In this episode of Startups For The Rest Of Us, Rob and Mike walk you through some of the talks and key takeways from MicroConf Europe 2019.
Items mentioned in this episode:
picture of an evening reception at MicroConf Europe 2019 at Vala Beach
Rob: In this episode of Startups for the Rest of Us, Mike and I talk about our key takeaways from MicroConf Europe 2019. This is Startups for the Rest of Us episode 469.
Welcome to Startups for the Rest of Us, the podcast that helps developers, designers, and entrepreneurs be awesome at building, launching, and growing startups whether you’ve built your fifth startup or you’re thinking about your first. I’m Rob.
Mike: And I’m Mike.
Rob: And we’re here to share our experiences to help you avoid the mistakes we made. So, where this week, sir?
Mike: Not much. Just working on my security audit for Google.
Rob: I was going to ask about that. That’s the running thread. I think in the next couple of weeks, we should get back a full updates episode, but talk me through it briefly.
Mike: It started earlier this week, so I scheduled it for the week after MicroConf Europe because obviously I wasn’t going to be here at last week. I didn’t want to start it the week that I wasn’t here because it’s expensive. We went through, how to kick-off call, they said, “Which environments do you want?” and then they asked, “How much can your server handle in terms of requests per second?” and I hesitated a little bit because I wasn’t really sure what to tell them.
On one hand, I want them to do a good job, but on the other hand I don’t want it to fall over and die on itself. I said, “Try to be a little careful, but I should be alright generally if anything happens. Just email me right away and be done with it.” I just turned them loose.
Rob: Do you think it was a good call to do it immediately after MicroConf Europe? I guess you flew back on Wednesday, I flew back on Thursday. It wasn’t just jet lag. It’s just that extravert hangover being around so many people. It’s so amazing and you want to stay up late and have a bazillion conversations but then, I find that on the flight back I am completely worthless. Basically, I can’t do any work and frankly, several days after MicroConf, I just don’t book anything. Even doing phone calls is a real stretch for me. The fact that the audit started the week after, were you geared back up again by then?
Mike: I was, but I didn’t have all the stuff ready to go right away. We ended up starting about a day late, but that was partially my fault because any email come through that I didn’t fully read absolutely everything in it, it said, “Reply to this email just to confirm that we’re good to go on this date.” I confirmed it on the call but then they followed it up with an email afterwards just to verify and I hadn’t replied to that.
So we ended up starting a day late, but there’s a bunch of paperwork that I was still working on to get over to them. So, documentation, policies, procedures, that sort of stuff. Anyway, we really didn’t start any too much later. I could be a lot worse. It could’ve been them saying, “Oh. Well, our schedule is booked for the next three weeks, so you’re going to have to wait three weeks.” I’m glad that it didn’t come to that.
Rob: That makes sense. From my end, really spent a week-and-a-half in Dubrovnik. I guess it was eight days and the first part of that for several days was second in-person TinySeed retreat and then rolled into MicroConf Europe and then I stayed one extra day just purely because I couldn’t get a flight out at a good time, but that was nice to have that extra day. Most people were gone and that view from that hotel is just amazing.
If you’re on Twitter and you saw any pictures—we’ll even try to grab a picture and put it in the show notes here. Tt really is the nicest venue we’ve ever had in MicroConf fat ever in either continent. There’s something about being that close to water. It’s the Adriatic sea and there are boats out there and there are people’s scuba diving.
With TinySeed, we did as a kayak trip although I couldn’t go out there because I was busy writing my talk, but it really is just amazing to be in the venue, you want to talk, then the break starts, the curtains open, and you’re just looking out on the sea. It’s this feeling of we’re not trapped in this conference room for six or seven hours today.
We are in the conference room intermittently between walking out on the deck, hanging out in the sunlight, listening to seagulls and that kind of stuff. It really is this very unique venue that we found.
Mike: Did you get to go swimming at all or no?
Rob: I had time to swim. I don’t particularly love swimming in cold water. It wasn’t that cold but it was cold to me. I’m from California. I like hot tubs and I like warm swimming pools, so no. I sat there and waved at people and took pictures at folks while they swam and they did it because they were like, “Yeah, I want to prove that I was in the Adriatic sea and stuff,” but I did not get up in the actual water past my knees.
