Roshan Gautam

You should start a tech community too.

I will share my story of establishing and growing JS Community in a developing country Nepal. How tech communities will help you and other grow together ? Challenges that you might face while starting a community in your place. (Based on my experience) How to overcome these challenges ?

Portrait photo of Roshan Gautam


Hello. Hi, everybody! Wooh! It's finally here. I mean, is anyone playing drums around here? Because, you know, I am kind of hearing beatings. I think it's my heart beating so loud and fast - I'm so nervous.

Thank you, Rachel. First of all, I would like to thank JSConf EU for this wonderful community.

This is my second time in JSConf EU, and second time in Berlin. I had a nice time back then, and also hoping to have the same this year too. I was here last year on a scholarship - again, thanks to JSConf EU. They're doing an amazing job providing scholarships to diverse culture people from people who wouldn't be here for the scholarships. So a round of applause, maybe, for the JSConf EU team! [Applause].

And, yes, a few disclaimers and excuses. This is going to be my first ever talk at an international conference, and also my first-ever talk in the English language. [Applause]. I'm used to give in the Nepali language, so this will be my first-ever talk.

You might hear some broken English, and - so bear with me. Another disclaimer: the challenges of overcoming techniques that I'm going to mention here in this talk are based on my total, I mean, based on my personal experience, and it's subjected to change according to the country, according to the organiser.

Yes, before starting today, I would like to have a few questions with the guys. You can raise your hands if you agree with it. And you don't have to do anything if you don't. Have you ever started a tech community before? Anyone? I can see a few hands.

Has anyone here currently leading a community? You don't have to - you don't have to be the founder, but you're currently leading the community? Anybody? A few. How many of you believe in community? By "believe", I mean how many think a community can help you grow? It can help you be more productive, and even help. You can be a better person? Nice. That's what I feel too.

In fact, what I am today, where I am today is all because of the community. I'm so into it.

So, yes, about me: I'm Roshan Gautam. By the way, good afternoon, everybody! I've come all the way from Nepal, just finished my bachelor's degree in computer science. Actually, waiting for the result of my last semester, so fingers crossed. I'm working as a full-time coder in my own company called Technology. You can see the spelling right there.

I saw my - I spend my time developing mobile apps using React Native, mobile apps development for four years now, just after joining the campus. When I was in school, maybe grade 8 or 9, my dad bought a computer, and I was so into it. At that time, I used to play a lot of football - I mean, you understand football, right? So, maybe soccer for somebody. So, yes. I used to play a lot of football.

After that, I got the computer in my home, and in school, they used to teach us QBASIC, and one of my elder brothers introduced me with in tool, and I just got into programming world from grade 9. I used to get so fascinated by community back then as well. I used to create and joined the Facebook groups for programming. I created one called Programmers, something like that.

On Facebook, not that old! Also, I used to join different chat rooms? Yahoo Messenger a lot. Yes, talking about the communities. These are a few of the communities that I'm currently involved in, and also I was involved in, KT MDS. Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, and it's a small JavaScript community, actually a meet-up group in Kathmandu.

I'm currently leading in community so I will talk about this in more detail in a moment. Next up, it's Web Conference in Kathmandu.

I'm so excited to talk about this. I'm one of the proud organisers. Have you ever heard of Web Kathmandu, anybody? You will have heard about it today! I also talk about this in more detail in a moment. It's another is community of volunteers who want to contribute in open source, and also in the open way who wants to contribute in open source, in a modular project. We organise various events, and activities like the selection of the browsers, privacy campaigns, and work - I'm a ...

another talk at ambassador programme is local campus ambassador in my campus while I was there. So, let's talk about KTMJS. As I said earlier, it's a community of JS developers in Kathmandu where we gather together, share things around JavaScript, just we talk, and it started two years ago as a Facebook group. It is still there.

I mean, yes. So, we are currently six people managing the community, six co-contributors.

Until now, we have managed to organise around 13 event, and in our Facebook group, there are around 1,500 members, so I'm not into all these numbers at all, but I wanted to have it in the slide so I could talk about it. So the last meet-up that we did was on 25 May. We do a regular meet-up of different formats, like sometimes formal, sometimes informal, and sometimes a mix of both. This is the photo from the last week of KMTJS.

