MicroConf 2018 tips and guide
Going to Las Vegas for MicroConf 2018? Here are my best tips on travel, hotels, taxi, and my guide for getting the most out of this conference for bootstrapped entrepreneurs.
Pro tip: add yourself to this Who is coming to MicroConf 2018 list and connect with people ahead of time!
The brainchild of Rob Walling and Mike Taber, this event bucks the startup trend: it’s not for venture-funded companies.
“MicroConf is a great place to meet like-minded people who are self-funding their businesses. It’s one of the best places to make friends with other people in the same situation as you. In fact, it is one of the few places you can do that!”? – Hiten Shah
Which version should you attend? Growth or Starter?
If you’re making a full-time income from a digital product (SaaS, software, other) you should go to Growth.
If you’re still consulting (or working a day job) and building something on the side, go to Starter.
Come for the “hallway track.”
The “hallway track” refers to hanging out with other attendees outside of the main talks.
This might mean grabbing a coffee with another attendee, joining a table for breakfast at Bacio, or hanging out in the lobby outside the conference room.
People often say that this informal hangout time is the best part about MicroConf.
Here are a few things to remember:
Make a plan for who you want meet, and what topics you want to discuss. If you have specific folks you’d like to ask questions of, write a list of their names and what topic you’d like to discuss.
But… also be open to meeting “sleeper attendees.” At any event, there’s always people everyone wants to talk to, and then there are folks who aren’t as well-known. Outside of the bloggers, podcasters, and “internet famous” people you’ve heard of, there are tons of amazing entrepreneurs at MicroConf, with awesome stories to tell.
Rehearse your answer to: “what are you working on?” People at MicroConf are curious! They’ll want to know what you’re working on. Don’t be self-conscious. Just tell them about your main project, or pitch them on your business idea.
One idea is to host a reception in your room during the evenings. Buy some drinks, and give out personal invitations (be sure to invite a wide variety of people!)
Breakfast can be a great opportunity to meet new people. Wander down to the Bacio in the morning, and ask to join a table!
Be vulnerable. You don’t need to pretend at MicroConf. If you’re struggling with something, share it with others! It’s likely other people have been where you’re at now. Be open and honest; no need to fake it.
MicroConf talks are packed with tactics. Want to get the most out of them?
Leave your laptop in your room. It’s way too easy to get distracted during a talk by Slack, your email, and other work that needs to be done. Bring a pen and paper, or write notes on your iPhone.
You don’t need to take photos of each slide. Most speakers make their slides available afterwords, and the talks are also recorded. Kai Davis also writes notes at microconfrecap.com.
Enjoying a talk? Let the speaker know! Quote a notable line on Twitter (use the #microconf hashtag), or tell them afterwards.
Giving a talk?
MicroConf is unique in that there are keynote talks as well as talks from attendees. Here are some tips for speaking at MicroConf:
- Practice. When it comes to being prepared, practicing your talk (out loud) trumps everything else.
- Practice your talk in front of an audience. Do your talk in front of your family, friends, or at a meetup.
- Watch past attendee talks. You can find them here on Vimeo. Observe what works and what doesn’t. Remember, you don’t have a lot of time, so you need to be succinct and focus on a few key points.
Frequently asked questions
How should I handle hotel, taxi and the airport?
My friend Jimmy Jacobson, of Wedgies, lives in Las Vegas. Here is his advice:
You can use Uber or Lyft at the airport, but just make sure you pay attention to the notice that they will pick you up on level 2M of the parking garage (that’s one level up from passenger pickup).
If you are cool with a taxi, then just follow the signs to the taxi stand. It’s fast and efficient as well.
The Cosmopolitan is reasonably close to Tropicana and has one of the only non chain coffee shops on the strip. It also has some good but reasonably priced eats (for the strip).
What’s the dress code at MicroConf?
“It ranges from ultra-casual to business casual. Be comfortable. But the room is usually chilly, so plan accordingly.” – Dave Churchville
You’ll see a lot of folks in jeans, t-shirts, button-up shirts. You’ll also see some folks who are in shorts!
“You’ll spend most of the time indoors where they keep the A/C cranked, so it gets surprisingly chilly. At night, it also gets cooler than you would think, so I would recommend a sweater or light jacket.” – Adam Delong
What’s the best coffee close to Tropicana?
Starbucks has a stranglehold on the Strip; so if that’s your preference your in luck.
If you’re looking for independent coffee, the closest spot to Tropicana is Sunrise Coffee on the other side of the airport. It’s good.
Vesta is not close, but it’s a great newer coffee roaster in town.
What day and time should I fly in?
For Starter Edition (May 1 – 3, 2018), arrive early in the day on Tuesday (May 1), and if you can, check out on Friday (May 4).
For Growth Edition (April 29 – May 1, 2018), arrive early in the day on Sunday (April 29), and if you can, check out on Wednesday (May 2).
Many folks will fly in a day before the conference to hang out and tour around Las Vegas. I always regret it when I arrive to conference right when it’s starting.
- Check your passport well before you leave. Is it up to date? Does it need to be renewed?
- Bring lip balm and drink lots of water. It’s a desert. Your lips are going to get really dry. You’re going to need to stay hydrated.
- Push yourself out of your hotel room. You’ll definitely need some rest, but if you hide in your room the whole time, you’ll miss out. MicroConf is about building relationships. If you go to any of the hotel restaurants, you can usually find other attendees.
- Add Slack to your phone. The MicroConf Slack chat is the main communication channel. It’s where a lot of the planning for social get-togethers happens.
- Don’t drink too much alcohol. Las Vegas is a party town, and there’s nothing wrong with having a few drinks with other attendees. But being hungover is the worst! Take it slow.
Thanks again to everyone who joined the hangout:
Last year I hosted a pre-MicroConf hangout:
Some great people showed up:
- Joshua Earl – amazing copywriter, one of the best email newsletters I’ve read.
- Brian Hogg – built a business making WordPress plugins. Teaching everything he knows at Making Pro Plugins.
- Jacob Thurman – gave one of the best attendee talks at MicroConf I’ve seen.
- Josh Doody – the go-to expert on salary negotiation (especially for programmers). He’s also really awesome at creating funnels, and marketing automation.
- Ryan Battles – wrote the book on SaaS marketing essentials. Owns a SaaS for freelancers called Harpoon.
- Ben Orenstein – host of an awesome podcast.
- Justin Jackson – that’s me. 😉 Last year I spoke at Starter Edition on The freedom ladder. Watch my talk here.
- MicroConf First Time Attender Guide by Kai Davis
- How to enjoy your next conference by Jane Portman
- MicroConf 2016 notes by Christian Genco
Notes from Justin Jackson
Startup stories, lessons, and tips.
Sent on Saturday mornings.
(Read it while you drink your coffee)