Jason Fried – 37 Signals at FOWA MIAMI 2009

images-1Jason Friend of 37signals gave a speech at the Future of Web Apps Miami 2009 conference which I recently attended.  Here are some issues he discussed during that speech:

“Free” is the future of failure. People are used to paying for things, they find value in it.  It is a lot more likely for a free service to go out of business.  As these companies go out of business,  it damages the entire industry and cause people lose trust.  Free converts, but pay converts even better!  Charge people!

When you have paying customers you have obligations to your customers.  When they are not paying, you do not have obligations, and that is bad.  The only people who can offer a free service are those that can subsidize it, like google, aol, and yahoo and even they are having trouble making it work.

Failure is not cool, you will not succeed because you have had previous good failures.  If you are starting something new, don’t be intimidated by failure.  Failure is a virus that is infecting the tech world, and has somehow managed to become cool.  He suggests that we learn from our successes and not mistakes. We should focus on the good stuff we did with the company and build on only the good things next time.  Jason states that all you learn from failure is what NOT to do the next time.  Never what to do right in order to succeed.  Focus on the things you do right and do them over again.  Put your energy towards what is working at the smallest level.  Focus on your by products and what else you can sell and do.

When an Audience member asked:  How do you compete with the other companies?

Jason responded “I just don’t care about the others ”

He also suggests that before you hire someone for a new position in your company, you need to do the job yourself and not leave it in the hands of someone else.

For effective emails to customers, he notes that 37 signals switched to sending html emails instead of text.  When sending coupons, % coupons drive more sales then dollars off.  So 20% off is better then $20 off.  They are getting better click through rates, and if you want to highlight something it is easier to get it across visually instead of BOLD and caps.  Just make sure  the newsletter is short, and sweet.  It is better to send out many small newsletters, then one gigantic one.

37 signals only has 12 people.  The best productivity tip is to stay the hell away from one another.  Interruption is the enemy of productivity.  If you wanna get work done, stay away from everyone else.  Sometimes having work at home time is good.  Maybe have kindergarten time at the office where nobody can talk to each other from 1-4 on tuesdays and thursdays.
Focus on passive collaboration.  Post a message, send an email and they will get to them during the time they can.

In response to the question another audience member asked: “When is the time for the new app?”, Jason stated that 37signals always builds the things they needed.  So they build it cause it is something they wanted and needed.  It becomes pretty hard to maintain multiple products.  You need more infrastructure, and then you end up neglecting your other projects

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