There were 65 people, I guess, with four speakers. It was about testing, and security in JavaScript. So let me talk about where - let me talk about the conference in Kathmandu, the conference that I'm so excited and proud about. It's the only web conference in Nepal.

There are a few conferences which are related to the workplace or something like that, but it's the only conference that - it's a two-day conference, but a bit different than the KTMJ - than JSConf EU. On the first day, it's talks like this, but on the second day, we do outdoor activities like, you know, trekking, and hiking, and roaming around the city together.

I want to talk about the motivation behind this conference. So, there are a lot of experienced developers promising start-ups in Nepal, they are scattered and unnoticed. The main motivation behind this conference is making these people come together and say about their stuff with - share their stuff with each other, and get together and build something, right? And also, it's very economically hard for Nepalese, like in their salary range to come to this place and attend the conference and not everybody is as lucky as me to get their talk accepted and attend the conference or get a scholarship. What it aims to do is to provide these opportunities to meet people, and attend high-class talks for the local people in Nepal.

Let me talk about a little bit of behind the scenes, how it all started. So I was attending this conference in Iceland. It's JSConf Iceland which you may have heard of. I was talking to one of the speakers of JSConf Iceland. He actually asked me if there were any conferences that are happening in Nepal? At that point of time, I was speechless, actually.

So, I was really sad. I came back to Nepal. In one of the local meet-ups in my surprise, I found this group of people who were actually planning to do a conference in Nepal. So, I was so excited, you know? I was attending this conference in all the places of the world, but I had not any conferences in my place, so I was so excited, I joined the team, successfully organised, the first time in 2018.

So do you want to know the best part? The speaker who asked me about the conference in Nepal will be speak ing at in 2019 in September 22 to 23rd. How cool is that? [Applause]. So these are some of the stats from WWKTM. We were initially expecting only 80 people, so I guess around 80 people to come, and five or six speakers, but to our surprise, as you can see in the stats, there were 300-plus attendees, and ten speakers from 14-plus countries.

This is the group photo from the Kathmandu 2018. So this was - it - so there are a lot of perks going together with community.

There are a lot of perks when leading a meet-up group or organising events and conferences. It's possible to grow together with community, right? You guys believed it before. So, if you haven't watched the final episode of Game of Thrones yet, this might be the spoiler for you, but I hope it won't matter anyway. Yes. How many of you ...! Did you get it! How do you think I came all this way? I mean, if it wasn't for community? I wouldn't have been here speaking before you guys, organising meet-ups and conferences, giving me the courage to do challenging things that even if I'm not very good at it.

I hadn't known about this conference or I wouldn't have applied for the talk if it wasn't for community, and, if I wasn't involved in these kind of activities. So you will be more privileged. So list - I was listening to this podcast called Howe I Built This? Has anyone heard of that? I was listening to this podcast by John from BuzzFeed. He was saying when you get initial success, as he did in the Huffington Post, you will get access to greater ideas, resources and people, et cetera, that strike me right in.

For this, I mean when you lead a community or you organise this kind of event, even if you participate actively in these programmes, you will have access to more resources, and many more available stuff, right? So, you know, you get these perks. I found myself doing these things.

You can have your own set of stuff. Attend the talks actively. Yes, you are the organiser of the meet-up. You might not have a lot of time attending the talks, but you have to, you can try to manage things in such a way that you are also attending the talks actively which will surely help you grow your professional lives and get some skills.

How many of you agree on this? Reaching out to the speakers, reaching out to the speakers will help you grow your communication skills of course. Your network of friends and professionals will be wide enough to get more opportunities. Challenges that I faced: so, of course, you're going to face a lot of challenges if you trying to conduct meet-ups in small communities like Nepal, right? There might be a lot of them in different forms. I will talk about these challenges that I'm facing in my place, Nepal, and you can always deliver them to yours.

No wonder you might have differences of challenges. Values: yes, in a small community like Nepal, it's really hard to get nice conference hall for free of cost.

I mean, as we are not well funded, and that could accommodate more, more than 50 participants. I actually, we, I had to postpone one of the meet-ups because of not getting the venue in time, right? That was a very sad moment. Another challenge would be to find sponsors. You might not need sponsors to run the meet-up, but, in fact, most of the meet-ups that I have organised they are sponsor-free.

