S2E18: Online Entrepreneur to Fullstack Developer with Anthony Delgado

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In today's episode of the Learn to Code With Me podcast, I talk with Anthony Delgado. Anthony started his career as an online entrepreneur and taught himself how to code on the job. Throughout his different positions, he developed a desire for creating new things. He now works as at websignia, a digital innovation agency.

In our conversation, Anthony describes his extended learning process. Many of his skills emerged out of necessity. As projects landed in front of him, he taught himself how to solve each problem. Eventually, his passion for learning opened up new opportunities and led him to where he is today.

The lessons Anthony learned on his journey into tech are valuable. He speaks about his experiences in bootcamp and at hackathons. He stresses the importance of meeting new people and stepping outside your comfort zone. For those of you who love new tech, you'll appreciate his enthusiasm for his favorite tech tools. Ultimately, you will be motivated by Anthony's success in achieving his goals.

Laurence:
Hey, it's Laurence Bradford. Welcome to Season 2 of the Learn to Code With Me podcast, where I'm chatting with people who taught themselves how to code and are now doing amazing things with their newly found skills.

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Hey listeners, welcome to the Learn to Code With Me podcast. I am your host, Laurence Bradford. In today's episode, I talk with Anthony Delgado. Anthony started off his career as an online entrepreneur. This gave him the chance to learn a ton about web development. Anthony eventually became the director of technology at an up and coming company outside New York City. In our conversation, Anthony describes his roundabout way of getting into tech, and how almost everything he knows today, he taught himself on the job. Remember, you can get Show Notes for this episode, plus a full transcript, at learntocodewith.me/podcast. Enjoy!

Hi Anthony, thank you so much for talking with me today.

Anthony:
Hey Laurence, how are you?

Laurence:
I'm doing great, how are you?

Anthony:
I'm great.

Laurence:
So real quick, could you introduce yourself to the audience?

Anthony:
My name is Anthony Delgado and I'm a technology hero at websignia. Websignia is a digital innovation agency, so we make apps and websites for other businesses. I've been writing code for about 10 years now.

Laurence:
Yeah that's so great. How did you start teaching yourself to code about 10 years ago?

Anthony:
I started off as an entrepreneur. I was selling things online and I made quite a nice amount of money selling things on eBay and Amazon. Eventually I didn't want to be locked into those platforms, so I started my own retail website and I started selling things online. Obviously the sales weren't as much as those platforms, but it was more than enough to sustain myself. Around 2007, I opened a brick and mortar store, a brick and mortar retail store. I was still selling things online but then I was also selling things in person.

After about a year, I came to the realization that I was making way more money online than I ever could in stores. I was selling things to people from all walks of life all across the world. I actually sold my store to an investor and I took that money and I went full scale into launching a startup to compete with eBay. Very lofty goals. I started it to compete with eBay and at the time I had moderate skills. I had took some courses in high school so after I graduated from high school there were some extracurricular courses that you could take to learn Dreamweaver and some real basic HTML. I had had the internet as a youth so I was very digital, but I was not really writing code until I was in my mid-20s.

I launched this E-commerce platform and at that time I wasn't able to write logic, right? I had very basic, high level understanding of HTML, very basic high level of CSS, but I wasn't able to actually write logic. I had all these awesome features that I wanted to bring to the platform. I was freelancing, outsourcing a lot of the work to freelancers and I was paying them large sums of money to develop features. They took really long, a lot of times they didn't implement things correctly the way I wanted. What I started doing is I actually started competing with them. I would assign them a feature set and then I would try to develop it myself. If I was able to develop the feature before them, I would kindly end the contract and tell them, "Hey, it's okay, I don't need to wait a month for this feature, I was able to do it in two days."

Laurence:
Oh wow, yeah.

Anthony:
Along my journey I created this E-commerce platform and I created a lot of other platforms as well, so I was putting Google Advertising on the platform and I started to notice that I could generate income without actually selling things, right? I remember the first month I launched Google AdSense I made maybe $30. The next month I made $100. The month after that I made $300 and at that point I was like, "Hang on, if I keep focusing on this I could probably make a sustainable income just from Google Advertising."

