Conference hiatus is over

Back in the day when Niteo was still a consulting company I had to do a lot of traveling to find and do work. And to attend conferences. I loved to go to conferences. But being away so much, in boring hotel rooms and eating out every day took a toll on my (mental) health so I decided I needed a break.

The hiatus is now over! I’ve been to three conferences this autumn and I gladly found out they are as enjoyable as I remember them. I’ve been to Open Data Science Conference in London, the annual Plone Conference in Barcelona and finally MicroConf EU in Lisbon. They are vastly different conferences: ODSC is huge and very corporate and academical, MicroConf is tiny, lifestyle-oriented and friendly. And then there is PloneConf: consistently the best fun you can have at a conference. 🙂

Here are a few random thoughts:

  • The data science community is very much where the Python community was a decade ago in terms of Open Sourcing their work. The questions “But how do you make money?” and “How did you convince your boss?” came up a lot during the conference. Maybe I need to do a talk to address these next year. We’ve been open sourcing our code for a decade now and recently also published our internal policies and work processes for others to learn from.
  • Conferences absolutely *suck* if you don’t do a talk. As soon as you are a speaker, at least 50 people will have a feeling they know you (since they were listening to you talk for 30 minutes or more) and they will approach you in the hallway, on social events. You are invited to VIP events where the crowd is smaller and the newly formed relationships are stronger (because you interact with a smaller group of people more often). If you haven’t, you gotta try it. You’ll see how much it improves your conference experience. You’ll have a better time, you’ll meet more people and you will learn a ton more.
  • If I’m ever organizing a conference, and we’re doing a social event in the evening, people need to get free drinks. It sucks that we as a community need alcohol to open up, but sadly, we do. Not everyone, but it helps. And conferences are about meeting your peers. You learn the most when discussing problems with people, not when listening to talks. The “hallway track” is the thing that makes conferences great. And that two beers on the social event help jumpstart the conversations. Obviously, make sure you have great non-alcoholic options, you cannot go wrong with lemonade or even freshly pressed juice.
  • Plone is still very much alive and has a vibrant community. A great example of an Open Source project that was able to survive handover from original authors to contibutors that joined years later.
  • Lightning talks are one honking great idea — let’s do more of those!
  • There’s a whole community of self-funded, bootstrapped entrepreneurs out there. So bummed I did not realize this earlier, it’s such a welcoming bunch of people. MicroConf is definitely going on my yearly conference schedule.
  • off-topic: Until recently I couldn’t care less about NFC-powered credit cards. Then London happened. Wow is it convenient to have NFC readers on subways, buses, pubs, everywhere! Any other city you need to consult the map to know which zones are you crossing, what ticket you need to buy, etc. In London you tap your credit card when you get on and off whatever public transport you use, and the system automatically charges you an appropriate amount. Completely hassle-free. Why isn’t every city like this?!

2018 is shaping up to be great! EuroPython in Edinburgh, PloneConf going to Tokio (!!) this year and possibly another MicroConf in the beautiful and surf friendly Lisbon. See you at one of them!

SaaStock, September 2017, Dublin

This was one of my first conferences outside the Internet Marketing industry and I mostly went to it to expand my horizons and see what successful SaaS companies are doing.

Coming from a bootstrapped and ROI-focused background, what struck me as strange was the definition of success (or at least a path to success) for these SaaS companies. A lot of the speakers came from companies that made $10M+ ARR which sounds quite impressive, however, soon after you learn how many employees they have and, for me one of the most important metrics, how much revenue per employee they make. My friends and I calculated the numbers for a few of the more advertised companies and they shocked us. One company, and mind you these are companies based and operated in the west, not outsourcing 90% of their business to low-cost countries, had a total of 50,000 EUR revenue per employee.

That number is closer to old labor-intensive industries and not what you’d expect from a SaaS company. There is absolutely no chance they can make any serious profit on those numbers.

The only explanation for that is that since these companies are also mostly VC-backed, the whole philosophy is “go big or go home”. Investing literally everything into people to grow the business as much as possible, as fast as possible. Very far from where I come from where one of the metrics we follow is revenue per employee (keep it above 100k/year) and even actual profit at the end of the year.

Day 1

On the first day, there were workshops all over the city. We listened to talks from people from Bynder, Typeform, and Drift.