I did get it last year. For listeners, this is the second year we’ve done it at the same venue and I’ve don’t it last year. How about you?
Mike: I went twice. I was planning on going to the third time just before I left, but then I realized that if I went swimming just beforehand, then it was probably going to be an issue because all my stuff would be all wet. I just didn’t want to make it all wet with the sea water and then get on a plane because I would have to put them in a plastic bag or something. I’m like, “No.” I just don’t want to do that.
Rob: Twenty hours of flying? Yeah. We definitely got a lot of positive feedback about the venue. It was interesting. There were more first timers there than usual this year and I’m not sure what to make of that. There were also just more attendees than we had at most MicroConf Europes. It was between 130 and 140 and folks were basically saying, “You should do it here again next year.” That was the overall consensus that I heard.
Normally, we move it every 2 years. I moved in Prague for two years, Barcelona two years. We only did Lisbon for one due to issues with the hotel and then we’ve done it two years in Croatia. So, next year we would think about moving it, but folks are saying, “No. Do it here another year.” Is that what you heard as well?
Mike: For the most part, I did hear one or two people say that we should have it in very specific places. I asked if they lived there and they said yes.
Rob: Yeah, it doesn’t count. If you recommend a city, I’m always like, “Great. Do you live there?” because then I completely discount it. If you don’t live there and the event recommend it, it’s going to be one vote for every city everybody lives in, and then we’re just going to go to the place with the most attendees from that.
The only real drawback for me about doing it in Dubrovnik again is it’s hard to get to. Even for Minneapolis, which is a delta hub, I have to do three flights. I have two stops and it takes me 17 hours each way. It’s not that far. I can get to Heathrow in London. It’s an eight-hour flight tops, direct. It’s not that Europe is that far. It’s that it’s these three hops with the gaps between and customs in all this and that.
It’s not the end of the world. If you’re in Europe, I’ve heard it’s actually pretty easy to get to, so I’m willing to discount that, but the other thing that has me concerned is we do it in shoulder season because the hotel is a five-star hotel. It’s €250–€300 a night during the main part of the year, during high season, but when we do it, it’s €120 a night. It’s way, way less expensive, but as a result, the risk of having a bunch of rain is higher.
In both years, we’ve dodged it and within two or three days after we left, it just started pouring rain most of the days and stormy. That’s my one concern with doing it next year is do we roll the dice again a third time?
Mike: Well, we have had in Vegas for a long time. I feel like rolling the dice is a real par for the course. We do run businesses, too. I guess you could say that, but with running your own business, you actually have some measure of control. Maybe a fall solution, but you do feel like you have control with the weather totally out of the window, literally and figuratively.
Rob: Someone pointed out I said that to someone the other day and they said, “How bad would it be if it was raining outside? Would that ruin the event?” and I was like, “No, I guess it wouldn’t. It would just be different. The evening events would have to be indoors, but we’d still have the view of the ocean and frankly stormy ocean is pretty cool.” I actually think even if it rained, it wouldn’t be the end of the world.
Mike: Yup, I totally agree.
Rob: Sounds good, so no verdict yet. We’re actually still getting survey responses from the attendees about all the myriad of things, the talks, the venue, and all that stuff. So, news to come on that in the future once we figure ourselves out.
Today, we wanted to walk through a handful of the talks. Talk through some key takeaways that you and I took away from these talks. We never have time to go through all the talks. We had nine speakers and eight attendee talks. With 17 different talks there’s just no chance we could fit into an episode like this. But we do hand-pick a few of the talks that we feel like had the most comments, or the most positive feedback, or just that had really interesting takeaways.
The first one talk we’re going to talk about is from Peldi Guilizzoni of Balsamiq. He is a multi-time MicroConf speaker and he kicked off the conference with his talk, Victories in Tragedies: The Three Year Journey Building Balsamic Cloud.
Balsamiq has traditionally been a desktop app, one Peldi built, but they basically wanted to move it into the cloud. Part of his description of the talk was, “Build a SaaS app, they said. It’ll be great, they said. It turns out, running an online service is a big pain in the SaaS.” What did you take away from his talk?
