Saleae @ Maker Faire 2012

Wow, it’s been a busy couple of weeks, culminating in an amazing weekend introducing Logic and Logic16 to people at Maker Faire. ~300 people entered our raffle for one of 5 free Logics, and we’ll be picking and notifying the winners today. Mark demoed some pretty neat software functionally he’s been working on, and while our robots didn’t behave quite like we wanted, they did fulfill their role of providing a concrete example of what our product is used for. All that said, we’ve got tons of ideas about what we can do much better next time.

First Trade Show

This was our first real presence at a trade show (in a lot of ways Maker Faire is a trade show). Given the time and resources we put on it, it went extremely well. I don’t have a very accurate number but it must have been on the order of $7-$8K, not including salary or opportunity cost (the last point going without saying).

Why Maker Faire

We decided to do Maker Faire because it’s a fairly low maintenance show, nearby, and expectations for a booth — certainly esthetically — are fairly low. Even so I think our booth conveyed the brand fairly well, although far from fantastically – not a bad first booth in any event.

ESC

When we eventually do ESC and shows like that I want a hands down incredible brand experience. But that has a lot of difficult and expensive and time consuming prerequisites. And if you’re going to do something, do it well, or don’t do it at all. Of course, I can think of lots of things we aren’t currently doing particularly well, so… But you get the idea.

Takeaways from the weekend

It was a bit of a transformative weekend for me personally, to be honest. Lots of insights I didn’t have before. Here’s a few less-than-profound ones:
1. Our (future) sales force / outreach team does not need, generally speaking, to be engineers. Even people who are hardware engineers all ask more or less very predictable questions. I was amazed and thrilled as Allison (our awesome new office manager) picked up the responses to most questions and rarely needed to refer anyone to Mark or myself.
2. Most potential customers who came up had not heard of this. Anecdotally at least, we’re not running out of new customers. Excellent. It’s always a naive worry of entrepreneurs (or at least me) that everyone who would ever want your product already has it.
3. People really like raffles. This is a bit unintuitive to me, but hey, that’s great. I have a lot of ideas around this.
4. I have a completely new view on one of the directions we should focus for our next gen product line. I’m afraid it’s not something I can really talk about here since it is very strategic, but I’m very, very excited about it. Come to the open house and I’ll tell you all about it if you’re interested.

Thoughts about the next show

  1. Right now I think we’ll try and do the ESC Silicon Valley show in ~April next year. We’ll want to do this extremely well, so that will take some serious prep and more than a bit of cash, but I think it will work well with the other things we want to be doing around that point next year.
    1. We need to look into more shows that we might do next year. (No more this year I think. We need the new product lineup first.) CES I think actually could be good for what I have in mind. The bigger and more mainstream (that we can get away with) probably the better. Embedded shows are great but I think the potential market could be bigger than this. (Not for Logic16 so much, but maybe for some other stuff)
    2. I like our booth in several ways, and I think we can build on the theme really well. One thing that was an issue is that our signage was too small, and we did not “block out” the booth next door, so their signage was kind of associated with our booth. I’m really excited about the theme (perhaps motif is a good way to put it) I have in mind and how we can work that in with the brand. Going to be doing some major overhaul of the brand shortly, btw.
    3. I think the corner booth we had was totally worth the 10% extra we paid. I think that two end booths back to back would actually be the ultimate. Maybe we’ll do that next time, and I have at least a vague idea of how we could lay that out. I want people to be engaged without needing to enter to booth, as well as have some sort of reason to then enter the booth as they figure out that it’s something really interesting. It should probably literally be planned in one of those N-step psychology book type ways – attention, then interest, then… worth at least looking into. Made to Stick is a pretty darn good book, btw.
    4. There are three basic designs for a booth: 1) Mom and pop. These folks put their stuff on the provided table with the cheesy table dressing and that’s that. Good for them, but obviously that’s a bunch of crap. 2) Folks who spend 10K + getting a flashy hip booth with lots of trendy signage and predictable booth accessories. This may make you look legit, but it also makes you look like everyone else, and most importantly — is lame. 3) Folks who have a totally unique and memorable booth that’s totally not canned and conveys their brand in a really effective way. Maybe you’re selling surf boards and you have a a tiki hut with real sand and a kiddy pool and margaritas, or whatever, but it’s dramatically different, and fresh, and shines out from the mediocrity. In a word, it’s exceptional. That’s what we’re going to have. I like the tiki hut idea but we won’t be doing that sorry to say :) I really would like to…
    5. What we did for this show is use stuff we had from the office. So rather than buy a bunch of junk that only gets pulled out for a show, we can invest in having really nice on-brand stuff at the office that we can steal for the occasional show. Obviously this doesn’t work for a show outside the US/Canada, and isn’t scalable, but it’ll work for now.

Just some thoughts, and all of it could be argued, but there you go.

Hawaiian company vacation

Lastly, trade shows – this one included – are pretty nice bonding events for a company and for companies in the same industry, but with a business purpose. Although we really need to do a Disneyland day (why not!) as well as a more extensive Hawaiian company vacation/retreat type thing.

Setting up the booth:

Our humble booth:

Both traffic varied, but at least half the time it was totally packed.

Joe (left), Mark (right), and Allison (center).