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One free booth, two free tickets, and a priceless community: An Edtech Startup's PyCon Postscript

We love success stories. In this post, Trinket co-founder Elliott Hauser shares his experience being part of the Startup Row at PyCon 2014 in Montréal.

The email from Yannick started like this:

"Elliott, Our judges have selected Trinket for final consideration to participate in Startup Row at PyCon 2014. Congratulations!"

We'd won a free booth and two free tickets to the otherwise sold out PyCon 2014 in Montreal. Awesome! We launched our newly designed teaching platform at the conference, met some amazing Python educators at the Education Summit, and got the Trinket name out to the best coding education community around. PyCon and the community that suffuses and animates it were the perfect launchpad for our new platform.

Community

Python's educational community is incredibly strong. A selection of the people we met at the event should demonstrate how rich the community is.

Naomi Ceder (who organized the summit along with Jessica Nickel + Chalmer Lowe) is a former teacher, professional programmer and Python education advocate. Quite aside from the inspiring talk she'd give later on at the conference, she did an amazing job organizing and selecting the speakers for the event.

Katie Cunningham & Barbara Shaurette gave an amazing talk on how to run a Young Coders Tutorial. They have been inspiring others to teach kids since the first Young Coders Tutorial won lots of attention and accolades at PyCon 2013. It was inspiring to meet them both and participate in the discussion afterwards.

edX is a leader in the online Massively Open Online Courses space and they use a lot of Python. Project lead Ned Batchelder was on hand at the educational summit, as were several edX team members like Sarina Canelake.

Finally, it's important to note that a great many of the attendees had come from places other than the US and Canada. Paul-Oliver Dehaye teaches Math using Python in Switzerland. Fernando Masanori created the first Portugese Python MOOC and is based in Brazil. And I really enjoyed hearing what Froilan Izarry is doing with his Python workshops in Puerto Rico.

Results

The big thing that other startups will want to know is whether exhibiting at PyCon have measurable results for us? Startup row has definitely had an impact on our business. A representative graph: Trinket PyCon graph
But it hasn't stopped there. In the weeks since PyCon we've released an embeddable version of our interactive Python teaching tool, which is based on the awesome and open source Skulpt project). Just as PyCon pushed our traffic up to a new and sustained level, the press that we've gotten around this our interactive offering has taken us up and up again:
Trinket Embeddable graph
The kindling that lit this fire was the attention we got from individuals we met at PyCon. Posts by Python community members on Reddit, for instance, have been a huge driver of traffic in subsequent weeks. We've been picked up all over the world, including Python User Groups as far away as Russia and Taiwan (check out pythondigest.ru and Taiwan.py!).

What's next for Trinket?

Our mission is more people teaching more often, starting with the introduction to Python. We started with a simple and easy teaching platform with interactive Python examples that instructors can customize. But for teachers who already have a teaching platform of choice, the overhead of switching can still be a barrier. So last week we released embedded Python Trinkets, designed to be put on any website. Here's one just for you: They're customizible- go ahead and make your own! Tweet your creations @trinketapp to submit them for inclusion in our upcoming gallery.

To everyone at PyCon and Startup Row: thanks again for your support and making the event a success for us. We hope to see soon, perhaps even teaching Python!

Beyond Startup Row

PyCon is not the only conference with a community program like Startup Row. Our Montréal partner, Startup Festival, is also looking for young startups to share their stories. No matter if you apply there or at Startup Row next year, we truly believe that engaging early with a thriving community is one of the most impactful thing that you can do for your company. Whoever you are, get your stories out.

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