RubyApps Insights: RubyApps DevCamp

It’s fun to stay at YMCA—and RubyApps DevCamp—which is our topic for this Halloween edition of RubyApps Insights. Our guest is Jaron Rubenstein, who is getting into the holiday spirit by dressing as the Biker, aka the Leatherman, from the unmistakable disco group, The Village People. Today's conversation focuses on RubyApps DevCamp, which is happening for the second time in just a few short weeks in New York City.

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Episode transcription 

Voiceover:        It's fun to stay at the YMCA and RubyApps DevCamp. In this Halloween edition of RubyApps Insights, it'll all make sense in a second. Our guest is the esteemed Jaron Rubenstein, who is getting into the holiday spirit by dressing as the biker, aka the Leatherman, from the unmistakable and definitely not subtle, Village People. We'll be talking about RubyApps DevCamp, which is happening for the second time in just a few short weeks. So tune in, pick yourself off the ground. There's no need to be unhappy. It's another addition of RubyApps Insights.

Alexander Kotler:          Today we are delighted to invite Jaron Rubenstein, President and Founder of RubyApps and RubensteinTech back to the show. We're gonna be discussing RubyApps DevCamp but first, Jaron, Happy Halloween. You are dressed as the Leatherman. It is good to see you. I've never seen you in leather before but you are pulling it off.

Jaron Rubenstein:         Thank you. Thank you. It's great to see you as well, Alex. I'm so glad to be on the show again today and, you're right, I don't wear a whole lot of leather outside of shoes, and, that's what Halloween's all about, right? It's an opportunity to have some fun and we have a pretty intense costume contest happening here at the larger- outside of the studio here. And so, there's some good performers out there. Very exciting.

Alexander Kotler:          Stakes are high and, yeah, the spirit is with us and I'm glad that you are really getting into it. I admire you and you're very brave and sorry that this is a podcast and people can't see you, but there will be pictures at some point in time. But let's stay on task here. So we're gonna be talking about RubyApps DevCamp. A good place to start is, what is it?

Jaron Rubenstein:         What is RubyApps DevCamp? Well to start with RubyApps is our platform for managing marketing content in a single location and managing the content lifecycle, really organizing all of the different aspects of your marketing technology stack. And so RubyApps DevCamp is a user conference. It's really an opportunity to connect with other users of the platform. It's a unique opportunity for our clients and perspective RubyApps users to be immersed in the RubyApps world, to improve their own skills within the software, to learn broadly about what's happening in marketing technology, and to meet peers, to really connect with others who are experiencing similar challenges in their respective roles.

Jaron Rubenstein:         But also, you know, are immersed in using the RubyApps platform, whether it be the industry-specific versions like RubyLaw or some of our other solutions that are built on the platform. And so it's just, it's a great opportunity for everyone to come together, have one day of that, sort of, intense, thinking and training and learning and sharing that only happens in this kind of an environment.

Alexander Kotler:          And just to clarify for our users or our listeners, rather, the event and the immersion is not costume oriented, so no one has to come-

Jaron Rubenstein:         (laughs).

Alexander Kotler:          ... wearing leather or being dressed like someone from the Village People. You can come, be comfortable and just take advantage of the atmosphere that's around. And this is the second year that RubyApps DevCamp is going to be taking place. Why did you bring it back?

Jaron Rubenstein:         You know, there's a few reasons. I mean, the first is that the first year was just a great success. It's the first time we'd ever tried anything like this, you know, gather a grouping of users, of our clients, of course, but users who are using the platform, using the system and using it to manage the challenges that they work through every day within their organizations.

Jaron Rubenstein:         And so seeing how that went that first day, that first year, I should say, (laughs), but that full day of programming last year and really getting the feedback from folks who attended, that it was one of the better events they'd gone to in a while and that they got a lot out of it and that they got a lot out of it and that the different kinds of programming we had were really beneficial. It's just the feedback was just unbelievable and so I don't think we could have gotten away with not doing another one, to be honest. (laughs). I think, you know, we have at least, I think we have one, maybe two, returning attendees. And so it's, -

Alexander Kotler:          So people demanded it.

Jaron Rubenstein:         ... very exciting. They demanded it. They demanded it. But, you know, more importantly, from a higher level, I think that it's really critical to hear more from the users about what's important, about how RubyApps impacts their every day and where we should direct our future focus as we continue to evolve and grow the product.

Jaron Rubenstein:         We already know that RubyApps is an amazing solution for client needs now, but we have to think years out, and we have to think about the kinds of problems that marketers and marketing technologists are going to be looking to solve in the future. And DevCamp is an opportunity for us to hear firsthand from those users,  or a selection of those users about what's important to them, about what their challenges are and that just helps us to prioritize our plans for the future. We have a pretty extensive roadmap for the product already, but hearing that firsthand and trying to understand how we can direct the product in the future is really one of our bigger benefits, you know, kind of, a secondary benefit, if you will, that we get out of it that the users provide to us.

