Here are some links to some of the blog posts from attendees at this year’s Business of Software Conference. Drop a link into the comments below if you want to add yours.
First up, the BoS blogging demoness:
Zuly Gonzalez from Light Point Security who is summarising each talk in a series of guest blogs.
The job of a sales coach is to listen to lots and lots and lots of pitches. After listening to sales calls for a while you develop a sense for how it’s going. Therefore, you should start listening to your interactions with your customers. Create a sales culture in your business that allows you to repeat your successes.
Most startups fail to scale. More startups fail from a lack of passionate customers than anything else. Code is only half the job. You can pretty much build anything these days. Technology isn’t the problem, figuring out who your customers will be and finding passionate customers is the hard part. If you are a passionate founder, putting in 20,000 hours gives you about a 1 in 8 chance of success.
Dan Pink started his presentation by crediting Neil Davidson for the idea behind his new book, To Sell Is Human. Dan told us about an email he received from Neil and the followup conversations where Neil described how his sales force was gaming the compensation system. Neil tried to modify the compensation system, but every time he did his sales team would figure out a new way to game it. So Neil eliminated commissions for his sales force altogether, and it ended up working phenomenally. Dan suggests that if/then rewards are extremely effective for simple, repetitive tasks, but fall short for conceptual, creative tasks.
The inexperienced assume there is a silver bullet to success.
- Network effect
All nonsense. Have you ever heard someone say that his marketing plan consists of going viral right after launching? It shows a lack of experience. 1 out of 100 will find the magical, silver bullet like viral spread. The rest of us are going to have to work. Gail has run a successful SaaS business, Constant Contact, (market cap now c $1billion, employees c 1,00), for 13 years. She did SaaS before it was called SaaS.
Peldi’s epiphanies as he grew Balsamiq and moved through the various stages of the company:
- Vision: At first all you have is an idea. You think it’s a great idea, but you don’t want to tell anyone because you think people will steal it. This is despite the fact that no one recommends stealth mode, and that it’s well known that an idea by itself isn’t worth much.
- Product: Then you think all you have to do is build a product, and the masses will somehow manage to find you.
- Marketing: Then you realize “Oh crap, now I have to market this.” Marketing is just as important as the idea and the product. Lean startup helps at this stage.
- Support: If you do the above three right you end up with customers, which leads to doing customer support all the time. You realize customer support is just as important as the previous steps. Then you hire people to do customer support.
- Company: Now you realize you have a company. When you only have 2 – 3 people it’s just a hobby. This company is fragile and it’s going to take a lot of your time. If you hire the wrong person you could ruin the company.
- Ecosystem: Once you have a company you can build an ecosystem of partners around that company. That ecosystem gives you a competitive advantage.
There are many books and blogs that go into great depth about the first four topics, but there isn’t a whole lot of information about the last two. Peldi’s talk focused on the last two – company and ecosystem.
“I really struggled to write this blog post summarizing my learning from Business of Software. I spent three caffeine fueled days in Boston last week with some of the most intelligent, thought-provoking people I have ever come across. The conversations and learning were almost impossible to summarize in a blog post. I tried, several times actually; I have about 6 or 7 unfinished posts sitting on my hard drive. I could have produced any number of bullet point lists summarizing my learning – “5 things I learned at Business of Software”. But that wasn’t the point, and it wasn’t the post I wanted to write. Had I written it, you would have read it and nodded along, as you’ve done with countless other startup advice posts that tout generic advice any entrepreneur should probably heed – “of course I should listen to my customers”. You would quickly move on to another post and 10 minutes later you would have forgotten what i said. You see, this is the fate of 99% of the blog posts, books and conversations. The other 1% is people. That is what I found at Business of Software, and that’s what I want to write about.” Read more…
Matthew Dean - Matthew scored big by writing summaries of every presentation for Onstartups. Very comprehensive and well written writeups.
“Within the past week, my son turned four, my daughter turned one, and I attended the hands down best conference I have ever attended. It has been a great week and thus, I was inspired to share my experience at the conference, Business of Software, or BoS for short. The conference website is businessofsoftware.org and the hash tag was #BoS2012.” [Thanks Matthew!]
“The remainder of this post will summarize my thoughts in each of the presentations at this year’s conference. Unfortunately if you weren’t in attendance, these summaries simply won’t do the presentations justice as there were so many stories and anecdotes to go along with them that provided much context and value as well. Thus, I would highly recommend that you follow the BoS conference blog as videos will eventually make their way onto the site.” [They will when they have been edited, processed and checked. This usually takes about a month.] Read more…
Alex Czartoryski, the co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer at Fresh Air Educators wrote about key actionable takeaways. This post is also being run as a guest blog on Business of Software.
“Here are some actionable insights and take-aways that I felt were most significant at this year’sBusiness of Software conference (2012, Boston)
“Make your Customers Awesome (aka Badass)
“To encourage your customers to spread your product via word-of-mouth, your product should make your customers “badass”. Don’t focus on making your product awesome, focus instead on making your customers awesome. This may seem like a small semantic difference, but what triggers the word-of-mouth snowball is when your customer can impress his/her friends because of something you did.” Read more…
Justin James - Business of Software 2012 highlights, letdowns, and a controversy. One paragraph summaries of all talks.
“Business of Software features presentations and workshops from some of the most successful people in the world of software startups, including Kathy Sierra, Gail Goodman, and Bob Dorf.
“One of my biggest dreams in this industry has been to attend the Business of Software conference. Business of Software is an annual event aimed at software entrepreneurs and people involved in startup software companies. It is a multi-day event that brings together presentations and workshops from some of the most successful and experienced people in the world of software startups.
“Last week I was able to go to Boston and attend Business of Software 2012. In the coming weeks I will write about some of the most useful things I learned there, but today I will talk about each speaker’s presentation to give you a feel for the event. (Recordings or transcripts of the presentations will post to the event’s website in the next month or so.) Read more…
I am just now recovering from the whirlwind of Business of Software 2012. It was the most exciting, exhausting and rewarding event so far.
This is the fourth year for me as an attendee but the first year as a founder/entrepreneur. Words cannot express the difference in mindset. Instead of having conversations in my head like “Wow, I wish so-n-so was here to hear THAT” and “How am I ever going to convey that awesome point to others back home?”, I was able to actually focus on how I would use the ideas right away. Like… in real life. Starting tomorrow. Amazing!
You hear what you want to hear. Listening to stories of those who have walked the path before me has always been an inspiration. This year was no different. However, I also heard cautionary bits of wisdom that I didn’t quite pick up on in years past. Maybe because I wasn’t paying close enough attention. Instead of hearing “you can do it” and “you got what it takes”, I heard things like “be careful of this” and “watch out for that”. Holy cow! What a difference a little perspective makes. Read more…
I recently attended the Business of Software conference in Boston. Attendees ranged from developers to CEOs, mostly representing small but fast-growing software companies. I have condensed the more compelling talks down to their key points and correlate how they relate to ISV Partner Strategy as follows: Read more…
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