Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Business of Software 2008, day 1

Greetings from Boston, where I'm attending "Business of Software 2008, the first ever Joel on Software conference."

It has been fantastic so far. Here's a featured presenters roll call for the day:
That's not to mention the eight Pecha Kucha presentations, although I will mention two that I particularly enjoyed by Jason Cohen of SmartBear Software ("Agile marketing") and Alexis Ohanian, founder of Reddit ("How to start, run, and sell a web 2.0 startup"). Alexis won the contest, which netted him a new MacBook Air. Not bad for 6 minutes 40 seconds of work. ;-)

Here are some of the highlight ideas of the day for me (with apologies to the speakers for, in some cases, crudely over-simplifying their ideas):
  • Ideas that spread win. (Godin)
  • The leader of a tribe begins as a heretic. (Godin, Livingston)
  • Premature optimization is bad. In business too. Not just code. (Fried, Shah)
  • Interruptions are bad. Meetings are worse. (Fried, Sink, Livingston)
  • "Only two things grow forever: businesses and tumors." Unless you take inelligent action. (Fried)
  • Pricing is hard. Really, really hard. (Shah)
  • Business plans are usually stupid. (Fried, Shah, Livingston)
  • Software specs are usually stupid. (Fried)
  • An important opportunity cost of raising VC money is the time you're not spending working on the business of your actual business. (Shah)
  • The most common cause of startup failure isn't competition, it's fear. (Livingston)
  • Your first idea probably sucks. (Fried, Sink, Shah, Livingston)
  • Radical mood swings are part of the territory for founding a company. (Livingston)
An overarching belief that I think bonds almost all of the 300 people here at the event is this: If you're not working on your passion, then you're wasting yourself. It is inspiring to met so many people at one time who are living courageously without compromising this belief. Re-SPECT.

I think a good conference should provide three main intellectual benefits for people:
  1. You can expose yourself to new ideas, which can make you wiser.
  2. You can fortify some of the beliefs you already had, which can make you more confident.
  3. You can learn better ways to explain your beliefs to others, which can make you more effective.
And then of course there's networking, fun, and all that stuff—that's easy. So far, this event is ringing the bell on every dimension that I needed. Absolutely A+.


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