#Croydon #TechCity: A web developer’s view

By - Monday 20th January, 2014

Local developer Richard Bray considers what more can be done to nurture Croydon’s local talent

As a web developer with a keen interest in my industry I often find myself attending tech events, meetups and conferences, many of which are located in central London. When I first discovered Croydon Tech City through Twitter I was quite sceptical. Are there actually proficient developers in Croydon? Are there even any tech companies? However, those questions didn’t stop me from attending and since I live locally the journey home would only be a single bus ride, instead of the series of trains I usually take after a London event. What I saw after attending Croydon Tech City completely changed my perspective of people in Croydon.

A room full of developers, investors, legal advisors, and people with ideas for businesses, not to mention the event’s venue – Matthew’s Yard. A delightful café/bar ‘hidden’ in Old Town Croydon which I had never heard of before even though I’ve lived in Croydon for over 15 years. The speakers were very engaging, great at keeping the attention of the audience, and gave fulfilling answers to the questions asked at the end of their talks. The event on the whole is well organised and akin to a tech event in London (on a somewhat smaller scale). I was so impressed that I even volunteered to design and develop a website for it (croydontechcity.com). There is only one thing however that is missing from the event in my opinion: focus on developers.

Croydon Tech City is perfect for the business-oriented person who is interested in the process of starting their own tech company and willing to learn from others who have successfully achieved that. It’s not really an event for a developer looking to better their skills and learn more about their industry. One could argue that Croydon Creatives is the perfect event for that sort of thing, and I agree with that sentiment to a certain extent. Croydon Creatives is web developer meetup based in (you guessed it) Croydon. The gathering of like-minded people can give an insight into the industry and encourage one to better one’s skills, however those are by-products of the event and not its primary focus. There are no speakers, scheduled talks or workshops. (Although its organisers do have an event which includes multiple speakers called 12 Devs) Alas the event is held in London not in Croydon – possibly due to the easy accessibility of the capital.

So how can Croydon Tech City or Croydon in general appeal to more developers?

Free food, free t-shirts, and having respected members of the industry appear as headline speakers are a few things that I’ve seen done in other events. Most of these extras require money which can be acquired via ticket sales, sponsorship, or donations, which Croydon Tech events do none of. Though these are avenues the event holders look into, I would prefer to see something different, something that most of the major web events don’t do: give a voice to those who are not well known. Croydon Tech City kind of does this already in the sense that their speakers are usually not well known but have achieved things worth talking about. A similar event could be done but for developers, possibly with free food – that always seems to work.

I know this may seem like the ramblings of an event-deprived developer, but it would be nice to have a future without negative connotations that are derived from even mentioning the town Croydon. One way to achieve this is by having well known technology companies set up camp here. I am already very impressed with the advances the Croydon Tech City team has made towards their goal of making Croydon the ‘Silicon Valley of South London’. I hope this encourages more Croydonian developers to support what’s going on.

The next Croydon Tech City event takes place on Thursday January 23rd at 7:30pm at Matthews Yard. To attend, please sign up as ‘attending’ here  or  to confirm your attendance.

Richard Bray

Richard Bray

A 20 something year old creative based in Croydon who spends time making stuff, usually for the web http://richbray.me/

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  • Mike Puddephat

    Great article, Richard! I would also be interested in a developer focused Croydon based event. Still haven’t been able to attend a Croydon Tech City meeting, hoping to get along next month.