A Conference About Building Businesses
October 21-23, 2015 | Indianapolis, IN
Thanks to everyone who joined us for Release Notes 2015. We hope you enjoyed attending the conference as much as we enjoyed creating it. Special thanks to all of our speakers, sponsors, staff, friends, and spouses, without whom this event would not have been possible.
Photos and Videos
Relive the memories of our inaugural Release Notes Event. All photos in this gallery are courtesy of Ben Rice McCarthy, our official photographer.
All photos in this gallery © 2015 by Ben Rice McCarthy. Contact him for more information about rights and usage.
Videos of the talks for 2015 can be found here.
You need more than technical chops to succeed as an independent developer. You need business sense as well. In October 2015, many joined some of the most experienced entrepreneurs and leaders in our community as they gathered to talk about the business of iOS and Mac development.
Great talks. New connections. Ample time for discussion and shared experiences. This was Release Notes. A conference about building businesses.
An exceptional group of indie developers, journalists, entrepreneurs, and leaders from the iOS and Mac development community shared its knowledge and experience with you.
Myke Hurley is a co-founder of Relay FM and that British guy you might have heard on podcasts. He has been talking into a microphone since 2010 and lives just outside of London, England with his sticker-covered MacBook Pro. Myke quit his full-time Marketing job in October 2014 to focus on Relay FM full time, and has since gone on to enjoy the pleasures of Aeropress coffee.
Rachel Andrew is a web developer, writer, speaker and one half of edgeofmyseat.com – the company behind the CMS Perch. When not working on her own product, Rachel likes to help other people transition from consultancy and client services to profitable product businesses – without needing to seek investment or risk everything by “doing a startup”.
David Smith is an independent iOS developer based in Herndon, VA. David began developing apps for the iOS App Store as soon as it was announced in 2008. He is the developer of many apps including: Audiobooks, My Recipe Book, Check the Weather and Feed Wrangler. David also hosts a weekly podcast, Developing Perspective, focused on explaining the process of building and sustaining an independent software company.
Rob Rhyne is an American designer, developer and writer. He has built two software companies, including MartianCraft, whose clients include Apple, IBM, News Corp., CBS Sports, FOX, Whole Foods, the Democratic National Committee, and NASA. Mr. Rhyne’s teams have designed and developed hundreds of applications for clients and published numerous applications for his companies, notably Briefs in 2009 and 2013. He is a frequent guest speaker, published author, and mentor. Mr. Rhyne resides in Fairfax, VA with his wife and two children.
By day, Georgia Dow is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice and motivational speaker. By night, she’s a senior editor at iMore, where she covers Apple and related products. She’s also co-host of the Isometric, Review, and Vector podcasts, as well as a 2-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu champion.
John is a hacker, writer, and lover of all things 8-bit. His first project of note was a “Choose Your Own Adventure” quest in BASIC when he was 11. He grew up (a bit) and has since worked as an engineer and executive for Fortune 50 companies and has exited a handful of bootstrapped and VC-funded startups. He serves as partner and public relations officer at The Iron Yard and at night he works on his small indie development project called Desk.
Chris is located in Waterloo, ON and develops the SuperMegaUltraGroovy products Capo, Capo touch, and FuzzMeasure—which just recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. Needless to say, he knows a thing or two about bending and analyzing audio, as well as selling premium products to professionals.
Pieter Omvlee is the founder of Bohemian Coding, where they make Sketch, a professional digital design app that’s taking on Photoshop’s dominance in the design space. Bohemian Coding was founded in 2007 and has won two Apple Design Awards. The company has grown to 9 people and they are completely distributed with people working in the UK, Portugal, Belgium and Spain. Pieter himself lives in the Hague in the Netherlands with his wife and cat.
Daniel works as the CEO of Black Pixel, happily spending his time contributing to app design, writing code, figuring out where to take things next, and generally having the time of his life working with some of the brightest and most creative people in the industry. In his past life he was a music student at Cornish, and then a rocket scientist working on the Mars Surveyor program.
App Camp for Girls
Jean MacDonald is the founder of App Camp For Girls, a nonprofit program whose mission is to inspire girls to pursue app development as a career and to promote gender balance in the industry. She was a partner at Smile, where she managed marketing and PR for nearly a decade. She also volunteers at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls in Portland and plays guitar with her band Ruby Calling. She lives in Portland, where she aspires to be the favorite aunt of her three nephews and one niece.