Mike: The biggest takeaway I had was when he was talking about the data loss. I guess somebody had run something and it started deleting a bunch of customer data. They didn’t realize right away, but it started deleting very, very rapidly. I forget how long he said it has been running for. It’s six or eight hours or something like that before they noticed it. It already deleted a ton of data.
His advice for that was don’t have anything in production that’s going to delete a lot of data all at once. Have it parsed out over a long period of time like 30 days, or 60 days, or something like that. That way it will get deleted eventually, but you have more time to interject yourself into the process.
I think he said they’ve gotten about 20% done before they had noticed it and were able to do anything. If that time period were longer, then they would have more time to notice and do something about it.
Although I would question whether or not over that time period, are you going to notice it? What sorts of controls or things you have in place, especially for a new app that you’re building, and trying to figure out things as you go? You’re probably not putting every single safety precaution in place that you probably should and would it be something that you would notice over a longer period of time or not?
Rob: Yeah. That was the most memorable part of talk for me as well. It was partly just because how devastating I know that would feel. He said in the talk where they deleted, I believe it was 1200 or 1600, I forget which number of mock-ups. If you don’t know Balsamiq, you can mock up a web page or you can mock up a user interface or whatever, so across hundreds, if not more than 1000 customers, they deleted 1200–1600 of these work spaces, in essence.
My favorite part about it was when he said, “I turned to my co-founder, my wife, and I said, ‘Well this is it. We sure had a good run.’” He was basically implying like, “We’re done. This will kill Balsamiq.” That was how bad it felt. It turns out that wasn’t the case at all. There were a few pissed-off people. Most people didn’t care. I think a bunch of them had wind up being the example mock-up or whatever.
Bust just when you hear a story like that, I’ve never had a mistake as that big where you lose data, but I have had mistakes where we accidentally send double the emails to this whole list, or via a bug, or we accidentally didn’t send these emails and they were delayed by two hours and this person is doing the launch.
That’s how it feels at the 3time. It feels like this is unbelievable, this is catastrophic. and it’s not going to fix itself. In retrospect, it was three years ago, I think he said, two or three years ago. They obviously recovered from it and frankly I didn’t even know it wasn’t that big of a deal in the sense that I hadn’t even heard about that. It wasn’t like it got widely publicized and people on Twitter just railing on or anything.
Mike: I feel like you and I could probably to an episode at some point on the worst engineering mistakes that we made to that nobody noticed, like sending double emails to people and things like that. You and I probably both have a couple of pretty good stories about it if we could both share.
Rob: I know. We definitely have stories and some of them were back when I was an engineer than others were just the Drip team, just bugs sinking through because you’re shipping software fast.
That was a good piece of Peldi’s talk, but overall, the talk was that the three years that it took them to build and deploy this, the starts and stops, the highs and lows. I always love a good founder story, and they did a good job of having takeaways. It wasn’t just a story but this is what we learned from that and if you’re in the same place, this is what you can do as well.
Mike: Something else I noticed that was in his talk that caught my eye, which was something I wish I had found out a lot earlier than I did, was have a small dashboard that allows you to do different things for your early access customers.
For example, having a button there that just simply allows you to click on it and allows you to, say, reset the trial for this particular customer or delete this customer outright just because they’re gone and they’re not going to use it, or they just need to reset everything up because everything got completely screwed up and it needs to be blown away and restarted.
Those are the things that are simple enough to overlook but also important enough that you’re probably going to run into them time and time again. By the time you need it, it’s a pain in the neck to just say, “Okay. Let me whip this up for you,” and it takes 8 or 12 hours of work to do all that stuff. Then, the next customer comes along and you have to do it again. You may or may not have sat down and taken the time to think through all the different things that need to be done for that.
I think there were four different buttons he got on there and one of them was restart trial, one was delete the account, and there were a couple of other ones I forget what they were, but it was a very simple sounding piece of advice which have gone through the process a number of times before. It seems obvious, but in retrospect, it may not have been at the time.
Rob: It’s every admin console I’ve ever built had built for a SaaS app, but I like what Peldi went through. I wish I had a screen shot of the Drip admin dashboard which we called faucet because faucet drip, pun, water. That is what we called it. It’s a MicroConf joke. It literally was called that. We had all these buttons.
