Thomas Ardal

Freelance software consultant and entrepreneur building SaaS applications like elmah.io

GOTO Copenhagen 2017 Retrospective

Another year of GOTO have come to an end. At least for me, since I only participated a single day this year. I was invited as a blogger once again. In short, bloggers are offered free access to the conference by writing blog posts, typically around subjects discussed on the conference.

When starting to blog from GOTO years ago, the first thing I had to do, were to think about if I wanted sponsored content on my blog. I usually say no to everyone offering to advertise or similar on my blog, but in the case of GOTO, things are a bit different. I love going to GOTO, not only because of the tracks on the conference. First of all, it’s my old employer Trifork who arrange the conference and I want to help promoting. Secondly, as a Danish develop, you always meet a lot of old colleagues on the conference. With 15+ years of experience, my network has grown to more than 800 connections on LinkedIn.

My experience this year has been a bit mixed. For the good parts, I think that starting the conference on a Sunday is a great idea. I probably wouldn’t even have been able to participate this year, if all tracks had been scheduled during weekdays. I also got a chance to talk with a lot of people once again.

There were an entire track about Lean Startup this year, which I had been looking forward to. While I got some good inputs to the way I run my business, I was a bit disappointed with the track. It’s very visible that the large companies have started to talk about Lean Startup and unfortunately some of the sessions were influenced by that. I would have loved to hear much more from the younger companies about how they succeeded or failed with the difference aspects of Lean Startup. The panel discussion in the end, actually offered some of the content that I had been missing during the day. Especially Michael Gronager delivered some great thoughts about running a startup as well as Lean Startup. More war stories from the real world (like I experienced on TechBBQ a couple of weeks back), would have made the track really awesome.

My takeaways this year primarily focuses around building minimum viable products:

  • Chainalysis implemented a MVP in a week by hiring two foreign companies to build a UI for their API. They told both companies that they were competing against others and that the best delivery would win the maintenance and further development. That’s just genius and the end result probably ended up a lot better than if they’d hired one company for two weeks.
  • Microservices are still hot. In relation to Lean Startup and building minimum viable products, microservices is actually a good approach for both building “throw-away prototypes” as well as quickly adding new features or replacing existing. I hadn’t thought much about Lean Startup and Microservices going hand in hand before the conference, But the two disciplines very much align.
  • Dan North had a lot of good points (as always). The one I liked the most, was an example from Amazon. In order to build what customers want/need, they’ll start with writing a press release and a FAQ. It’s a great way to focus on the benefits you’ll end up delivering, rather than getting into the technology straight away. Another good point was: “automate when work gets boring”. It’s actually very basic, but a good rule for when to automate work.
  • In the Lean UX talk, Michael McKay presented a nice approach for building disposable prototypes. Even though the model were used at large corporations, lean ux could make a lot of sense for smaller companies and single founders as well.
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