Building A Community For Data Professionals at Data Council


September 2nd, 2019

52 mins 46 secs

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About this Episode


Data professionals are working in a domain that is rapidly evolving. In order to stay current we need access to deeply technical presentations that aren’t burdened by extraneous marketing. To fulfill that need Pete Soderling and his team have been running the Data Council series of conferences and meetups around the world. In this episode Pete discusses his motivation for starting these events, how they serve to bring the data community together, and the observations that he has made about the direction that we are moving. He also shares his experiences as an investor in developer oriented startups and his views on the importance of empowering engineers to launch their own companies.


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  • You listen to this show to learn and stay up to date with what’s happening in databases, streaming platforms, big data, and everything else you need to know about modern data management.For even more opportunities to meet, listen, and learn from your peers you don’t want to miss out on this year’s conference season. We have partnered with organizations such as O’Reilly Media, Dataversity, Corinium Global Intelligence, and Data Council. Upcoming events include the O’Reilly AI conference, the Strata Data conference, the combined events of the Data Architecture Summit and Graphorum, and Data Council in Barcelona. Go to to learn more about these and other events, and take advantage of our partner discounts to save money when you register today.
  • Your host is Tobias Macey and today I’m interviewing Pete Soderling about his work to build and grow a community for data professionals with the Data Council conferences and meetups, as well as his experiences as an investor in data oriented companies


  • Introduction
  • How did you get involved in the area of data management?
  • What was your original reason for focusing your efforts on fostering a community of data engineers?
    • What was the state of recognition in the industry for that role at the time that you began your efforts?
  • The current manifestation of your community efforts is in the form of the Data Council conferences and meetups. Previously they were known as Data Eng Conf and before that was Hakka Labs. Can you discuss the evolution of your efforts to grow this community?
    • How has the community itself changed and grown over the past few years?
  • Communities form around a huge variety of focal points. What are some of the complexities or challenges in building one based on something as nebulous as data?
  • Where do you draw inspiration and direction for how to manage such a large and distributed community?
    • What are some of the most interesting/challenging/unexpected aspects of community management that you have encountered?
  • What are some ways that you have been surprised or delighted in your interactions with the data community?
  • How do you approach sustainability of the Data Council community and the organization itself?
  • The tagline that you have focused on for Data Council events is that they are no fluff, juxtaposing them against larger business oriented events. What are your guidelines for fulfilling that promise and why do you think that is an important distinction?
  • In addition to your community building you are also an investor. How did you get involved in that side of your business and how does it fit into your overall mission?
  • You also have a stated mission to help engineers build their own companies. In your opinion, how does an engineer led business differ from one that may be founded or run by a business oriented individual and why do you think that we need more of them?
    • What are the ways that you typically work to empower engineering founders or encourage them to create their own businesses?
  • What are some of the challenges that engineering founders face and what are some common difficulties or misunderstandings related to business?
    • What are your opinions on venture-backed vs. "lifestyle" or bootstrapped businesses?
  • What are the characteristics of a data business that you look at when evaluating a potential investment?
  • What are some of the current industry trends that you are most excited by?
    • What are some that you find concerning?
  • What are your goals and plans for the future of Data Council?

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Parting Question

  • From your perspective, what is the biggest gap in the tooling or technology for data management today?

Closing Announcements

  • Thank you for listening! Don’t forget to check out our other show, Podcast.__init__ to learn about the Python language, its community, and the innovative ways it is being used.
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The intro and outro music is from The Hug by The Freak Fandango Orchestra / CC BY-SA

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