I remember early on I would say, “Derek, we need to restart someone’s trial.” He would go into the rails console and he would do it. It was a state machine, so he would say, “Set it back to the state.” But after asking him to do that two or three times, he’s like, “There’s now just a button on every user record. Just click that and all it does is change the state machine.”
There were a bunch of things, so actually I wished I had a screenshot of it. I’m sure I can go back and get one but…
Mike: My joke would be actually that he just didn’t want to talk to you, so he made a button so you could do it yourself.
Rob: Oh yeah. That’s not a joke. That’s an actual reality. It became more efficient and we had a bunch of buttons like that. It’s just something you run into as you’re running an app.
The next talk we’ll talk about is from Irina Nica. She works for HubSpot and her talk was a little bit about SEO, but the title was, How to Build Buzz and Backlinks on a Bootstrapper’s Budget, and it was more about getting inbound links. It was off-page optimization. We also had a talk that was more about on-page stuff.
This is cool because every day this is what she is thinking about. This is what she does full-time, she has a team that does it, and HubSpot is really good at this. We hear her run through the key things to think about if you’re going to take this approach. Coming from someone who is an expert in the space, I appreciate that.
Mike: She’s had some really great advice on doing podcast tours and guest posts and really talk about the process of getting backlinks in a way that looks organic, even though you have to work at it.
There’s a couple of different strategies. One is just throw your website out there and hope that people link to it. I think it’s what Google expects people to do, but it just doesn’t work. You really have to be proactive about it and find ways that are going to be useful to other people to get them to link to your site, whether it’s tools or you do a podcast tour. As part of that, you get links back to your site because people are linking to your profile, or your website, or what have you.
Even just doing guest post where you are literally writing and then you have in your byline you can have something there that says, “Hey, click here for more information about what I do or what we do,” or even if there’s just resources that you provide to them, that they can look back on your website. All those different things add up and over time, what you’re really looking for is for things to go up into the right in terms of the number of backlinks.
I also like how she had this internal dashboard that they use to figure out what the terms were that people were thinking back to the website she was working on. I thought that was pretty ingenious because there was basically a Google spreadsheet that she had up there and it would basically parse the HTML. I think it was a parse XML function or something like that, but it would look for certain key terms on the websites that they were linking back to them. I thought that was a really cool hack which I don’t think I’ve seen before.
Rob: They’ve taken what is often done is a haphazard effort of trying to build backlinks. They’ve really systematize, they’ve turned it into a repeatable system, and at their scale, with the team working on it, that’s what you have to do. It was an interesting insight into how that’s done.
From 10 years ago, SEO has gotten a lot harder, but in certain elements or in certain ways, it’s almost like there’s less competition because there’s less people doing it because it did get so hard, so if you’re able to execute on getting backlinks and getting high quality backlinks, you can really move the needle today.
Ten years ago, it was easier to move the needle if you’re willing to just buy links and do greyhat stuff or blackhat stuff, but the tide has shifted and I think we’ll continue to move around under our feet all the time because it’s Google and they just do what they want to. You have no exposure to that, do you, Mike? No experience with that.
Mike: None whatsoever.
Rob: The other thing we did is at every MicroConf, we tend to have this 30–35 minute slot where we do something experimental. Sometimes, it was a Q&A with Jason Fried at MicroConf Growth last year and that was an experiment as much as it was just a sloppy kind of comes together at the very last minute. Or we did a panel a few years ago in MicroConf Europe.
This year, you did an AMA and I kind of couched. The interesting thing is I don’t know if it was 40% of the people were new, maybe 50% new in the room and I didn’t want to assume that everyone knew your story or anything, so I started the first five minutes and basically talked about the years of MicroConf and your history with the podcast, then Bluetick and where you’re at, how you’re not happy with it’s not supporting you full-time, then we kicked in and people ask do anything. I was pleased with the range of questions that you received.
Mike: I love how you position it as this 30–40 minute slot where we try something experimental, and usually as we have it blocked off or something, we decide at the last minute that it’s not a good idea, and somehow I end up in that slot.
Rob: It has happened before, yeah. “We don’t want to do this. Mike, quick. Fill in.”
Mike: Yeah, I was cool. I was a little worried about whether the context of the questions that were going to be asked was going to be relevant to some of the newcomers, especially if they haven’t listened to the podcast or been following along with the story, so I think you gave us a great summary of that. There are some really interesting and challenging questions that came up. You were in the audience, so you would have a better handle on how it came across because I haven’t seen the video.
