[svlug] Linux World? Open Source World? no more?

Luke S Crawford lsc at prgmr.com
Sat Jul 10 18:22:37 PDT 2010

Don Marti <dmarti at zgp.org> writes:

> For a big events company to just drop an exhibitor
> out there on the show floor to fail is like a
> software company selling "shelfware" -- probably more
> profitable in the short term, but not a recipe for
> repeat business.  Anyway, there are so many startups
> in the Linux/free software business, and so many
> people new to working a booth, that an event could do
> really well if part of its business model was helping
> its customers build an effective trade show program.

It depends on the company, and how 'hands on'  they are,
and how much cash they have.  

Personally, I'd rather spend the time figuring it out myself
for less money. I mean, if my budget was large enough or if
the prices were low enough that the financial stuff wasn't huge,
I'd probably go to this sort of thing fairly regularly.  
It's a lot of fun, and even without a booth usually the contacts
are worth quite a lot. (I can only imagine you will make more useful
contacts with a booth.)  

I almost bought a booth at the last oreilly oscon when it was
down by my place last year.   they wanted five grand, I think,
for a booth.  which is a lot of money.  I mean, for that, I can
build a opteron server with 16 cores and 64GiB ram.

Now, when i advertise,  I mostly focus on awareness and credibility.  
(really, I think awareness goes to credibility.)  so personally,
I'd be happy if I just hung out and met a lot of people (who might,
in turn talk about my company to other people)  - I don't necessarily
need to clear five grand in sales while I'm there. 

Now, around that time there were some reddit articles, and my book
shipped shortly afterwards, so it turns out I haven't needed to 
spend serious money on advertising ever since.  

But still, if you had half-size or quarter-sized booths, proportionally
priced,  in a 'bootstrapper's ally' or something I just might show up.  

(and I say I don't have to advertise anymore...  but I personally 
f*cked up more times, and have had more downtime in the last month
than I have in the last year.   I haven't seen mass cancellations yet,
but when I put up my next server I wonder if filling it will be harder
than it was in the past.) 

But, my point is that while yeah, there is a lot of money to be made
helping people who have lots of money make more, there is also a 
lot of money to be made selling inexpensive tools to people who don't
have a lot of money who want to make more, and a $2500 half booth,
or a $1250 quarter-booth would be just such a tool.

hell even as an attendee, I'd like to see the the businesses who 
show up and pay those small fees... I mean, those people are my
potential customers.  

Luke S. Crawford
http://prgmr.com/xen/         -   Hosting for the technically adept
http://nostarch.com/xen.htm   -   We don't assume you are stupid.  

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