Expert Panel with Jordan Gal, James Kennedy, Greg Mercer – MicroConf Europe 2016

  • Q: Greg, you transitioned from Chrome Plugin to SaaS. How did your user acquisition change?
    • We mostly stopped selling directly instead trying to get their email address
  • Q: Jordan, how do you go about identifying where your users hang out?
    • We tried forums, blogs of gurus, and each platform’s support forums. In the end we realized everything happened in closed Facebook groups.
  • Q: James, you increased your exposure on platform. How did that come about?
    • We first did some keyword advertising and tried stuff. But found that delivered much better results.
  • Q: What’s an underutilized acquisition strategy that you have seen?
    • Greg: Facebook Ads are underutilized. Laser-focused
    • Jordan: Webinars to push the annual plan
  • Q: What keeps you up at night as a founder?
    • James: Bringing people onto a team
    • Jordan: I fear being wrong on the product. Building something that people don’t want
  • Q: How do you go about building buyer personas?
    • Jordan: We find our perfect customer, who are desperate to get our product. Then reverse-engineer why they are a perfect fit
  • Q: Have you tried FB lead ads? Did it work?
    • Greg: We tried, but didn’t work for us.
  • Q: Do you still use SEO as a traction channel?
    • Jordan: We are not good at it. We just produce content and hope for the best
    • Greg: We are pretty active with link building & outreach. Travis seems to outrank us on everything
  • Q: What’s your key action item you take away from MicroConf Europe?
    • Jordan: Using the telephone more.
    • James: Build good buying personas.
    • Greg: Gamify the trial. That and being more active about predicting churn
  • Q: What is the biggest pain-in-the-ass thing that has worked in your marketing?
    • Jordan: We lost focus on outbound sales and eventually stopped doing it altogether. I didn’t like doing outbound
  • Q: How did you get your first 5 – 10 customers?
    • Jordan: brute forcing it with cold emailing. When they would reply, I’d hop on the phone with them

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MicroConf Europe 2016 Notes and Noteworthy

This is the central resource for a recap of MicroConf Europe 2016 in Barcelona, Spain.
If you write/record/create ANYTHING related to MicroConf Europe 2016 please let me know (Twitter: @itengelhardt ) and I’ll be happy to add it here.

Notes on the Talks

Attendee Talk Notes

Articles and Podcasts About MicroConf Europe 2016


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Building and Launching a SaaS Product in 2 Weeks: A Shopify App Postmortem – Daniel Bader – MicroConf Europe 2016

The MicroConf Europe 2016 Talk Recaps can be found on the central hub page.


  • Goals:
    • help you avoid mistakes I made
    • help you evaluate the Shopify App Store as a platform
  • Shopify App Store
    • Shopify: hosted e-commerce platform
    • App Store: “Saasy WordPress Plugins”
    • Shopify handles plumbing, takes 20% cut

Nearby Shop Notification

  • Notifies people about deals when they are close to one of your retail stores
  • What went right:
    • I made $31.92 from it – Woohooo!
    • I didn’t spend a lot of time on it
  • Things that went wrong:
    • I just built what I wanted to build

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How to Work with Remote Workers – Roman Rudnik – MicroConf Europe 2016

The MicroConf Europe 2016 Talk Recaps can be found on the central hub page.

Twitter: @rudni4ok


  • How to make your remote work successful
    • Speak with the staff about the disadvantages of remote work
  • Use tools for remote workers
    • on trust-basis
      • e.g. Excel
    • Autocontrol
      • Desktime, Yaware
      • Pros: Automation
      • Cons: designed to count the time in general, inconvenient to keep records of the tasks completed
    • Big Brother
      • UpWork Client, TimeDoctor, Tahometer
      • Pros: Clear picture of employee, manager knows everything including screenshots during work
      • Cons: It is necessary to control oneself and not to forget to switch between tasks
  • Write job descriptions/standards
  • Implement 5 minute-meetings
  • make 20% of salary dependent on proper behavior
    • “screw-ups” (e.g. not showing up for meetings) result in some salary being taken away
  • Do all your work in Dropbox

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3 Emails to Boost Your MRR – Christoph Engelhardt – MicroConf Europe 2016

The MicroConf Europe 2016 Talk Recaps can be found on the central hub page.