That’s actually something else we can talk about before at the beginning of the episode is we recorded this series of talks this year at MicroConf Europe, which is not something that we’ve done in the past.
Rob: That’s right. This is the first time I believe we’ve had a professional photographer at a MicroConf, so we got some good stills and then this is the first time we have a video recording of that Europe one. That will be interesting to watch your AMA.
I was in the audience, but I was running around with a microphone. I was definitely paying attention. but I was also distracted looking for the next hand to come up. There were fascinating questions about Bluetick. There was like, “How can we in the audience help you?” and at one point, someone asked you how it is that you managed to keep going, and they’re at it for themselves. We all get discouraged, we know you’re going through a tough time, I believe the guy said, “So am I,” or, “So have I been,” at different times, and, “How is it that you stay motivated to keep going?”
Honestly, AMAs, especially live, can be hard if you get hard questions, and I felt you did get a couple of hard questions. It wasn’t people trying to be mean at all, but it was just honest questions of, “How do you keep going, Mike? You’ve been through all this,” and I thought your your answers were clever. You’re at your best in this thing, so once these videos come out, you should watch this AMA because you were making jokes and your answers were just really honest. I didn’t feel you sugar-coated or BS’d your way through them.
Mike: Thanks, I appreciate that. I did feel the vast majority of the questions were, I don’t want to see easy answer, but they felt relatively straightforward and I felt comfortable answering them, as opposed to previous situations where I’ve been up on stage and either been asked questions I haven’t really thought about, and being put on the spot in terms of what I’m going to give as an answer or how I want to portray. I was just like, “You know? I’m just up here, I’m comfortable being up here, so I’ll just answer them in the best way that I can, with the knowledge that I have. If I hadn’t thought about it, then I’ll just say that I don’t really know yet.”
Rob: And I rounded out the first day with my talk, Lessons from the Field: Five Proven Strategies for Faster SaaS Growth. It was interesting coming up with this talk because in the past I have typically look back at the prior year, I’ve said what have I done that was hard, what did I done that I learned, and try to write a talk around it.
Basically, I tell a story, I try to pull the takeaways that people could apply their business, and that’s a formula that has worked for me. At this point, I’m not doing that anymore. For me to talk about building TinySeed just doesn’t make sense to apply that to SaaS apps.
What I do instead is I talked to most of the companies in the first TinySeed batch, got their permission to basically share high-level info about what they’ve been up to. We’re approaching halfway done with the first year and there’s a bunch of interesting information advantage, in essence, that I have and that I’m no longer working in one start up. I am seeing the inner workings, including the financials, the day-to-day, and see what they’re doing across 10 startups plus my investments.
I have another 10 angel investments and I’m not working with those as day-to-day, but I really do start to have a view that is differentiated from someone working on a single company. I’m seeing trends, I’m seeing things that three, four, five people in the batch are all doing, and seeing how it’s working for them. That’s however at the talk.
I literally took five things—with permission—that people in the batch are doing successfully and unsuccessfully. I didn’t just say they’re doing cold email or there are more people moving credit card or going freemium. I then dug into why I think that’s working and when I think that’s working. I talked about, “If you’re in this type of vertical versus that, I don’t think you should do cold email.” That was the gist of the talk.
Generally, I felt it came off well. When I get up on stage, I’m always like the first time I’ve done a talk. I don’t know how is this going to go. Even though I’ve rehearsed it 5–6 times in a row in real time, it’s not until I get up there that I really know how it feels.
Mike: Yeah. I think it was a really good talk. If I were to rephrase or reframe what you said about your standpoint on it, it’s almost like when you’re building your own start up you’ve got this silo of information you’re only privy to what’s there. The position you’re in now within TinySeed, you’ve got access to 5 or 10 of the silos simultaneously, versus previously you were looking at one silo, then you move on to a different start up, you look at a different one. But because the time frames are different, it’s not always easy to correlate lessons from one to the next.
