The dust has settled from the IRCE in Chicago last week and it couldn't have been a better experience. Not only were there cutting edge eCommerce companies exhibiting, but there were people, real people. Don't get me wrong; I'm a co-founder of a technology company, but I'm a firm believer that technology is meant to enhance our lives. It's people that make things happen and we should spend time with them whenever possible.
In the Lab, we're big belivers in Steve Blank's book Four Steps to the Epiphany where he pretty much says get off your ass and go talk to people. Don't build your product in a vacuum. There is no better way to find out what people really need than to talk to them. It seems simple, right? Amazingly, many people still don't do it.
I also absolutely love Mark Suster's recent blog post, "To Be Successful You'll Need To Shake Hands and Kiss Babies." If you have time, I highly recommend reading it. Mark is a big believer of meeting with people face to face too. It's not always the easiest thing to travel and it's easy to jump on a Skype call, but if you can find a way to meet live, you should.
This same idea carries over to working with our partners. The problem is that many of them are far away. They're in Texas, Canada, So. Cal. and the East Coast. It's not quite as easy as meeting some of our customers that are local. Many times we have to deal with our partners virtually. That's why it was so important to get to Chicago last week. There were so many of our current and future partners there. We finally got to meet them face to face and spend time talking about what works and doesn't work. Not only that, but we talked about our families, what we do when we're not working, and even had a beer....or two. :)
While in Chicago, I had the opportunity to meet so many people that I've been corresponding with virtually, in person. I won't bore you with the extensive list, but I will reference one that stands out. Many of you know we recently integrated Stitch with ShipStation. Prior to Chicago, we had only met their team virtually and spoken with them over the phone. We already knew this team was a group of rock stars because they built a kick-ass app that everyone loves. They also worked with us every step of the way to be sure we worked out all the bugs that pop up when integrating two technically complex applications. But when I had the opportunity to meet the team live, I truly understood why they are growing so quickly. Not only is their product awesome, but the real people behind it are even better!
Jason, Byron, Curtis and Erin were all in Chicago promoting ShipStation. We were able to spend time after the conference doing some touristy things in a beautiful city. Be sure to swing by our Facebook page to see the spectacular photos of us having fun in Chicago. We chatted about the struggles we both face being a new company, the successes we're having, what we're hoping to accomplish and even talked about our families. That's right, it wasn't all work! The people behind that brilliant shipping application are people too. And they really care about making the application the best it can possibly be.
The IRCE was about building relationships with our current and future partners. There is something to be said about how a relationship can change with people once you've actually met them in person. It becomes easier to continue the relationship virtually and feel comfortable about picking up the phone. Putting faces to emails was a great way to rejuvenate and grow our partnerships while meeting even more amazing people. We can't wait for next year.