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Release Notes 2017

Adapt. Persist. Succeed.

October 16-18

We’re a long way from 2008. As the App Store explosion becomes a slow burn, success will come to those who adapt.

For the third year in a row, Release Notes will gather together the best and brightest in the iOS and Mac development community to share our experiences, our struggles, and our victories in the face of an ever-changing software market. Whether you work for yourself, a small team, or a large company, if you’re the type of person who is interested in learning how a technology business is built and maintained, you’ll want to spend time in Chicago with us this fall.

With practical talks on a range of business topics, plenty of networking time with developers, designers, marketers, and salespeople from all over the world, and social activities designed to stimulate great conversation while building new relationships, Release Notes is an event meticulously designed to build up your resilience and prepare you for the long road of your career.

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“Release Notes continues to be the best conference I have ever been a part of professionally. I've spoken at a lot of conferences, and the care and thoughtfulness I was treated with at your last event just blows everyone out of the water. It's something that even 6 months or so later I'm still telling people about, and using as reference as we plan our next events.”

—Sarah Hatter, Founder, CoSupport


Thank You

Thanks to everyone who attended Release Notes 2017. We were thrilled to put on the show for you again.



Release Notes speakers are a hand-selected group of business professionals from within our community and beyond. We challenge every speaker to bring something new and unique based on their successes and talents. On our stage, they will present ten talks that are sure not only to inspire, but to give you practical data and strategies for improving your skills, whether you work on products or in client services, and whether you do it in a company of one or one hundred.

We are honored to have such an amazingly talented group of speakers joining us this year. Learn more about each of them below.

Allen Pike

Allen Pike

Founder, Steamclock Software

Allen runs Steamclock Software in Vancouver, where they design and develop polished apps. Before founding Steamclock, he was a Software Engineer at Apple. In his downtime he writes, records podcasts, and plays on a hockey team comprised of programmers. He will be sharing some of his experiences running a consulting business very successfully for the past several years.

Federico Viticci

Federico Viticci

Founder, Macstories

Federico is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of MacStories, where he writes about Apple with a focus on apps, developers, and iOS productivity. He founded MacStories in April 2009 and has been writing about Apple since. Federico is also the co-host of AppStories, a weekly podcast exploring the world of apps. He is incredibly passionate about his many endeavors, and he will be sharing ideas for how we can approach new opportunities on iOS (and iPad in particular) with the same passion.

Anne Halsall

Anne Halsall

Co-founder & CPO, Winnie

Anne K. Halsall is the co-founder and CPO of Winnie, a tech startup focused on building great software for parents. In her work, Anne utilizes her skill in programming alongside an eclectic background in linguistics and design to build useful and delightful software products for human beings. She is a mother of two and proud owner of several toaster Macs. Anne will be presenting strategies that help people be better poised to execute on crazy ideas and build things of real value.

Max Seeleman

Max Seelemann

Founder, Head of Development, Ulysses

Max is a co-founder and lead developer of the award-winning writing app Ulysses. He started programming when still in primary school, and just never stopped. His hobby turned into a passion and a business. When not working, he can be found with his kids and family, enjoying great food or traveling the world. Max will be presenting the untold story of Ulysses' rather hard-earned success, through near bankruptcy and emotional strain that went way beyond healthy boundaries.

Curtis Herbert

Curtis Herbert

Creator, Slopes

Curtis is an independent app creator, writer, and speaker. He used to identify as just “iOS developer” but he has had to grow far beyond that in his quest to make a living in the App Store. When he’s not focused on building and growing his app Slopes into a full-time business, he’s helping others navigate shipping apps in the App Store as a partner at Breakpoint Studio, snowboarding, or spending way too much time playing video games with his wife. Curtis will share his methods of finding success by looking for inspiration outside the Mac and iOS ecosystems.

Tracy Osborn

Tracy Osborn

Designer, Developer, Author, and Entreprenerd

Tracy Osborn is a designer, developer, and entreprenerd living in Toronto, Canada. She’s the author of Hello Web App and the upcoming Hello Web Design, as well as the creator of WeddingLovely. She's also an avid outdoorswoman and would love to go on a hike with you. Tracy will share marketing tips and recommendations to make sure what you build is seen and used. Because just because you build it doesn't mean they will come.

