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Reflections on leadership, culture, & growth | Kieran O’Neill | BoS Online Europe 2020

Kieran O’Neill // Thread

Kieran is probably a serial entrepreneur – he founded his first business aged 15, (sold age 19 for $1.25m), his second and third were also acquired. He’s co-founder/CEO of his fourth startup, Thread. In this interactive discussion, Kieran shares some of his experiences and learnings having founded and grown four tech businesses before the age of 30. Kieran’s focus at Thread is to drive the growth of the business and keep developing – not maintaining – the company culture.

Prior to Thread, Kieran founded one of the first video sharing websites aged 15 and sold it for $1.25M aged 19. He was then CEO and co-founder of Playfire, the largest social network for gamers, which he grew to 1.5 million customers before being acquired in 2012. He’s a member of the Forbes, Drapers and Financial Times 30 Under 30 lists.

Video below

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Building An Accidental Business | Cesar Kuriyama | BoS USA 2019

Cesar Kuriyama // 1 Second Everyday

Born in Peru, and raised as a math and science nerd in New Jersey with a passion for movies and storytelling, Cesar worked in advertising before leaving it all behind to pursue his own personal creative endeavours; among them a personal project – 1SecondEveryday.

It took time and a co-founder, Schoneck Shoaf, to turn it into a business, but now the App has been downloaded over 2 million times.

In this talk from BoS USA 2019, Cesar will share the story of how he accidentally turned his idea for a tool that would encourage him to be more adventurous into 1SecondEveryday. This became a thriving, bootstrapped, remote only, business that became the number one paid app in Apple’s App Store in 2018. Cesar shares the decision-making process that ultimately led to a change in business model, a rewrite of the platform and to taking outside capital.

Find out how 1Second Everyday:

  • make remote working work
  • changed the business model as it grew up
  • discovered the ever-growing number of alternative sources of funding available to software entrepreneurs.

Video, Slides, & Sketchnote below

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Curated Content – A low down of news and views from the month of February

Regular BoS Newsletter readers will be familiar with our “Curated Content” section. Every week we collate the most interesting stories from the SaaS world and send them to out in our Newsletter.

We know our community of SaaS founders are busy – they don’t have time to scour the internet for niche software news and articles all the time. That’s why we do it for them. If you want to join this community of very clever people you can sign up here.

Here are 10 of the most interesting stories we’ve sent out to our community this month.

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Growth, Funding, Pivotal Moments and the Evolution of Adzerk to Kevel

Growth, Funding, Pivotal Moments and the Evolution of Adzerk to Kevel

BoS regulars will know James Avery, founder of Adzerk, recently renamed to be known forevermore as Kevel. We caught up with him following the announcement of an $11 million funding round for the 13 year old SaaS business which he describes as, ‘Seedstrapped’. We talk growth, funding, pivotal moments and the evolution of Adzerk to Kevel

We cover:

  • The origin and growth of Adzerk
  • His attitude and approach to taking outside funding and finding the right money at the right stage for him
  • Some of the BoS talks that had an impact on his company, including changing its name to Kevel
  • Why he doesn’t worry too much about what might happen in the future

Food for thought for anyone on the Long, Slow SaaS Ramp of Death…

Video, transcript and links to talks James has found particularly impactful as he built Kevel below…

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Hiring a Head of Product | Rich Mironov | BoS USA Online 2020

Rich Mironov // Mironov Consulting

If you don’t have a Head of Product you may suffer from: narrow focus on engineer/development productivity; underpowered product management teams; customer benefits misaligned with actual features; and lack of a realistic product strategy.

But it’s hard to hire a Head of Product. We don’t know what product leaders do, and disagree about what’s most important in a new one. We write wildly aspirational job descriptions for candidates and we confuse subject/market expertise with product management/leadership experience to name just a few errors.

Rich Mironov wrote The Art of Product Management and is a voice for the scrappy entrepreneur in all of us. In this talk from BoS USA Online, he looks at the important aspects of product leaders:

  • Organizing the product organization.
  • Cross-functional leadership.
  • Building what users actually need.

Video & slides below

also available on the podcast

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The Stories Your Customers Tell You | Sally Foote, GoCompare | BoS Europe Online 2020

Sally Foote // VP ECommerce, GoCompare

Should you or shouldn’t you listen to your customers? Do they know what they want or just what they think they want? Famously, pre-automobile era, people didn’t want a car, they wanted faster horses. So how do know when to listen to your customer feedback and when not to?

In this talk from BoS Europe 2020, Sally Foote (VP of ECommerce at GoCompare) shares her experience and expertise working with some high-profile digital businesses operating at scale to manage profitable growth and innovation in their organisations.

