How Patrick McKenzie made $1,000,000 for someone he hadn’t met

The Business Of Software – Guest Post from Patrick McKenzie, (@Patio11)

This is taken, with permission, from Patrick McKenzie’s email newsletter – you should sign up here for it.


Hiya guys! Patrick (patio11) here. You signed up for periodic emails from me about making and selling software.

I’ve got a confession to make — I wanted to be a stand-up comedian when I was younger. This might seem like a curious career choice for someone with near pathological shyness and, at the time, a bit of a speech impediment, but nobody has ever accused me of being practical.

I finally got my chance at Business of Software, a software conference. There’s a video of it. It’s 7.5 minutes, and (in addition to having an important message for your software company) it is probably the funniest I’ll ever be. Go watch it. I’ll wait.

Why BoS Is My Favorite Software Conference

The speakers at BoS are typically incredibly bright luminaries in our industry, and they often have very inspirational stories mixed with very actionable advice for businesses, particularly businesses which are looking to take things to the next level. (I took, literally, ten thousand words of notes when I attended in 2010.) That’s not just wishy-washy verbiage, either: discussions at BoS were key in helping me to decide to launch a second software product (and kicking me in the butt enough to get me to actually do it — I launched 6 weeks after the conference), informing my decision to not take capital at the time, etc etc. It was enormously helpful to meet folks who have been down most of the roads I was interested in walking — their advice was priceless.

The speakers aren’t even the best reason to go — the caliber of attendee is absolutely outstanding. There are workshops and mixers with other attendees, but I got most value out of the “hallway track”, informal conversations over breakfast and lunch. I’m not speaking this year, but I’m going, for the simple reason that there’s no better place to be. Next to many of the attendees at the conference, I’m a featherweight, both in terms of success and expertise. (Last time I think I ended up eating lunch next to someone who bootstrapped a business building nuclear power plant control software. Yeah. Somewhat shockingly, we both had similar problems — to a degree — and both had decent advice for each other.)

My Only Presentation That’s Ever Made Anyone A Million Bucks

After the above bit of improvisational comedy, I was invited back to BoS in 2011. I delivered a fairly comprehensive hour-long discussion on A/B testing, funnel analytics, and first-run experience design.

BoS asks people for their key takeaway every year. As a result of this presentation and two others which touched on A/B testing, roughly 10% of the attendees mentioned A/B testing. (One of them wrote, direct quote, “Hire Patrick McKenzie to do my A/B testing” — that might have happened, not sure, since it was anonymous. Still, nice to be recognized.)

One attendee mailed me after the conference to say that they were convinced to start A/B testing. Without quoting any particulars, let’s say he was a CEO who founded a B2B software company, grew it from nothing to a very substantial size. True to his word, he sent me an update some weeks later, driven to despair by doing A/B testing… because it taught him in weeks that much of what he thought he knew after ten years was wrong.

He subsequently dried his tears on the million dollars in added sales. A/B testing: start. Seriously.

You can watch the entire presentation (1 hour) and read the transcript over on the BoS site. If you’re on this list, it is highly relevant to you. I actually don’t think that is my best presentation ever, but I can’t argue with the results people have gotten from applying the advice.

Come to the Business of Software Conference

I’m not speaking at BoS this year, but I’m flying 20 hours (on my own nickle!) to attend this October 1st through 3rd. Why? Because the last two years have been huge, huge wins for me. If it is at all feasible for you to come as well, I highly recommend it. The lineup of speakers this year is fantastic as always, and I anticipate it being a wonderful event.

Since I was previously a speaker, they gave me a discount code to share with you, for 20% off of whatever the current price is. It is, naturally, patio11. You can buy your tickets on their website.

I don’t have any ulterior motive in suggesting you go — no kickback or anything. The only reason I was sufficiently moved to send you what is, frankly, a sales pitch is that BoS has been such an epic win for me. I hope to see you there.

Until next time.


Patrick McKenzie


What happened to the course on lifecycle emails, you ask? Answer: it got delayed, because my video editor had his Macbook die on him. Luckily, the footage and everything is safe (thank you, Dropbox) but the actual rendering apparently is going to take a while. I’ll keep you posted.