Sponsoring a developer conference for sales and marketing

Sponsoring a developer conference for sales and marketing

We were one of the sponsors at Droidcon San Francisco 2024, and learned a lot about what it’s like being on the other side of the sponsor tables.

Droidcon San Francisco is one of two big Android community conferences (the other one being New York) that happen in the United States. We attended the 2023 edition to talk to people about Tramline, get feedback, and gauge interest, but we were not sponsors. We spoke to many people but in every case, we had to go up to them, pique their interest, and then show them our platform. In the end, it did not feel worth the time to travel so far with the intention to demo (and sell) but do it as an attendee. 

In our past lives, we have sponsored events as a way to support the developer community. We had no experience of sponsoring with the intention to sell, and with Tramline, we were curious about what that would be like. So for the 2024 edition, we decided it was time.

Droidcon was not only supportive of an early stage startup like ours, but also patient and super nice. They answered our (many) questions when we were in two minds, and their team went above and beyond during the event to help us with what we needed. Shout out to Emiliano and Elissa for everything!  


The biggest difference we felt this year was people’s intention. As a sponsor, people knew we were there to sell something. When people came to our desk and spoke to us, they came with the intention to listen to us. Some people dropped off mid conversation, but most people were interested in seeing the platform work. Some people had built similar systems at their workplace, and talking to them about their choices and tradeoffs was enlightening for us. 

Discussing the problem space and giving demos repeatedly forced us to refine our flow on the fly. People are busy at conferences! Their attention is split between listening to talks, hallway conversations, the after-party, and other sponsor booths. On the show floor, you only have one shot with someone so it can get stressful. It took us a few runs to come up with a script that would convince people to want to see a demo. 

Not everyone has the same strategy though: we spoke to Arnold from Screenshotbot, and he prefers giving people an overview of the product, answering questions, and scheduling a demo after the conference when people have more time on their hands.

Making friends

During the speaker talks, the hallways became empty and we used that time to talk to the other sponsors about their experiences. 

  • We spoke to the Gitar team about the mobile DevOps tooling space, especially the role of AI. They also shared their experience of attending other developer events across the US and Europe.
  • Arnold of Screenshotbot was helpful to us throughout, sharing from his experience of selling and growing the product. It is refreshing to see solo developers trying to build a business in a market obsessed with raising venture capital.
  • Josh from Emerge Tools gave us good feedback on our positioning and pricing. Separately, Emerge has a neat inbound sales motion which is driven by their unique content strategy.
  • We love Sentry and we’re happy customers of the product. As always, they had really nice swag, and their sales engineers were eager to share their opinions on GTM and early-stage sales.

Swag swagger

We’ve attended so many conferences over the years that we had a ton of ideas on what we want to share with attendees. After much deliberation, we settled on canvas coasters with the Tramline logo on one side, and a QR code of our GitHub repository on the other (yay open source!). 

We also wanted to do a book giveaway, so we requested the inimitable Chet Haase to sign some copies of his Androids book… which he did! He was super sweet and patient with us as we dealt with the logistics of moving the books around. 

Our table would have looked incomplete without a big standee, but we wanted something that wasn’t boring or sales-oriented. So we channeled our obsession with apps, trains, and maps to come up with… 

The Massimo Vignelli homage was a hit during the conference, and many people took photos with the standee. The design was illustrated to perfection by Bhavya Arora.


Sponsoring events is a great way to give back to the community, but if you’re building a product for developers which has some traction, sponsoring gets you a lot of eyeballs in a short amount of time. It costs time and money, but we think it is an effective use of both. Good luck!