Andrew Carroll

Andrew Carroll

Independent CFO for Freelancers

Andrew is a CPA and consultant based in Orange County, California. He has been advising people on their financial lives for over ten years. He has helped in more places and ways that he can count: taxes, investments, insurance, business strategy, operations, mergers and acquisitions, and accounting. He formerly spent about ten years as the general manager of a public accounting and financial planning firm with around 24 employees. Currently he advises on securities and insurance products on a consulting basis only. He hopes to bring his knowledge of accounting and finance to our audience with some practical strategies for software businesses.

Ernesto Moreno

Ernesto Moreno

Consultant, Entrepreneur

Ernesto emigrated to the UK from Venezuela when he was 23 and shortly after he started his first business. In just a few years, he and his business partners had established a £12m business which comprises 15 franchised restaurants and 9 other stores in the retail and service industries. Simultaneously, Ernesto has built a successful career as a Business Consultant, accumulating more than 20 years experience whilst working for consulting companies such as Atos Consulting and PwC. He has worked and advised dozens of companies and organizations around the globe. More recently and under the banner of his own company, Expanding Leadership, Ernesto provides Leadership and Management Training and works with other entrepreneurs and business owners to grow and scale their businesses. Ernesto believes that resilience, presence and an expanding mindset are some of the skills at the core of success, and will be sharing what he considers to be the key behaviors that lead to success.

Pamela Pavliscak

Pamela Pavliscak

Founder, Change Sciences

Pamela Pavliscak (pav-li-check) is founder of Change Sciences, an insights and innovation firm based in New York City, and faculty at The Pratt Institute where she studies our emotional relationship with technology. Pamela works with organizations, ranging from IKEA to TIAA to the USDA, to design for wellbeing. She has spoken about emotions and technology at SXSW, TEDx, Web Summit, among other conferences. She serves on a global initiative to develop the IEEE standard for ethics and AI. Designing for Happiness, her book about how to create a tech future that contributes to our wellbeing, will be published by O’Reilly in fall 2017. Pamela will be sharing some tips for building better products and services through thoughtful research and design.

Dermot Daly

Dermot Daly

Founder and CEO, Tapadoo

When Dermot’s first iOS App landed him a lawsuit, he realized that his own ideas were probably not the best way for him to make a living. So, instead he launched his own app development studio. He describes himself as an “Accidental CEO, who if you scratch the surface you’ll find a programmer”. Tapadoo has grown to Ireland’s largest App Development company having developed apps for clients in a broad range of industries including telecommunications, banking and medical technology. From 2012 to 2016 Dermot also co-ran the Úll Conference. Dermot will share lessons learned about the various challenges and pitfalls of running an app development company, including keeping your workload pipeline in balance.


Pre-Show Activities

This year, there will be a variety of activities lined up for guests who want to arrive a bit early, before the conference officially kicks off. On Sunday, October 15th, The following three optional, awesome events will take place.

The Public Speaking Workshop

We’ve partnered with veteran speaker Jeff Watkins to present a hands-on workshop for those who want to get some practical experience speaking in front of an audience.

Many of our past attendees have expressed a desire to present on stage. And with good reason—public speaking is an invaluable skill for any entrepreneur, designer, or programmer.

On Sunday, October 15th, Jeff will present a full-day workshop for those interested in learning how to be a better public speaker. And in the Release Notes tradition, it will be practical and hands-on, with tangible outcomes.

And, two students will be selected to perform their lightning talks at the Release Notes conference!

More details…

Live Recording of Relay FM’s Connected

In the early evening of Sunday, October 15th, the crew of Connected (Myke Hurley, Stephen Hackett, and Federico Viticci) will be doing a live show in Chicago. It will be a regular episode of the podcast, just with a LIVE STUDIO AUDIENCE.

Purchase your ticket to Release Notes today, and you will get first access to the very limited number of free seats available for this recording. Tickets will be released to the general public very soon, so don’t hesitate if you want to catch this episode live.

Sunday Night Meetup with the Chicago CocoaHeads

Being that we’re new in town, the folks over at the local Chicago chapter of CocoaHeads were nice enough to throw us all a welcoming party. On Sunday night, they will host a meetup for those interested in getting to know some local members of the community and becoming acclimated to their wonderful city.