Twitter: @itengelhardt

  • Good E-Mail Habits
    • Personalize your message
      • Use their name in the emails
      • Use the name in the main content
    • Always follow up
      • If it’s worth sending it once, it’s probably worth sending it a 2nd time
      • For example: Re-Send this to people who did not open the first one
  • 3 Email to boost your MRR
    • Signup Abandonment Emails
      • 2-Step Signup
        • 60% stop at Credit Card info
        • You have their email address from step 1
        • Send them e-mails
        • ~10% lift in conversion rate
        • Offer a free trial without credit card requirement if they don’t sign up after the first e-mail
    • Trial Extension Emails
      • Typical user: signs up, toys around a bit, becomes inactive
      • Should you charge or should you let them go?
      • Offer them to extend their trial!
      • (You can do this manually, just ask them to respond and extend the trial by hand)
    • Value Demonstration Emails
      • Churn is a major problem for most SaaS business
      • Users don’t recognize the value they’re getting out of your product
      • Find a correlation between your key metric and dollar amount
        • “Prevented 13 no-shows results in $910 revenue”
        • “You’ve invoiced $5,000 in the past week. You’re paying us $49… your ROI is amazing!”
      • Ideally customers can print it and go to their boss and get promoted because of the great tool they introduced
  • Check out the book: SaaS Email Marketing

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You Can Raise Your Profit with 400% Like I Did. Let Me Teach You. – Anders Thue Pedersen – MicroConf Europe 2016

The MicroConf Europe 2016 Talk Recaps can be found on the central hub page.

Twitter: @andersthue

  • Timeblock manifesto
    • We plan ahead
    • We stick to our weekly plan
    • we are transparent
    • We learn from our mistakes and failures
  • Focus heavily on getting and maintaining your “Flow”
    • Divide your days into “half-days” ==> “Timeblocks”
    • Do not let yourself get interrupted by “urgent” customer requests
  • Bill customers for Timeblocks instead of hours

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The Developer CEO – Peter Coppinger – MicroConf Europe 2016

The MicroConf Europe 2016 Talk Recaps can be found on the central hub page.

Twitter: @irltopper

  • In 2006 we were busting our asses off and still broke

2007 – Getting Organised

  • We doubled prices to $200/h
    • even our existing customers did NOT complain
    • started charging for extras
  • Whiteboard just wasn’t enough
    • No apps met our needs
    • We
  • Key takeaways
    • Consultancy sucks
    • Don’t target a small market
    • Don’t sell software components to developers
    • Consultancy-ware software is no fun to build or sell
    • Treat your customers with respect
    • Sometimes you need to go with your guts

Build it and they will come

  • Finding the time: we needed to dedicate one day per week to our product
    • No matter what, friday was product-day
  • Product Design? Specs? We just started hacking… hackedy hack hack!
  • Preparing for Launch – eat your own Dog Food
  • First domain:
    • insanely stupid domain
  • Worst. Product. Launch. Ever.
    • No market research
    • no PR outreach
    • no email blast
    • no landing pages
    • No unique positioning
    • Just an akward high-five!
  • Marketing? Who needs Marketing? Hackedy hack hack!
    • One exception: Engineering as Marketing
    • We implemented an import feature for main competitor
    • We had a monthly newsletter highlighting new features
  • We did only 3 things right
    • built great product
    • treated customers like honored guests
    • took every suggestion onboard
  • Made $191 in the first month!
  • 50 months after we launched we hit $1M ARR (December 2011)
  • Hell night in August 2012
    • everything was down –> PANIC!
    • website completely dark, no response from hosting providers
    • flood of tweets coming in
    • We decided to move over to AWS over the next few months
  • Hockey stick growth hit us when we purchased
    • Initial requested price was in the millions
    • Randomly emailed the guy two years later, offering him $100,000
      • Response: “Same lowball offer again? Thanks”
      • Responsed: “What would you consider?”
      • 30 seconds later he wrote: “675k”
      • Pushed my board to agree. I went all Martin Luther King on them.
    • It proofed to be an inflection point – product revenue grew like crazy after that
  • Time to be an actual CEO
    • This is my job!
  • Things we fixed
    • Meetings suck. But get over it!
      • Quarterly meetings to identify top 5 problems
    • Set the vision: $100M ARR
    • We started hiring deliberately
    • Sculpting our culture
      • Golden rule: Don’t be a dick!
      • Never argue over IM or chat
    • Got a proper marketing team
    • Got a sales team

