I’m sitting in the airport in Las Vegas, waiting for my red-eye back home, after spending the last 2+ days at Microconf 2014, The Conference for Self-Funded Startups.
Why Was I Here, & How Did I Get Here?
A couple of weeks ago, I launched Monkey Finger. By “launched,” I mean I told people they could go sign up (in reality, they could have signed up months ago if they knew the app url). That same day, I won a pass to MicroConf from Balsamiq (a few people asked me what I had to do to win this pass; it was simple: I filled out a form).
Paulo Coelho said in The Alchemist, “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” If you haven’t read The Alchemist yet, do it. It takes about 6 hours to read cover-to-cover. I took winning this pass as a sign that the universe wants me to achieve success with Monkey Finger.
After I confirmed my pass and booked my last-minute, outrageously expensive airfare (last minute + spring break = paying 3x normal rates), I did some research on the conference to get an idea of what to expect and to try to set up some goals before attending. That’s when I found out that this conference sold out in about 20 minutes this year. There is no thinking about going to this conference: if you don’t buy your ticket the minute they go on sale, you’re not going.
The conference started on Sunday night with a light mixer, followed by 2, 9-5 days of talks (main speakers got 45 minutes to an hour, attendee talks where 12 minutes each). Both Monday and Tuesday nights had parties, but I couldn’t drag myself to them. I know, I should have went – you don’t need to tell me.
During the talks, 98% of the audience had a tablet or laptop open; I only spotted a few attendees with notebook & pen. I was busy taking notes (26 pages, over 6,000 words), not only to help me remember what was said (and what actions I need to do myself), but note taking during sessions helps me pay attention. I’d bounce between notes and the #microconf twitter stream (although, unlike Affiliate Summit where there are multiple sessions going on at the same time, I’m in the same room as everyone tweeting #microconf tidbits, so I don’t know why I followed along in realtime).
I thought there’d be about 400 attendees, but there were less than 200.
- 62% had already launched their SAAS/product
- 21% were building their product
- 7% had an idea
- 7% were looking for an idea
- 2% were retired
The audience was heavily male-dominated. I have in my notes that there were only 5 women, but it was probably closer to 8-10.
The attire was much more casual than what I’m used to. If you’re thinking about what you should or should not wear, you’re already putting too much thought into it. Jeans, t-shirts, shorts were normal.
If you're into smart dudes wearing plaid shirts and jeans, #microconf is your jam.
— Heather McLane (@buildicus) April 14, 2014
What I found odd was that more people DIDN’T have business cards than DID have them (or they just didn’t want to give them to me). I know this is a tech startup conference so we should be using new technologies (poken? kidding) but I love business cards. When I’m meeting dozens of new people, I have a hard time keeping names straight. So after I receive a card, I’ll jot down some notes on the card to help me remember this person. I’m not saying start a conversation with handing over a business card, but when someone asks, “what are you working on” and I give my elevator pitch for Monkey Finger, I reached into my pocket and handed over a card.
Most of the audience was approachable and made me feel welcome. Mind you, I had NO IDEA who ANYONE was here. When I first got here and found my way to lunch with a few other attendees, I was sitting across the table from Hiten Shah, who co-founded CrazyEgg and KISSmetrics. No clue. I only put 2 & 2 together when he got up to speak later in the conference.
Wrap It Up
Rob Walling told us we should take away 3 actions and 2 relationships from this conference. I probably have 3 action items from each speaker’s session, and more than 2 relationships.
Now I need to implement what I learned at Microconf, and continue working on Monkey Finger so I can return next year as a Microconf success story!