What You Can Learn From MicroConf 2014 – Even If You Didn’t Attend

Hi there.

Maybe you – just like me – didn’t make it to MicroConf 2014. But that doesn’t mean you (and I) can’t learn a lot of things from MicroConf 2014. There was so much talk on Twitter (#MicroConf) and so much to learn from it.

I’ll start off with my personal selection, but you’ll find a link to Chris Vannoy’s notes at the end of this post.

Personal Selection

What better way to start off with than Patrick McKenzie’s iconic quote? I can only imagine how often those words have been uttered in the hallowed halls at MicroConf.

Hiten Shah lead off the conference with a great talk starting, scaling and growing your startup. One of the best take-aways from his talk was that you should charge your customers as early as possible. Remember that money is the only real validation. If people are not willing to pay for it, they don’t find it valuable enough

Another gem from Hiten. Focus on your customers and making them successful; Growth will come to you. Don’t obsess over some feature or how awesome you think your product is. This is incredibly hard for me. But nevertheless: Customers first, you/your product second.

I’m not a huge fan of this. I think that a lot of those that follow you back are either on auto-follow-back or they care as much about their Twitter feed as you do. Because following more than 1,000 accounts will flood your feed with mediocre tweets from people you’re not even interested in.
I strongly believe that this behaviour results in a first-class vanity metric. You’ll have lots of followers and no engagement. There’s no shortcut in building meaningful connections.
But – if you can – PLEASE proof me wrong on this.

This one is a really important when you have people working for you. Empower them to make decisions for you. Yes, errors will happen. Don’t be afraid of that. A wrong decision now and then won’t hurt as much as everyone constantly waiting for you to make up your mind.
Often it is easy to remedy a wrong decision. More often than not it is NOT wrong at all – just another way to skin a cat. The way you do things is NOT the only way to do it, embrace different or even better solutions.

Another thing to take away from Mike’s talk was this list of directories to announce your up-coming startup to.

Going beyond that age old wisdom Mike advocates to make the following thought experiment: “What if you only had 4 hours each week to get ALL your work done?”
Three tips for the stressed out Micropreneur:

  • Don’t work nights & weekends (corollary: go from moonlighting to full-time ASAP)
  • Get your sleep
  • No late snacking

That is definitely something I’m going to use with my upcoming product LinksSpy.com. I’ve named the plans “Individual”, “Marketing Team” and “Agency” – we’ll see how well this works.

Here Patrick is talking about testimonials and logo walls on your website. For instance it is OK to have a logo wall stating “build on the same platform as: BMW, IBM, Oracle, etc” when you’re using Heroku to host your application – even if those companies are NOT your  customers.

I’m not entirely sure what this refers to, but I assume it is about putting too much stress on yourself as a founder; neglecting exercise, sleep and eating right. I remember Sherry giving an incredible talk at MicroConf 2013 about staying healthy as an entrepreneur’s spouse.

No explanation needed for this one.

I think that this point is really important. We often obsess about features left and right. All the while features don’t make our offering unique; our message does. Our customer support does. Our brand does.
And while I’m at it: Talk about your idea BEFORE you launch. Nobody is going to steal it. Your idea is not special and probably a dozen people have thought of it before you. Don’t be afraid of talking about it and get some feedback.

Another golden rule of building a great product: It’s about your customers, not your product. Them, not you.

You should start with small baby steps and build your way up from there. Get a random stranger to send you money over the internet (NO scams please); that moment will be magical. It certainly was for me.

Such an amazing quote from Nathan’s talk. Also: Teaching is a LOT of fun. Give it a shot.

Gumroad has a lot of data on people marketing their products. Ryan Delk shared quite a bit of it apparently and one big take-away – tweeted at least a dozen times – is how you should price your tiers. That is a great heuristic and you should apply it in the absence of own data – i.e. when starting your business.

Another gem from the Gumroad data. Having multiple price points allows your customers to pay you more; do it!

Unsurprisingly email still works best to market your product. Set up that drip email campaign already 🙂

This one is absolutely interesting. When you use retargeting on visitors, don’t send them to your front page when they click on the retargeting ad. Send them to a custom landing page and funnel them into a drip email campaign. Educate them and THEN try to sell. Great take-away and definitely something I did wrong in the past.

I knew that you should remove existing customers from your retargeting list (but I didn’t do it). But this idea is mind-blowing genius! Don’t delete them from your list, put them in another list, serve different ads. E.g after signup offer them a webinar, get them to invite their team mates, whatever makes sense with your product. This is genius.

Another good reason to get the credit card as early as possible.

Definitely have to do this for LinksSpy. I imagine you get a lot of great insights about what is missing from your product.

Links to further resources

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About Christoph

Christoph lives in Munich, Germany and is bootstrapping his own SaaS application as a part-time entrepreneur.

He likes to write on this blog about anything of relevance to single-founder bootstrapped software startups.


  1. ‘10,000 hours of practicing something the wrong way makes you an expert at doing it the wrong way”

    That’s referring to the 10000 hour rule: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outliers:_The_Story_of_Success
    10000 hours until you are an “Expert”. But just practising any way, won’t work.

    “Practice makes perfect” is too simple. Practise makes permanent. But: “Perfect practice makes perfect”.

    • Christoph says

      Hi Dominik,

      thanks for your comment. I’m sorry that I was unclear about that part.
      I know about the 10,000 hour rule, but I don’t know which “perfected” habbit she was refering to.
      Do you happen to know which one?


  2. That comment was in reference to getting mentors/mastermind so you can get feedback and don’t spend 10k hours doing it wrong (and then become really good at doing it wrong).

    Fake email address, tweet at me if you want to discuss further. @tadkalagake

  3. Dave Rodenbaugh says

    Hi Christoph,

    Regarding @singlefounder’s tweet and Twitter audience building. What the tweet fails to convey and was a central theme in the talk is that you follow users that are in your target audience. You do this by using TweetAdder and finding them based on certain keywords that they tend to tweet, retweet, or put in their profile. In his case, it was about security people. The result is not a vanity metric, but a way to start a conversation with folks who might be interested. Like you said, it’s about building relationships, this is the start, not the end.

    He’s increased engagement on AuditShark considerably as a result. That’s no vanity metric if you see more customers showing up.

    • Christoph says

      Hi Dave,

      thanks for clarifying this. It makes a lot more sense the way you describe it. So this is like finding the right networking event to attend – nothing more. From there you go and actually build relations.
      Did I get this right?


      • Dave Rodenabugh says

        Exactly right! Yes, the tweet made it sound much creepier than @singlefounder used it (or intended it to be). It’s basically an active way to find your target audience, engage them with a “follow” action and then provide them something they are interested in (security articles) to begin the relationship.

  4. Matthew Newton says

    Dude, THANK-YOU for this! I seriously appreciate it – this post has given me some awesome insights.


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