The meetup will take place beginning at 8:30pm at the following location:

West End Bar & Grill

1326 West Madison St.

Chicago IL

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“Attending Release Notes was a joy. The venue is unique and beautiful—I was raving about it all weekend to my family. The presentations were thoughtful, the atmosphere fun and respectful, and the ‘dine around’ dinner allowed me to meet a whole lot of people I might not have gotten to know otherwise.”

—Jason Snell, Six Colors

Fork and Plate

The Dine-Around

It just wouldn’t be Release Notes without our famous Dine-Around. You tell us your favorite kinds of cuisine (and more importantly, your not-so-favorites), and on the evening of October 17, we will split off into small groups based on that preference, out into the West Loop’s well-known restaurant row. Each group will dine in a different restaurant, in a much smaller, cozier setting. It’s a chance for the more introverted amongst us to get to know a few fellow attendees and speakers. After dinner, we will all gather back together to share our experiences at an evening reception.

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The DIY Tea and Coffee Bar

Release Notes has always had good coffee and tea. But this year we wanted to up the ante. So we’re bringing some high-quality beans, a grinder, a few Aeropresses and hot water kettles, and we’re going let you make your own bespoke cup every morning. Have a favorite single-origin or “snob blend”? Bring it with you. Not sure how to use an Aeropress? Don’t worry. Someone will teach you. And if you don’t care about all that fussy stuff, there will be standard boxed brew available as well.

And for the tea lovers, a selection of caffeinated and decaffeinated teas will be available as well. Or bring your own favorite. There will be plenty of hot water to go around.



Optional pre-show events begin (see above) Oct. 15, 10:00am CDT
Registration, followed by Welcome and Keynote Oct. 16, 6:00pm CDT
Closing, after Final Session and Remarks Oct. 18, 4:30pm CDT

The official Release Notes conference begins with an opening registration period, followed by an evening keynote address. After the keynote, we will have an evening reception at a nearby venue.

The remainder of the conference will consist of practical talks from speakers, conversation, food, and lots of fun.

Release Notes provides light breakfast and a full lunch on October 17 and 18, as well as some light refreshments and beverages for evening receptions. Featured lunch meals this year will include some fun surprises, offering you a chance to sample some local Chicago cuisine.

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“Meeting so many successful people that have shared many of the struggles I’ve experienced trying to launch my business renewed my faith that not only is there a place for indie businesses in the App Store, but its a place where many of us will thrive.”

—Tom Piarulli, freelance developer

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When we made the decision to move to Chicago, we knew the choice of venue was critical. It’s hard to top Union Station in Indianapolis. We didn’t want to be in a forgettable hotel ballroom. We wanted something new and memorable. So we scouted for places that offered something unique, in parts of the city that were hidden gems, rather than tourist traps.

prairie production

Prairie Production, a photography studio in Chicago’s West Loop, met all of our criteria and then some. A glass wall on one side of the main hall provides plenty of natural light; and because the space was designed to be a “blank” canvas, we have a special opportunity to make it our own.

prairie production

Prairie Production is a smaller facility than Union Station, which we hope will create a more intimate atmosphere. It will limit our seating capacity, however. So get your ticket fast if you want to be sure you don’t miss out.

Plane Train Automobile


There are many easy options for getting to our conference. Chicago is a very accessible city by plane, train, or automobile. Public transportation, as well as several ride sharing options, will make getting around the city a breeze once you arrive.

Our Conference Venue:

Prairie Production

1314 W Randolph St.

Chicago IL 60607



We have two great hotel options this year, designed to meet the needs of a variety of budgets. Both are within easy walking distance (or a very short cab ride) of Prairie Production.

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Chicago Marriott at Medical District/UIC

625 S. Ashland Ave.

Chicago IL 60607

The Marriott is the official hotel for Release Notes, and where we expect guests will gather for post-event conversations. It offers a full range of amenities and services, including a restaurant and bar. It’s also where the Public Speaking Workshop and Relay FM Connected recording will take place.

Rooms are available for Release Notes attendees starting as low as $249, while supplies last. Book early. Use this link to get our Release Notes rate.

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Hotel Chicago

1622 W Jackson Blvd

Chicago IL 60612

Nearby Hotel Chicago offers rooms at a more affordable rate, with fewer bells and whistles, starting as low as $160 per night.

