Business of Software UK 2015

bos europeI went to the UK Business of Software conference in Cambridge (England) last week. I hadn’t been previously because I associated it more with VC backed companies that wanted to grow fast, rather than lifestyle software businesses such as mine. But I decided to give it a try this year. I really enjoyed it. The organization was good, the attendees were an interesting, diverse and friendly group, the talks were engaging and varied and it was a great atmosphere. There were people from IBM and Microsoft, right down to other 1 person companies. I made some new contacts and caught up with some old friends.

Redgate are heavily involved in BOS. I got a tour around their offices. They seem very committed to providing a great culture for their staff. This manifests itself in large numbers of Nerf guns and the strangest meeting room decor I have ever seen. I only ever hear positive things about Redgate, so they must be doing something right. I noticed that they are very dedicated to the ‘wall of post-it notes’ approach to planning. I tried to persuade them to try my Hyper Plan product instead, but I don’t think I succeeded.

The talks were very varied, covering topics such as:

  • How King.com improve Candy Crush customer retention by analysing 1TB of user generated data per day.
  • The origins of the Raspberry Pi project.
  • How the founder of Kashflow.com went from convict to owner of a very successful SaaS business.
  • Lessons learnt from growing a software product business.

The lightning talks were a highlight and I particularly enjoyed Mark Dalgarno’s talk on anti-problems (getting inspiration by solving the opposite problem, e.g. improving your support by thinking about what you could do to make your support worse).

If you are in a medium to large sized software company (or want to grow one), this is the conference for you with strategic level talks and lots of people who have successfully grown software companies. If you are in a small bootstrapped software company then Microconf is probably more relevant for you, with more tactical level talks. But if you can afford the time and expense to go to both, then I would recommend both conferences unreservedly.

We were set an appropriately geeky puzzle to solve. It took me about 30 minutes to crack it. Sadly I understand that somebody had solved it days before I even started looking at it. Oh well, it was fun.

We finished up the conference having a drink in the sunshine, at a beautiful spot next to the river. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any better, Professor Stephen Hawking trundled through the middle of our group! Thanks to Mark Littlewood and his team for putting on such a great conference.