Jaron Rubenstein:         And finally,  I think our team has fun with it. I think our team... it's an opportunity for our team to, kind of, get creative and, for some folks on our team that don't regularly connect with users directly or with clients directly, to actually interact with them and, again, hear what's important from their perspective firsthand.

Alexander Kotler:          Yeah, that's something that resonates with me, especially as someone who has such a large hand in bringing it together. I think there's a lot of software companies that are out there that are relatively faceless and nameless. There are a lot of people that do great work behind the scenes but they don't necessarily get to have that personal interaction with the actual users, and it adds that human element that, in some cases, certainly not in all, may be lacking.

Jaron Rubenstein:         Yeah. Yeah, for sure. For sure. The depth of understanding that you gain from those kinds of experiences is really second to none. And it works both ways. It's not just for... It's for folks on our team for sure, but it's (laughs) for the users as well. The attendees get to, kind of, see the, you know, face behind the name, a face behind the email address. But also, you know, get that deeper level of understanding of why things are done this way or why this works that way or why this is easy and why this is hard, and that sort of thing.

Alexander Kotler:          So if we were gonna paint a picture of the day, what would the expectations be for the campers that are going to be attending RubyApps DevCamp?

Jaron Rubenstein:         Ah, the camper's experience. So we have given a lot of thought to how to structure the day and how to make it valuable to everyone. You know, we have folks coming at different levels of their organization that have different levels of technology ability and thinking and day-to-day responsibilities. And so we really, we want to ensure that it's valuable to everyone and that as much of the information we're sharing is valuable to everyone. And so it's really a day of learning about trending topics and marketing technology.

Jaron Rubenstein:         It includes things like organizing the marketing technology stack, a series of hands-on demonstrations, and of the RubyApps platform and really showing it in action and letting people interact with it and use it and experience some of the things that we're sharing, some of the knowledge that we hope that folks will learn and walk away with.

Jaron Rubenstein:         It's a glimpse into what's coming in our pipeline, so it's our future roadmap and some of the big features that we're gonna be rolling out in the coming year. And then, you know, an opportunity, again, to, kinda discuss the challenges that our campers are facing in their roles and both with our best thinkers in the room, but also with their peers, with some of the other folks in the sector that are experiencing those same challenges.

Jaron Rubenstein:         That was actually one of the highlights of last year's DevCamp, was the attendees talking about some of the challenges that they have not even necessarily relating directly to RubyApps and (laughs), you know, addressing some of those things that are RubyApps related and some other things that weren't. I think folks walked away with some really great solutions and takeaways. I think that's what's most important. And finally, we'll have some presentations about ancillary technology, about some other things outside of the space outside of the RubyApps world, I should say, that can help marketers to more effectively create, manage, deliver and analyze their digital content.

Alexander Kotler:          You know, you mention some of the programming that people can expect. From my perspective, when you think about the sale of software and having conversations with prospects and really getting the opportunity to understand the challenges to just listen in an authentic and realtime version, it's not something that you tend to get from any sort of prospect call, some discovery process. It's really just seeing light bulbs go off in people's ears or eyes or heads-

Jaron Rubenstein:         (laughs).

Alexander Kotler:          ... wherever the light bulbs (laughs) actually-

Jaron Rubenstein:         Heads. Heads.

Alexander Kotler:          ... go off. Mine are all out. (laughs).

Jaron Rubenstein:         Heads.

Alexander Kotler:          Yeah, and so-

Jaron Rubenstein:         Off [crosstalk] the head. Yeah, absolutely. I think that, you know, as you said earlier, it's not every day that software providers and, you know, product people can really hear from their clients firsthand, their users firsthand, what's working and maybe what's not. But it's also a lesson for, really, I mean, every business, whether you're a service business or a product business or a software business or a professional services organization where, you know, you're getting that feedback from your clients, from your users, hearing what's important to them and, you know, being on the ground, in the weeds, talking through it. I think there's just... there's value for everyone from that experience.

Alexander Kotler:          Absolutely. And it's difficult to set up. We're very fortunate that we have evangelists about our platform, and hopefully all product and service providers have that, but they're eager to come and spend this time with us. And so an event works for us in this particular situation. Perhaps for others, there are other ways to collect this information and get that authentic unvarnished feedback so that you can speed up the cycle of improvement and innovation within your respective businesses.

Jaron Rubenstein:         Yeah. Yeah, this is actually... you know, as it's grown, I mean, now that we're in year two, we have folks coming from the West Coast. We have folks coming from Arizona. We have folks... You know, I mean, there's quite a group of people that are gonna be joining us this year, and they're just really coming from all over the country. It's very exciting.

Alexander Kotler:          Have RubyApps, will travel.