By far the best talk was done by Guillaume Cabane, VP of Growth at Drift, though most of the examples came from his work at He showed how far you can go with personalization on landing pages.

If you start your signup process with email, you can use third-party services to try to predict the industry of the company. That means that in the next step you can personalize it with customized testimonials, call to actions and features. You can go further than that – when you ask the person signing up for the position, note that and send personalized onboarding emails. Don’t send technical docs to a marketer and don’t send marketing features to a developer.

For big companies, they go even further and if they find a large company’s IP that is on their target market list, they customize the whole landing page. Think being from SalesForce and landing on a page which says “This is how SalesForce can be more efficient”. Amazing (and a bit creepy).

Services mentioned: ClearBit, MadKudu, Datanyze, Apptopia, Bombora, PredictLeads, Sendoso, Postmates.

This talk was nothing less than mind-blowing and worth the ticket fee for the whole conference.

Day 2

Unfortunately, I haven’t noted the speakers here. These are from different talks on day two.

Unicorn Growth Secrets

  • Customer-centric, customer success
  • NPS and CSAT, top three reasons why recommended, why not recommended
  • Don’t just get the sale, get the recommendation from that customer
  • Free trial, put the paywall after they get the value
  • Brands with personality
  • Customer stories on your website

People power

  • Detailed onboarding with daily objectives, meeting other team members, who they need to talk to for specific issues
  • “Exam” at the end of the onboarding
  • Buddy from a different department
  • Learn what people actually think about the company
  • Transparency

Scaling SMB SaaS

  • 30M small businesses in US with 10 employees
  • Young entrepreneurs replacing older gen, meaning more interest in SaaS solutions
  • Fragmented market, lots of niches
  • Focus on customer support
  • Segment – start with one niche; Freshbooks looks at only 5!
  • Make money/grow business always wins vs save time
  • Aim for 65 NPS

Managing remote teams

  • Over-communicate
  • Respect timezones
  • Brief your teams about local market value

Day 3


  • Really impressive start and growth –  €10M ARR in 2 years, 6 months to €1M ARR.
  • Acceleration – position as one in all, share as soon as possible, viral waiting list, feedback with beta users
  • Low friction – not selling to execs but to the teams that sell internally to their execs, simple signup, pricing, simple interface, product roadmap
  • Efficiency – paid ads because they were good at it, sponsored email with tested messaging from FB, content only later, CAC recovery below 9 months
  • Traction – Not using Hotjar?, links, referral program with prizes, great product
  • Experience – users are Gods, support are Heros, track experience when scaling to see if you’re staying on point


  • €5M ARR in 24 months
  • Cold mailing, predictable, PPC is 12x CAC
  • Personalized email for the whole segment, instead of per person, CTA is a phone meeting

Price Intelligently / Profit Well

  • You’re building trash features
  • Regularly talk to customers, do interviews and surveys to make sure you’re building what users really want
  • Delinquent churn (cc fails) is about 20-30%
  • <4 attempts at getting the user to enter new billing data, should be able to do it without login
  • One question before cancelling, answer&cancel
  • Churn should be 1-2%

I’ll see you on SaaStock 2018. 🙂


Upgrading our Intranet to Plone 5

While we haven’t done any Plone consulting (well, *any* consulting to be exact) in over 3 years, we still use Plone internally, every single day. It was about time our Intranet got some love, so I put on my disco pants, poured some of Belgium’s finest and got to work.

Our installation was an old Plone 4.1 one. It was about 3 years since we last touched it (apart from applying security hotfixes, obviously). The first task was to clean up and update our buildout environment. Mostly throwing things away. I like my Plone vanilla flavored. What followed was making sure our tests still pass and enabling Travis CI for the project.

Then came the upgrade to a new major version of Plone. The Plone 5. And let me tell you how the upgrade went:

  1. Bump version to 5.0.6, make sure buildout uses version pins that come with Plone 5.0.6.
  2. Run buildout & restart server.
  3. Click a big honking “Upgrade” button.
  4. Crack open another beer.

I mean seriously, people! Why can’t all software have such smooth upgrade paths!? Plonistas, you have my utmost respect.

Back in the Plone 4.1 days we still had Archetypes, an ancient framework for defining types of content, but Plone 5 is all about Dexterity, so I migrated that too. With a click of a button. Zero hassle once again.