Jim has been following and writing about Apple and its products for the last 17 years, first as one of the original founders of MacCentral, and now as the owner of The Loop and The Loop Magazine. Jim is a business owner, journalist, and friend to the indie community, as well as an accomplished musician.
11 Talks That Will Help You Improve Your Business
Honest, real, practical advice you can apply to your own product and consulting companies.
Co-founder of Relay FM, Myke Hurley will share some of his own personal history of how he took his side-gig full time, and what it took for him to build a successful business. As the creator of the “Behind the App” podcast series, Myke gained a unique perspective on developers in our community. In his talk, Myke will share what he learned through his “Behind the App” interviews, and explain why he thinks indie developers are helping shape the creative work of people and helping them achieve their dreams.
Even if your product is your full-time gig, you will always have far too many things to do. How do you make time for all of this stuff? How do you decide what you should spend your time on? Rachel Andrew will bring together her experience as someone who built a product as a side project and developed it until it became her full-time thing. She’ll also share some of the knowledge she has learned from other product people, as we all try and build great product businesses and also get some sleep!
For many years, David Smith struggled in building the business he wanted. It wasn’t until he could answer two key questions that he reached a turning point. Those questions? 1) What is my super-power? and 2) What is the one thing I desire most for my business? After finding those answers, David began to make real progress in building the business of his dreams. In his talk, David will walk through his own experience of finding his answers to these questions, explain how this line of thinking transformed him and his business, and challenge the audience to consider their goals and find their own superpower.
Every business is different. Accepted wisdom and anecdotal evidence may get you out of the starting blocks, but it can only take an indie business so far. To succeed in the long-term, you have to find out what works and what is right for your business. Martian Craft’s Rob Rhyne will demonstrate how to “science” your business by adjusting your business strategy according to sampled data. You’ll learn to collect and study the measurable data that will actually help you improve your chances of success. He’ll also offer tips on accounting and money management, the pros and cons of consulting vs. product work, and offer advice on diversification and scale.
Psychotherapist Georgia Dow will explore the psychology of making your customers happy. Every app leaves its user with a feeling. How can you craft your user experience of your product to help ensure that feeling is a positive one? Georgia will offer concrete tips on doing exactly that, and will explore ideas for building a happy community of customers around your apps.
Most indie developers know they can’t spend 100% of their time on development, tempting as that may sound. John Saddington will demonstrate his 50/50 rule, an approach that combines 50% engineering and product development with 50% marketing and traction-building to help ensure your product finds an audience once all the engineering work is finished.
With highly successful products like Capo and FuzzMeasure, Chris Liscio has built his business by targeting a small, specialized niche of prosumer customers and charging them a fair price. Chris will focus his talk on taking the long view of building a business by slowly and steadily growing a customer base rather than by chasing the latest trends on the App Store. Learn how Chris’s business has thrived by taking advantage of the breadth and ubiquity of the App Store, while targeting a vertical niche market.
Most small app development companies like to wear the “indie” badge with pride, shouting from the rooftops their independence and scrappy resourcefulness. But customers of professional products often don’t care whether or not you are indie; many of them would actually prefer to buy products from established companies. Pieter Omvlee will talk about how to punch above your weight class, to create a sense that you are a bigger and more established company in order to gain the trust and respect you need from premium customers. If you want to be taken seriously as a professional, your company needs to behave in a professional manner.
Shipping products that crash and misbehave is a sure-fire way to customer service hell and ultimately failure. But how do you build a proper quality assurance (QA) process with an indie’s limited budget and time? Daniel Pasco will make an argument for why QA is essential to small indie developers and offer some advice on how to improve your QA processes. We always ship with bugs; the trick is to make informed decisions about which bugs stay and which ones need immediate fixing. Daniel’s advice will help you implement a manageable QA process that helps expose bugs early, so you can make informed decisions about your own software.
In her position at Smile Software, Jean MacDonald was often tasked with finding new and creative ways for the company to market its products. One of the more effective tools she found was podcast advertising, which led to Smile being one of the early supporters of the medium. Jean will explore the ways in which podcast ads can be more effective than other forms of advertising on the web, and show you how to stretch your budget to get the most coverage for your advertising dollar. She’ll also offer some observations on how to evaluate your marketing efforts and how small companies with small budgets can most effectively spend their limited resources on an advertising and marketing effort.
