Joe Stump on How Side Projects Teach Coder Marketing and PR

In Chapter 15 of 16 of his 2009 Capture Your Flag interview, programmer Joe Stump develops skills not learned at work with side projects on nights and weekends. These efforts help bolster Stump's customer- and media-facing experience across public relations, marketing, and customer support. He eventually leaves Digg for a startup,, where drawing on these skills becomes necessary to manage daily operations.


Erik Michielsen:  How have your side projects, whether it is iPhone application development or, contributed to your entrepreneurial development?

Joe Stump: The things I’ve learned from that are you need to build buzz & PR.  You need to engage users.  Customer support is a huge thing.  If people are using your product and having problems with it, you have to react and iterate.  I think that those side projects – none have them have been what I consider technically challenging at all – but they have all been challenging to me in terms of “how do I take action on customer support?”, “how do I promote this?”, “which promotions work the best?” and that kind of stuff.