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Double Your Business – Drew Sanocki – MicroConf Europe 2016

The MicroConf Europe 2016 Talk Recaps can be found on the central hub page.

Twitter: @DrewSanocki

  • When I came on board KL, they had tried a number of ways to grow
    • Adwords
    • Social
    • Blog outreach
    • traditional PR
    • affiliate programs
  • Nothing worked, until we changed one thing:
    • Going from acquisition to retention focus
  • Key insights
    • Most businesses eek by when they could be growing lots faster
    • possible to 2x without 2x the work
  • Bootstrapped, grew, and sold in 2003
  • Since then:
    • Fanprint
    • Karmaloop
    • Old time pottery
    • Discountmugs
    • Fab
    • and others…
  • Strategic perspective
    • Michael Porter’s “Five Forces”
    • Jim Collins’ “Good to Great”
    • not relevant enough to bootstrapped startups
  • Tactical perspective
    • “846 conversion rate optimization tips”
    • ended up overwhelmed and not doing anything
  • Multiplier perspective
    • only three ways to grow revenue:
      • increase AOV / ARPU
      • increase frequency of purchase / churn
      • increase number of customers
    • Improving one is great, but they are multiplicative, so growing all three is killer
      • ARPU $53
      • Frequency: 40 months
      • Customers: 13,700
      • Total LTV: $29.6M
    • How to grow
      • Bucket all ideas by Multiplier
      • Within Multiplier prioritize by speed and impact
      • Work back to front Churn > ARPU > # Customers
        • Focus on Multipliers 1 and 2 first (maximize THEN multiply)
        • Do you need more traffic? Or revenue?
      • More info:
      • Customer churn is expensive and time-consuming
    • Reactivation / win-back campaigns
      • Reactivate lapsed customers
      • X months after defection, win-’em back
      • Teamwork: Sent 50k, re-engaged 300
    • Anti-defection campaigns
      • Predict churn before it happens
      • develop signals: start with Recency
      • Highest ROI campaigns you will run:
        • DesignPublic: $250K in a day
        • KarmaLoop: 500% ROMI on anti-defection offers
      • MOre pro-tips:
        • Ladder your promos give away the farm gradually
          • 10 days w/o login, Offer 1
          • 20 days w/o login, Offer 2
          • 30 days w/o login, Offer 3
        • Sync with FB custom audiences
    • #3 Improve the product
      • Better product, lower churn
      • Delighted app, Qualaroo, Hotjar
      • Gotta communicate it (e.g. weekly feature newsletter)
  • Increasing ARPU
    • #1 increase prices
      • most companies underestimate inelasticity of demand
      • introduce annual pre-pay
      • reduce choices (if more than 3 tiers)
      • reverse order (highest first)
    • #2 Cross-sell & upsell
      • Amazon reported 35% of revenue from cross-sell
      • Boosts ARPU
      • Enhances experience (think: email + landing pages)
      • Differentiates offering
      • Expands margin, efficiencies
      • Bounce-back campaign
      • Affiliate marketing?
    • #3 Bundling
      • Think Microsoft Office
  • #1 CRO
    • Might not have traffic problem, might have conversion rate problem
    • Run a pop-up with opt-in offer
    • Add content upgrades to your top blog posts
  • #2 Content Marketing
    • Honeypot strategy (Buffer, KISSmetrics)
    • Who are your best customers?
    • Target a community and where it hangs out
    • E-Z content marketing
      • Record a video
      • Transcribe (
      • Create article or — better — upgrade
      • Pivot to Slideshare
      • Assemble into eBook
      • Total cost: $20 + 30 min
  • #3 Paid acquisition
    • FB Live to landing pages
    • Webinar-like effect
    • Flip to a FB ad
    • Retarget based on engagement
    • Alerts via Pushcrew on site
    • Arb new channel – low CAC
  • #4 Acquire the right customers
    • there are good customers and there are shit customers

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Startups for the Rest of Us – Mike Taber & Rob Walling – MicroConf Europe 2016

The MicroConf Europe 2016 Talk Recaps can be found on the central hub page.


