The previously Boston-based Business of Software (BoS) Conference has officially landed in Raleigh and it’s already picked up some of that Southern charm.
From playing country music during breaks to hearing North Carolina School of Science & Mathematics (NCSSM) students lead a discussion about AI, BoS’s first day took a big step toward soldifying its standing as the next big software conference in the Triangle. (We previewed the conference and its move to the Triangle here.)
BoS kicked off its official three-day event yesterday at the Martin Marietta Center in downtown Raleigh. Unlike other software conferences, the focus of BoS’s events centers around advice and conversations from industry leaders, rather than in-the-weeds subjects like coding or finances. It provides a more intimate atmosphere for founders and key employees to openly talk about questions and issues on how to grow their company.
Here’s a rundown of what to expect from the conference, based on its first day.
Diverse speakers and topics
On each day of the conference, speakers from around the world to right down the road lead discussions that focus on advice and insights toward inspiring innovation in the industry. Business and software leaders touch on a diverse variety of topics that anybody within a company can learn and take away from.
Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin kicked off the conference with a welcome speech to attendees who came from either right here in the Triangle or from regions as far-flung as Australia.
The speakers and the topics they discussed on Day One included:
- Jason Cohen, on how to build a practical strategy defense for your company. Using his experience on building his own successful bootstrapped and venture-funded company, Austin-based WP Engine, Cohen led a discussion on the processes to building a strategy best suited for each individual business’s needs.
- Randeep Sidhu, on how to be a leader during some of the most challenging times. During the peak of the pandemic in 2020, Sidhu was asked to head production on a Covid-19 app that would help thousands of people’s lives in the UK. He talked about his struggles and processes while working on a very stressful project during a very stressful time, while giving sound advice on how to balance creating impact and managing a team.
- Suresh Menon, on how to do the acquisition dance with “elephants,” i.e. big companies. Menon relayed powerful insights into how and why mature businesses are “addicted” to approaching acquisitions as part of a growth strategy. He explained how an acquirer evaluates its options toward approaching a deal and how an acquisition can work in the long term—for both the acquirer and the acquired team.
- Ayush Paul and Jacob Van Meter from NCSSM SigmaCorns, on using AI to improve classroom instruction. The students from NCSSM, with support from their fellow SigmaCorns—the NCSSM chapter of FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC), a global robotics program for high school students—led a discussion on their journey on discovering how AI could be more impactful for students, mentors and teachers.
- Bob Moesta, on how job and goods production and upkeep can be improved. Moesta is one of the principal architects of Jobs-To-Be-Done, a business framework that companies like Apple and Intercom have used to understand consumer behavior and needs. He led a riveting chat about companies’ economic and marketing principles.
Breakout groups and discussion tables
Sprinkled throughout the day, and even in between speakers, attendees had the opportunity to meet and chat with other industry leaders and each other at personal discussion tables and engaging breakout groups. During breakfast and lunch, attendees can choose between tables that are set up for a specific topic. From debating about cats or dogs to learning about which SaaS metrics matter most, these topic tables made the event more comfortable and exciting for the attendees to network, ask questions or even to stand around.
Broken up into different categories, each breakout session hosted various topics of discussion with speakers like Bob Moesta. The scheduled breakout sessions gave attendees the opportunity to meet and chat with some of the speakers and industry experts that they normally would not get the chance to in other conferences.
Networking and community building
Other than being a conference on how to grow your business, BoS was a great opportunity for many local and global industry professionals to network and connect on a professional and even personal level.
Not only did attendees have the chance to get to know each other during the breakout sessions and group discussions over food, they also got to end their days with an informal “drinks, nibbles and conversation.” They had plenty of time for conversation with friends—old and new—and the opportunity to move tables between courses. On other days of the conference, attendees will have the chance to eat around Raleigh with their new network.
Throughout the rest of the week, attendees will get to hear from other locally and globally renowned speakers, such as the Triangle’s own Bill Spruill—the Co-Founder and former CEO of Raleigh-based Global Data Consortium and CED’s Board Chair—as well as participate in the more intimate and personal discussions and networking opportunities.