MeshU – It’s worth the price of admission

MeshU, May 17, 2010It’s time again for MeshU. I wrote about why startups should consider attending MeshU over on StartupNorth. This is a great opportunity to learn and connect.


There are a lot of smart, talented, successful and engaging people at MeshU. You want my list of who I can’t wait to see:

  1. Bill Buxton
    Bill is a colleague of mine at Microsoft. He also had a profound influence on my career. I was training to be an academic. I wanted to do research like my idols (including Bill Buxton), but Bill’s session at CHI’97 in Atlanta is where he espoused that we’re all designers. We’re all designing and building and shipping software that people use. Imagine that. He is an exciting, engaging speaker that any startup, executive, designer, developer should listen to.
  2. Sean Ellis
    The #leanstartup thing has become a movement. Whether you’re lean or you’re fat, you there’s something to learn about product development and marketing from the guy that brought Xobni, EventBrite and Dropbox to market. I think every startup and every marketer needs to at least listen to what Sean Ellis is saying.
  3. Aza Raskin
    I’ve never met Aza, but he works with 4 people that I think are top notch at Mozilla (I’m looking at you Beltzner, Shaver, Lilly and Surman). I’ve written about his work at Humanized, I used his product Enso as my launcher in Vista. And one of my close friends actually worked on the Canon Cat with Aza’s father, Jef. Aza is the creative lead for Firefox. If you were looking to learn from someone that is helping to build the fabric of every web experience (well technically 24.69% of all web experiences ;-), there’s a good chance that Aza will teach you something.
  4. Diana Clarke
    Diana is a developer rockstar. She’s moving the entire backend at Freshbooks from PHP to Python. This is a crazy project. Switching languages in real-time with the application still running. This is like performing a heart transplant with the patient still conscious. You can learn something about engineering complex systems from Diana.
  5. Dan Martell
    Profitable in 2 months at Flowtown, that’s crazy. Hopefully that includes founder salaries. But you get to hear from the trenches about building a startup using customer development. You’ll learn about “customer development, feature prioritization, split testing, product metrics and agile development as approaches to increase your probabilities of succeeding”.
  6. Joe Stump
    Geolocation infrastructure startup with “the” set of investors (Ron Conway, First Round Capital, Chris Sacca, Kevin Rose, Tim Ferriss, Shawn Fanning people). He was the lead architect at Digg. So if you don’t think you can learn something from the guy who built the infrastructure that created the tsunami that spawns “The Digg Effect“. Then forget about scalable architectures and ask him about raising money.

And this is only 6 of the 13 speakers. There are world class people coming to Toronto. Hopefully everyone from Montreal to Waterloo realizes that this a big deal. The speakers are of the calibre that you’ll find at a conference in Silicon Valley, San Francisco, New York , Austin, Vegas, where ever.


MaRS only hold 400 attendees. This is an incredibly small conference venue. If you’re smart, lucky, outgoing without being douchey, you have a pretty good chance of meeting the speakers and other attendees that are pretty awesome.

The thing to remember is that a chance meeting at a conference with any of these individuals isn’t going to change the course of our startups. You’re looking to make some initial connections. I feel like I tell a lot of entrepreneurs that you don’t have to get everything about your startup on the table in 30 seconds. None of these people have the power to change your life in 30 seconds. It’s like dating, as much as you want to “hop on the good foot and do the bad thing”, it does require a little bit of conversation. (If you really need instant gratification, there are a lot of consultants/charlatans/snakeoil salesmen that will take your money and tell you that if you do these 3 things you’ll be more awesome). 

Events like MeshU aren’t tradeshows. You’re not likely to find customers. You’re not going to find booth candy. You’re probably not going to find an investor (though if I was a Canadian angel or early-stage investor I’d be there just to meet the entrepreneurs and maybe learn something to help my portfolio). You’re there to meet potential hires, other entrepreneurs that you can share war stories and lessons. The whole point of an ecosystem is to enable the exchange of value. The value can only be exchanged between connected nodes in the network. The ecosystem gets strong and more valuable the more connections we build.  

My advice is to start thinking about the connections and the learnings that will justify the price. Then go register for MeshU.

I’ll see you there.

10 thoughts on “MeshU – It’s worth the price of admission”

  1. A great breakdown of some great people who will be attending.

    I'd counter that, well.. you definitely could meet customers.

