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Best Conferences for Bootstrappers


#1

What conferences are you planning on attending over the next year?

As a bootstrapper - I’m more interested in conferences with actionable take-aways that I can apply as part of the launch / marketing strategy for my apps. I am also interested in the networking aspects of the conference attendees such as finding others on a similar entrepreneurial trajectory. I am less interested in development / tech conferences since I am a developer by trade and am working on balancing out my focus to lean more towards marketing.

I am planning on attending MicroConf 2014 (unless it happens to fall on my daughter’s birthday end of April). I’ve heard nothing but great things about this conference and also am a fan of Rob / Mike’s podcast.

The Business of Software conference has a promo that ends tomorrow for their 2013 conference (October 28-30). My impression of BoS is it is more geared towards established / larger software businesses so I haven’t considered it in the past (not to mention it is a bit pricey). I believe @ian spoke very highly of it on some podcasts so I’m curious of other’s thoughts on if this conference is worthwhile for smaller bootstrapped companies.

I also heard good things about Bacon Biz - it is definitely in the running for conferences for me in 2014.

  • Tom


#2

The Business of Software Conference streams their talks. Most sessions, anyway.


#3

There’s also a MicroConf in Europe this October:

http://www.microconf.com/europe/

I believe @patio11 and other forum participants will be there. Tobias and I will also attend, but it’s our first MicroConf so I don’t know how it compares to other conferences.


#4

I do really like Business of Software conf. Some of the best talks I’ve ever seen I’ve seen there. For me I do personally know a lot of folks there from the “old days” so that does add a lot. Everyone is very approachable there though and for me it’s a short trip so the extra cost I make up in not needing airfare and such.


#5

I’m in the USA (for Brooklyn Beta and to visit family) when MicroConf Europe is on and can’t swing to another US trip for Business of Software. Maybe next year.

I’ve been to a couple of smaller unconference type events in the past aimed at bootstrappers which worked really well. If you get a bunch of people in a room who are doing this you can pretty much create content just by helping people work through a sticky problem, or hearing their story.


#6

I’m most likely going to Brooklyn Beta also (at least the big day, not sure about pre-days) so hopefully I’ll see you there @rachelandrew and any others who are going. BB is really good also. Not exactly bootstrapping specific, but just kinda cool stuff for interesting people.


#7

Thanks for the feedback so far.

Part of the reason I posted this was to see if I should jump on the BoS discount. At this point, I am leaning towards putting that money towards marketing experiments instead and just watching the streaming videos online.

@rachelandrew - that’s a good idea. I like the idea of getting together with local bootstrappers. Maybe we need a map of Bootstrappers and / or organized Bootstrapped meetups :smile:


#8

I attended MicroConf 2012 and loved it, but couldn’t make it this year. I’m planning to attend next year for sure.

BoS is too pricey for me, and I’m not sure the advice/stories would be as applicable and inspiring to me, a bootstrapper. At this point I’d rather put that money and time into my product.

Bacon Biz is on my radar for next year.


#9

I went to BaconBiz this year and loved it. Only about 50 attendees which kept it nice and small. Pretty much a live and in person version of the type of people and topics you see on this forum. I’d go again.


#10

“Bootstrapper” covers a lot of ground. I mean, someone who is pre-product, myself, @ian, and 37signals are all bootstrappers, but we all have very different challenges.

If you’re pre-product or currently getting your business to the point where it will be a sustainable full-time income, I highly recommend both Microconf and BaconBiz. They’re both relatively inexpensive and very tactically focused on the sort of things which will help you to e.g. increase conversion rates by 20%.

I love Business of Software but for entirely different reasons, and wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to people who aren’t operating at scale yet. With some exceptions, BoS largely doesn’t focus on tactical talks, even when they have speakers who are deeply, DEEPLY capable of delivering them. For example Jason Cohen’s talk at BoS about honesty/transparency was about par for the course for the conference (big themes about culture and the way we practice our business), but his talk at Microconf this year was almost absurdly on point towards the #1 problem most individual bootstrappers have, which is getting to sustainable $10k monthly revenue.

BoS really excels at being a motivational kick in the pants and roadmap for business phase transitions, where you’re wondering “OK, I have an $8 million or $18 million a year business. Where am I going from here?”

I honestly don’t have a great 3rd recommendation for a general-purpose software conference, but would love if anyone had a recommendation for me. I went to BrooklynBeta one year and enjoyed it, but they weren’t quite “my crowd” in the way that I feel totally at home at MicroConf/BaconBiz. (Family considerations permitting, I intend to be at those every year for forever.)

Some of the Silicon Valley conferences like UnSexy Conf (B2B software) interest me a little bit, but I generally don’t make it out there unless invited to speak.


#11

Hate to break this but we won’t be doing a Livestream at Business of Software this year - http://businessofsoftware.org/2013/08/is-bos-doing-a-livestream-this-year/ - we do try to make all of the content available online for free at some point after the event. (Attendees get access to the videos as soon as they are put online, we sell, for a small fee, access to the full set of videos and we also then release the majority of them for free over the course of the year.

The conference is not cheap, as much because we have made a conscious decision not to have sponsors in the past. We have also made a conscious decision to restrict the number of people that attend in order to maximise the value of the networking activity and the quality of the network. This alongside the cost of putting the event on in a nice and convenient location for International travellers (over half the attendees come from outside the US so we need to be in a major air hub), means that the ticket price doesn’t mean we make huge profits unfortunately. (In fact, little secret, over 7 years, the conference has just about broken even though we have had to change that!)


#12

Tom, I am sorry I missed this post. I run BoS Conference. You can drop me an email if you are still interested in attending and I will see what I can do on a ticket for you if you are interested in attending though I totally respect your right to go and spend money on market testing as an alternative! mark businessofsoftware.org


#13

Should also mention that if you are signed up to the email newsletter for Business of Software, we are running a competition in every email between now and the conference to win a free ticket. www.businessofsoftware.org


#14

Thanks Mark. I appreciate the offer and thanks for sharing this info. However, I won’t be able to attend this year. The BoS conference is definitely one i’ll consider in the future though especially as my software business matures.


#15

Thank you Tom. I look forward to meeting you there one day. Good luck.