Podcast episode:

  • MicroConf Las Vegas 2017 will be 2 conferences back-to-back
    • Traditional MicroConf: April 10+11
    • MicroConf Starter Edition: April 12+13

Four Unfair Advantages for Faster SaaS Growth

  • Why is it that HitTail got traction so quickly?
  • All 4 are unfair advantages, but one is a requirement for fast early growth
  • “The only real competitive advantage is that which cannot be copied and cannot be bought” – Jason Cohen

Be Early

  • Most common unfair advantage
  • works only temporary – especially if you talk about your success
  • feasible in small or emerging markets
  • requires swift execution
  • Examples
    • Baremetrics
    • Balsamiq
    • Bidsketch
    • WooThemes
    • Basecamp

Who You Know

  • Your network
    • People willing to endorse, promote, advise, or intro you
  • You know people that competitors cannot access
  • Examples
    • AppSumo
    • WPEngine
    • CartHook

Who Knows You

  • Your audience
  • An existing customer base
  • People who know, like, and trust you
  • Examples
    • SumoMe
    • Edgar
    • KISSMetrics
    • LeadFuze
    • Drip

Growth Expertise

  • Tactics, Strategy, Experience in growing a business
  • Examples
    • Qualaroo
    • Buffer

Not Unfair Advantages

  • great design/UX
  • technical or design skills
  • Money
  • an uncopyable idea
  • domain expertise
  • passion/interest/time/focus


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The Power of Product Focus – Janna Bastow – MicroConf Europe 2016

The MicroConf Europe 2016 Talk Recaps can be found on the central hub page.

Twitter: @SimplyBastow


  • Started in 2010 by scratching own itch
  • We quit jobs in 2012
  • Launched product in 2013
  • 2015: The year of faffing about
    • Hiring (and unhiring)
    • Some outside help
    • Let’s try advertising!
    • Events and outings
    • Founder “hobbies”
    • Should we raise money?
    • Bonus: New product version
  • Reaching $10k – $20k MRR is the most dangerous period for your business
  • Redesigns/Rewrites suck
    • Splits team attention
    • Temptation to do front and back-end at the same time
    • Mahooosive projects
    • Always more to do than anticipated
    • The unleanest thing you can do
    • No new features
  • MRR Plateau of Doom
    • around $30,000 MRR
    • a lot of products hit that plateau
    • Idea #1: Just ship the redesigned version
      • Didn’t really help, metrics were shit
      • had to still support old version
    • Idea #2: Can we throw $$$ at this problem
      • Additional work in managing investors
      • How much is enough?
      • Uncertainty about future (With funding some sort of exit is expected)
      • Why give up a good thing?
      • Lessons learned:
        • Until you can clearly define what you’d do with investor’s cash AND what the return would be, don’t take it
        • Just the process of thinking about funding showed us we didn’t need it
    • Our goal became to increase the trial-to-paid rate from 0% to 15%
      • Experiment #1: Shorten trial time
        • started with 30 day trial
        • We could say with certainty after 9 days whether they’d convert
        • shortened it to 14 days, doubled conversion rate
        • resulted in lots of customer service requests about increasing trial time
        • logical action: shorten trial time to 7 days
      • Experiment #2: Gamify the trial
        • give us your CC now –> get 5 extra trial days
        • tell us your company name –> get 3 days trial
      • Experiment #3: Persona-specific emails
      • Bonus Experiment: Playing with pricing & introducing annual pricing
  • Results
    • Back to Sky-rocket growth
    • Cash in the bank
    • lots of customer love

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