Right now, you’re seeing them across all of them at the same time and you can use that to extrapolate what is and isn’t working, whereas there’s very few other people who’d really have that insight, or knowledge, or ability to be able to analyze that information. Other people have to be limited by it, not just their own information, but by the virtual working in their startup. You’re a little bit removed from it, not completely removed, but a little bit. So you can see what’s going on and then think about the implications versus those startup founders have to look at their own stuff and what they’re doing.
Rob: The other thing I did that I enjoyed is I had just gotten back maybe 20 or 30 of them at the time, but it was the initial rough graphs from the state of independent SaaS survey that we did through MicroConf last month. I had these bar graphs embedded in Excel. They’re accurate, they just don’t look great. They’re very plain, but I had pieces of those that I could share. I believe I should maybe four or five throughout the talk. That felt good too, to have some type of data.
I wasn’t trying to use them to say, “Oh, this is working. Look at these graphs.” It was more like, “This is added context of I’m super surprised at how many companies are not asking for credit card before their trial.” We have numbers on that now for more than 1000 nonventure-backed SaaS companies. So, I included that in the part where I talked about specific examples of TinySeed companies doing this. Then, I brought in the higher level of like, “Hey, there’s more the 1000 who responded and they’re doing it, too. This is an interesting trend. Let’s keep our eye on it.”
Another talk that went over well was Craig Hewitt’s talk and it was, Staying on Top of Your SaaS Metrics, Knowing What to Measure and What Not To, to Help Maintain Sustainable Growth. What’s your takeaway from Craig’s talk?
Mike: One of the things I liked that he drew attention to is the fact that he looks at his own metrics every day. There are a lot of different schools of thought on whether you should look at them on a daily basis or not. If you look at him every single day, then it’s probably going to be distracting and you’re possibly spending too much time on it. But he obsesses about his revenue on a day-to-day basis. Some people only look at it once a week or once a month.
He said that it almost doesn’t matter how often you look at it as long as you’re actually on the right track. If you’re going off-track, then obviously something’s wrong. There is a certain amount of personal value that he places on looking at it every single day, whereas somebody else is looking it at every week. It’s not right or wrong either way. It’s what you are most comfortable with. I think the correlation he drew between certain KPIs and saying these things don’t matter nearly as much on a day-to-day basis or week-to-week basis as these other ones. I think that was an important point to make.
The other thing I liked about what he did was he talked about the different phases of the customer journey and how you really need to concentrate some of your marketing on where people are in those. For example, for Castos, he talked about new podcasters and how people who want to start a podcast but don’t really know where to begin their problem or where, but then there’s other people who don’t even really understand that they have a problem. It makes a difference as to what it is that you’re building for, marketing materials, or the types of people that you’re targeting for the pieces of marketing collateral that you’re putting together.
Rob: Yup. I like his talk quite a bit and I the way he looks at metrics. He had his rules of thumb and, of course, I’m comparing my mental rules of thumb to his as he was doing it. He has a very metrics-driven approach and it reminds me of my approach of how I’ve built and grown SaaS apps. It resonated with me and in his thought process of, “Hey, here’s how to get in, here’s a look at the numbers, and here’s how to grow.”
[…] grow an app that if you’re charging $500 a month, $1000 a month, and knows your bottom-end prices, you don’t tend to do a bunch of split testing. You don’t tend to do these big, “Oh, I need to look at my churn number,” because when you only have 20 or 30 customers, one of them churning is this huge number, but it’s an anomaly because you just don’t have the law of large numbers going.
Whereas, when you’re building a service that is $20–$200 lowest price point and you’re in the $10,000–$100,000 month or up, you just have a lot of customers. That’s where looking at these things in aggregate and having these rules of thumb is really helpful for optimizing your funnel. That’s what he’s talking through.
And the last talk of MicroConf Europe 2019 was Shai Schechter. He’s the co-founder of RightMessage with Brennan Dunne and his talk was called, RightMessage Year One: From a $75,000 Launch Week, to Virtually Bankrupt, to Product Market Fit. I enjoyed his talk as that is a tale of going through it and he was pulling out these actionable things, the mistakes they made, things he felt other people could apply. What did you think about it?
Mike: I think that it was not obvious from somebody being on the outside of that company, what a dire situation they were in. I’m not sure exactly the time frame. It was probably about a year ago it seemed, where they were burning through money a lot faster than it was coming in, their churn was really high, and they essentially had to put the brakes on and say, “Okay, look. This is a problem. Our churn is so high that we’re bleeding customers faster than we’re getting them. We don’t have enough money coming in to cover all of our expenses.”
