"It's not what you know, it's who you know". Guest blog from Adii Pienaar, Founder of WooThemes.

No comments

Adii Piennar, founder and CEO of Woothemes was one of last year’s Business of Software Conference speakers. Watch his talk (with transcript) about running a global business from the edge of the world here. Adii’s company, Woothemes celebrated it’s 1,000,000th download this week but Adii has moved on…

Adii Pienaar…

When I was a kid, my dad always told me “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. I never really understood that until the day that I quit my day job in the pursuit of a new startup.

But before I made that decision (and before I tell the story), I attended BoS – as a speaker – in 2012. I had intended to already attend BoS in 2011, but as the gods would have it, the dates coincided with the birth of my firstborn son. (Whilst the BoS crew made a compelling argument for me to attend, I would not have missed my son’s birth for anything. :))

At this stage, I can tell you about my wonderful and memorable experience at BoS 2012. I can tell you that I found all of the talks super interesting and that Mikey Trafton’s talk about hiring for cultural-fit was mind-blowing (and my favourite one at that). I can also say that the catering was superb and that my tummy never felt more loved.

And so much more. Of course.

The one thing that however turned BoS (from being a great) into a spectacular conference was the friendships. The fact that BoS (purposefully) doesn’t attract thousands of attendees means it’s small, intimate and super-connected. For me, it wasn’t just about networking (something which I’m not great at to be honest), but about the relationships that I made and still have today.

I met some incredible people; both fellow speakers and attendees. Many of these have become friends, with whom I interact daily. In fact, some of these friends have become mentors and advisors along my entrepreneurial journey.

I found that everyone I met were so gracious with their time, passion and ideas. Which in turn meant that I had so many fascinating and stimulating conversations that my brain was literally fried at the end of each conference day.

But what’s the value of those friendships?

If you’re like me, you’re trying to quantify the value you’ll get from attending a BoS conference in future and you’re benchmarking that against what a conference ticket costs. And BoS isn’t the cheapest conference around either.

To answer that question, I’d like to tell you a story.


I recently made the decision to take a less hands-on role at WooThemes (the company I co-founded in 2007) to pursue a brand new startup adventure with PublicBeta.

PublicBeta aims to help other entrepreneurs by sharing the knowledge and experience of other, successful entrepreneurs. So the BoS audience is pretty much exactly the same audience that I’m targeting.

Whilst I’ve not yet launched PublicBeta and most of the work is still behind-the-scenes, I’ve already learnt a few things since I started work on the new venture:

  • There was no way that I’d be able to launch PublicBeta without having the audience or network I have today. This is best evidenced in the fact that I’ve got commitments from 40+ entrepreneurs already (some of whom I met at BoS last year) to teach courses on PublicBeta in the next 6 months.
  • In taking early signups for PublicBeta, I’ve seen so many friends and people that I met at BoS sign up. I can only assume that this is partly due to us meeting (entrepreneurs support each other).
  • When I set out to work on PublicBeta, I was reminded about all the stories I heard at BoS where the entrepreneur had a vision and were working incredibly hard in their pursuit of that vision. That’s some inspiring stuff and working with people like that is a big part of my vision for PublicBeta.

I’m not suggesting that that BoS is the only reason that I’m in the position to work on PublicBeta. Yes, BoS was awesome and yes, there’s other entrepreneur-orientated conferences out there too.

What I do however know is that BoS taught me that my dad was right all those years back: “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

I’ll be back at BoS this year, because I obviously can’t get enough of a good thing. :)

Thanks Adii and see you there.


Upcoming Events

Check out events coming soon

Don't Miss a Thing - Get BoS Updates

Want us to let you know about new talk videos, speaker AMAs, Business of Software Conference and other event updates? Join the smart people who get BoS updates. Unsubscribe anytime. We will never sell your email address.