Laurence:
Yeah, wow. I don't want to interrupt but what year was this in? I'm just curious.

Anthony:
This was probably around 2009, between 2008 and 2009. Obama had just got elected and there was the economic crash and that was the other thing, right? The economy had kind of tanked and there wasn't as much money in retail as there once was.

Laurence:
Yeah.

Anthony:
Being able to make money without having a product to ship was definitely beneficial. I continued to create digital assets. So I created one website called addictedtoretail.com. It focused on products but not actually selling them, just talking about them. I launched another platform called unreleasedhiphop.com and another platform called Twitter Tube and all these assets that I started putting out into the world and they were all monetized by AdSense. Before you know it I was making six figures just from Google Advertising.

Laurence:
Yeah wow, that's crazy. Are any of these sites still online today, just out of curiosity?

Anthony:
Unfortunately, not many of them. There's probably a few, but when I started working professionally, I did take a lot of them down and I wasn't able to dedicate as much of my time to maintaining them. The one website that's still up is anthonydelgado.me. Shameless plug. A lot of them did kind of fade into the dust. The Google AdSense kind of dried up. After a certain point I think Google released the Panda Update so between them releasing the Panda SEO Update and me not really maintaining the sites or giving them attention, the income did kind of fizzle out. But I was making still $500-$1000 a month for like two or three years while I was working and really putting in zero to no effort.

Laurence:
That's insane. Because I know more recently, it's very hard to make anything substantial with AdSense. I have some YouTube videos which also goes through AdSense I believe. Even after a couple thousand views. I remember I got one $100 check from YouTube ever. It's been like two years. My videos, mind you, they're not getting tons of views or anything, but still, it's enough that it's kind of shocking how little you get. My point is to make a lot of money through AdSense or YouTube ads, which are all connected to the same thing, you need tons of reach. You need millions of people coming to your site or watching your YouTube videos, you know?

Anthony:
You got to think now you're competing with CNN, NBC, ABC. All these guys got hip and they started competing with us but back in the day it was the wild, wild, west. So you put a site up that had any type of content, if you had a picture of Kim Kardashian. CNN and ABC were not really online pushing digital as strong as they are now.

Laurence:
Yeah, that's a really good point. I think another thing, and now it just lost me, hopefully it comes back. I was going to add something to that about banner blindness. I think now so many of us were like the ads in the sidebars.

Anthony:
Adblock. The Adblock generation.

Laurence:
Yeah, we have Adblock or even, for instance on my work computer, I don't have Adblock installed for some reason, I'm not really sure why, but even when I see ads on Facebook, on the side or on other websites, I pretty much totally ignore them, I don't even really pay attention to them.

Anthony:
Yeah, definitely. The landscape has definitely changed a lot. Now you're competing with Forbes, you're competing with CNN and these guys have really deep pockets and they don't even care if they operate at a loss so they're just producing content at a rate that's really hard to compete with.

Laurence:
Yeah. Sorry we got a little sidetracked, but back to the story. So you're building these websites and then you said you were maintaining them for a few years and they were still earning you some money but then you began doing other things. What were those other things that you began doing?

Anthony:
I started doing freelance. I started building websites for other people. Basically I started out hiring freelancers and then I became the freelancer. I said, "Hey, if I can do this then I might as well start building things for other people." I built a platform for a high end jewelry store, a lot of local businesses in my area. Then one of my freelance contracts turned into a full time job. Again this is in 2009, a friend of mine who had a store in Manhattan, he paid someone from overseas I think $5000 to build him a website and the guy disappeared. He paid him the money, they had some communications back and forth, a little bit of project planning, and then the guy I think was from Canada, completely lost touch with the guy, guy completely stole his money. I said listen, I had known him for a number of years, I knew his father, I said, "Listen, don't worry about it. Give me $1000, $500 now, $500 upon delivery and I'll get you a site up and running in two weeks." We launched his site, the site is called craniumfitteds.com, it's still there today. We launched the site in August and by December of that same year we made $40,000 in revenue for the month of December. The following year the company brought in $3 million in revenue.

Laurence:
Wow, from the site? I'm sorry what are they doing on the site, the site that you made?

