Business of Software conference news

Avangate Announce Their 2013 Business of Software Conference Scholarship Winners

Avangate, the leading Customer Centric Commerce solution provider trusted by thousands of Software and Cloud Services companies to grow their business worldwide, today announced the recipients of its Business of Software Conference Scholarship. The three winners - InternAvenueMochadocs, and Weekdone - will receive free passes to the Business of Software conference and the opportunity to attend a networking dinner with software industry leaders held during the event.

“At Avangate, we recognize the importance of innovation to the software industry and we are committed to accelerating growth for software companies at all stages,” said Carl Theobald, CEO of Avangate. “We offer this scholarship contest for young companies to access the information they need to validate their growth strategies and widen their business network. It’s always difficult to pick winners from the group of applicants, but this year’s scholarship recipients really stood out for their solid products and clear vision for the future.”

All of the scholarship winners are software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies, but each focuses on a different aspect of business. Intern Avenue is a hire-matching platform which helps employers to find and differentiate quickly between candidates, while Mochadocs makes it easy for businesses of all sizes to manage and fulfill contracts. Finally, Weekdone helps managers and teams track their productivity to identify strengths as well as areas for improvement. Each company is taking a creative approach to meeting a defined business need and stands to benefit greatly from the Business of Software Conference.

“We’re delighted to welcome the Avangate scholarship recipients to the Business of Software Conference in Boston next week. They have selected interesting, innovative companies, but more importantly three interesting entrepreneurs who share so many of the values with our attendees from around the world.” said Mark Littlewood, Director of the Business Leaders Network and Business of Software. “The scholars are always enthusiastic participants and have so much to offer back from their own entrepreneurial experience. We know scholarship recipients make valuable connections and create a solid foundation for growth. I am personally delighted that the scholars represent the geographical diversity of BoS attendees coming from the UK, Netherlands and Estonia.”

In addition to presenting scholarship recipients with the opportunity to attend the well-known Boston conference, Avangate will organize a networking dinner to connect the new companies with leading experts in the software industry.

To learn more about how Avangate can grow your software and SaaS sales, read an overview of the Avangate commerce solutions.

About the Business of Software Conference, 28th -30th October, Boston, MA

Business of Software is the conference for people who care about growing great software businesses. It’s a safe haven for ISVs who want to talk, listen and learn from each other about growing long-term, sustainable, profitable software businesses. Our attendees run growth businesses and entrepreneurial business units in companies that work in all types of organizations – through enterprise software, web, mobile, SaaS — from around the world. (Half of last year’s participants were from outside the USA). Business of Software is about sharing ideas for building better software businesses. More information can be found

About Avangate

Avangate is the leading customer-centric commerce provider that enables companies to increase their online sales across touchpoints, manage subscription billing, and grow their distribution channels to profitably scale and enter new markets. Avangate’s scalable and integrated solutions include a full-featured, modular and secure eCommerce platform, a partner order and revenue management solution, as well as a constantly expanding worldwide affiliate network.

More information about Avangate can be found at

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Old laptop. New laptop. Stickers. T-shirts.

This is my old laptop. It goes to some of the best conferences in the world.

Old laptop

This is my new laptop. If you want to cheer it up, feel free to bring me a sticker.

New laptop the Apple Pie

In similar vein, I saw Peldi earlier this summer and he wore a continuous cycle of StackExchange, Balsamiq, Red Gate and Business of Software T-shirts. People came up to him on the beach asking where they could download software from such incredible institutions.

My daughter asked him why he  wore the same T-shirts and he replied they were the only ones people had given him.

Italy 2013 Paul Kenny 014


Italy2013 Peldi 001


Italy2013 Peldi 008

He isn’t the only technology influencer who is happy to war a nice promotional T-shirt so why not bring a couple along and find someone that will do your marketing for you on the other side of the world?

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The Storify of Business of Software Conference 2013, 28-30th October 2013, Boston, MA.

Selected social media and pictures from Business of Software Conference 2013.

Tag any media #BoS2013 to be included.

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[View the story "Business of Software Conference 2013" on Storify]

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Tech events in Boston in week of Business of Software Conference 2013

Thanks to Trever Lohrbeer at Lab Escape, for a neat run down on other technology events going on in Boston around the Business of Software Conference that starts next week in Boston…

“Unfortunately, with closing my biggest deal ever & buying a house in the past month, life has not let up enough for me to prepare for BoS properly this year.” [We SO know that feeling...]

I had wanted to write an article about activities people could do pre/post BoS. I don’t have time for that, but I figured I’d write you and pass along the info in case you want to work it in somewhere.