Hotel Chicago is offering Release Notes guests a 15% discount for the nights of October 15-18. Use the code “RELEASE”.

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“Release Notes is a perfect combination of inspiration and implementation, tightly-focused on the business of indie software development. You learn from great speakers who share with real-world experience, both successes and failures. The conference format encourages meaningful conversation with the speakers and the other attendees. I’ve had a terrific experience, both as a speaker and as an attendee, and I’m looking forward to coming back.”

—Jean MacDonald, Micro.blog Community Mgr. & Founder, App Camp For Girls

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Release Notes, as a conference concept, was conceived in the mores of other great Apple enthusiast conferences that came before it. We are aware of the legacy of great shows that have occurred in Chicago (C4, SecondConf) and many others built in the same spirit (Çingleton, Úll, CocoaLove) and we take the responsibility of carrying on the traditions of this conference format very seriously.

As hosts, we take great pride in offering our guests the utmost in hospitality. We want everyone attending our event to feel welcome, safe, and included. All conference events will offer a variety of beverages, including non-alcoholic options. All conference events will be open to attendees under 21 years of age. All conference events will be accessible to those with special needs. We’ve taken care to make sure that our venues welcome all.

We want all our guests to feel welcome and at home, no matter their age, gender, ability, or who they love. In order to encourage that feeling, everyone participating in the conference will be bound by the Release Notes Code of Conduct. Providing a safe, comfortable, and hospitable environment for everyone is our top priority.

If you have any questions or concerns about our commitment to hosting an inclusive conference, please contact us, and we will be happy to discuss them with you.

Our not-for-profit community partner for 2017: App Camp for Girls

Indie developers need to work together to thrive in the maturing Apple ecosystem. It's in our best interest to support the community and its efforts to provide a bright future for everyone who wants to participate.

That's why we are thrilled for the third time to name App Camp for Girls as our official non-profit organization partner for 2017.

App Camp For Girls is a place where girls can put their creative powers to work, designing and building apps, while learning more about the business of software and being inspired by women mentors in the field.

We want to help the future of our indie community by lending our support to the efforts of Jean MacDonald and her incredible organization.

During our conference, we will be accepting donations for App Camp for Girls. Guests will be able to donate at the conference, and a link will be available to accept online donations from those who cannot join us in person.

For every dollar we collect via the Release Notes campaign, Charles and Joe will match up to the first $1,000. Help us raise some money and make a difference in the lives of young girls who are interested in technology. Your investment in App Camp for Girls is an investment in the future of our community.

The last two years, Release Notes attendees gave generously to this amazing organization. The money we gathered helped expand the program into Chicago, where a camp was run for the first time this summer. We hope to top our goal again for this year so App Camp for Girls can continue to expand into even more areas.


Learn more about App Camp for Girls and the incredible work they do at appcamp4girls.com

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See all the great photos from past Release Notes events on our Gallery Page. Also view videos of every talk presented on our stage.

View the full gallery here.

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“Release Notes is the standard to which I hold all other conferences. It’s extremely well run and a lot of fun. I look forward to it each year. ”

—Yono MittleFehldt, indie app and game developer

Price Tag


Early Bird Ticket: purchased by May 31st, 2017 $799
Regular Price: purchased on or after June 1st, 2017 $999
Companion Ticket: $199
Public Speaking Workshop: $249

Tickets are now available. Seating is limited. Get your ticket today.

A limited number of companion tickets are available for spouses, friends, and significant others who would like to attend the keynote and participate in social events surrounding the conference.

Student Price

We are working hard to find sponsors to make discounted tickets available for qualified students. More details on how to apply for a student ticket can be found here.



Our conference would not be possible without generous help from our sponsors. They are true supporters of the macOS and iOS dev community.

If you are interested in sponsorship opportunities for Release Notes 2017, get in touch.

Student Sponsors

Student sponsors help defray the cost of a student attending Release Notes. If you are interested in sponsoring one more more students this year, learn more on our student page.

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“There was plenty to hear at Release Notes. I got something out of every talk and from many conversations with developers who I had never met before.”

—Manton Reece, Riverfold Software


Mailing List

Sign up on our mailing list to get our monthly podcast newsletter as well as more information about the show as it is announced.

Release Notes 2016 | Release Notes 2015

Read our Code of Conduct

All conference photos by Ben Rice McCarthy.