    If you're a Startup or SaaS provider, offering a useful service or product to other web development shops, startups, or marketers, it's a good place to be to spread the word and swap info. For example, I know that a bunch of people found out about Freshbooks a few years back from being at the conference and mingling.

    See you in the hall

  2. Hi Dom,

    I agree you may meet potenial customers, but I think that is very different than going solely for the purpose of meeting leads. MeshU is not a tradeshow, but it is a great collection of early adopters and technofiles that are always looking for the next big thing. Startups are amazing things. And relentlessly resourceful founders will always be looking for a product or service that helps them build their product, get customers, etc. faster, better, smarter, cheaper, more reliable. And these are the folks that are kicking around the halls at MeshU.

    And I totally misread “See you in the hall” as “See you in hell”, which made me laugh because that may be where I'm going but I didn't think it was so obvious.

    I'll see you at MeshU.

  3. Not to oversimplify, but customer-centric business models are nothing new. It’s adopting the right technologies to achieve strategic aims that makes your work an order winner. That said, I love the part about "unlocking" added functionality via referrals, so long as it doesn’t diminish the experience for non-referring customers.

    Great post,


    This comment was originally posted on StartupNorth

  4. Wow, this is a really interesting post. Here are a few general comments:
    1/ Sean’s concept of Huge Addressable Market isn’t something that I’ve called out specifically in my framework. I’ve made an assumption here that the work around estimating an addressable market has been done, and although you’ll be revisiting this each time you come back to segments, it isn’t something that I’ve called out as a distinct marketing function.
    2/ I don’t know if I totally understand what Sean calls the "Gratification Engine" but it probably includes at least some of the pieces of my framework you include there plus "Sales Process"
    3/ Sean’s growth engine if I understand it correctly is all about how you acquire customers at a profit. In my framework that’s a combination of market strategy, the business model and your tactics (lead generation, retention and visibility).
    It’s neat to see Sean’s stuff and mine mashed up together so I’ll have to think more about it.
    I think they were created for different purposes. Mine was designed as a practical framework for startup marketers who are asking the question – "Am I doing everything I need to be doing?" I view Sean’s as a yardstick for folks to decide "Can this be a really big business?" I’d love to hear Sean’s thoughts on it though….
    Either way I’ve had more theoretical discussions around marketing in the past 2 weeks than I’ve had in the past 10 years which I think is awesome! Thanks so much for sharing this.

    This comment was originally posted on StartupNorth

  5. Customer-centric models are a little different than the proposal of the gratification engine. The gratification engine (and the cluster immune system) require the systems including the measurement and deployment to be automated. You have customer performance, i.e., business metrics baselined and then you A/B test or track promoted changes against the baseline and automate the stay at trunk or rollback to previous iteration. The idea is that it is fundamentally the user/customer performance data that alters the application.

    I do like the gratification approach to features. It’s about a reward system and making users and potential users play an achievement and social game.

    This comment was originally posted on StartupNorth

  6. Hi April,

    I agree. I think Sean’s model was these are the pieces in the go-to-market plan that a startup needs to make sure they are "high potential", venture fundable, etc. I started thinking about using this to flavour the traditional tactics and strategy.

    I’m thinking that the premise is that everything can be measured. All designs and tactics have an impact on the applications performance. If you’re measuring everything you can determine the effectiveness of design changes and marketing strategies. It’s particularly true of inbound marketing techniques.

    The gratification engine for me is where the game mechanics arise. How do you engage potential customers in a game? One method is where they share the social graph with existing customers. It’s harder if they are just random or from other channels. But if you’re delivering a compelling value proposition, then the better you design the game and experience the easier it should be to keep them achieving levels and helping you with your lead generation.

    This comment was originally posted on StartupNorth

  7. Hi David, great to see you building on and combining some of the ideas/observations discussed at meshu. To me, gratification is the hardest and most important part to get right for a startup. I include messaging, funnel, and the ultimate gratifying experience as all part of the gratification engine. It’s really about making meaningful promise and then delivering the experience that matches that promise to the users. Also, not sure whose ROI you were referring to when you wrote "ROI Tracking." If it’s the customer’s ROI, then gratification is probably the right place. Otherwise, it probably should be in growth or economics. Just my thoughts of course. It’s all debatable.

    This comment was originally posted on StartupNorth

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