What followed was some throwing content around, updating workflows and permissions to match our company structure and that was mostly it. Oh yeah and I released a Plone 5 remake of our old “niteoweb.loginas” add-on, now promptly named “collective.impersonate“.

If felt good to do some Plone after such a long time. I was surprised how polished the version 5 is. The docs are miles better than what I remember, the UI is fantastic and the thing is now really snappy.

That said, there’s a few more things I would like to get done:

  • increase portal max width to ~1200px
  • fix a styling bug in State tab in toolbar
  • red font color for private items in Navigation and Sidebar
  • and a few more minor tweaks here and there

Are you a Plone freelancer who can take care of these for us? Shoot us an email to jobs at! Bonus karma points for getting your fixes merged upstream.

Our fancy intranet!

Thailand was a blast!

It’s January — time for the “IRL”, our biannual in-person get-together. Summer IRLs happen in (around) Slovenia since that means short travel for the majority of the team plus it’s hard to find a more beautiful place in those early summer months.

That said, come winter, Europe gets, well, uncomfortably cold.  And most of us want to escape somewhere warm. This year we’ve chosen Thailand! Why Thailand? Good climate (read: flip-flops) in January and it’s about half-way between Europe and the Philippines making travel times relatively equal for everyone.

After the initial clusterf*ck of almost getting scammed into booking a non-existing venue, we got lucky in the end and got an absolutely perfect place for our event: two houses with rooms, with a covered patio in between and a pool. The covered patio meant we could be outside for the majority of our sessions. And the 15 minute breaks in-between meant we got to use the pool a lot. To top it off, billiards in the evenings!


We are a remote company and IRLs such as this one give us an opportunity to finally meet some of our coworkers in person. Due to EU visa requirements some of us finally, after years of working together, got to meet the people behind the Slack handles in real life. It’s so good to paint a face over all those interactions we had.

The week ended in a flash, we came up with great ideas for the future and set ambitious goals for 2017. Next stop: Ljubljana in July 2017!


How we work in NiteoWeb

Update: see the latest version of this document on our Handbook.

NiteoWeb is a distributed team of Web experts spread around the World. While we do rent office space in Ljubljana, Slovenia, most of us work remotely. Here’s a quick overview of how we go by our days.


Instant messaging is done through Slack on different channels (operations, support, development etc.). We have daily standups at 9AM UTC on Google Hangouts when everyone has a minute or two to say what they’re working on and if they need any help. Once a week, Dejan has “catch ups” (better known as 1-on-1) with everyone on the team to keep himself in the loop.

About once or twice a year we fly the whole team somewhere nice and we’ll have an “IRL” (in-real-life) meetup. Here we discuss company status, projects and the future in a group setting.

Then there are ad-hoc in-person meetups that happen about once or twice a month, as needed.
Some of us might get together to watch a talk at a local conference or we go to lunch together to discuss project work.

Project and Company Management

Project and task management is currently done with either (being slowly discontinued) or GitHub. Support handles tickets through GrooveHQ. We also have an internal document system (intranet) we call “intra”, running on Plone, where all our company processes and documents are stored.

We track cash flow with Xero. Finance reports are published to intranet on a monthly basis and are viewable to all full-time team members.

Monthly company newsletter covers the main events of the month and is a great reference point for digging deeper into parts of the company one does not know that well.


NiteoWeb runs several SaaS projects, serving a few thousand customers. We use several techniques, libraries and services that allow us to make several deploys to production every day. That does not mean that we do not test code before shipping it. Rather, we have a workflow that runs a variety of checks and automatic tests and makes it very fast and easy to test new features in staging environments.

And even if we do push buggy code to production, we only push it to a fraction of users to minimize impact. The outcomes are great: happy users, since they get features and fixes fast. And maybe even more importantly, happy developers, since the code is actually being used minutes after being merged rather than being stuck in a bureaucratic production deployment workflow. Nejc has given numerous talks on the subject.

Setting Goals and Deciding What To Work On

We subscribe to the 12-Week Year philosophy for planning and goals. Every beginning of the quarter we review what we’ve done and if we hit all goals. Then we plan for the next 12 weeks (everything is of course viewable on our intranet). The time interval is just short enough for actual week-to-week plans while also being long enough to get things done.

We’re constantly updating and improving our work processes and will be updating this post as it happens.

If you like how we work and would like to join us, see our Careers page.