Reflections on MicroConf

Last week I attended MicroConf, an annual conference in Las Vegas for entrepreneurs who are bootstrapping their business. In other words, a conference for entrepreneurs who are not taking venture capital funding to get off the ground. Attendees included people selling SaaS products, “info” products such as e-books and video courses, as well as “productized consulting”.

MicroConf was my first tech-related conference that was not a programming conference, and the conference helped me gain some perspective on business, programming, and the kind of “community” I want to be a part of. I’m writing some reflections on my time there to help me internalize the lessons learned as well as share them with you.

First, I loved watching people at different stages of entrepreneurship interact as peers. Some attendees have businesses making millions of dollars while others are still looking for that perfect idea, yet they are all passionate about the same fundamental goal: improving the lives of their customers through their products and services. That goal resonates deeply with me. The very creation of Laravel was rooted in the desire to improve people’s lives and to allow them to improve the lives of others. I created it for no other reason.

As an entrepreneur who is also deeply involved in the PHP open-source ecosystem, it can be easy to lose sight of this goal. Online discussion mediums are filled with debates on architecture, patterns, and The Right Way™. Some of these debates have value, but they become tiresome. More than tiresome, many developers get lost in a sea of indecision, insecurity, and burnout. Even if they do discover The Right Way™, it does not bring personal fulfillment unless it is used to create value for others.

If you are a developer who only hangs out in developer crowds: I want you to expand your world. Go to an entrepreneurship conference like MicroConf. Listen to the stories of the speakers and the attendees. Listen to the real impact they have made for themselves and their customers. The “realness” of MicroConf made all of the never-ending, insular, and often theoretical debates that plague the PHP and open-source worlds seem trivial and pointless. If you can’t attend a MicroConf, I hope you will follow more entrepreneurs and makers online. Follow people who are positive and passionate about providing value to others. I promise they will encourage you and inspire you. Soon you may be the one providing inspiration to others.

I believe attending this conference will serve as an important moment on my journey as a developer-entrepreneur: the moment where I decided to leave behind everything that distracts me from improving the lives of others through my work on Laravel and its surrounding ecosystem.