If you’ve got some level of funding that’s fine, but you still need to bridge that gap at some point. They were actually deviating from bridging that gap. They’re going away from it rather than closing it. It was interesting to see that they had a bunch of different options to try and they had to use all of them. It doesn’t sound like it was a pleasant experience in any way, shape, or form, but they were able to do it and they were able to essentially save the company and continue forward.
That’s not really something that I’ve ever gotten or seen from their company. I think it’s just interesting to see it laid out on the table like that, which is what you’d expect to see to MicroConf talk. There’s not too many other conferences I’ve been to where somebody will lay out the company troubles and say, “Yeah, we almost completely went under and if it weren’t for these things that we did, we would have.”
Rob: What I appreciated is, again, he didn’t sugarcoat it. He talked about how hard it was, he talked about where they made mistakes, and he talked about what he would do differently in the future. It wasn’t this, “Hey, look. We survived,” and, “Isn’t this an amazing success story?” He was still like, “Yeah and we’re not done. We’re doing better now, but it’s not a 100% complete Cinderella story now and we ride off into the sunset. There’s still a lot of hard work and a lot of stuff going on.”
I enjoy that talk and we headed off to watch the sunset from Vala beach, which is attached to the hotel. Overall, I really enjoyed this year’s event, not just because the weather is amazing. I got to meet a lot of new people, which is cool, but I also got to see the returning folks, the Kristoffs, the Benedicts, and all the other people I’m not going to name because I don’t forget somebody but just folks that I haven’t seen. Some folks are on every other year schedule and we haven’t seen each other for a couple years. It’s cool to settle back in and just see old friends and make some new ones. I appreciate everybody who came.
Mike: I agree. It’s always great just to catch up with those people in person that you catch them online, or through Twitter, or something like that, but it’s very different being in the same room and talking to them. We really appreciate everybody coming out to MicroConf regardless whether it’s in Dubrovnik, or Minneapolis or Vegas. It’s always great to just come together with other people in the community, talk business, and catch up on personal […]. I really feel there’s a lot of that too, not just the business aspect. It’s meeting other people, learning about them, their journey, their struggles, their family, and what’s going throughout their whole lives. It’s just nice to have those connections make those friends and revisit them every year.
Rob: We’re also up to our Twitter game this year. I know you didn’t see it because you’re not on Twitter, but Tracy Osborn was there helping out and she was taking a picture of every speaker I got on stage and tweeting that out. I was actually doing video interviews on my phone. I got this cool little attachment that just plugs right into the iPhone’s lightning port and this directional mic it’s really high quality sound even though you’re just filming with an iPhone. With the iPhone 11, the video quality was really high.
It was nice. I was just doing behind the scenes interviews and just throwing that up on Twitter as well. It’s something we haven’t done in the past, really haven’t had the time or the bandwidth, to be honest, because it’s pretty intense to run the event and then also try to do that, but that was pretty fun and I enjoyed it. I feel we got more.
There was more of a groundswell around this event. There were more pictures posted by us and there were also by the attendees. It leads to this social media momentum mostly on Twitter, but that’s a good thing. It’s something I hope we can continue to do, such that even if you aren’t able to make it, you still do get some concept of what the experience is like and you do know what’s going on at different times of the day. It’s just nice to be able to do that and include more than just 150 or 250 or how many people can show up in the room.
If this sounds interesting and you’ve never attended a MicroConf or you’re not on the mailing list, you should head to microconf.com and enter your email. We don’t email that much. We just email to let people know there’s an event coming up or a state of independence has survey. It’s not an overwhelming volume of it, but we’re going to continue to double down on MicroConf as we head into the new year. If this all sounds like fun, you should be in the know.
And that wraps us up for today. If you have a question for the show leave us a voicemail at (888) 801-9690 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org. Our theme music is an excerpt from We’re Outta Control by MoOt. It’s used under Creative Commons. You can subscribe to us in any podcatcher. Just search for “startups.” If you want a full transcript of this episode, wait a week or two after it’s posted and head to startupsfortherestofus.com for that transcript. Thank you for listening and we will see you next time.