She will explain:

  • how she uses data-driven decision-making frameworks to identify profitable opportunities that can have a potentially transformational impact
  • why listening to your customers isn’t always a good idea
  • how to know if you’re asking the right questions

Video & Slides below

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How & When To Finish Big | Brian & Eric Dosal | BoS USA 2019

Brian & Eric Dosal // Co-Founders, BrightGauge

Eric (the money guy) & Brian (the product guy) Dosal share their experience of starting, scaling and ultimately selling BrightGauge, their self-funded, 35 employee SaaS business back in 2019. They share an honest and open account of why they decided to sell while it was still very profitable and experiencing rapid (50% year-on-year) growth.

They share the lessons learned in starting a company in San Francisco and then moving it back to their hometown, Miami, FL and the reasons why they took the decision to sell the company. They were not VC funded and had no pressure to sell. Even with a great culture, great team, great everything, it still could be a great idea to sell. AFTER selling, there are still things to do but it’s OK to take a break and/or start a new project.

Hear their takeaways from the experience, and learn how and why to finish big and leave on top.

Video, Slides, & Sketchnote below

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Curated Content – A low down of news and views from the past 30 days

Regular BoS Newsletter readers will be familiar with our “Curated Content” section. Every week we collate the most interesting stories from the SaaS world and send them to out in our Newsletter.

We know our community of SaaS founders are busy – they don’t have time to scour the internet for niche software news and articles all the time. That’s why we do it for them. If you want to join this community of very clever people you can sign up here.

Here are 10 of the most interesting stories we’ve sent out to our community this month.

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Delete that Account! | Nandini Jammi | BoS USA Online

Nandini Jammi // Co-Founder Check My Ads

Nandini has been immersed in the world of brand safety & digital advertising since 2016, when she began running Sleeping Giants, the social media campaign that alerted advertisers that their ads were funding hate speech on Breitbart News. Her efforts led to her being recognized by Business Insider as one of the industry leaders “fixing” digital advertising. DigiDay named her a DigiDay Changemaker. In 2019, Sleeping Giants won a Gold Cannes Lion Award for Best Social Media Campaign and a People’s Voice for Public Service and Activism Webby Award.

In August 2020, HotJar publically dropped the Trump campaign and the GOP account (before it was cool to do so). It was not only an unprecedented move for a tech company, it’s an incredible case study in how to manage a social media crisis in this age of extremes. In this talk from BoS USA Online 2020, Nandini discusses the background to the story and the actions the company’s leadership took to address a challenge that most software company CEOs have never seriously considered: booting users who violate their Acceptable Use Policies.  Nandini explores the role of Acceptable Use Policies & ToS as a tool for choosing your course of action.
also available on the podcast

Video & Slides below

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Building A Billion Dollar Business – Managing Objectives Against Rapid Growth | Poppy Gustafsson | BoS Europe 2019

Poppy Gustafsson // Darktrace

Poppy is a co-founder and CEO of Darktrace, a world-leading AI company for cyber defence, named Europe’s ‘Fastest Growing Super Scale-up’ by Tech Tour in 2018. Poppy was awarded an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in 2019 in recognition of her services to cyber security.

In this talk from BoS Europe 2019, Poppy will discuss how Darktrace has grown to become one of the world’s fastest growing cyber AI company. She will share some of her experiences in helping to shape and scale a successful commercial strategy that has meant the company has grown incredibly quickly; from the outset, the intention was to establish a reputation in a key market before applying its AI know-how to other challenges, such as risk or compliance.

Poppy will also discuss how cyber security is an industry in crisis and how Darktrace is working to fill the gap by hiring bright graduates and training them on the job as well as using AI to do the heavy lifting.

Video, Sketchnote, & Slides below

also available on the podcast

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Growing Sales In A SaaS Business | John Snyder | BoS Europe 2019

John Snyder // Grapeshot

John Snyder started Grapeshot in a small office overlooking King’s Parade, right at the heart of the Cambridge tech cluster. While Cambridge is well known for the quality of its technology, many companies have struggled to turn their technology advantage into global commercial success. John was determined to do both in the global adtech market, not one that is traditionally associated with deep Cambridge tech.

In this talk from BoS Europe 2019, John talks about how he set about educating himself by learning from others and why he decided that his business had to have a global vision from the outset. He describes entering new markets with a relatively limited supply of capital which meant every new move could have been very costly. Ultimately, much of the success of the business was down to maintaining a clear company culture whilst operating across several continents and territories amidst different social cultures.

The company was acquired by Oracle Corporation in May 2018.

 

Video, Sketchnote, & Slides below

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The Effort:Experience Ratio | Ruth Everard, DragonMobility | BoS Europe 2019

Ruth Everard // DragonMobility

Despite a severe physical disability, Ruth has a law degree from Oxford University, trained as a solicitor with one of the world’s largest law firms practicing in the City in hedge funds and private equity. She then went on to become managing director of Dragonmobility, the not-for-profit that gives to others the specialist powerchairs which made it all possible for her.

In this talk from BoS Europe 2019, Ruth shares some of her experience growing up with a severe physical disability that have led her to think very hard about her own goals, values and priorities in comparison to the energy they expend to achieve.

