Read Common Sense’s CEO Cesar D’Onofrio’s account of last Saturday’s Product Camp Austin 6. Common Sense developed a session scheduling app which was a great success.

What’s Product Camp?

Let me start from the beginning. You may wonder what Product Camp Austin is. The best word to describe it is “unconference:” it allows attendees to vote democratically on the sessions they find intriguing. The sessions are presented by peer volunteers, entry is open to anyone interested in the idea, and it’s free.

The objectives of PCA are:

  • Teach
  • Learn
  • Network

Product Camp 6 Diary

On Saturday, the day started very early for us. Before the clock even turned 7 a.m., we left San Antonio with Juan De Abreu and began our trip to Austin. It was a rainy day, so we drove cautiously. When we arrived at 8, we had a comforting cup of coffee and people started to show up around 8.30. After registration and voting, the attendees headed to the welcome session. Tom Evans, other volunteers and I manually counted the votes and uploaded the selected sessions on the PCA schedule tool that we built (link). I really prefer voting online using the the app ;)

Before the sessions, Tom and I showed all the attendees how to use the app. The tool had all the sessions’ details (time, room, title, description, category, etc.), and the attendees could check the information on each session and add it to their schedule. This was a great improvement since the last app we created, as attendees could register the sessions that most interested them. I hope the attendees enjoyed the app and found it useful. We also got great good feedback through Twitter.

I’d like to congratulate the PCA organizers–thanks to their teamwork, we were able to create an efficient and user-friendly sessions app.

We were glad to sponsor Product Camp Austin 6 and were really happy with the outcome of the sessions app. We had a lot of fun building this new and improved version with Tom Evans, Amanda Wingard-Phillips, Leandro Gonzalez, Diego Noya and Nancy Medica. The PCA schedule app was produced after hours and between work for clients, and we put a lot of effort and hard work into it. Also, all my gratitude to Mark Suchanek who allows us to be Product Camp Austin sponsors!

It may not look like it, but we spent a good amount of time rebuilding the app using Windows Azure. With this new version, the tool is more scalable and reliable. With Windows Azure, we as developers don’t need to worry about load balance, D&R, backup, networking, servers, OS, etc. The Azure platform resolves all those problems for us and we just focus on adding value for our business users.

Regarding the sessions, I would like to congratulate Kirsten Knipp, the winner for best session with “Marketing the Agile Way: Applying Scrum Outside of Development,” and Paul Young for best presenter with “The Product Management X-Factor: How to be a Rock Star Product Manager.” You can view some event pics at our Facebook album

I enjoyed all the sessions a lot. These are some of my notes that you might find interesting:

  • What Project Managers can Learn from Drug Dealers: watch the video; by John Moore.
  • “Strive for few sales for the most money” by John Moore.
  • If you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete.
  • Small business shouldn’t offer discounts. You will never get the top tier clients and will be perceived as lower quality.
  • “Spoil your best customers so they won’t want to deal with anyone else” by John Moore.
  • The role of a product manager: finding market trends & unmet customer demands.
  • Josh Ward: “… give away your milk for free but hold onto your meat …;” by Rosemary Hook.
  • When launching a new product make sure to try it out a couple times.
  • Knowing business objectives will help to define the right features for your product (65% of product features are never used).
  • I attended the Jose A. Briones‘ session. I loved it but it exceeded my capacities.

BTW: I watched the movie American Gangster with Denzel Washington yesterday based on John Moore’s recommendation, not bad for a winter night.

All in all, this was an awesome experience, and we look forward to helping future Product Camps events!