Anthony:
So it's a retail clothing store. They sell licensed NFL, NBA, NHL sportsware. All retail and we were getting millions and millions of users. Again, at that time, you weren't really competing even with Foot Locker. Foot Locker may have had a store at the time but they weren't really going hard on digital.

Laurence:
Oh right, okay.

Anthony:
We were all over the place. We were on Twitter, we were on Facebook, anywhere where there were users, we were there.

Laurence:
For that website, what did you use to build it? This was like 2009ish you said?

Anthony:
Exactly, this was 2009. We actually went through a lot of iterations. I was talking with a colleague of mine about this yesterday, throughout my career, I've built software as a necessity of doing business. For the first few years of my career, I didn't look at myself as a software developer, I looked at myself as a marketer who just knew how to code. When I was working for him, we built social media integrations, we built a custom link tracker where basically someone would come to the site and add something to their cart and we would attach the referral URL to the invoice and be able to pull reports and say, "Okay, how much revenue did Facebook bring us this month? How much revenue did Google AdSense bring us this month?" And this was completely custom.

So every single time we built software, it was out of a necessity. So when their servers started crashing because they had too many visitors and were making too much money, a great problem to have, we scaled and we built a micro service architecture and I had to learn Linux Administration on the fly and I had to learn database migrations on the fly. I had to learn about CDNs, but every single piece of software that I've ever built was purposeful.

Laurence:
Yeah, that's awesome. I feel like that's the best way to learn. This is not comparable to what you were doing, generating $3 million in revenue from a retail website, even through just my Learn to Code With Me blog and other things I've done on my own or for clients or now at my full time job, you're kind of forced to learn when you're put in that situation. As you said, you were getting too much web traffic, you need to fix the way the servers are, the server architecture, which is something I know nothing about. It's like wow, we need to figure this out, no one else is here to take it on, and then you learn.

Anthony:
Absolutely. We started them off on OsCommerce, which is a PHP based software. We moved them over to OpenCart and then to Magento. We did three migrations within the first year because we were just trying to find the right solution.

Laurence:
Wow. So now they're still on Magento to this day? Is the site still up?

Anthony:
Yes, the site is still up, they're still profitable, I still have a very good relationship with the owner. Again, that same migration that took place in terms of platform, it also took place in terms of hosting providers. We started them off on $5 a month hosting. It was my cPanel hosting, getawebsite.com, $5-10 bucks a month. I think it was actually with HostGator, that was my first introduction to servers. We started off on HostGator, then we migrated to Media Temple, then we migrated to Rackspace, then we migrated to Amazon's Cloud, then we migrated back to Rackspace and left the database on Amazon's Cloud. Then we had two servers and we were doing A/B testing so when we would release a new feature we'd go to the B server and that server would only get a quarter of the traffic and the rest of the traffic would go to A before we pushed the new features up. We built a lot of new and innovative things and for us it was the first time doing it. Maybe if we worked for Facebook, that's run of the mill stuff that you do every day, but for us, we were definitely treading new paths.

Laurence:
And how much, I'm just curious because of the story you're telling of how you moved from server to server, how much traffic were you getting? This is actually a question that, I'm not too familiar with server architecture and that type of stuff. Is that the main reason you were moving up is the amount of visitors you were getting or was it like the amount of the inventory you had?

Anthony:
It was definitely related to traffic. If you have a website and no one's coming there, you can have a million products on that website and it will run fine for one user. As you have more and more users, you start hitting bottlenecks. So we ran our website through tools like Pingdom. And again, this was like five or ten years ago, we were using tools like Pingdom and others to try to get a read of where the bottlenecks were. One of the easiest things people can do for a website if you're hitting bottlenecks is run a CDN. What a CDN is for those that don't know is it offshoots all of your static content, so images, style sheets, and JavaScript, it offshoots that to a server that doesn't have any logic and it's only job is to serve those static files. Your main server that you have your database and all your logic on, you don't want that server to be responsible for delivering static files. Think of it like at a job. If you have a senior developer, you don't want him doing email blasts, right?

Laurence:
Yeah, like the HTML emails. The CTO writing the emails.

