My 2014 Year in Review

At the start of the year I wrote about how 2014 would be my year to focus on growth:

Most of 2013 was spent on building Octopus 2.0, and I think the product that we have is awesome. My goal for 2014 is to focus on growing the business, by spending 60-80% of my time on growth-oriented tasks, rather than writing code.

Octopus grew at an average of about 40% each quarter this year, which is a huge amount. We went from a two person company to seven, and we went from working at libraries to having our own office. We took an investment from Red Gate, but our growth started before then and was all funded by revenue. And on the personal front, I got married and had a baby this year, so it was busy in many ways!

My goal was to learn a lot about marketing and specifically advertising, assuming that these would be the engines of growth. I assumed it would mean sinking thousands into AdWords and banner ads, running A/B tests, optimizing, sponsorships and other "traditional" tech marketing (the kinds of tasks you'd hire a "marketing person" to do). I spent a lot of time on those activities, and we had experts to help on them too.

It turned out that none of those things really work. No one searches for deployment automation tools, it's still not an established market. Adopting something like Octopus is a journey that involves changing your practices, your processes, and changing minds on your team. No matter how many banner ads you see, they aren't going to convince you to embark on such a journey.

When I look over what worked this year, it's all the things we did before. We blog. And not in a sleazy, content marketing, click-bait way. We blog about what we're working on, and lessons we've learned along the way. We blog plans for the future, feature concepts, and problems we're having. We're active on Twitter. When suggestions come to our UserVoice site, we actually complete them (even if it takes a while).

And fundamentally, we have a pretty good product, which solves a problem important enough that people want to talk about it. At nearly every major conference this year, someone who doesn't work for us has presented on Octopus Deploy. Every week there are new blog posts. That's all down to the product and how we engage and communicate. All of those traditional tech marketing activities took away time that I could have spent making the product even better.

All in all, it has been a great year for Octopus. And while I may have wasted too much time on advertising and other activities that turned out to be a distraction, I'm glad I gave it a shot. The best part about this job is I'm learning and growing in so many new ways every day.

A picture of me

Welcome, my name is Paul Stovell. I live in Brisbane and work on Octopus Deploy, an automated deployment tool for .NET applications.

Prior to founding Octopus Deploy, I worked for an investment bank in London building WPF applications, and before that I worked for Readify, an Australian .NET consulting firm. I also worked on a number of open source projects and was an active user group presenter. I was a Microsoft MVP for WPF from 2006 to 2013.