Lessons from MicroConf Day 1

I bet you've considered building a product and earning enough income to quit your job. I'd even bet you already have one; partially built, sitting in digital mothballs.

You are not alone. The dream is shared by us all. As is the reality: our SaaS products, incomplete, dashed upon the rocks of failures to launch. Enter MicroConf. A small, yearly conference aimed at helping developers bring ideas and products to viable, churning engines.

Should you be here? Good question.

I am. This is my first time and the information is new. But i hate taking notes. So instead of scribbling during the talks, i figured i'll summarize my learnings here. Day 1 was an evening mixer. This is what i took away from my first 4 hours.

Here be badasses

First, i have never seen so many smart and driven people in a single place. At first, it is hard not to be a little starstruck. I spent most of the night talking with the founder of IndeHackers and the designer of Picasa. Just minutes before i was bumping shoulders with the founder of tinyurl.

Talks from people who have been through these struggles and come out battered, bloodied and successful.

But as you speak to these people, you realize that these success stories are not some exclusive club to which you are uninvited. The stories are unique but the struggles are the same. To a head, each person shared a passion for creativity and problem-solving. It made for an inspiring night.

Do 1 thing well

With great people come great ideas. If anything, there are too many valuable ideas being talked about. Most people are bringing 2 or 3 to the table. Other people have products that solve many problems for many groups of people.

In both cases, this lack of focus marks a dangerous start for a product. We need to focus on a niche because users need to feel empathy in our products. A product that succeeds does so because users feel that it was built for them. This doesn't just start with features. The marketing, copy and workflows of the ideal product should each speak to a user on a personal level.


This degree of product-market-fit is not a weekend of coding away. For bootstrapped startups, you are often working outside of your zone of genius to launch a product. This means coders are marketing, or non-technical founders are offering tech support to early users. It also means a lot of trial and error attempts at improving your workflows and fine tuning copy.

"The first 95% of the work takes 95% of the time. Unfortunately, the last 5% also takes 95% of the time."

There is no shame in this. As the saying goes, the first 95% of the work takes 95% of the time. Unfortunately, the final 5% takes the second 95% of the time. That final 5% is often what separates a good solution from a great one. A life or death distinction in a competitive market.

Bring on the talks

I asked above if you should be here. If you are passionate about making things people love: yes, you should be here. If you happen to enjoy building things that make you money as well, you should definitely be here.

Day 2 will kick off talks from people who have been through these struggles and come out battered, bloodied and successful. But while it is awesome to meet these people and ask them questions in person, i can't help but think the real value of this event is just gathering a bunch of like-minded, hopeful entrepreneurs and letting them talk about problems. Everyone seems to bring a unique perspective to the table, despite working through the same issues. All trying to answer the question, "how do i make something users love without raising money?"

The answer is out here.

tl;dr: MicroConf is a Las Vegas conference on launching and bootstrapping products to earn you real income.

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Written by Ben
Ben is the co-founder of Skyward. He has spent the last 10 years building products and working with startups.