Anthony:
So in the same way, you want to offshoot those tasks and delegate them to a CDN. And the CDN also delivers, it's a content delivery network, so it delivers the images and the style sheets from the nearest available server. If your client or your user is in New York, it will hit a knock in New York. Even if your main server is in Florida, at least all the images will be served from New York, or the demographic that they're in. If your user is in Europe, they'll be a knock in Europe, a data center in Europe to deliver those images. Those are some of the things that we did to optimize the site's performance.

Laurence:
Okay, if someone's listening and maybe they're freelancing and they have some clients with websites that have a lot of images and these assets and also a fair amount of web traffic, of course answers could vary, but what do you think would be a good time for a person to consider getting a CDN? About how many users or what kind of specifications or factors should have a person move to a CDN?

Anthony:
Definitely if your site is very image or video heavy, if you're serving the video yourself, you definitely want that on a CDN. The nice thing is, CDNs are so inexpensive. MaxCDN is one that I've used in the past. You can get MaxCDN for $9 a month. So there's really no excuse not to be using one, in my humble opinion. If you're building something for a real company who has a decent size budget, there's really no reason not to use a CDN. It gives a good experience to your customers.

Laurence:
Yeah. I'm just thinking a great example could be an E-commerce site. There could be a lot of images of whatever the products are, especially with clothing, one item of clothing there could be six images. The front, the back, the side. Even if it wasn't a highly trafficked website, they should still get a CDN to deliver that.

Anthony:
Yeah, it's a great investment. When your customer comes to the site, your first customer, you want them to have a good experience. It will definitely be beneficial as far as microservice architecture and separating your database and AB testing, that you're going to want a few million users first.

Laurence:
So like a few million a month?

Anthony:
Yeah, a few million a month.

Laurence:
That's a lot. A few million a month is a lot as well, but comparing that to Buzzfeed or something or I don't know, like a site that gets the most traffic. That sounds, you're separating the database from, sorry could you explain that again? You said the database on two servers when you do the A/B testing?

Anthony:
Yeah. You have your logic on the A and the B server and that's all your PHP or your Node or your Ruby, whatever your application is built in. That logic is living on those A and B servers, then your database is on a separate server, but both of those A and Bs are connecting to the same server, because if not your inventory would be out of sync, right? So you basically have a master database that has a record of every single sale, every single transaction, every single product, and then you have your logic servers that are basically deciphering what the user is looking for and then asking the database to return that data.

Laurence:
Sit tight podcast listeners, we’re taking a quick break to hear a word from our sponsors.

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I want to move on to what you're doing now. You're working for this company, you had this freelance client that ended up being your full time job. What was kind of the next thing that you did or moved on to after that?

Anthony:
Definitely, so when Hurricane Sandy hit the business at CraniumFitteds really took a bad hit. Again, this company went from a really small retail location in Manhattan to a 10,000 sq ft. fulfillment center in Hackensack, New Jersey. To those of you who aren't familiar, Hackensack is right next to a big river. When Hurricane Sandy happened, there were millions of dollars worth of damage. At that time it was really bad. He had cut everyone down to part time, including myself.

I was working with him for quite a few months after that and I came to him one day and I'll never forget this conversation. I came to him and I said, "Listen, I know we're all part time right now and there were other logistics people who are part time, if you want to get CraniumFitteds back to it's greatness, back to where it needs to be, I need to be full time. I don't care if you cut my salary in half, but I need to be working 40 hours a week." Basically what I offered him to do was to pay me the same amount of money and work twice as hard. What he told me was, "I'm already not even paying you enough. At your hourly rate at part time, you're super valuable, you have all these skills, you need to go out there and find your next thing."

What I did is I brute forced the job market. At this time, I still didn't look at myself as a developer. I looked at myself as a marketer. So I pulled up my old resume from back then and it said 'Marketing Mastermind.' It was a really cool resume, but I was not marketing myself as a software developer, I was marketing myself as a marketer. I brute forced the job market. I basically went to Craigslist technology section and I sent my resume to every single job that looked even halfway relevant.

