The WordPress community has become increasingly global as the platform’s popularity has grown over time. This growth is evident in the ever increasing number of WordCamps and Meetups being held worldwide.
Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to go to India for 22-days on a mission to directly meet the WordPress community there. Here’s what I discovered.
Breaking Out of the US WordPress Bubble
A lot of members of the WordPress community travel to WordCamps outside their own city or state. Fewer travel internationally, but those that do gain important perspectives that many miss out on. For me, I have done a fair bit of traveling but not specifically for the sake of expanding my WordPress knowledge and network. This was the first goal of the trip, to break out of the bubble many of us in the US live in. I wanted to discover how one of the top tech nations in the world uses and develops on WordPress. I wanted to see how to viewed our community back at home and how we can work closer.
Another reason I chose India for this first trip was because we had recently hired on a new developer named Ravinder Kumar. At first, I was a bit nervous about the huge time difference. This can be a challenge with growing distributed teams and remote work. However, after just a short amount of time working together, Ravinder proved himself to be an excellent communicator, great programmer, and vital team member. I wanted to continue to develop and build our relationship. Meeting Ravinder in person reinforced that goal.
During my trip I would attend two WordCamps, one Meetup, and co-work with many talented folks. While WordCamps started in the US, the number of Camps outside the US has outnumbered the those in the US. In 2016, WordCamp Europe was the largest gathering of the WordPress community to date. Looking around the globe, there are many WordCamps having their inaugural camp — India, specifically, is the most emerging.
- Meet new communities and expand network
- Meet current team member personally
- Gain understanding of region and talent
- Gauge current knowledge of our product
- Increase Give’s following through WordCamp sponsorships
- Explore potential partnership opportunities with companies
- Recruit talented full-time team members
- Reduce to-market development investments
- Increase product development capacity
- Increase customer base through merger or acquisition
Attending WordCamps in India: Pune and Udaipur 2017
When I first got to India, I traveled to Pune, India’s 8th largest city and home of rtCamp, the first WordPress VIP agency in the country. Rahul Bansal, the founder, was very accommodating and made my first impression of the country feel welcoming. He took me to dinner and invited me to his office where I got some work done (remote work) and met many more of his talented team members.
WordCamp Pune 2017
The next few days were filled with WordCamp Pune sponsoring and speaking. This is where I first met our team member Ravinder:
— Devin Walker (@innerwebs) January 15, 2017
It was interesting to both speak and sponsor this event. Many folks really liked our t-shirts and we had to pull back on the number we were giving out to save some for WordCamp Udaipur. The community was welcoming and receptive to our brand. A few people we spoke with also worked with Give either in an implementation or development capacity. That was encouraging!
During my WordCamp Pune experience I discovered that there were a number of differences when compared to a typical US-based WordCamp:
- Many more developers attended vs beginners
- There were a large number of students attending
- There was a higher percentage of women attending
- A number of companies brought many staff members
- Many companies were actively recruiting from the attendees
- Sponsor “bingo” for attendees to meet the sponsors
- Slightly different formatting than we’re used to in the US
Nearly all of these differences are positive. The organizers rocked it. The sponsors got lots of exposure and the speakers each had the opportunity to introduce themselves in the morning. I would like to have liked to seen more beginner WordPress users in attendance.
As well, the WordCamp was only one day. In my opinion it could have been two days. Other than that and a few technical glitches that nearly all WordCamps experience, the WordCamp was very successful.
WordCamp Udaipur 2017
The second WordCamp I attended was in Udaipur, a very picturesque city located in Rajasthan in the northwestern corner of India. We also sponsored this event and I was invited to speak on a panel as well. The venue was very nice and there were many cool props around that you could take fun photos with your friends.
— Devin Walker (@innerwebs) January 28, 2017
— WordCamp Udaipur (@wcUdaipur) February 7, 2017
The WordCamp was also a one day event. Being the first WordCamp Udaipur, this is understandable and common for inaugural WordCamps. Puneet Sahalot, lead organizer and founder of IdeaBox Creations, and his awesome team of organizers and volunteers, did an excellent job making sure everything went off without a hitch.
The number of women in attendance was also very high in Udaipur. There was a panel discussion on “Women in WordPress,” which was a definite highlight. The panelists were open in how they have been received in the community and shared their unique perspectives and insights.
— Devin Walker (@innerwebs) January 28, 2017
The experience I had in Udaipur shared similarities with Pune but also had its own unique feel. The community I experienced there had many developers and a high percentage of women. Everyone was so welcoming and supportive. No one was condescending or difficult. I felt the presentations, panels, and sponsors all shared a common love for WordPress and many friends were made on that single day.
Meeting Ravinder in Person
Meeting Arvind Singh, a young and inspired WordPress developer and organizer of WordCamp New Delhi.
Spending time in Chennai with Vinodh
Hanging out with Rahul, Vivek, Joel, and many on the rtCamp team
Meeting Nirmal and the team from Multidots
— WordCamp Udaipur (@wcUdaipur) January 28, 2017
There are many more people and meaningful connections made while I was traveling throughout India. Nearly everyone I met was open to discuss WordPress, business, and life. The trip was inspiring and lead to many good developments at our company.
Outcomes of the Trip
I’m writing this post a few months after my actual trip. Looking back on it, I had the time of my life and learned a great deal. I did get a bit homesick towards the end but luckily I was always pretty active to keep my mind busy. Since the trip, we have developed several India payment gateways like Razor Pay, CCavenue, and PayUmoney. As well, we have continued to recruit and work with Indian companies to further develop Give.
- WordPress is truly a global platform
- India is a very competitive market with a lot of players
- Give needs to continue developing international payment gateways
- We need to continue to hire remotely on an international level
- WordCamp sponsorships go a long way in India and gets great brand exposure
Travel, Explore, Learn, and Grow
I highly recommend to anyone looking to gain an outside perspective of the WordPress community and their business to get out and see the wider WordPress world. If you don’t want to travel too far, WordCamp Europe is a perfect first opportunity. The experiences you have will enrich your life and change you, and your business, for the better.