Before BoS, we have:

Fantastic FREE geek unconference. I’m flying in Friday night just so I can go to this before BoS.

After BoS, we have:

Giving away $1 million to the winning startups who’ve gone through one of the largest accelerators in the world, many of which are software startups. Amazing networking, plus you get to see the finalists pitch their companies. Plus this year’s MC is Aasif Mandvi from The Daily Show and the keynote is George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic. Not cheap ($199 for most companies), but worth it.

I’ve been twice before and one of the best unconferences I’ve ever been to. It now has 1,000+ attendees. Again, amazing networking, inspiring & educational content. I’ve both hosted & attended sessions, and I always learn a great deal. Attendees tend to be entrepreneurs, investors & creative thinkers around Boston.

Held in the Cambridge Innovation Center every Thursday, Venture Cafe always has smart attendees & sometimes educational presentations. Free beer & wine while you network and mingle with other entrepreneurs and like-minded people.

Other events happening that week are listed on Greenhorn Connect or VentureFizz.

Unfortunately, it’s probably too late for those who have booked their flights. But for people who will be in town anyway because they chose to come early or stay late, the ones listed above are all great events. I’m flying in on Friday and staying for almost two weeks to attend all the great events and catch up with people. I’m planning on attending all the events I listed above, and am happy to introduce other BoSers to the people I know in Boston at these other events. Just tell me people to look for the fedora. :-)

I’m looking forward to another year at BoS. I’ve been feeling my excitement building this past week. Keep sending those great e-mails, and see you up in Boston next week!

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4 keys for 'Products and promotions that people really, actually love' (c) Dharmesh Shah

Over at Hubspot, Dharmesh has been thinking about some of the key pieces of advice he’s found at Business of Software that really make the difference to how he approaches product development and promotion. It’s a great post and a great summary (full transcript below). If you want to really get to grips with these principles, I recommend watching the talks as a whole: Kathy, Joel, Rory and Don all give practical tips on how these insights can be used for your business.

A word of advice: these are long talks, and could disrupt your working day. If you would prefer us to email them to you for later consumption, just leave your details in the form below and we will make sure you get them, plus a notification when the talks from BoS2013 are published on this site.

Make the user awesome instead of competing to be perceived as awesome.” – Kathy Sierra, Serious Pony
As soon as you think someone is seeing what you’re doing, you start to care more about it.” – Joel Spolsky, Stack Exchange
If you think creativity is expensive, you should try logic.” – Rory Sutherland, Ogilvy Group
Design products for who your users are, not who you want them to be.” – Don Norman, Nielsen Norman Group

Here is what they mean to Dharmesh and the team at Hubspot (you can see the original post here):

‘As many of you know, creating remarkable content is a hallmark of both HubSpot as a company and the inbound marketing movement. But as a proud “geek” myself and someone who has also spent a fair amount of time writing code, I’m a strong believer that best-in-class companies need both remarkable products and promotion that their prospects, leads, and customers don’t just tolerate, but actually really love.

I’ve been fortunate to join many people who care about this very topic at the Business of Software conference here in Boston over the last five years, so to celebrate my sixth year with this esteemed group of people, I pulled together some of my favorite pieces of advice from panelists past and present on how to write code and content your customers truly love.

“Make the user awesome instead of competing to be perceived as awesome.” – Kathy Sierra, Serious Pony (Tweet This)

The first piece of advice comes from a woman I deeply admire and who has a lot of fans in and around HubSpot. Kathy notes that while trust in advertisements is down, trust in recommendations from friends and colleagues is up (inbound marketing for the win!). And yet, what this trend has created is a massive crowd of companies and brands competing to be perceived as awesome. This sounds, at face value, like a well-intentioned and successful business strategy, but as Kathy points out in her address last year, trying to achieve the perception of awesome is a fierce and bloody battle with very few winners.

Kathy advocates a different route entirely: creating applications and experiences that are so inherently valuable and simple that users extract value within the first 30 minutes. I was particularly struck by the wisdom of this insight during a recent West Coast trip: Part of the genius of companies like Dropbox and New Relic is that their user experiences are so sticky and intuitive that the time between “getting started” with Dropbox and “benefiting” from Dropbox is minutes, if not seconds. It’s that threshold, as Kathy notes, that all of us should be aiming for each day as we build our products.

“As soon as you think someone is seeing what you’re doing, you start to care more about it.” – Joel Spolsky, Stack Exchange (Tweet This)

Joel runs Stack Exchange, which has cultivated a community of 22 million users, making it one of the most popular websites on the internet. This is no small feat, but when asked about the success of Stack Exchange’s platform, Joel references not just the code, but also the culture that has engendered such excitement for an answers-driven destination.

