#TwitterDrive: Dispatches from Chicago, Grand Rapids and Detroit

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Our last week on the bus had us in a new city every night for four back-to-back events. After finishing up in Nashville on Monday, we hopped on the bus for an overnight ride to Chicago. Luckily, we have become bus-napping champions, so it was an easy trip.


The bus rolled into Chicago early Tuesday morning and we headed straight to the Illinois Institute of Technology. Thanks to two extraordinary students who drove for over five hours from Chicago to our previous St. Louis event (@DiabetesHank and @ewarmz), we were able to organize a time for us to visit a computer science lecture and discuss all of the questions the students could ask about Twitter and our products.

That evening, Mobile Makers Chicago (@theMobileMakers) kindly hosted our Chicago meetup. Over the course of an eight-week boot camp, the Mobile Makers program helps people learn how to build iOS apps. It’s a fantastic opportunity for anyone interested in learning about iOS mobile development.

The Chicago gathering was our biggest crowd yet – a mix of students, professionals and developer-hobbyists. We enjoyed the lively Q&A, covering everything from distributing beta builds to how we write code at Twitter. Our team even got to meet Max Howell (@mxcl), one of the original TweetDeck team members and creator of Homebrew, who now teaches at Mobile Makers. The Mobile Makers team had a great write up of the event. We wish we could have stayed longer, but the bus had to roll on through the night to get us to Grand Rapids.

Grand Rapids

While it wasn’t originally on our schedule, we added Grand Rapids to the tour by popular demand. We were excited our schedule was flexible enough to swing by a coworking community known as The Factory (@coFactory), a space where special guests and talks are regularly featured, with an emphasis on co-learning as part of the program. It was fantastic to be a part of their community for a day.

We got to chat with WOODTV in Grand Rapids and even meet some members of the city council at the event. We’re looking forward to big things from the developer community in Grand Rapids.


After wrapping up in Grand Rapids, we piled into the bus for our last stop on the tour: Detroit. Since we were in the neighborhood, we headed to nearby Ann Arbor, home of the University of Michigan, where we met with UM’s social media team. They’ve created a thorough social media strategy which includes rotating access to the official Twitter account (@umich) among students, allowing different folks to be the voice of UM.

We also met with two enthusiastic UM student leaders who are fueling entrepreneurship on campus. They told us about their strategies to help students get their ideas out and tested in the real world. In one contest they held, participants had to get 100 product interviews done in a matter of a couple of weeks – and many of them were able to do it! Major kudos to these students and the teams.

That night, we held our event at Detroit Labs (@DetroitLabs), a great space that’s home to the Motor City CocoaHeads meetup and several other area developers. Detroit Labs also runs an apprenticeship program where new or junior mobile developers can sign up to learn from more experienced developers and work on real world projects. Their program was one of the coolest we encountered on this trip. What a fantastic opportunity to dive into real work while learning from your peers.

Despite the below-freezing temperatures, Detroit also had one of our best turnouts and they definitely cheered the loudest:

We were so glad to meet all of these groups, developers and entrepreneurs who have organized into such dynamic and supportive communities. And we look forward to staying in touch with everyone.

That’s a wrap
We had a fantastic time meeting developers across the country – but we’re not done yet. If you didn’t get to any of the #TwitterDrive gatherings so far, we’d love to see you at one of our next stops. The Flock tour continues in London (Feb. 19), Berlin (Feb. 26) and New York (March 11). Spots are still available in Berlin and New York, so sign up here.

No matter where you are, you can join in on the conversation on Twitter. Follow @TwitterDev and we look forward to hearing from you soon.