You can’t do everything yourself if you want to build a long-term business that grows. Sooner or later, you have to find talented people you trust and delegate some tasks so that you can spend your time where it’s most needed. Jim Dalrymple has tons of experience with this, as someone who hires writers, designers, animators, developers, editors, and producers for his website,The Loop, his e-magazine, Loop Magazine, and his many popular podcasts. Jim will offer advice on finding great talent and trusting them with the many tasks you shouldn’t be trying to do all on your own.
|Registration, followed by Welcome and Keynote||October 21, 6:00pm EDT|
|Closing, after Final Session and Remarks||October 23, 4:00pm EDT|
Registration will begin on Wednesday, October 21 at 6:00pm. Our opening address and keynote will take place at 7:30 that evening. Closing will be after the last session ends on Friday, October 23, at 4:00pm.
Throughout the conference, you will hear several talks from our carefully selected expert speakers. Between these talks, plenty of time has been set aside for you to discuss with the other guests what you just heard and to approach the speakers with questions. There will also be opportunities throughout the conference for guests to mingle with speakers and learn about their work.
Of course, networking with peers is another great reason to attend Release Notes. The conference will be attended by guests from all over the world, with a vast collection of experiences and expertise represented. Release Notes has been designed to create plenty of opportunities to meet other guests and learn from their successes.
The Dine Around
One special opportunity to network will be during our Thursday evening dine around. After a full day of sessions, we will be splitting up into small groups and dining at various restaurants around Indianapolis.
This will give you an opportunity to socialize in a much smaller group setting. While being with everyone at once is wonderful, sometimes the deepest connections are formed over a shared meal around a single table.
The dine around will also be a great opportunity for our guests to see a bit of the downtown area and sample its cuisine. Once the meal is over, we will gather again at another local establishment as a complete group. It’s an evening of fun and local flavor you won’t find anywhere else.
Release Notes will be held in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. The Crowne Plaza is located in the heart of downtown, and is literally steps from the best that Indianapolis has to offer. Shopping, restaurants, bars, and pubs are all just minutes from the hotel. It's a beautiful city to visit in autumn.
The structure that now holds the Crowne Plaza Hotel was once the train shed of Indianapolis' Union Station, with thousands of people and tons of freight moving under its roof. When the Crowne Plaza Hotel took up residence in the building, its designers embraced the historic charm of the original structure, going so far as to park several train cars on the tracks of the second floor, where the trains were originally boarded. After closing in the exterior walls, the train cars were converted into modern and comfortable guest rooms that, even today, charm the young and old alike.
The head house of Union Station will host the conference itself, with its historic charm serving as the backdrop to all of our conference proceedings. Built originally in 1853, and then rebuilt in 1886, the Romanesque architecture of the head house originally served as a waiting area and office for all of Union Station. Today, this structure serves as the Crowne Plaza Hotel's Grand Ballroom, with its massive arches and enormous rose windows lending an air of elegance to every event it hosts. Without a doubt, Union Station is the crown jewel of Indianapolis architecture, and we are pleased to offer it to you and our guests as our conference venue.
Crowne Plaza Indianapolis Downtown—Union Station
123 West Louisiana Street
Indianapolis, IN 46225
The nearest airport to the conference hotel, the Crowne Plaza Indianapolis Downtown—Union Station, is Indianapolis International Airport (airport code: IND), which is a 20-minute drive from downtown. Indianapolis International Airport is served by many major airlines including Air Canada, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, U.S. Airways, and more.
Those who arrive at Indianapolis International Airport have several options for ground transportation to downtown. For the budget-minded, GO Express Travel offers shuttle service to many downtown hotels, including the Crowne Plaza, for a flat $10 fare. Those staying at the Crowne Plaza should get off the shuttle at stop 4. For guests who would prefer more direct transportation, both taxis (~$40 fare) and Uber (~$50 fare) are available.
For those who would like to travel by train, Indianapolis has an Amtrak station which is conveniently located in the same building as our conference hotel, the Crowne Plaza. The Indianapolis Amtrak station is served by both the Cardinal and Hoosier State lines.
The Cardinal operates three days a week, and originates at New York City’s Penn Station with stops in Baltimore, MD; Philadelphia, PA; Washington D.C.; Charlottesville, VA; Cincinnati, OH; and other stops along the way. On this route, passengers will be able to enjoy views of the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains, the Shenandoah Valley, and the white-water rivers of West Virginia, all from the comfort of their reserved coach seat or sleeper car.
The Hoosier State runs daily between Chicago and Indianapolis, with reserved coach seating available.
As the “Crossroads of America,” Indianapolis is easy to reach by car. The Crowne Plaza is conveniently located in downtown Indianapolis, just north of Interstate 70. Those approaching downtown from the East on I–70 should take Exit 79A onto Missouri Street. Those approaching downtown from the West on I–70 should take Exit 79B onto Illinois Street.