One of the insights from his talk last year that I particularly enjoyed was the notion that first impressions send signals to your users and website visitors that indicate whether the site is relevant for “their people.” For example, if you’re seeking out high-level physics insight and the first item you see on an answers site is about where to find an apartment, chances are you will leave within seconds.

Identifying the signals you can send to visitors and prospective users that they are in the right place and that they have found a community where they can either actively participate or simply get a quick answer they need is core to Stack Exchange’s business model. As a result, the company focuses on guiding principles and governing rules that facilitate the quality of those first impressions, and their users benefit daily from these decisions. Product managers and marketers alike should take that advice to heart: What signals does your homepage send about relevance for the community you’re seeking to attract and grow?

The second relates to badges: Joel correctly points out that most people respond incredulously when asked if they would behave differently to get a seemingly meaningless internet badge. However, he references cultural anthropology and human psychology by noting that everyone, regardless of whether you are online, offline, young, old, a developer, or a doctor, behaves differently when they believe someone else sees what they are doing.

When someone is observing your behavior, shoes, work, contributions, or intellect, you take more pride in it — this is as true of toddlers as it is for those of us who wish to be viewed as helpful or intelligent on Stack Exchange. As a result, badges and other forms of social proof and rewards aren’t for show: They reinforce the vision that Stack Exchange users aren’t just providing Q&A fodder, they are also responsible for creating “a permanent useful artifact for the internet’s benefit.” Give people a mission that matters, and the right users will care enough to contribute, collaborate, and correct clearly defined cultural norms.

“If you think creativity is expensive, you should try logic.” – Rory Sutherland, Ogilvy Group (Tweet This)

I’m a huge fan of logic and data-driven decisions. But, I’m also a huge fan of Rory’s insight that rationality goes “dangerously unpoliced” at many organizations, and that most of the world’s great businesses are rooted in a really exceptional human insight. Rory’s talk at the 2011 conference reminds each of us that it’s not just about having a product that is “better” than something that currently exists. In fact, Rory is quick to note that marginal improvements on one dimension often fail miserably.

There are always going to be thousands of alternatives to your product available, but all of our market perceptions are shaped by heuristics. To that end, entrepreneurs, developers, and marketers alike cannot lose sight of the fundamentally human component of a value proposition. It is not enough to be a bit better, different, or more expensive — it’s about how you frame those differences in terms of their associated risks, benefits, and value that resonates with your customers.

The danger of rationality should resonate and move all of us. It’s very easy to talk yourself into or out of anything with data, including what your customers want. Often, if your product or services are not meeting the needs of your current install base, this gap will not emerge immediately, but rather show when people vote with their wallets by moving on from your company months or years later. In particular, SaaS platforms like ours rely upon long-term relationships with customers to pay back the investment of acquiring them.

It’s not good enough to think big, push creative limits, or revisit the drawing board when things are bad or customers complain. The world’s best companies combine creativity and rationality to solve real human problems, upgrade people’s lives in new and meaningful ways, and continuously evolve to meet the needs of their customers.

“Design products for who your users are, not who you want them to be.” – Don Norman, Nielsen Norman Group (Tweet This)

I can personally attest to how important a reminder this particular tenet is from Don Norman. At HubSpot, as most of you know, we sell inbound marketing software that allows companies to attract and engage with prospects, leads, and customers by leveraging an integrated system that combines blogging, SEO, social media, analytics, and email tools. We take our own medicine, so we use our tools to engage with our audience daily via blogging, social media, and email marketing.

This is all wonderful, but it sometimes leads us to believe that our users are just like us: that they know, understand, and have seen the incredible value of inbound marketing. For business owners and marketers who use our product every day, we need to be realistic about the demands on their time, energy, efforts, and wallets, and our product must be designed and delivered in a manner that reflects how customers actually engage with our product every day.

I’m a big believer that, in addition to adding remarkable features, this exercise should also include removing features that are counterintuitive or no longer add value: Simplicity matters, and walking a mile in our customers’ shoes can’t just be a poster or a vision board. Don’s advice is a great example that building for an idealistic user base can leave you playing to an empty room. Design for real people and you’ll be rewarded with real results.

This year, Kathy’s talk at the Business of Software conference will focus on “Unfinished Business,” and I think that’s a great place for me to conclude here. The reality is that outstanding product design, remarkable marketing, and exceptional user experiences rely upon an ongoing commitment to greatness. The startup and software worlds rarely reward one-hit wonders — our user bases rely upon us for constant innovation and insight to make their lives easier, simpler, and better.’

