20+ Attendees share their key takeaways from MicroConf Europe 2016 [Expert Roundup]

At MicroConf Rob Walling and Mike Taber encourage the attendees to set their goals for the conference as follows:

  • gain 3 actionable take-aways that you want to implement in your business
  • find 3 people that you want to build a relationship with over the next year

And boy, there were more than 3 ideas to take away from MicroConf Europe – and way more than 3 people that I would love to build a relationship with.

But I wanted to know what other founders took away from MicroConf Europe 2016. So I asked them to tell me which 3 key lessons they learned at the conference in Barcelona and here are their answers.

James Mayes

@james_mayes | MindTheProduct.com

  1. Ask for help. There’s always someone who faced and solved the problem before.
  2. Explore more tools to make better use of time
  3. Remember to look at long term strategy regularly and not get stuck in the weeds!




 Victor Purolnik

@_recurse | nontechfounder.co

  1. “If we’d stopped coding ourselves earlier we would’ve gotten to 12MLN faster.” –Peter Coppinger, Teamwork
  2. “Don’t rebuild the frontend and backend at the same time.” –Janna Bastow, ProdPad
  3. “Developers don’t estimate in time time, they estimate in flow time” –Anders Thue Pedersen, TimeBlock.com




Rachel Willmer

@rwillmer | luzme.com

  1. It’s more profitable to retain customers than to gain them
  2. It’s important to focus. Don’t spread yourself too thin.
  3. Just because it’s hard, doesn’t make it valuable.




Robin Warren

@robinwarren | getcorrello.com

  1. Talk to customers (more)
  2. Increase my prices (based on Patrick’s approach)
  3. Email might be how people use my app more than through the web interface



Christoph Engelhardt

@itengelhardt | SaaSEmailMarketing.net

My 3 big take-aways (along with a bunch of smaller ones) were:

  1. Gamified trials as described by Janna Bastow in her excellent talk. When she presented that idea I remember sitting there with my mouth wide open for a minute or two. Mind blowing!
  2. In some situations doing more customer development correlates with a failing product: If you have to talk to 200 people to get a dozen presales of your product, you do not have a winning product. Luckily, when you’re doing customer development AND asking for the sale, you’ll notice the pattern long before the 200th prospect.
  3. Giving an attendee was fun and it’s great to talk with attendees afterwards. I’m definitely going to repeat that next year



Kamil Toman

@katox | leafclick.com

  1. Don’t even think about coding, do your market research and validation homework first.
  2. Selling is uncomfortable and it doesn’t get any easier over time.
  3. Focus on important things disregard the rest. There are always too many things to be done.



Carlos Hernandez

@polimorfico | quaderno.io 

  1. Stop obsessing on acquisition. Work more on monetization.
  2. Founders must create and test their own predictable & scalable sales funnels.
  3. The best time to sell your business is when you don’t need to sell it.




Anders Thue Pedersen

@andersthue | Timeblock.com

  1. Ask for the close
  2. Working on being more aware of what is bothering me and what is bothering my employees
  3. Create buyer’s personas for my product




Martin Judd

@Martin_judd | www.kidsclubhq.co.uk 

  1. Need to get more leads and turn them into customers rather than spend time improving the product at this point
  2. Need to define personas for my customers to help with marketing
  3. Need to ask new customers to give me a referral to others they think may benefit from the product




Chris Kottom

@chriskottom | ChrisKottom.com

Here are a few things that I have already implemented since MicroConf Europe

  • Quantified sales funnel for my book
  • Planned new content for September and October
  • Released a simplified testing cheat sheet
  • Contacted several friends from MicroConf and scheduled follow-ups

And here are a few things that I am going to work on over the coming months:

  • Process feedback on new product ideas, make decisions on what’s next
  • Read through some of the book recommendations I got
  • Write up my own take-aways and post to blog



Benedikt Deicke

@benediktdeicke | StageCMS.com

I got my main takeaways during conversations with fellow attendees. They mostly revolve around changes to my product and the packages I’m offering.

