A letter to the BoS Community from a first time attendee

A BIG thank you to the BoS community.

{TLDR} I am a first timer to BoS and a very grateful BoS scholar. This is my letter of thanks to Mark Littlewood and all the organisers, John Knox, Peldi from Balsamiq, Dave Collins and the entire BoS community for a fantastic three days. BoSTen 2016 was for me, an insightful experience, a group of new friends and a wise investment. From Henry Jinman at Crowdfund Campus.

To everyone involved with BoS…

Every couple of months, my co-founder Alex and I meet two English gentlemen and regular BoS attendees (Simon Hook and Matt Duckhouse) in a Cuban coffee shop in Royal Leamington Spa. We sit at the same table at the back of the room. We order teas; they order coffees (a sign that building successful software businesses requires higher doses of caffeine). We run over our progress and dazzle them with moderate traction and hockey-stick curves. They laugh at our projections; challenge our model; impart some insight; and send us on our way.

It was in this setting that we learnt of BoS, and on their recommendations applied for a scholarship to the conference. I wrote the application, sent it off, and then – as the usual struggles of life and business resumed – promptly forgot about it.

Ten days before the beginning of the event, I received an e-mail: we got it! Thanks to the kind support of previous attendees (including John Knox, Balsamiq, and Dave Collins), and an offer of 98% off the price of the ticket, it was possible for us to attend. I quickly found cheap(ish) flights on Norwegian and a six-bed hostel dorm for when I arrived.

To put this into context, we are a small company (http://crowdfundcampus.com) in the EdTech space with two founders, both of whom are two or three years out of university. We lack experience working for anyone other than ourselves and so we are learning by screwing things up and trying again. We are trading profitably (just) but I would say that we haven’t yet proven our model; we are still discovering and validating many aspects of what we do. So, when looking at this conference – aside from considering the attractive high-profile speakers, whose products we use every day (Hubspot, Trello, etc.) – I figured that this would be about future planning for us. In 6-12 months’ time I would be able to apply the knowledge gained at this conference to grow the business, I thought.

I was wrong. I can and will be taking action straight away.

HERE ARE JUST A FEW OF MY PERSONAL HIGHLIGHTS

  • David Collins took our website apart…sarcastically.
  • John Knox and Dave from FE International gave me some great advice on exits.
  • Jana Eggers taught me how to beat Gary Kasparov at chess.
  • Peldi from Balsamiq was on my team for some games. He now calls me ‘Captain’.
  • David Cancel showed me how a customer-driven project team should function.
  • Jason Fried has persuaded me to add more thought to how we work (and to use Basecamp).
  • Ash Maulya has built great content and tools – based on Lean – that should be helping students and entrepreneurs everywhere with the inception and growth of their businesses.
  • Leon from Balsamiq explained how baseball works.
  • Laura Roeder is an inspiration who makes it all sound too easy.
  • Dharmesh Shar showed me that we are building tools but we are selling transformations.
  • Zach showed me that it is possible to have not one but three billion dollar exits. It isn’t complicated but very hard.
  • Gail Goodman taught me about the funnel religion and the importance of the early customer experience.
  • Mark’s shirt and snow shoes combo.
  • Patrick convinced me that reviewing monetisation could be more important than acquisition in driving revenue growth.
  • Promise’s iceberg concept hit home about how culture is what’s under the surface and not the perks. (Sending back that table tennis table now).
  • …and many, many more.

BoS is more than just a conference. It is a community of people from all over the world who are committed to building great software businesses. Whilst not meaning to simply repeat your own marketing spiel, BoS really did feel like a large group of friends who welcomed new members and openly shared their knowledge. Buoyed by the optimism of this event, I will go back home and enact the learnings – and one day Alex and I will be required to start drinking coffee, too!

To all those I met and didn’t get a chance to swap details with, please do connect with me on LinkedIn (Henry Jinman at Crowdfund Campus), or Twitter (@HCJinman). To our kind benefactors, thank you so much for enabling us to take this opportunity. Finally, to the BoS community: I hope to see you all again next year.

Best,

Henry Jinman

Founder & CEO, Crowdfund Campus

 

Get your Fall BoS Conference Ticket

27 - 29 September 2021, Online

BoS Conferences are the events professional CEOs and serious founders attend to learn how to build, run, and scale successful software companies.

First batch of speakers and sessions have been announced. Attendance is limited to 300 spots.

"The only place where I feel, professionally, amongst my peers." — Scott Farquhar, founder and CEO of Atlassian

"Software people of the world: If you haven't been to a @bosconference, you should go." — Dharmesh Shah, founder and CEO of Hubspot