I got a lot of calls but I ended up getting a call from a telecommunications company called TDNYC and I had actually inadvertently applied to be their CTO. I'm in my early 20s at the time. I come in wearing a suit, I think I'm going to be their CTO and they said, "Hey listen, we don't want you to be our CTO, we're looking for someone more senior, someone with more grays in their hair, but we would love to make a role for you." And that's exactly what they did. They made a role for me to head up their digital marketing department.

I was there for about two years and I had the freedom to experiment with a lot of new technologies and one of the technologies that I discovered and fell in love with while I was there was Twilio. To those of you who don't know, Twilio is an API company that allows developers to programmatically send text messages and make voice calls. Here I am, a developer at a phone company and Twilio was God's gift to me at that time. It allowed me to use my skills to create things for this business.

They sent me for a lot of certifications while I was there. I became certified and did a lot of network engineering stuff, but honestly I wanted to create things, I wanted to make things. While I was there I built a lot of cool things, kind of add ons to their existing products. One of them was an IVR that allowed you to accept credit cards over the phone. So you would call into a call center and you wanted to submit a payment and the customer agent rep would transfer you and when they transferred you, you would hit a Twilio app. So you went from an old Cisco technology which is kind of antiquated, and now you were pushed to the Cloud. You would hit my app, my app would integrate with Stripe, you would make your payment, and then you would be returned back into the call center. That was one of the cool things we did while we were there.

We also did a project with 1-800-LAWYERS. In that project with 1-800-LAWYERS, they had a huge customer database with hundreds of thousands of users they wanted to contact on a daily basis. While phone calls are great, a lot of people don't answer their phone, especially while they're at work. They wanted to integrate SMS. We built an add on to one of their existing products. It was definitely a big win, a big deal, and they were able to communicate with their customers via SMS. It was super beneficial, it brought a lot of value to the organization.

Laurence:
Awesome, thank you so much for sharing that. Now, that leads us to what you're doing today, working at websignia. Did I say that right?

Anthony:
Websignia, yeah.

Laurence:
Websignia, how did you end up going from TeleDynamics to websignia?

Anthony:
I was at TDNYC and I got an invite to go to Manhattan to a Twilio meetup. It was a very informal meetup. They were announcing a new product, which was video conferencing. They were going to allow you to build apps that integrated video conferencing so I said, "Wow, this is awesome." After work I headed to this meetup, headed into Manhattan. I met the guys from Twilio and they did live coding and they built a video conferencing app in a matter of minutes. I go to the guys after the demonstration and I said to them, "Wow, this is so awesome, how do I get my hands on it." And they tell me, "Oh, you want an API key? Come to our conference in California." So I said, "Okay, great, I'm booking a trip and I'm going to California."

I booked the trip, I booked the vacation time, and I traveled to San Francisco, the sunny, beautiful city of San Francisco and I met all the people there. It was awesome. There were so many awesome talks. IBM, Amazon, Microsoft and everyone in between was there. It was about a 2-3 day event and on the last day they had a panel of speakers and it was like a VP from Twitter, the guy from Lean Startup and the founder of Y Combinator. They were talking about the lack of technical talent in the industry right now and how there's more people that want to make things than there are people able to actually make them. The founder from Y Combinator gets up and he points to everyone in the audience and he says, "All of you when you go back to New York or New Jersey or Idaho or Ohio and you go back to your boss, I want you to go ask for a raise."

Laurence:
Wow, that's good advice though.

Anthony:
Absolutely. When I came back I had actually already put my resume in at websignia and they actually reached out to me right after I came back.

Laurence:
So you were sort of looking for jobs before you even went to that, went out to San Francisco.

Anthony:
Yeah, I was definitely sticking my toe in the water, because I really did want to make more software on a daily basis. I had actually been offered a job six months prior. It was a software development role but it wasn't super exciting. I think it was for a marble company. It was a big company, they had a lot of money, they had a huge digital staff that was dedicated to digital, but it wasn't an innovation agency. I got a job offer, I went to my boss six months prior, I told him about the job offer, he matched it and then I think he actually went a little higher and beat it.