On the other hand, it's hard to organise meet-ups without sponsors. I mean, usually, we have - with no sponsors, there are not going to be food and drinks for the attendees, right? How actively one can participate in the event, a hungry stomach? And also, it's really nice to give some token of love to speakers. In my context, the main issue with finding sponsors was, like, not so many companies to approach for sponsorship. There were not enough companies, there are not enough companies in Nepal, sorry, where I can approach for sponsorship. Finding speakers turned out to be hard task for me as well.

In the case of Nepal, and in the case of some of the speakers don't really want to talk in the small meet-up like ours, and most of them, most of the engineers, they hesitate to talk in public. That's a real problem in our place. So, if you want to share something in the community, or if you have done some amazing stuff that will help the public, please go forward and don't hesitate about talking in the meet-ups. It could be local, or it could be a conference like this.

It would really help the organisers. The same like the speakers, attendees are also like, faced challenges in attendees as well. Senior engineers and developers are not willing to attend the meet-up maybe because they feel like they aren't going to learn anything from the meet-up, but, yes, most of the participants in the meet-ups in Nepal are students. Also, this is the main thing, I guess, motivations in teams..

since we are non-funded, we're not funded by any big organisations, there might be the loss of motivation in the team. Yes, too much or too few meet-ups.

This is a very big problem. Because of the lack of motivation and the different jobs of the people, of the organising team, there might be very few meet-ups, and also there might be too many meet-ups. So how to overcome these challenges? Again, these are based on my experience, and these things are subjected to change according to the country, according to the place, and according to the organiser teams. So you can try to find alternative venues. You know, you can talk to the schools and colleges, and universities to provide their premises as a venue.

You can also conduct small meet-ups in coffee shops and cafes where participants can buy their own coffee and food, and also you can ask the venue providers to provide light snacks and tea and coffee for their attendees. In the - senior developers and engineers don't like to go, why they wouldn't like to come in the meet-up, it's like they're not going to learn anything from the talks, they just want to build their network, but students, they like to attend the talks from the seniors, and they like to learn programming languages, or something like that. So you can try to have, you know, different formats of the events like these talks should not, I mean, it doesn't have to be formal meet-ups where two guys come and do the frameworks, right, so you can try to do informal meet-ups where developers meet and greet, talk about their life, talk about their side projects. You can also try doing events in different time, like, sometimes in the morning, sometimes in the afternoon, and even in the evening. Right? Yes, the meet-ups in the Facebook group can be also very fruitful.

Too frequent meet-ups in the beginning, we used to do meet-ups efficient week. That was crazy. Attendees and even yourself, you don't want to lose all your weekends, you know? Going to the meet-ups, and listening to some stuff. Having said that, skipping six or seven months for a meet-up is not healthy, either.

You have to do - regularly, it could be once in a month, or twice in - I don't know, once in two months, and something like that. And another thing that you can do is let your team member lead the meet-up. I actually, did this recently, that I was just talking about the May 25 meet-up. I was actually preparing for JSConf EU talk, and I didn't have enough time to conduct meet-up, so I asked one of my team members to organise this and do anything they like, you know? It was very good thing.

I mean, there was a lot of - all the people from the team came up, and they started working on them, and it was successful. I mean, 65 people were there, and I heard it went a lot better.

Also, you can get engaged in social media, Facebook groups, and invite the attendees to attend, to join the group, and ask questions, or something like that. Yes, very, very important, not - yes, check feedback from your attendees. It's very important. Like, I told you earlier that we are trying to have different formats of events, right? So it was because of the feedbacks from the attendees.

Takeaways, actively to grow and participate with the together, involved in community will help you grow your communication skills and professional skills, have motivated members in your team. Too many meet-ups and too irregular meet-ups, avoid. Always take feedback from the attendees, and screw it, just do it! If you have - if you're not getting involved in the local meet-ups, just get involved in it, and thank you. This is Roshan Gautam. You can find me in the GitHub.

Thank you. [Applause]. Actually, one more thing: if you want to speak at Kathmandu, we've just opened up our wildcard speaker proposal for a very limited tile, make sure you apply as soon as possible. Thanks again! [Applause].