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Boston software entrepreneur? Michael Skok wants to take you to the Business of Software Conference

This is a repost of a blog post by Michael Skok, Partner at North Bridge Venture Partners (and serial entrepreneur before moving to the money side) and someone who came to Business of Software Conference last year. I have had the pleasure of talking to Michael on and off since and he is one of those people who while very busy, is extraordinarily generous with his time, advice and connections. It is fairly typical of him to offer, out of the blue, to bring a guest entrepreneur along to Business of Software Conference. If you are a software entrepreneur and can get to Boston for the conference, leave a comment on his blog post and he will pick someone to bring.

Go to Michael’s blog here to register your interest in coming. It is packed with useful tools and resources for software people anyway, regardless of whether you are interested in venture funding..

Thank you Michael. See you in Boston.

Business of Software Conference, Boston 28-30th October 2013

Where do entrepreneurs go to learn their craft?

Mainly they learn from doing – however, looking for any possible edge against formidable entrenched competitors they also learn from books and blogs, they learn by watching others, they find mentors, they hustle to meet other people they can share experiences with and who can help them refine their value proposition and vision. Almost all of them would credit their success, at least in some part, to the people they have spent time with on their way. In fact, one of the most important things an entrepreneur can do when starting or growing a business is to seek the advice and help of other entrepreneurs.

While this can often be daunting – wading through an endless array of dinners, breakfasts, coffees, conferences and introductions; it’s necessary.

I’m often asked by entrepreneurs to improve the signal to noise ratio for them and the best conferences all have several things in common – (1) quality – both in the attendees and in the speakers; (2) smallish — they also tend to be smaller to allow for more quality interactions and (3) track record – they’ve been in existence for a number of years and have established credibility.

One conference that’s coming up along those lines is the Business of Software Conference (held in Boston 28-30th October). It’s been held now for six years, the last three in Boston. It is a very different conference for a small group (limited by design to just 400 people), who come from around the world to listen to a small number of extraordinary speakers – academics, entrepreneurs who are growing great businesses, experts in their field. Topics covered this year range from strategy to culture, UI to crisis management, software pricing to even coping with depression as an entrepreneur. This year, the organizers have also put on some half day masterclasses at the end of the event (that include an invitation to the networking party on Monday night too) so that if you are short on time you can opt to take part in that alone.

Another conference that I recommend to entrepreneurs is AWS ReInvent where you can learn everything you need to in order to thrive in the AWS cloud and convenes the most important developers and technical leaders from the AWS community. Last year (ThisLife, Mortar Data and BitYota) actually launched at the conference – something that is unsurprising given the fact that Amazon has been a positive disruptive force for founders allowing them to get a service up and running on AWS with close to zero upfront investment. This allows them to test their value proposition, refine their go-to-market strategy and get early customer validation – something that will make fundraising easier and help founders retain greater ownership in their companies.

This year, for the Business of Software conference on Oct. 28-30 at the Seaport Boston Hotel, here in Boston — I am purchasing a ticket for an entrepreneur in Boston to come and attend as my guest. Further, anyone using my twitter handle in the ‘discount code’ when they register – @mjskok – will get a 10% discount on a ticket. Granted, tickets are not cheap but, if you want to meet people who will change the way you think about business and some very good people from around the world who care about building great businesses, they are great value.

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We love it when people let us know about things like this. 'How Business of Software Conference changed my life'

[This is a post of a guest post that Business of Software superfan, Patrick Foley, posted on Business of Software superfan Dharmesh Shah's awesome On Startups website. Subscribe to the RSS feed here.

tl;dr:  If you work in the business of software the one must-attend event is the Business of Software (Boston, Oct 28th  –  30th 2013)

Note from Dharmesh:  This is a guest post from Patrick Foley.  I normally don't post articles that promote an event — but Business of Software is not a normal event.  It's the ONLY conference that I've spoken at 5 years in a row (an am speaking again this year).  It's the only conference for which I stay at a hotel in Boston (5 miles from where I live) just so I can hang out with the people attending the conference as much as possible.  It's that good. You should attend.  (Note: I am not affiliated with the organizers, my selfish reason for convincing you to go is so I can meet more awesome people).

ABSTRACT: If you’re not satisfied with some aspect of your career, go to a great conference like Business of Software. The best conferences can dramatically alter your perspective and ultimately change you.

Four years ago, I attended my first Business of Software conference. Back then, I was a technical evangelist for Microsoft, and since my customers were other software companies, I thought I knew all I needed to know about this “business of software.”

