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Everything You've Learned at MicroConf is Wrong*

Chad DeShon

Software Engineer. Royals Fan. Board gamer. @RoyalsUmp

Chad DeShon

Chad did the Microconf thing - B2B SaaS, charging more, taking sales calls with Fortune 500 companies - and it totally worked.

Then he decided to sell BromBone and go back to what he knew: a side project moving downmarket to selling physical boardgame tables.

BoardGameTables.com

BoardGameTables.com sells high end custom tables for an average of $3,500. Their June 2016 Kickstarter raised $2.6M.

This is the anti-microconf business. Here's what workes well in BoardGameTables that goes against Microconf wisdom.

1. Recurring Revenue is Overrated

Even though selling board game tables doesn't generate recurring revenue (growth_rate == churn_rate), the business still works.

There are a lot of perks to the one time sales model, though. One time sales mean you get your customer's Lifetime Value (LTV) up front.

Bad: Income Delayed Bad: Harder Sale Good: Can Increase LTV by Lowering Churn or Adding Expansion Revenue

Can you get both recurring revenue and get all the revenue up front? No, those are literally opposite.

2. Annual Plans Are Overrated

When Chad sold BromBone, he used FE International as a broker. And they had all these questions about my annual plans.

It's easy to mask churn problems, but you should fix them instead. A customer is churned when they stop using your product, not when they stop paying.

Sometimes there are customers who are destined to churn.

For example, sometimes BromBone would lose a customer because they went out of business.

You can’t really fix that. So, maybe it is a good idea to try to collect as much as you can upfront.

But Chard argues that you’re still missing the point. Your path to growth isn’t maximizing your revenue from bad customers. Maximize for your good customers.

Of course, there are reason to have annual plans

Just make sure you are doing it because they are right for your business and not because you are copying what everyone else is doing.

If you aren’t restrained by cashflow, then I would give serious pause before offering much of a discount for annual plans.

3. It is Possible to Move Down Market

Moving down market is different than charging less.

When Chad launched his Kickstarter for a new model of table, the table was clearly differentiated (that’s business speak for it’s not as good). It opened up new customers who were NEVER going to buy the more expensive product.

The high end tables lost some sales to cannibalization, but they also gained some because of greater brand awareness.

The process has been super hard.

If this were MicroConf Starter, Chad would just say no. Don’t do it.

But since this is growth, he believes it is possible, just:

  • Make sure the product is different
  • Make sure you are going to reach audience that is both NEW and LARGER.
  • Be ready to work.

4. Overrated: B2B = Just Show Positive ROI

A big reason that people recommend starting a B2B business is that if you just show a positive ROI to customers then businesses will buy from you.

Afterall, that is what businesses do. If they can give you $1000 and it makes them $2000, then it is a no brainer.

The great thing about B2C is that you don’t have to show a positive ROI.

It can be tricky to prove that positive ROI in practice.

There are setup expenses, opportunity costs, attribution problems (was that new revenue really because we are using your product, or would we have gotten the sale anyway)

There are unknowns. You just can’t account for everything

With B2C you just have to make them want it.

5. Listen to Podcasts at 1x

Seriously. You don’t have to cram information into your ears as fast as possible. Take a deep breath and relax. Use the slower speed to allow your mind to wonder. To have its own ideas and go on its own tangents. It will be ok.

chad@boardgametables.com

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