Crunch Mode Blog - A State of Mind by Developers at D2Soft Technologies

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Stop attending conferences and start building your product

You are looking for product exposure, right?  So you are attending dozens of conferences per year, probably spending quite a lot of money in the process.  It feels great: meeting people in these networking events, doing your product pitch to them, exchanging business cards and maybe having a drink with a few at the end of the day with a feeling of mission accomplished.  You did it: you probably have a dozen of people that will turn into customers.  Good job.

The really is not quite that.  A few days pass and if you’re lucky, you receive an email from one of the person you gave your business card to.  But this person doesn’t want to purchase your product; instead he wants you to purchase his.  It’s fair; after all, you also listened to this person’s product pitch.  You might also turn out to be a customer for him.  Unfortunately for him, you couldn’t care less about his product.

And there you go: nobody cares about anybody’s product.  Doing networking in conferences is like trying to pitch your product to investors in 3 minutes: it will fail.  And most of the time, when we attend conferences, it’s for the networking opportunities.  We think there will be a reward of spending a few hundred bucks on a conference.  We think we will sell our product to many potential customers.  We think the time spent in conferences is an investment.

I was thinking like that at the beginning.  I spent thousands of dollars for attending multiple conferences in San Francisco.  After all, the Bay Area is the place to be if you want to sell your product or service.  I spent hours trying to sell my service to potential buyers, listening to them in the process, and gathering business cards in hope to find more customers.  Heck, I even gave conferences myself to crowds interested in startups.  All this time, all this energy invested could not be wrong.  It felt right, like I could feel the immediate success coming to me.

Weeks passed, and then I realized what happened: nothing.  Yes, I added people on my LinkedIn and made some contacts that I will continue talking to once in a while, but that’s about it.  For all this marketing energy that I put up, I can count on a few fingers actual business opportunities that came from attending those conferences.  Outch.

I thought that if I was paid based on my performances, I would be fired right away.  That’s when I understood that attending conferences would not make me rich; in fact, it would only make rich those people organizing the conferences.

Then, I did something that seems counter-logical in the startup world: I stopped attending conferences and started actually spending all my time developing my service (Nimbb).  I worked so much without the distraction caused by conferences that I added dozens of new features to my service.  Amazingly, in return, it also attracted new customers to my service.  Building my product was in fact a great marketing strategy and a very useful one: improving a product makes customers come to it.

Yes, listening to conferences and meeting people can be fun once in a while.  But putting too much emphasis on those events will bring you nowhere... unless you are a conference organizer!