Home » Uncategorized » TechSmith Field Trip

TechSmith Field Trip

When I started White Light Computing two years ago I wrote down several things I knew I needed to do to make the company successful. Competitive advantages and things I have learned from mistakes in the past. One of those competitive advantages is taking regular company field trips. A company field trip is all about learning something to make me a better business person. It can be networking, it can be educational, or it can be technical. Most of the time it has nothing to do with technical growth. A couple of weeks ago I mixed it up a bit (both technical, business, and networking) and took a trip to visit the fine folks at TechSmith in Okemos, Michigan.

In case you are not familiar with TechSmith, they are a software company here in Michigan and the creators of SnagIt (leading screen capturing program), Camtasia (leading screencasting program), and Morae (usability testing). I use both SnagIt and Camtasia on a regular basis. They are best of class tools and I can say “must haves” in my professional toolkit.

SnagIt is something I have become dependent upon to author specifications, documentation, articles, session whitepapers, Help files, and has been a part of all four books I have written. There are plenty of competitors in the screen capturing utilities category, and I have tried a bunch of them. SnagIt beats them all hands down. I use Camtasia to record training material, screencasts for marketing the WLC line of developer tools, and to show customers prototypes of features I am working on. Recently my clients have started using Camtasia to show me reproducible steps for bugs and even ehancements. I have only been using Camtasia for a little more than a year, and I quickly found it to be one of those products I wonder how I lived without.

Betsy Weber is the Chief Evangelist at TechSmith and writes the TechSmith Blog. Back in October she placed an open invitation for a VIP tour at the company’s world headquarters. I am not a VIP by any stretch of the imagination, but I was in the Lansing area to speak with the Mid-Michigan Fox User and Developer group so I sent Betsy an email to see if she was serious.

The tour was great. I was introduced to the program managers, product managers, developers, tech support people, the president, and the guy who ships their products all around the world from the middle of Michigan. Everyone was asking me how I used their products and what I would like improved. I provided some feedback and got to ask some questions. Nothing like getting a personal demonstration of the next version in the hallway from the SnagIt product manager on his TabletPC.

The facilities are nice and very conducive to development and collaboration. I heard stories how one company used three Camtasia licenses to save their company twenty million dollars. Yes, twenty million. I would love if my revenues hit five percent of their savings.

Betsy was very interested in my business, maybe even more than I was in hers. She wanted to understand how I used the TechSmith products to be successful and profitable. She was quite curious about Visual FoxPro and the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional program.

I told Betsy a story on how one of my clients tried the Camtasia trial on his own time, and built a screencast that trains the field on how to use a module in their app. I told her how it addressed one of their big support concerns. My client is a staff developer and got lots of kudos from the field, but his management would not spring for Camtasia because it would deter him from focusing on his priorities. In fact he finally convinced them to buy it after six months of pleading, and then they refused to give it to him when it arrived. Betsy set me up with some swag and door prizes for the MMFUDG meeting, and provided me some big help in getting a copy of Camtasia and SnagIt for my friend. Totally cool.

I have been invited to be on the TechSmith Advisory Board. I will be providing feedback to the development teams, taking more trips to TechSmith in the future, participating in their beta program, and having more geek fun than one person probably should.

It was a great field trip. I learned a lot during the tour about how larger software companies operate, which will be a key as White Light Computing grows. I also made some new friends in our industry, and some excellent contacts, which will help out my clients in the future.

One Response to “TechSmith Field Trip”

  1. April 4th, 2006 at 16:56 | #1

    Hi Rick – it was great to have you come visit! We all really enjoyed it – come back anytime! We owe you lunch. :-)

    Talk with you soon…

    Betsy Weber

Add reply