Obviously, I was wrong. For three days I listened to amazing speakers like Jason Cohen (founder, WPEngine) explain how the different personal goals of founders have an enormous impact on their business actions – meaning you should pay more attention to advice from founders with similar personal goals. I was inspired to hear Peldi Guillizoni (founder, Balsamiq) explain how he built his business – and how his journey actually started while working for a big company (hey, just like me!). I was shocked to hear Joel Spolsky’s very intimate description of how funding really works. I learned measurement concepts from Dharmesh Shah (founder, HubSpot) that I didn’t even know were knowable. I was genuinely moved by the stories from these founders and all the other brilliant speakers. And that was just the first year for me (more great speaker videos from 20102011 and 2012).

At a great conference, the attendees are as important as the speakers. Many of the people I’ve met at Business of Software have become my friends and advisors. One became my cofounder in my first effortat a building a software company (a story for another day). There’s a bond that develops among Business of Software attendees that’s hard to describe. Part of it is that the speakers are highly engaged attendees themselves – something you don’t see often – this is their community, their tribe, and the speakers clearly look forward to being a part of the event from both sides of the stage.

There was something about attending that conference in person that shook me to my core and sparked a passion for learning how software companies really work and what makes them successful (spoiler alert: it’s freaking hard). Yes, I already worked for one, but Microsoft is HUGE – I was a deckhand on a battleship. Although I was working with other software companies, I was ultimately selling to them … you don’t learn how things really work in that situation. I even had a podcast that allowed me to speak with some brilliant founders … but it took being in a room with all these people at once to change me. BoS changed me. (I wrote about that special year and even have a manic podcast episode describing it.)

Great conferences like Business of Software aren’t cheap, but they’re a great investment. Microsoft paid my way to a couple of conferences a year – that’s a HUGE perk of working for an established company! If you work for a company that has multiple layers of management, then they probably have a conference budget already. Use it! I attended Business of Software on Microsoft’s dime in 2010 and 2011. Last year, I took vacation time and paid my own way, because I was preparing to leave my job.

This year took me in another direction. When it became clear that my product company wasn’t going to work, it was still time to leave Microsoft, so I reluctantly returned to consulting. I was a consultant for 14 years before joining Microsoft, and I’m pretty good at it – but I still felt defeated. Sometimes you just gotta lick your wounds, recover, and figure out a new path. I figured I’d build up my financial resources for a few years as a consultant and then try again to build a software company.

But then a crazy thing happened … a few weeks ago, a couple of friends that I met at Business of Software contacted me about a job. They have a small, very successful software company, and they think I could help with their next stage of growth. WOW! I didn’t see that coming. I’ll have my hands in all parts of the business, improving anything I can and learning everything I can. It’s not a startup (they’ve already found product/market fit), but it’s actually a better fit for me at this point in my life, because it provides greater financial stability, and it will allow me to experience how a successful company operates. A while back, I asked Jason Cohen for life/career advice, and this was exactly the sort of situation he said I should be looking for. It’s PERFECT.

I’m sure you can guess the call-to-action of this post by now … sign up for Business of Software and GO. It just might change your life. The best work I did for Microsoft stemmed from Business of Software. Then it inspired me to leave Microsoft and pursue work that I like even better. And now my dream job FOUND ME because I went to Business of Software.

My new company and I haven’t actually finalized my role or my start date yet … we’re going to formalize things in 2 weeks at Business of Software … I hope to see you there! It’s going to sell out, so you need to jump online and order your ticket now. My understanding is that it’s going to be several hundred dollars more expensive next week (if you can get in at all). If you’re on the fence about going, feel free to contact me ( to talk about it.

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Live Q&A with Iris Lapinski, Apps for Good, Broadcast 12 noon EST 17th Oct

Because software (and work) is about more than just the money, the next of our occasional series of interviews with BoS speakers involves Iris Lapinski, the founder of Apps for Good.

Join us on Thursday 17th October (12 noon EST) when we’ll be talking to Iris about her work with CDI Apps for Good (, an award-winning technology education movement where young people in schools learn to create apps that solve problems they care about and change their world. From a modest start in 2 centres, 2 teachers and 50 students in 2010, Apps for Good has grown exponentially to 100 schools and  5,000+ 11-18 year olds across the UK and is on course to be active in 250 schools with 20,000 students by September 2013.

Hangout here!

Iris (and we) believe that we can learn a lot from the next generation of tech entrepreneurs and the experience of teaching lean and agile methodologies in schools. If you’d like to know more about her work and what she’ll be speaking about at BoS, join us!

You can bookmark this page and add it to your Google Calendar here.

Questions to us on Twitter, please, using Hashtag #BoS2013

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