I’ll most likely start to offer a “Done For You” package and focus more on the higher tier plans, maybe even discontinuing my cheapest plan.

I also got some good input on new ways to reach my target audience.

To sum it up: While the talks were great as usual, the main benefit for me was the hallway track. I’ve never had so many conversations with people at any other conference, but MicroConf.


Stephen Kellett

@softwareverify | SoftwareVerify.com

  1. Improve onboarding
  2. Improve email marketing

What I will do in the next few months? Who knows, I never get time to do what I want in the order I want!




Thomas Smale

@thomassmale | FEInternational.com

  1. Facebook Live & Facebook Ads are a great combination
  2. Selling a large business is an emotional process





Damian Thompson

@damianthompson | LeadFuze.com

My key take-away is to focus on funnel backwards:

  1. retention
  2. ARPU
  3. acquisition




Lukasz Bilangowski

@blukasz | MintRock.com

I have one main take-away: Lead source is more important than sales skills.




Daniel Hepper

@danielhepper | epicco.de

My main take away was that even the most successful folks struggled at some point. I’m going to implement what I should have done last year: start a Mastermind group





Alex Yumashev

@jitbit | www.jitbit.com

  1. Quantifiable customer personas – a metric-based portrait of your customer
  2. Gamifying trial experience (Janna’s talk) – adding tasks and rewarding users with more trial time on completion
  3. Concentrating on improving churn and trial-2-customer conversions instead of just customer acquisition (paid or organic)



Simon Nordberg

@simonnordberg | simonnordberg.com

I really started realising the importance of timing and seemingly random events. Spending more time on customer development might not be a silver bullet. Depending on analytics to make decisions during the early stages of a product/service may be counter-productive. Relationships are key.




Drew Sanocki

@drewsanocki | NerdMarketing.com 

Biggest thing for me was just meeting like-minded entrepreneurs. I learned a lot but more important was personal connection which got me thinking of a lot of new things.




Jacob Lonroth

@lonroth | mokini.com 

Janna from ProdPad showed us how they had implemented gamification of trials days. In their product a trial user starts out with 7 trial days and then based on the actions trial users make inside the SaaS give them extra days, e.g. +1 day for filling in your company name. Super smart and something I will try for sure!


Damian from LeadFuze told me the two reasons people buy and that it’s totally different if you sell to founders or employees. If you pitch to a founder you can

  1. save them money or
  2. make them money.

But an employee doesn’t give a #€%& about this, the only reason they buy is to

  1. Be the hero (i.e. get promoted) or
  2. Save their ass.


Patrick from Price Intelligently showed us combined metrics from 2k SaaS companies and introduced the concept of adding valued features, least valued features, WTP, CAC and LTV for each of your customer personas to make better marketing decisions which is a great suggestion and something I will implement for my SaaS.

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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 Capterra.com platform. How did that come about?
    • We first did some keyword advertising and tried stuff. But found that Capterra.com 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.

Website: http://dbader.org
Slides: http://dbader.org/microconf16

  • 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.

Website: SaaSEmailMarketing.net
Twitter: @itengelhardt
Slides: http://saasemailmarketing.net/microconf-slides.pdf

  • 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.

Website: Timeblock.com
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.

Website: teamwork.com
Twitter: @irltopper
Blogpost: https://www.teamwork.com/blog/peter-coppinger-developerceo-role-microconf/
Slides: http://tinyurl.com/toppermc2016

  • 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: TeamworkPM.net
    • 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 Teamwork.com
    • 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.

Website: NerdMarketing.com
Twitter: @DrewSanocki
Slides: http://Nerdmarketing.com/microconf

  • 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 DesignPublic.com in 2003
  • Since then:
    • Fanprint
    • Karmaloop
    • Old time pottery
    • Discountmugs
    • Fab
    • Teamwork.com
    • 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
    • Teamwork.com
      • 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: http://nerdmarketing.com/20
      • 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 (Rev.com)
      • 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.

Website: startupsfortherestofus.com

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
    • Clarity.fm
    • 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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