“One of the first (of many lessons) I have learnt from BoS is that telling stories is a much better way to sell you something than just bombarding you with facts and figures. Sadly the credit for that insight goes to Paul Kenny, not me.
I first discovered the BoS conference in 2008. In those days a flight, a hotel room and a conference ticket was a much higher cost for me. But Neil Davidson of RedGate software (who started the conference in 2006) sold it to me on his enthusiasm for the ‘Hallway track’ and his offer to refund the ticket price if I was not totally satisfied. [Editor – We still have a no quibble money back policy]. To be honest, I felt I was in a bit of rut anyway and not sure how to develop my business and rekindle my enthusiasm.
So I decided to give it a go…
I had been to other conferences before such as JavaOne in San Francisco. But nothing prepared me for BoS. I came back with my enthusiasm for my business fired up and loads of ideas to try. We were one of the first UK Companies to try Inbound Marketing, having got Dharmesh Shah (Hubspot CTO) to explain it to me.
Neil was right – the Hallway track (ie the other attendees) was amazing. I had lots of super smart people to talk to and they understood all the issues I was experiencing with my software business. I can best describe it as walking into a room of strangers and quickly realising that you have found your home.
So I went back in 2009 and had a crack at the infamous Lightning Talks and they even let me do a sequel talk in 2010 with 42 slides called Don’t Panic (apologies to Douglas Adams).
I missed several years due to clashes with other events but returned in 2016 to find it was totally different and totally the same. There were loads of interesting new people and a core of regulars who even remembered me. It was so good to be ‘home’ and I have been sure never to miss it since.
There are always lots of great technical and business ideas to pick-up at the conference. We adopted Close.io and Basecamp having got the founders of these Companies to show us the software. I have had countless business problems solved for me and I always return inspired.
I do not know how Mark Littlewood manages to get such an all-star line-up each year but his methods seem to work. The rumour this year is that Mark Zuckerberg was given an ultimatum that he could either talk to BoS or he would have to talk to US Congress instead. [I would not want Mark Zuckerberg to speak]. And I thought he was a smart guy….
The ‘Hallway track’ remains the ‘killer feature’ of BoS. Indeed the biggest issue you might find at BoS is an attack of Imposter syndrome. The speakers hang out with you for the whole conference and many of the attendees could easily be doing the talks. If you need to be the Smartest Guy in the Room this is not the conference for you.
People who are far more successful than me come over to say hello to me and ask how things are. They even remember my name. Everyone is there to learn and the general attitude is NEVER that they are better than you – they might just be a little further down the road and keen to help you along… There is no IN crowd and even if you are a total introvert who knows no-one at the start, you will not be allowed to sneak off to your room in the evening. Are you going to join the group off to see the Red Sox game or do dinner downtown with lots of new friends?
The people who return regularly all seem to be highly successful (and very busy) people who choose to make it as an unmissable date in their diary. I wonder if there might be any connection?
One of my great pleasures has been introducing my team to the event – if you go to BoS USA this year you’ll get to meet some of the IDRsolutions team.
For the last few years, BoS has also offered some free tickets to people who would not otherwise be able to attend. We have been very happy to cover one of these in the last few years. As I said at the beginning, it is sometimes very hard to justify this cost when you are starting out and this allows us to give something back and ensure there are even more interesting people at the event.
So, if you feel you have got something out of the conference over the years, sponsoring a ticket is a great chance to give back by giving someone who would not otherwise be able to attend that same opportunity.
See you all in Boston!
This is a Guest Blog Post from Mark Stephens who, when he isn’t worrying about the imminent end of the world, is CEO Founder at IDR Solutions. He along with some other regular BoS attendees, supports attendance at BoS for people who would otherwise be unable to attend.
We are very grateful to the following individuals and companies who have supported the scholarship scheme this year: Balsamiq, Bambora, GoodData, LogiAnalytics, FEInternational, Aaron Wiener, Dave Collins, IDR Solutions, John Knox, Mark Stephens, and Peldi.
Drop me a line if you would like to consider supporting the scheme.
Apply for a Scholarship
If you would like to be considered for a scholarship to attend Business of Software Conference, please apply here by August 15th.
Successful applicants will receive a 99% discount on a pass for Business of Software Conference and a Half Day Workshop.