in the world of SF startups and for everything I learned.

They taught me how to ruthlessly prioritize and focus on the biggest pain points first. They taught me that a plan means nothing without solid execution. And they taught me that unexpected events occur and you need to be ready to deal with them.