Coming to Release Notes from overseas? We have some additional information for you here.
Our block of rooms at the Crowne Plaza is nearly sold out! A few rooms remain on some nights at special rates starting as low as $159 USD per night. That’s one of the lowest rates in the surrounding area. Enjoy the convenience of staying in the same building as the conference proceedings.*
To get our special conference rate, call the Crowne Plaza’s local number at +1-317-631-2221 Monday through Saturday between 9 AM and 6 PM Eastern Time. (At all other times you will be forwarded to the corporate office, which will not be able to grant you our special rate.) Use the block name “Release Notes” when you make your reservation.
If you need to explore other nearby options, we suggest you try the following:
Omni Severin Hotel
40 W. Jackson Place
Indianapolis, IN 46225
Hampton Inn Indianapolis Downtown
105 S. Meridian Street
Indianapolis, IN 46225
*Limited quantities of special rate rooms available. Taxes and other fees may apply.
Book your room early.
As hosts, we take great pride in offering our guests the utmost in hospitality. We want everyone attending our event to feel welcome, safe, and included. All conference events will offer a variety of beverages, including non-alcoholic options. All conference events will be open to attendees under 21 years of age. All conference events will be accessible to those with special needs. We’ve taken care to make sure that our venues welcome all, just as Indy Welcomes All.
We want all our guests to feel welcome and at home, no matter their age, gender, ability, or who they love. In order to encourage that feeling, everyone participating in the conference will be bound by the Release Notes Code of Conduct. Providing a safe, comfortable, and hospitable environment for everyone is our top priority.
If you have any questions or concerns about our commitment to hosting an inclusive conference, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will be happy to discuss them with you.
The Release Notes Code of Conduct
Release Notes is committed to providing a great experience for all our guests. With that in mind, guests are expected treat each other with respect. Harassment will not be tolerated.
Harassment includes (but is not limited to) offensive verbal comments, sexual images in public spaces, deliberate intimidation, stalking, following, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention. Participants asked to stop any harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately.
If a participant engages in harassing behavior, conference organizers may take any action they deem appropriate, including warning the offender or expelling the offender from the conference without a refund. If you are being harassed, notice that someone else is being harassed, or have any other concerns, please contact a member of the conference staff immediately.
Conference staff will be happy to help participants contact hotel and venue security or local law enforcement, provide escort, or otherwise assist those experiencing harassment for the duration of the conference. We value everyone’s attendance and want all our guests to feel welcome and safe.
App Camp for Girls
Indie developers need to work together to thrive in the maturing Apple ecosystem. It’s in our best interest to support the community and its efforts to provide a bright future for everyone who wants to participate.
That’s why Release Notes has named App Camp for Girls as its official Non-profit organization partner for 2015.
App Camp For Girls is a place where girls can put their creative powers to work, designing and building apps, while learning more about the business of software and being inspired by women mentors in the field.
We want to help the future of our indie community by lending our support to the efforts of speaker Jean MacDonald and her incredible organization.
During our conference, we will be accepting donations for App Camp for Girls. Guests will be able to donate at the conference, and a link will be available to accept online donations from those who cannot join us in person.
For every dollar we collect via the Release Notes campaign, Charles and Joe will match that donation, up to $1,000. Help us raise some money and make a difference in the lives of young girls who are interested in technology. Your investment in App Camp for Girls is an investment in the future of our community.
Learn more about App Camp for Girls and the incredible work they do at appcamp4girls.com
Indianapolis is a great city to visit even for those not attending a conference. If you decide to bring your family, we think that they will find there’s plenty to keep them occupied during the day while you enjoy the conference sessions. You may also want to consider extending your stay. An extra weekend in Indianapolis opens the door to some great day trip options that you won’t want to miss.
We have created a convenient guide to visiting Indianapolis, featuring places to see and things to do for people of all interests.
Tickets are now available. Seating is limited. Get your ticket today.
|Early Bird: purchased before July 01, 2015||$649|
|Regular Price: purchased on or after July 01, 2015||$799|
A limited number of companion tickets will also be available at a special price of $99 for spouses, friends, and significant others who would like to attend the keynote and participate in social events surrounding the conference.
A very limited number of $350 tickets are available for qualified students. More details on how to apply for a student ticket can be found here.
Our conference would not be possible without generous help from our sponsors. They are true supporters of the indie dev community.
Our Student Sponsors
If your company wishes to sponsor Release Notes, get in touch. We would be happy to talk to you.
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