Joe Stump on How to Turn Past Mistakes Into Future Successes

In Chapter 4 of 14 in his 2012 interview, Internet entrepreneur Joe Stump answers "What Role Has Reflection Played in Shaping Your Personal Growth?"  Stump finds reflection the only way to leverage past mistakes and turn them into future successes.  Stump writes a bullet point list of mistakes made at his previous company, SimpleGeo, and uses this to guide his next company,  Joe Stump is a serial entrepreneur based in Portland, OR. He is CEO and co-founder of, a product management software company.  Previously he founded SimpleGeo, which was sold to Urban Airship in October 2011.  He advises several startups - including and ngmoco:) - as well as VC firm Freestyle Capital.  He earned a BBA in Computer Information Systems (CIS) from Eastern Michigan University. 


Erik Michielsen: What role has reflection played in shaping your personal growth?

Joe Stump: I'm a big fan of learning from mistakes. I'm definitely a trial and error kind of guy, that’s how I learned how to program. You could make a solid argument, that’s how I've learned to start companies. So, I think that reflection is the only way that you can leverage your past mistakes into future success.

So I've spent a lot of time, particularly after SimpleGeo, reflecting and I actually wrote a long document, basically this long bullet point list. It was basically a punch list of things that I had messed up on and that bullet list, that punch list of mistakes basically very much guided me as I went on to create my next company.

Erik Michielsen: Can you give a couple of examples?

Joe Stump: Yeah. Yeah. I think, so, at SimpleGeo, I think we raised too much money too quickly and we hired too many people too quickly before we had really figured out what the product was fully going to be and how we were going to take it to market. So, basically everything was kind of done backwards.

So at, I have the mantra of like -- I beat the drum of what I call the three S’s, small, slow, and steady. We're building a company that I hope to work at for possibly decades and you don’t do that overnight. So, that’s probably been the biggest lesson that I've taken away. We had amazing people and amazing investors and obviously plenty of money in the bank at the time but it was putting the cart before the horse in a lot of ways.