What You Can Learn From MicroConf 2013 – Even If You Did Not Attend

MicroConf has been an incredible experience for me and probably for a lot of folks who attended. It was packed with actionable advise to increase your business success and you can find a lot of the content over on the MicroConf hub page.

This post is here to summarize the most important topics and advices given at MicroConf 2013. It is pretty short and you can find much more information in the notes for the different talks, but this post is a good starting point to discover how actionable und plentiful the advice given was.

Lessons on Pricing and Cashflow

Again, one of the main take-aways was (as it had been the year before) to raise your prices. There are a bunch of reasons why this is a good idea, the main ones being:

  • you are probably under-charging for the value you deliver (because we are all developers and that’s just how we roll)
  • charging more allows you to better serve your customers because you have more resources to allocate to making them happy

advices around pricing and cashflow:

  • test your pricing – set up a split test with the higher prices as a variation, see if it affects conversion rates
  • double your prices, if it works, double them again. Repeat until conversion rates begin to drop
  • Initially charge twice as much as you would pay yourself
  • annual pre-pay gives you the money to grow your business – offer one or two months free in exchange for money upfront
    • hack: Increase monthly price and return to normal pricing with annual pre-pay
  • change “30 day free trial” into “60 day money-back guarantee”
  • charge your customers, don’t go for “revenue share” models
  • charge more and deliver to match the expectation (Ask yourself / existing customers: “What would it make worth $99 /mo?”)
  • Offer multiple price points

Advices On Market / Business Model

  • B2B – don’t even think about B2C
    • businesses understand “value” much better than consumers
    • people in businesses often don’t spend their own money
  • don’t do “marketplaces”(eBay, AirBNB, etc.) – you end up with 2 startups where both need to succeed
  • search for markets with the following characteristics
    • naturally recurring (on-going costs, financial cycles, support)
    • not real-time – if you don’t have to deliver value immediately, this takes away a lot of stress
    • something that can be “finished” – so that you can focus on marketing
    • After-markets – the product is there, you deliver an addon/training (Ex: WPEngine for WordPress)
    • BIG markets – because you have a LOT of niches to choose from (and can expand), there is room for “me-too” and the market is validated for you
  • How to scale your consulting business
    • dramatically increase prices ( $XX,XXX per week)
    • Hire people to do the work for you; bill them at your market rate
    • productize your consulting into a workshop, eBook, webinars, videos, etc.

Funnel & Conversion Optimization, Marketing

  • Long-form sales pages ROFLstomp (to use Patrick’s word) every other form of sales page
  • email marketing
    • start collecting addresses YESTERDAY (if you can’t manage that, start RIGHT NOW)
    • keep your list warm
  • Copywriting tips:
    • Replace “I/me/we” with “You/yours”
    • make it all about them – your customers want solutions for their pain points
    • Use “Even If” (“How to become a rockstar, even if you don’t do cocaine..”) and “3D” (Repeat the same problem three times to make it sink)
    • Talk to your existing customers & learn what words they are using to describe your product –> use those words
  • Having a telephone number prominently displayed on sales page, can increase conversion rate
  • Make your customers look good in the eyes of their customers
  • Frugality does not grow your business (you need to invest in it)
  • People don’t buy software, they buy solutions to problems

Does Not Fit Any Other Category

  • If a metric does not influence your behaviour, it is a bad metric
  • You will usually churn through 4-5 accountants before you find a good one – same can probably be said for VAs
  • “Becoming an entrepreneur and delivering value to the world is an righteous and awesome way to walk down in life” – Patrick McKenzie

Finding The Right Idea & Building Your Product

  • Don’t wait for the perfect idea – it might never come
  • If you have multiple ideas, go with the one that lights a fire in your belly
  • start with something, ship it, improve incrementally
  • Even if you do NOT search investment, talk to investors. They will tell you all the things that are wrong with your idea
  • Do things that do NOT scale in the beginning, e.g.:
    • manually review websites of your clients
    • send 1,000 mails to hundreds of people for guest posts (or sales)
    • offer your customers paying $100/mo or more 1-on-1 time with you (possibly upsell)
  • Care about localization AFTER you have maxed out your local market

Customer Development & Acquisition

  • Always begin with a hypothesis: “Our hypothesis is that [certain type of person] have a problem doing [certain type of task]
  • Questions you must be able to answer:
    • Who are your customers?
    • Where do they hang out?
    • How should you engage them?
  • Questions you can ask: (More in the notes for Hiten Shah’s MicroConf Talk)
    • What persuaded you to purchase from us?
    • How would you describe [PRODUCT] to your friends?
    • Which other options did you consider before choosing our products?
    • How would you persuade people like you to use [PRODUCT] ?
  • Advertisments beat Social Media every time all the time – they are repeatable, scalable and usually a lot easier
  • Emails ROCK – pre-sales email courses, cold calling emails
  • Teaching is the best form of marketing (“The more I help you, the more you will trust me” – Nathan Barry)
    • Use email courses
    • only sell to markets that you have something to teach
    • establish trust by OVER-delivering on value

Retention and Churn

  • lowering your churn rate is crucial to growing your business
    • acceptable (not great!) at about 4% / month
    • 8+% means: your product sucks, go fix it
    • churn will eventually limit the growth of your business (because you will loose as much revenue per month to churn as you acquire new revenue)
    • you can have negative churn (through upsells!)
  • email every cancellation and ask for reasons
  • send lifecycle emails to improve retention
    • help customers with the onboarding process
    • When trial is failing, offer to extend the trial
  • If you deliver constant value, email them and tell them (get them promoted by emails like “you made $1,500 using [PRODUCT] in the last week”)


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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. Too many great points in such a small space. I’ll really make sure I go back and read the individual notes now.

    So many gems here, I’ll make sure I check out the next conference.


  1. […] What You Can Learn From MicroConf 2013 – Even If You Did Not Attend by Christoph Engelhardt […]

  2. […] gesamte Zusammenfassung kannst du in Englisch auf der Website von Christoph Engelhardt […]

  3. […] most important lesson of 2013 was to get out and meet other like-minded people. Attending MicroConf was a great experience for me and a LOT of good things came out of it (friendships, mastermind groups, podcast interviews, […]

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