How To Web 2022 - Conference recap

September 26, 2022

I recently attended the HowToWeb conference in Bucharest, Romania. It was my first time at the conference and in Romania, so I was extra excited to attend.

I listened to a lot of keynotes, and here’s a short recap of the most notable ones.

[Pro tip: Right click on images -> Open image in new tab to see enlarged picture]

Growth from first principles - a mental model for startup success


One of my favorite keynotes of the conference. Matt shared some really interesting nuggets around growth in general and shared a few useful frameworks. Some of my favorites:

Matt also shared this framework on how to think about your customers’ journey:

Last but not least, Matt also shared a “JTBD insights canvas for marketers”, which is available at

The business value of being product led

James Mayes, Co-Founder @ MIND THE PRODUCT

Following Matt, James talked about product-led organizations and how they approach building products. He shared some insights from his work at Mind the Product (which was acquired by

He shared this slide which talks about key elements of the product led movement - I found this interesting.

He also shared an interesting graphic containing all products that help you build better products (hope I got that right). How many logos do you recognize?

One great thing that he shared was the website where you can get Product Led Certified! Also, if you enter the discount code goproductled, you get a 100% discount for a limited time. I started my certification process that evening, and as I’m writing this I’m almost done.

Sell or die - making the first sale before building the MVP

Bogdan Apostol, CEO @ NESTOR

Then I went to listen to a keynote about selling your product before actually building the MVP (let alone the finished product). This idea piqued my interest because it goes against my previous beliefs - “how can you go and sell something that doesn’t exist? Isn’t that fraud?” were some of the thoughts I was having. But, I now believe that selling before you have is a good idea, as long as you don’t trick people into buying something that doesn’t and will not exist. 

He shared some of the templates he used on Linkedin to get people to agree to a meeting:

I also liked this slide that summarizes why this works:

The Visual Innovator

Julia Steier, Product Manager @ GOOGLE

This keynote surprised me a little. I almost missed it as I saw it on the schedule at the last minute. So I rushed to the right stage and I’m so glad I did. This keynote was held by Julia Steier who is a PM at Google. But, the keynote was about drawing. Yes, drawing.

More specifically, about how drawing can help you be more successful at work. 

She started her keynote with this slide - why most software projects fail. I think this applies to all projects, not necessarily only software ones.

She walked us through launching a new product or feature and how drawing can help you on each of those steps: 

Problem ➡️ Brainstorm ➡️ Idea ➡️ Pitch ➡️ Build team ➡️ Build MVP

She also introduced a brainstorming method called Crazy 8’s. I’ve never heard of it before, but it’s fairly simple - in a brainstorm, each team member gets 8 minutes to sketch out 8 ideas for a potential solution. This will most likely produce some pretty crazy ideas (hence the name Crazy 8’s).

At the end, with this slide, she showed us that drawing helps you be more successful by:

I have already seen the benefits of writing at my work and I will definitely try to draw more when talking about ideas or finding solutions. 

How the fastest growing companies use retention to fuel their growth

Andrew Michael, Host @ CHURN.FM

This keynote walked us through the general frameworks for thinking about retention. It showed a few formulas that were interesting to me, such as calculating your max number of customers you would get if you don’t change anything. It provided some food for thought.

Also, he shared this matrix of where you want to be in your customer’s mind - basically, you want to provide a lot of value, but also make it a little bit harder for them to switch to someone or something else.

Bye-bye buzzwords: How to explain what your startup does and why it's awesome

Eden Bidani, Conversion Copywriter @ GREEN LIGHT COPY

Another keynote I really enjoyed was Eden Bidani’s Bye Bye buzzwords. She walked us through a simple framework that helps you explain what your product is, what it does, how, for who, etc.

Here it is:

She then walked us through the process of getting all the necessary info from existing users, listing features, benefits, growth drivers, etc.

In the end, this is what the finished framework looks like:

Creating a culture of experimentation

Alexandra Lung, Chief Product Officer @ UPTIME

I started day two of the conference with the keynote from Alexandra who talked about experimentation and shared two things that I liked.

First one was this framework for creating a hypothesis for any experiment:

And then this quote from someone at Airbnb about experimentation:

Linear vs. Compound Growth Tactics: Which or When?

Miruna Dragomir, CMO @ PLANABLE

This was my favorite keynote from day two. Miruna Dragomir (CMO @ Planable) was talking about Linear and Compound growth tactics and when to use them.

She started with differentiating the two sides:

She also shared this interesting graph that shows how strategically you approach growth tactics depending on how “hungry” you are. In the beginning of your startup building, you are very hungry + you really need revenue so you don’t strategize too much - you’re just looking for results. As you get more revenue, you start to think more strategically about growth tactics.

I also really liked this Momentum Canyon concept and how it was presented:

Simply put, your non-strategic, linear growth tactics will enable you to achieve some traction, but if you don’t start working on Compound activities on time - you will fall into the Momentum Canyon. Linear activities alone can only take you so far, so you have to build Compound activities to take you across that gap from Traction to Growth. 

Towards the end, she shared something that I think is very useful - this slide shows differences in balancing linear vs compound growth tactics depending on the stage you’re in. For example, if you’re currently below $500K ARR, you’re mostly focused on linear tactics followed by One-time and Compound activities. When you get to $2M+, you’re mostly doing Compound activities followed by Linear and Big bets. Big bets and One-time activities were added for better granularity and understanding.

Let me know if you have any questions!

If you liked this blog post, check out some of my other articles:

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