I 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.
This is a video of a “Promoting your software” talk I did at ESWC 2011. In it I discuss my experiences attempting to try every form of promotion known to man including: SEO, Google Adwords, magazine ads, affiliates, Facebook ads and hanging out in wedding forums using a female pseudonym. With real data! You can’t read the slide text in the video, but I have included the slides below.
A couple of people asked me afterwards whether anything I tried had worked. Yes! I wouldn’t have survived long as a microISV otherwise. But I didn’t really want to dwell on what had worked for me because it might not be relevant for different products with different price points in different markets. Also that isn’t the sort of information I want to give to my competitors.
Things were running a bit late due to problems with the projector, so I didn’t have time for the audience participation at the end. Projector problems are really not what you need when you are just about to do a talk to a room full of people! Many thanks to Alwin and Sytske of Collectorz for doing the video and to Dave and Aaron of Software Promotions for helping to sort out the unruly projector.
No proper post this week. I’m too busy finishing off my talk ‘Promoting your software’ for ESWC 2011 in London next weekend (19-20 Nov). I am going to talk about my experiences attempting to try every form of promotion known to man including: SEO, Google Adwords, magazine ads, affiliates, Facebook ads and hanging out in wedding forums using a female pseudonym. With audience participation! Plus real data!
There are also some other interesting looking talks. Chatting to other people in the business over coffee or beer is also invaluable. If you haven’t booked a ticket, it isn’t too late. Don’t worry if it is your first time – people are very friendly. Do come and say hello.
Registration is now open for the European Software Conference 2011. It is on 19th-20th November in London, with informal drinks the evening before. This is the top European event for microISVs and other small software businesses. It is always good to meet up with other microISVs and London is a great city to visit, even if only to remind yourself how glad you are you don’t live in a big city. The early bird rates are just 55 Euros (with no meals) and 155 Euros (including 2 networking dinners). The schedule is still being fleshed out. I will be doing a talk, provisionally titled “Promoting your software”. Watch this space for more details. There are still some spare speaking slots. It would be nice to see some new faces doing talks, so why not volunteer?
Below are the video and slides of the “Marketing for microISVS – embracing the ‘dark side’?” talk I gave at ESWC 2009 in Berlin. This is a high-speed ramble through a vast subject. In the 45 minutes available I do my best to dispel some of the myths software developers have about marketing and discuss some marketing concepts, including: branding; positioning; pricing; and segmentation. Taking in Harley Davidsons, tinned tomatoes, Coca Cola and food blenders on the way. The first couple of minutes, where I dispel the myth that good software sells itself without marketing, are missing from the video due to a dead camera battery. But you knew that anyway, so I don’t think this detracts much overall.
Slides (which might not make much sense without the video):
NB/ When I said 47Signals, I meant 37Signals (brand inflation?). Thanks to Tarek for the correction.
Links to some of the things mentioned in the talk:
A big thank you to Alwin and Sytske of collectorz.com for hot-footing it from Alwin’s talk to do the video (you can see Alwin’s excellent talk on web app pros and cons here). And also to David and Panagiota for all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes organizing ESWC.
I will be off to ESWC 2009 in Berlin in a few days. I am doing a talk “Marketing for microISVs – embracing the dark side?” on the Saturday morning. It is going to be tough to tackle as huge a subject as marketing in 45 minutes including questions, but I like a challenge!
I am also looking forwarding to touching base with old acquaintances and meeting some new people. If you are going to there, do come and say hello.
I am flying off to SIC in Boston tomorrow (Wednesday). I hope to put faces to email addresses and talk to as many people as possible. Please come and say hello if you spot me (mugshot here).
I am going to try to meet up with a couple of the Business of Software regulars on Thursday lunchtime (11:30am – 12:45) in the Adam’s lounge bar/restaurant in the conference hotel. If you are at SIC and aren’t otherwise engaged on the Thursday lunchtime, please come along. I will be wearing a lurid orange variant of this T-shirt, so I should be easy enough to spot.
I will be giving a talk entitled “10 mistakes microISVs make” at the Software Industry Conference 2009 (July 16-18, Boston). The talk will be based around 10 of the most common mistakes I see as a member of the microISV community, as a buyer of software and as a consultant to microISVs (some of which I have made myself).
SIC is the largest conference aimed at microISVs, shareware authors and other small software vendors. This will be the first time I have been to SIC and I am really looking forward to it.
David Boventer has just reminded me that early bird registration for ESWC 2008 ends July 31st. I probably won’t make it this year due to other committments. But I have been the last two years and highly recommend it to any microISVs that can make it to Berlin for 8/9 November. Hurry up – you haven’t got much time to get the early bird rate!