Jaron Rubenstein:         (laughs).

Alexander Kotler:          (laughs) So, let's go back in time slightly to (laughs) just over a year ago before the first one. What was the actual inspiration? We've talked a little bit about some of the benefits that we've seen, those, which were predictable and those, which were unforeseen, but what was the core of the idea that then became RubyApps DevCamp?

Jaron Rubenstein:         Well, as we developed the RubyApps platform, and as we continue to evolve the product roadmap we really wanted to provide our clients, and, as you said, those are product evangelists, they're champions as well as some new user and prospects that were somewhere in the consideration phase even, to have an opportunity to come together to meet our team, to meet some of our folks firsthand, to experience our culture which involves lots of food and lots of coffee, spoiler, to provide direct feedback, and then, really, to accelerate their learning in ways that- that they- that they typically can't do on a daily basis. But also that they don't necessarily get out of the various conferences out there.

Jaron Rubenstein:         There's so many conferences around marketing tech, around, you know, specific professional services, legal marketing, and legal technology, professional services marketing, financial services, communications. There's so many events out there, but they all tend to have to focus on the least common denominator, right, or, excuse me, the most common denominator. (laughs). They have to speak to all sectors of all audiences, and because we're able to take a much tighter cross section of the market, people that we know they care about what we do because they are working with us or they're thinking about working with us. And so they have these challenges.

Jaron Rubenstein:         We have a much better understanding of what information they could use to do their jobs better. And so we are able to tailor the content in that way and have it more interactive sessions. It's not a huge conference. It's a smaller group. I think that based on that, there's just a much better quality of the experience and the event, and I know, Alex, I know you have a vision of taking over the city of Boston-

Alexander Kotler:          (laughs).

Jaron Rubenstein:         ... for a future RubyApps DevCamp.

Alexander Kotler:          Watch out Inbound. (laughs).

Jaron Rubenstein:         .... (laughs). And so I am totally on board with that one day but I think that, you know, for folks that are coming in, they still get the small-town feel. I think there's a benefit to that one. (laughs).

Alexander Kotler:          Small town New York City feel. Absolutely. Coming to a fourth-tier city near you-

Jaron Rubenstein:         (laughs).

Alexander Kotler:          ... in 2019, or whatever year. So (laughs) what are you, we look to the future which is just a matter of weeks away, and what are you most looking forward to this year?

Jaron Rubenstein:         This is gonna probably sound weird but I think I'm most looking forward to the feedback we get at the end of the event or after the event. Just knowing how effective it was last year and the experiences that people shared with us that they had I'm really excited about that. We've got triple the number of attendees from last year and that's exciting. And so there's gonna be a lot more folks, a lot more interactions, a lot more diversity of backgrounds and roles and responsibilities.

Jaron Rubenstein:         And so I'm really eager to hear how, you know, what people take away from it and what they're able to use in their day-to-day, you know, immediately following DevCamp. So that's really what I'm most excited about is to see what people are able to take away and what they get out of it and to hear about that.

Alexander Kotler:          I thought you were gonna say something, like, Mason Jagel wearing a suit.

Jaron Rubenstein:         Ah, ah. I don't think that's gonna happen, so-

Alexander Kotler:          (laughs). Apparently not. The dress code-

Jaron Rubenstein:         ... I think we gave him a buy there.

Alexander Kotler:          ... yeah. (laughs).

Jaron Rubenstein:         (laughs).

Alexander Kotler:          The dress code is business casual or just dressed like yourself, which, if you dress like yourself today, we will see you again-

Jaron Rubenstein:         Yes.

Alexander Kotler:          ... in leather chaps, so-

Jaron Rubenstein:         (laughs).

Alexander Kotler:          ... you will have a different dress code on that day, -

Jaron Rubenstein:         Yes, I intend to.

Alexander Kotler:          ... for the benefit of-

Jaron Rubenstein:         I intend to.

Alexander Kotler:          ... all.

Jaron Rubenstein:         But I may bring the chaps for, you know, I don't know, the happy hour.

Alexander Kotler:          (laughs).

Jaron Rubenstein:         (laughs).

Alexander Kotler:          So unfortunately for everyone, we're already at capacity-

Jaron Rubenstein:         (laughs).

Alexander Kotler:          ... for RubyApps DevCamp this year, but perhaps there will be another opportunity to see Jaron wearing leather. But Jaron, thank you for speaking with RubyApps Insights again today.

Jaron Rubenstein:         Hey, thank you, Alex, for having me, and looking forward to it.

Alexander Kotler:          RubyApps DevCamp is taking place at LMHQ on Thursday, November 14, and it's produced by RubyApps. This year's program is at capacity but we hope that you will consider joining us next year. Stay tuned for updates on RubyApps DevCamp as well as product announcements, new releases, launches, as well as the latest in marketing technology trends right here on RubyApps Insights.