Turing Fest 2017 Summary - Day 1

Opening Remarks

by Brian Corcoran @brianc13
  • 1,300 people attending this years conference
  • Attendees and speakers from all over the world

Past the Initial Flywheel: What Companies Can Learn About Product Scaling

by Supriya Uchil
  • From RentalCars.com
  • International expansion - merely changing the language isn't usually the solution
  • Focus on tailoring the product for individual customers
  • Intent Testing - small tests you can learn about customers to develop a strategy for expanding into new markets
  • Are you creating a company or a legacy? People like Jobs, Bezos and Musk take more risks to create a legacy

The Greatest Lies the Devil Ever Told to Startups

by John Peebles @johnjpeebles
  • From Mallzee.com / Administrate
  • Talk about a small world - Administrate is headquartered in Edinburgh but has an office in my former home of Bozeman, Montana.
  • Proposed a platform for meeting with startups behind them in the process to share knowledge
  • The greatest lies told to startups:
    • "I'm a snowflake" - every founder thinks it
    • "It won't be that hard"
    • "It's cool to start a startup" - not everyone should be doing startups
    • "Your friends and family will understand"
    • "You'll make lots of money" - not statistically true
    • "You company is more important than you" - you need time to yourself to set yourself up for long term success.
    • "This won't take long" - building great, sustainable businesses take about 10 years
    • "Your first startup will The One"
    • "Technology choices are what kill most tech startups" - tech is important but its not the reason you'll succeed or fail
    • "You don't need a community. Just focus on your company" - talk with others in the start-up journey
    • "Don't worry about matching your funding strategy to your business"
    • "You can wait on sales. Prolly don't even need it." - selling provides feedback, focus on it
    • "Your product is the most important thing" - your product is broader than what you sell
    • "Don't worry about the people stuff" - if you neglect the people-part of your startup you will fail. Build a culture people will want to work in. Hire an HR person about 50 hires sooner than you think you need to.
    • "Other startups are killing it. All the time." - Hockey sticks almost never happen. Every startup has a gap year, problems are seasonal.
    • "You need to be in Silicon Valley" - You can build a great startup from anywhere
    • "Your investors aren't part of your team"
    • "Stay away from B2B. It's boring." - B2C problems require lots of capital, and capital is hard to get. Easier to get B2B customers.
    • "Don't worry about your metrics" - understand your metrics because you'll be asked about them. At Administrate every member gets a packet each month with business trends.
    • "Don't worry about the quadrant of doom"
    • "You're finished if you don't succeed" - you will not fail in life if your startup fails

The Myth of the Hockey Stick: How Growth Actually Works

by Andy Young @andyy
  • From 500 Startups, Quancast, Stripe
  • Growth includes whatever drives value in our business - not necessarily revenue
  • Not talking about "growth hacking" - its a buzzword, and most growth hacks are small, useful optimizations, but they won't make your business
  • Started Selective Tweets - for posting select tweets to Facebook using the #fb. Scaled to 1.3 million users in 3 years.
  • "How can users be constantly reminded of your product through using it?"
  • Retention is the silent killer
  • Growth engines - Paid, viral, sticky, user-generated content, B2B content

Why Focusing on UX Makes Business Sense

by Sitar Teli @sitar
  • From Connect - investors in Citymapper, Typeform, Soldo, Charlie
  • Every product has a user experience, and it will be the primary way users interact with your product
  • Typeform (form creator) addresses the UI/UX hole in existing form creators. Better UX leads to:
    • higher completion rate - 13% vs 55%
    • higher completion rate generates to more users
    • people tweeting about how much they like using Typeform
    • engagement, brand, venue
    • and less churn, cost, customer complaints

Fireside Chat

with Qasar Younis @qasar and Mike Butcher @mikebutcher
  • On living in the valley - everyone who gets there thinks it's too late. Even people who moved there in 1998 thought it was too late.
  • Startups can be based anywhere, they don't necessarily need to be based in the valley. It might be harder, however. As an analogy - you can be an actor anywhere, but it will be easier in Hollywood.
  • Startup teams should be localized to set the pace and goal. After a few years moving to a distributed team is an option.
  • "If you want a great job - become a venture capitalist. You don't work that hard, nobody knows what they're doing, and the return is huge."

Fireside Chat

with Michael Pryor @michaelpryor and Mike Butcher @mikebutcher
  • Pryor started Trello, which was recently acquired by Atlassian for $425M
  • Trello received 2nd place at Techcrunch Disrupt. The first place winner never got traction.
  • Initial goal was to create a real-world implementation of a task list - if one user moved a card on Trello it should move on all other user's view. 6 years ago this was pretty difficult.

Start-Up to Scale-Up: Getting the Support Your Business Needs

by Sherry Coutu @scoutu
  • Very few startups survive and grow. Of 220k UK businesses started in 1998, 2.7% achieved at least 1 year of high growth by 2008.

Panel Discussion

with Adam Gross @adam_g, Sherry Coutu @scoutu and Rand Fishkin @randfish
  • SEO Moz has about 20 remote workers out of about 170
  • Heroku allows developers to be remote, PMs are on-site
  • On mistakes they've made:
    • Getting too focused on external things and ignore the internal culture of your company
    • Even if you're interested in entrepreneurship it might not be wise to go straight into it. You'll save yourself a lot of pain getting a few years of experience.
    • There's no rulebook to startups - so don't feel you have to follow certain rules about the types of problems to solve, funding, etc.

On the Psychiatrist’s Couch: Founders vs. Funders

with Harry Briggs @H4ryB
  • Startups take a serious toll on founders
  • Reasons:
    • Everyone else is "killing it" - like Musk, Zuckerberg
    • You risk looking stupid
    • ...and having nothing to show for it
    • Friends don't really understand
  • Funders face a different set of challenges
    • Biases in businesses, people, markets...
    • Near infinite opportunities
    • Limited time
    • Decision fatigue
    • Trying to raise the next fund
    • Constant fear of missing the next unicorn
    • For years you don't know if you're any good
  • Perhaps founders and funders are more common than it seems

Fireside Chat

with Gareth Williams @gareth_o_ and Mike Butcher @mikebutcher
  • Gareth is founder of Skyscanner, a travel search engine. Recently acquired for £1.4B
  • Travel makes up for about 10% of the worlds GDP
  • Gareth recommends taking a trip to southern China to see how they're using software to see what's next
  • 1% of Chinese people can speak English, and even less English speakers speak Chinese, so there's not a lot of knowledge sharing happening
  • Brexit is making it harder to attract talent, already. Skyscanner has offices in mainland Europe which helps
  • "Tech is the new Wall Street" - tech companies are now seen as leaders, like banks were in the 80s
  • Advice for founders: Read incessantly from many sources


Great first day of sessions. My only complaint is the parallel tracks (Strategy and Product today) mean you can only see half the talks. There were several times I wanted to see both talks happening at the same time.