You will learn how to prioritise your goals and achievements in all aspects of your life by weighing up the effort necessary against the experience to be gained in pursuing them with more everyday, mainstream, examples.

Video & Sketchnote below

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New Ways Of Working | Dame Stephanie Shirley CH | BoS Europe 2019

Dame Stephanie ‘Steve’ Shirley CH // Freelance Programmers

Dame Stephanie is 50 years ahead of her time. While remote work is becoming more popular now than ever before, Dame Stephanie’s company was remote only from the outset. No Slack, no Twitter, no World Wide Web! So how did she do it?

In this talk from BoS Europe 2019, Dame Stephanie discusses some of the lessons she’s learned in starting, building, growing and exiting one of Europe’s most successful companies. You will hear why some of her core values – trust, a belief in strong culture, valuing outputs over inputs, a sense of values and determination – are as critical to building a successful business today as they were in the jet age.

 

also available on the podcast

 

Video & Sketchnote below

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Avoiding the Perennial Problems With Productivity Tools | Francesco D’Alessio | BoS Europe 2019

Francesco D’Alessio // Keep Productive

Everyone has too much to do.

Luckily, there are an almost limitless number of tools that offer a solution that will help you reclaim control of your life. Unluckily, people often become less productive as they adopt new apps and tools that don’t fit with their individual work styles, work flows and habits.

Switching to-do list applications? Can’t make your mind up on a note-taker? Or just can’t quite stick with just one resource. This talk helps to break down a simple process on how to filter down your options and stick with the resource you choose for years to come. Save yourself time, effort and even money with these helpful approaches to matching software to your needs and goals.

Video, Slides, & Sketchnote below

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Here Be Dragons | Randy Silver | BoS Europe 2019

Randy Silver // Motivate Design

How many times have you wondered if your company has prioritised the work that will actually solve your customer’s problems? Not the ones they tell you about – that’s easy. It’s the problems that they don’t talk about that will trip you up every time.

As product organisations, we’ve developed any number of frameworks, techniques and processes to get at this elusive knowledge, and then to proritise it correctly. In firm after firm, Randy Silver has seen the same problems crop up – then he discovered a new technique that generates genuine insight in as little as two weeks. Instead of wondering if you’re committing your teams to solving the right problems, the Insider Insight methodology ensures that you’re asking the right question.

In this talk from BoS Europe 2019, you will gain an understanding of why the discovery process is broken – but also how you can employ a new approach to fix it that will complement your existing practices.

Video, Sketchnote, & Slides below

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Stop Selling Your Product, Start Selling Your Point of View | April Dunford | BoS USA Online 2020

April Dunford // Ambient Strategy

Startups often struggle to communicate the value of their products, particularly in sales meetings. From pitches that drown customers in a word-soup of features, to high-concept vision pitches that leave customers confused and sceptical – many companies struggle to connect authentically with customers in a way that generates deals. You need the Point of View pitch.

In this talk, April is going to teach you the difference between selling and helping customers buy. She will show you the different types of pitches to use and the pros & cons of each, and why Point of View pitches work so well.

also available on the podcast

Video, Slides, & Transcript below

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Harnessing Culture & Using Data To Build Value For Your Business | Sarah McVittie | BoS 2019

Sarah McVittie // Dressipi

235 million items of clothing end up in landfill sites in the UK every year. Some estimates suggest that globally, 40% of garments produced in the fashion industry are never sold; of which 90% go to landfill.

Sarah McVittie has launched a number of firsts across mobile and web in her 16 year journey as a serial entrepreneur. Her company, Dressipi, built a business that offers shoppers access to their own digital stylist. Dressipi services over 20% of the UK womenswear market including retailers like Topshop, John Lewis, and Very.

In this talk from BoS Europe 2019, Sarah discusses why Dressipi started as a B2C play but the data it collected on customers has a much higher value to fashion retailers as it enables them to forecast demand more effectively and reduce their unsold inventory. You will leave with ideas to stimulate creative, data-driven, approaches to problem solving and how you can harness culture to build long-term value in your business.

Video, Sketchnote, & Slide below

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Management of Innovation

Management of Innovation

When you sign up for our excellent newsletter, you don’t just get access to first sight of new talks, invitations to exclusive hangouts with speakers and smart people and all the community goodness, we ask you if there is something we can help you with to help you navigate the over 300 talks from BoS Conference collected over 15 years from some of the smartest people in the industry. We try to find some particularly relevant content to help you think about your challenge.

This is a reply I got recently from a new subscriber:

> So hit reply and let me know the problem you’re trying to solve, and I’ll be in touch with some top advice from some of the software world’s brightest minds.
> Don’t believe me? Put me to the test…

I’ll take you on on that one:

On the topic of the Management of Innovation: Whose role is it in modern businesses, is it concentrated on a particular function or distributed amongst people? Any best practice? Insights?

What do you have in stock? Any interesting speakers in that sphere?

I hope you are well and not coughing.

Great question…

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