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Freemium Summit 2010 – An Event Focused on the Freemium Business Model

So, I’ve been really excited about the freemium business model of late. I’ve spent the last year or so trying to meet more entrepreneurs, funded and bootstrapped, who are interested in pioneering this model. In the process of these conversations, I’ve learned a ton and I’m now sufficiently inspired to actually pull together a small event focused on what it takes to succeed with a freemium business model. Before I pull the trigger and announce all of the details, I wanted to ping the blogosphere and see if this seems like a sane idea. The basic idea for the event would be to pull together a one day conference / gathering focused on having some leaders in the space share data on what it takes to succeed using freemium business models and hopefully some cool lessons learned. The event will likely take place in March 2010 here in San Francisco, but I still have time to back out if this seems like a horrible idea. Two questions for you all:

1. Is this an interesting topic to you? Why or why not?
2. If it is interesting, which companies would you like to hear from on stage?

Comment away!

Comments (31) on "Freemium Summit 2010 – An Event Focused on the Freemium Business Model"

  1. 1. Certainly a topic of interest to many attempting to form their own opinion on the approach as it relates to their business. Many have strong opinions in favor and against the Freemium approach and the reality is that it really depends. The event has the potential to bring to light some real life success stories and would be best to include some real life not-so-successful stories. Key to the take-away value will be offering an opportunity for both sides . . . not to mention the shear entertainment value, as the discussion could get lively (best to remain respectful though).

    2. Who would be of interest to hear from . . . . as mentioned above, success stories, not-so-successful stories from real business willing to share their details around implementing the approach . . . as well as a select few economist and other marketing / finance / pricing experts.

    3. I delivered a talk titled : Understanding Freemium – How to Create & Grow Paying Customers recenlty . . . review the slides here:

  2. Hi Charles,
    Sounds great and very relevant to what we are doing at , offering agents and real estate professionals who participate in our platform the option to upgrade. We've been running the model for 18 months+.
    I'm in.

  3. Definitely very interested in a specialized freemium event. The freemium dinner you ran was a complete success in my mind and this is a great next step.

    Some thoughts on potential companiesspeakers: Chris Anderson, YouSendIt, EverNote,

    Some potential discussion topics:
    -when to introduce freemium model. From the beginning or later on?
    -proscons of various freemium models: time-limited trial vs capacity-limited vs feature-limited
    -real revenue data from companies who have made the switch from free to freemium (a la YouSendit's great blog post:
    -what's the cost of charging customers (higher quality product required, customer service, etc).

    Looking forward to it!

  4. It would be great to see a mix of VC-backed larger companies and companies who have bootstrapped their way to success; I'd also love to see perspectives from companies who have developed multiple models (mixing B2C and B2B) to maximize revenues while still delivering offerings for free.

    Great companies to hear from would be smaller companies like Scout ( and Squarespace, as well as companies who are more on the fringes of “freemium” offerings like 37signals, GITHub, and WuFoo.

  5. Would love to see some forward thinkers in television/film/music (and not just the startup space) talk about what they're doing in freemium!

  6. It's becoming a viable model. I brought it up as a question to a panel of venture folks at Harvard Business School last night, at their event to kick off a funding contest ($25K to the winner) to Boston-area entrepreneurs.

    I had just blogged about it the day before at

    and have spent a lot of time talking to startups- both funded and bootstrapped about their ideas. I'd also add that the venture community here on the East Coast, at least in New England, seems to be favorable to the idea…with conditions.

  7. Lots of good stuff to talk about with a freemium conference. It'd be a good way to discuss the best approaches. Most merchants considering a freemium model have a lot of questions on where to draw the line with respect to value provided. Balancing value versus price is not easy as we're seeing in some of the freemium game publishers.

  8. 1. Yes. You know why.
    2. Tencent!

    I think failure stories are important so we don't all get overly-excited due to survivorship bias. I similarly dismiss comments from people who talk the talk but don't have a success or failure under their belt.
    Other than that, I think cross-industry discussions are one of the most powerful things that can happen. My best example is bioinformatics; all it took to create that entire industry and academic discipline was one computer scientist talking to one molecular biologist over lunch. The structure of the buckyball was confirmed by exactly such a discussion between a mathematician and a future Nobel team member at Rice.
    There must be places, like casinos, that freemium business wouldn't normally hear about but that could offer valuable freemium lessons for tech startups.

  9. I think this could be a great topic for a summit. It's particularly relevant to my company ( as we're launching v2.0 of our mobile web product in Q1 and are debating the perpetually-free vs. trial-free issue and what features provide the proper incentive for users to pay.

  10. Charles, great idea and very relevant to us. We'll be there. InsideView has been experimenting with the freemium model for 18+ months now. While there are lots of B2C & B2I freemium success stories, other B2B peers with both a freemium and classic enterprise sales model have been harder to come by. I'm hoping this summit will bring some more B2B freemium companies out of the woodwork so we can compare notes. And if our flavor of freemium is of interest I'd be more than happy to share InsideView's experience.

    Topics of interest, in addition to all those already mentioned above, would be…
    – how to go from a traditional enterprise sales model to freemium
    – how to identify proper segmentation & upsell points
    – tactics for viral awareness & distribution
    – how to support free users (channels, staffing, gross margin assumptions)

  11. Dear visitors,

    I’m a 24 year old Master student at the London Metropolitan University and studying International Business and Marketing.

    For your company premium members are essential and the foundation of your company. I’m writing my Master thesis about 'Freemium' and hope you want to support my research by filling in my small survey with only 9 questions.

    This survey can help me and you to have a better understanding of this group, Premium members.

    Examples of questions that I like to see being answered with the results of this survey are:

    · How important (regarding revenue) are Premium members for your industry?
    · What is the social online behaviour of Premium members regarding their
    duration of their membership?
    · Are their differences between the profile of your Free members and your
    Premium members. If so what are these differences?

    Without your help it is not possible to write my Thesis. The information you will provide will be handled very secure and your answers won’t be used or published in connection with your company’s name.

    The survey will close at the 2nd of May and I hope you are willing to help me with this research.

    Link to the survey:

    Please feel free to forward this survey to colleagues from your industry


    Joep Verbunt

    93 Charlotte Street


  12. I don't know if it is a good idea, but I will try to post a message in our local business reviews section and I will see what feedback I get and then offer feedback to you. Good luck!!

  13. Just search Google and you will understand what the freemium concept is all about. It's not hard to understand and you might be surprised how many times you have actually encountered it without even knowing what was it about.

  14. Just search Google and you will understand what the freemium concept is all about. It’s not hard to understand and you might be surprised how many times you have actually encountered it without even knowing what was it about. n_______________________________________neasy saver

  15. Hey all, is there going to be a Freemium 2011? I would love to participate this year as I have a really interesting story to share on how to launch an B2B Freemium product with an existing sales driven business.n

  16. Give your service away for free, possibly ad supported but maybe not, acquire a lot of customers very efficiently through word of mouth, referral networks, organic search marketing, etc., then offer premium priced value added services or an enhanced version of your service to your customer base

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