Guest Post: Bigger and Better BBQ

by Mark Scheel, iTriage

When does something become a tradition?

Is two years long enough? I have been running Google Developer Group DevFest’s for that long. This year we had almost a hundred kids play-learning with robots, minecraft and electronic arts and crafts.

Maybe it takes four years? I have been speaking since the inaugural Denver Startup Week that long. That first year I anxiously presented in a moldy basement. The event has since grown to become the largest free entrepreneurial event in North America. This year the governor of Colorado spoke at the opening breakfast and I spoke at the top of a multi-million dollar beautiful meeting space, flying in a special guest for the occasion.

Or perhaps it takes seven years? That’s how long I have been attending Google I/O. I still remember my original Droid, the first 4G phone (HTC Evo), and Google Cardboard that I received over the years. Other highlights included Jane’s Addiction, Billy Idol and who can forget the sky diving spectacle that launched Google Glass? Over seven years a lot of things change. When I started going to Google I/O most Android devices used physical keyboards and notifications did not yet exist in Android. Today there are wearables a plenty, and every year there are new surprises.

When does something become a tradition? I think three years sounds about right to make something a tradition, especially when they are good ones.

Three years ago was the first time I came to the Hurst Convention Center for Big Android BBQ. I met Aaron’s mom, rode an adult sized Big Wheel, and won a hackathon by programming a HTC M7 to control a television. It was a small event, but a blast! There were few technical classes and the vendor hall was—umm—sparse.

It’s hard to even remember how I first learned about the BBQ. Probably a conversation at Google I/O, whispers about something special in Texas.

That first year I gave a talk to an overflowing room thirsty for technical content. I met Dario Laverde of HTC. He introduced me to “Saurik” (Jay Freeman) and of course I hung out with Aaron Kasten and the BBQ-tastic Ray. I handed out orange iTriage beer coozies designed by Josh “Graphics Hat” Jones. The next year I handed out yellow iTriage coozies, and there were people who had the 2013 coozies still. Folks were collecting them! I gave another technical talk and was joined by a respectable line up of speakers, there were even a couple of Googlers in attendance, Reto Meier, Timothy Jordan and more.

I have found that the professional connections made at the BBQ are one of the best reasons to attend. That guest I flew in to Denver Startup Week this year? The same Dario I met that first year at Big Android BBQ!

In 2015, the coozies will be back (blue this year!), Aaron and Dario and other familiar faces will be too. But so much will be different. Like Google I/O and slow cooked meats, the BBQ gets better with time. Google’s involvement looks to be enormous this year. The speaker line up is great, with about half a dozen speakers from Colorado. In years past I was lucky to see a familiar face from Sphero on the speaker lineup, but this many Colorado speakers is unprecedented! The past whispers about a great event down in Texas are no longer whispers. Everywhere I go I see another note, another ad, another proclamation that this year’s Big Android BBQ is going to be special.

So when does the Big Android BBQ become a tradition for me? This year. 2015. I couldn’t be more excited to get down to Texas for some heaping portions of technical content, familiar face networking, and of course meeting new folks. I’ll be giving a talk with a #PerfMatters theme and wandering the halls, and skidding out on an adult sized big wheel. I hope to see you there starting or continuing your own tradition.

If you make it, please come say hi, and ask for a coozie. I’ll be doling out coozie sightings from my twitter, @5280mark.

Mark is a senior Android engineer at iTriage, a consumer medical app with 5-10 million Play Store downloads. After the BBQ he will be speaking at Android events in Paris and Silicon Valley in 2015. He dreams of buttery smooth user experiences, snowboarding in deep powder, and home automation hacks.


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