Business of Software Europe always has an amazing range of speakers. They are experts in their fields and there is always advice in every talk that we can take away and use ourselves. This year was no different and we took away a huge amount of insight and knowledge. In case you couldn’t be there, I thought it would be useful to give a very brief overview of what I learned from the talks on day one.
Tom from Metail gave a reassuring talk about learning from failures and how to make sure your technology has impact:
- You might have an amazing product, but that’s no good if you do not understand how real people will use it in the real world.
- You need different subsets of people for different stages when you scale.
- Your product has to be a no-brainer. It should be 10 times better than the competition.
Nilan is from Transferwise which has a great founder’s story. He gave some really good advice on marketing and growth:
- Marketing (especially techniques such as using AdWords) gets more expensive and less effective over time.
- Evangelism works best and is the biggest driver of growth.
- One good technique for SEO is to use a comparison site (e.g. Transferwise have an exchange rate comparison site).
Alison from Bracket helps design high performing teams. Here is some of the advice she gave for working in teams:
- How people communicate is actually more important than what they communicate.
- Seeing that they are making progress is the biggest motivator for people.
- Meetings should be more like workshops, which are often more collaborative and engaging, and encourage equal contributions
Tendayi from Benneli Jacobs gave a talk about innovation. He reminded us that it is easy to forget the basics and gave the following advice:
- Foundation myths overestimate clever ideas – you also need a realistic business model
- Try not to forget the obvious – what are the customer’s needs?
- Think about the market (key trends, market forces and so on)
Carl from PrecisionLender told us about how his business has used AI, as well as product strategy in general:
- To make use of AI, make the best person in your team and write them into the software.
- If you are worried about AI taking over jobs, ask instead why people are doing jobs not worthy of a human.
- Computer skills should complement human skills. Computers are good at answers, but humans are better at questions.
Tim from DataSift spoke about how he dealt with bad times before going on to successfully grow the company. Some of the talk was redacted – you needed to attend the conference to get the full details. Some of the advice from the not redacted part included:
- Have a one-page business plan that you can read in 10 minutes.
- The biggest lessons you learn from the toughest times in growing a business
All of the speakers actually gave a lot more advice than this. I would highly recommend attending Business of Software next year if you get the chance.