Six months down the line, I just came back from California and I was ready to go. I wanted to be writing code on a daily basis. Websignia had me into their offices and I interviewed with them for the second time because I had actually interviewed with them six months prior. I interviewed with them for the second time and the owner chased me down the hallway. I did a coding assessment and I'm not sure, I don't know if I'm any good and I answer all the questions and the tech guy was a little awkward. He was like, "Alright, I guess they'll call you or something," and he kind of walks out and I was like, "Okay I guess I'll go home."

Laurence:
You're like, weird vibes, right?

Anthony:
I'm like okay and I leave and then I'm walking down the hallway and the owner chases me down the hallway and shakes my hand and says, "Dude, listen, we need you. When can you start?"

Laurence:
Oh that's awesome.

Anthony:
So I gave my two weeks and then I started at websignia. Websignia is just such an awesome place. I've learned so much since I've been there. We all have Nerf guns in the office.

Laurence:
Oh wow. So how big is it?

Anthony:
Websignia's a pretty small agency. We're about 15 people, but we work really hard and we do really awesome things.

Laurence:
So you have clients, what kind of clients? Do you specialize in a certain industry or anything?

Anthony:
We're definitely B2B, we deal with a lot of corporate clients. We do some municipalities, non-profits, and really just a wide spectrum, a lot of startups. We're in Newark, NJ and Newark right now is going through kind of a renaissance. Again, I don't know if you guys are familiar with the area, but Newark's been kind of a rough area for quite some years but there's been a lot of money invested. Mark Zuckerberg donated I think $4 billion about two years ago to revitalize the area. There's a Starbucks and there's a Whole Foods in the downtown business district. They're really ramping it up to be the next big thing, the next Manhattan. There's an incubator program right there. A lot of startups come out of there, we do a lot of work with them, with GNEC and NJIT and a lot of the people in that community who are trying to push innovation and trying to put Newark on the map as a hub for technology.

Laurence:
Nice. I'm on the website now. Looks cool. I think I see you, there you are, on the front page when you scroll down. There's all the staff members. That's really great. So you went from working at this teledata or telecom...

Anthony:
Telecom, you got it.

Laurence:
Telecom company to a digital agency. That must have been a huge transition, am I right? Just in terms of the environment and the day to day and what not?

Anthony:
Absolutely. It's night and day. I went from basically shooting off angry emails at my coworkers to shooting Nerf guns. We have a totally open work environment. It's really awesome. There's no closed doors. There's one door in the building and that's the conference room and then the door to get in and out. Besides that there's no doors. There are offices with no walls which is really innovative. They have an open door policy. Since I've been there I've been responsible for headlining projects. That's a big reason I was able to make the jump wholeheartedly and not have any regrets. From day one I had a voice. From day one I was able to create things and drive the ship of the technology and the direction of the company. I've really had a lot of fun there.

Laurence:
That's great. So we're actually running low on time but I want to talk about one more thing before the end, and that's hackathons. You said you've been doing a bunch recently, you went to a coding bootcamp at Rutgers. Could you just real quick share about how you got into hackathons and maybe some quick advice for anyone wanting to try them out themselves or attend a few hackathons.

Anthony:
Absolutely. Like you mentioned, I recently signed up for Rutgers Coding Bootcamp. I actually interviewed a kid who had graduated from Rutgers Coding Bootcamp and he showed me all the awesome, amazing things he built there. I was like, "Hey I need to go." So I signed up for the bootcamp, I met so many awesome, amazing people. I had imposter syndrome before I went in and all of that went away. Working with people, seeing them struggle, being able to help others. Right now I'm also a tutor at the bootcamp, so I help other kids struggle through their problems. Then we started going to hackathons. We created a Slack channel, we have a channel at the school. We created a channel called Events. In Events we were just posting meetups and hackathons and all these cool things you could go to. The first meetup we all went to was the CodeNewbie meetup. I think you know the founder of that, don't you?

Laurence:
Yeah, that is so ironic because I literally met her for lunch today. Saron, yeah.

Anthony:
What? She's such a great person.

Laurence:
Wow, what a small world. I mean, not really because we all live in the NYC area but anyway, sorry, continue.

Anthony:
Absolutely. So that was the first meetup we went to. It was the first CodeNewbie meetup ever in Manhattan and it was also the first meetup that all of us code newbies in the bootcamp all went to. We went, it was maybe 10 of us. It was totally awesome and we continued to go to other meetups. Through the meetups we started going to hackathons. If you really want to get your chops up in software development, and your confidence up and build awesome things, hackathons are a great place to go.

