Trip Report: SD West 2007

I am back home from last week's trip to SD West.  This might have been the best trade show trip we've ever done.  We had heavy booth traffic every day.

T-Shirts and Prizes

I normally dislike gimmicks like SWAG or prize drawings.  They tend to attract people who aren't really interested in the company or its products, causing me to wonder which is worse:

  1. Someone who asks for a T-shirt and is obviously not interested in the product.
  2. Someone who fakes an interest in the product so they can feel less guilty about asking for a T-shirt.

Nonetheless, despite my usual aversion to booth giveaways, we distributed around 800 Evil Mastermind T-shirts last week.  Wearing one of those shirts was a prerequisite for entry into the drawings for our bigger prizes, which included two Wiis, an Xbox 360, and a complete set of Calvin and Hobbes books.  The goal of this whole thing was to get people to wear our shirts around the show, and it worked.

Lesson Learned:  Get more Smalls and Mediums

After reading Kathy Sierra's blog entry about T-shirts, I wanted to be sure we had the right size shirt for everybody.  We brought every size from Small to XXXL.  Unfortunately, we didn't get the distribution of sizes quite right.  Here are the percentages we used:

S

5%

M

14%

L

27%

XL

35%

XXL

14%

XXXL

5%

This wasn't a horrible guess, and might have been just right if the event were in, say, Wisconsin.  But out there in Silicon Valley where everybody is thin and beautiful, we ran out of Small and Medium shirts toward the end of the show.  Also, we expected XL to be a little more popular than L, but we probably should have ordered equal amounts of each.

In our next order, we'll shift the distribution a bit toward the smaller sizes.

How to get an Evil Mastermind shirt

I've had quite a few people asking how they can get one of these shirts without going to SD West.

You can't "buy" these shirts with money, but the shirts are nonetheless not completely free.  The people at SD West received a shirt and paid for it by wearing it around the conference.  You can receive a shirt if you agree to provide "payment" using the following method:

  1. Take a picture of yourself wearing the shirt.  For an example of the proper pose for the photo, follow the excellent example set by Craig Andera.
  2. Post the photo on your blog, including a link back here to my blog.  Or post the photo on Flickr.
  3. Send us email with a link to your photo, granting us permission to use the picture in say, a photo mosaic;-)

Currently this is the only form of payment we can accept for an Evil Mastermind shirt.

If you want one of these shirts according to the terms above, send an email to evil-mastermind-shirt@sourcegear.com with your shipping address and preferred shirt size (yes, we've got Small and Medium available now).

While supplies last.  Offer limited to the United States and Canada.  Offer void where prohibited, taxed or restricted.  No purchase necessary.  Shown with optional equipment.  Financing requires credit approval.  Not all buyers will qualify.  Allow 4-6 weeks for delivery.

Real Booth Traffic

Without a doubt, the T-shirts and cool prizes attracted lots of people who were mostly just interested in the free stuff.  However, we still talked to more genuine prospects than any show I can remember.

  • This was not a Windows-centric conference.  We wanted to let people know that in version 4.0 Vault is becoming a cross-platform product, so we had a Mac in the booth running Eclipse with our source control plugin.  This was very well received.
  • Reaction to Fortress was very positive.  I can't wait until we get this product shipped.  For now, if you want to see our preview release, give it a try and let us know what you think.  Fair warning:  This thing is still quite unpolished.  It's not ready for production use yet.
  • In addition to Fortress, we took the opportunity to show a preview of DiffMerge 3.0.  This is a full-featured file-level diff and merge tool, available on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.  A preview release is available now.

This was my first time at SD West, and I'm really glad we went.  I always perceived this show as a great place to be for a company selling source control tools, as long as those tools are not Windows-only.  I was glad to see 7 version control vendors on the expo floor (AccuRev, Microsoft, Perforce, Seapine, SourceForge, SourceGear , and Telelogic).

The Jolt Awards

My book didn't do so well at the Jolt Awards, but the quality of my competition was exceedingly high.  The main winner in my category was

In addition to the Jolt winner, they recognize 3 more entries in each category with a "Productivity Award" (which is basically an alternate spelling for "Honorable Mention").  The Productivity Award winners were:

Finally, since there were 7 finalists in this category, there were three other books comprising the "non-winners":

I would love to have won, but I remind myself it was an honor to be among the finalists at all.  So, and with a nod toward one of my favorite quotes from the Simpsons:

In one sense, we're all winners, but in another far more accurate sense, Alistair Cockburn is the winner.  :-)