As far as places you can go to look for them, devpost.com, awesome website. There's a lot of university based hackathons on there. A lot of even civic based hackathons. Eventbrite, you can search, you'll find some corporate ones. Another really great resource is hackathon.io. So we went to the Rutgers, we went to one or two hackathons and to be quite honest with you, we struck out. We went to one hackathon, we went home and went to sleep and we didn't get up in time to actually pitch. We went to another one and we did get back in time to pitch but we didn't have enough time to develop our product.

Then the third hackathon we went to was actually Rutgers. So we're in Rutgers Coding Bootcamp. We're like the black headed step child of Rutgers. We went to their hackathon and we stayed overnight and we were like, "Listen, this is the one we have to win. The others we went to were just practice. We're students at Rutgers Coding Bootcamp, we need to win their hackathon." So we stayed up all night, actually brought an air mattress and I slept for about an hour. We stayed up all night and lo and behold we won the best overall Rutgers hack. It was super life changing. I think I almost cried. We were so nervous. We competed against about 700 other students. We were super nervous.

What we built was really cool. We built a video conferencing platform, a video chat web app for students to connect. For Rutgers alumni to connect and mentor younger students. So mentor freshmen and be mentored by someone who has literally walked in your own shoes. So that was really awesome. We were using Twilio's API which is still in beta, it's the same API that I travelled all the way across the country just to get an API key. It's the same API that I hacked on Twilio's floor. An hour after I got the API key I built a video conferencing app and this is the same API that took me to win every single one of these hackathons. All three hackathons, they didn't all use Twilio's video, but they all used Twilio in some way. So if you're a developer and you want to make some cool stuff, I'd definitely suggest you check out Twilio's tech.

Laurence:
Awesome. I've done stuff, I think one of the Udacity courses, it should still be up, it's one of the Intro to Programming ones that they have, they use Python, I'm very certain they use a Twilio API in one of the projects.

Anthony:
Yeah, it's super easy to get up and running, especially if you want to send a quick text. If you're building something, there's nothing more impactful and personal than being able to text someone on their phone.

Laurence:
Yeah. Thank you so much Anthony, for chatting today. And finally, where can people find you online?

Anthony:
Awesome. So you can go to my website, anthonydelgado.me. You can email me at me@anthonydelgado.me. Or you can add me on LinkedIn at in/anthony-delgado.

Laurence:
Awesome, thank you.

Anthony:
Thank you.

Laurence:
I hope you enjoyed our conversation. Again, the Show Notes for this episode, plus a full transcript, can be found at learntocodewith.me/podcast. If you're listening to this episode in the future, simply click the search icon in the upper navigation of the site and type in Anthony's name. It's spelled like Anthony Delgado. That's Anthony Delgado. If you liked this interview, head on over to my website, learntocodewith.me where you can get even more awesome code related content, like my 10 Free Tips for Teaching Yourself How to Code. Thanks so much for tuning in. Make sure you subscribe to the show if you haven't yet, and I'll see you next week.

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Key takeaways:

  • Learning out of necessity is a good way to pick up new skills. Don't be intimidated by a problem. Figure out the solution.
  • If your website is image or video heavy, run a CDN. You will optimize your site's performance and create a better user experience overall.
  • If you're a developer and you want to create cool things, check out Twilio's tech.
  • Networking with people and trying new things is important. You'll find new opportunities in unexpected places if you keep your eyes open.
  • Don't let imposter syndrome scare you. Everybody struggles. Working with and helping people helps you get better too.
  • To increase your skills, grow confidence, and build new things, go to hackathons.

Links and mentions from the episode:

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Special thanks to this episode’s sponsors

Flatiron School: If you’re looking for a career change, sign up for classes today at flatironschool.com. Don’t forget to take advantage of the special Learn to Code With Me discount and get $500 off your first month!

Xojo: Want to create native apps for desktop, mobile, web, or Raspberry Pi? Check out xojo.com/learntocode and get 20% off with the coupon code learn20.


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