Five Minutes with Justin Jackson


March 17th, 2017

Five Minutes with Justin Jackson

Laracon US is still a few months away and this year it has an awesome line up of speakers. One of the new faces is Justin Jackson, who is what you could call a habitual maker. He launches more products than I have ideas.

Justin is a former Product Manager and has now transitioned into a full-time product person. He builds products such as Marketing for Developers, runs the MegaMaker podcast, and sells a book named Jolt! What follows is a quick interview with Justin to share some insights into making products and what to expect during his Laracon talk.

Hey Justin, can you give us a quick overview about you?

I started working for startups in 2008 and eventually worked my way up to being Product Manager at Sprintly in 2014.

But, I’ve always had a side-hustle. In 2012 I created a podcast called Product People. A year later I created my first solo product: JFDI.

Fast forward to 2016: after release of Marketing for Developers, I felt like I had enough product revenue to go solo. Now, I earn an independent living from the things I make.

You are going to be speaking at Laracon US this year do you already have a plan on what your topic is going to be?

Taylor Otwell asked me to answer this question: “how can I come up with a cool app to build on Laravel?”

My talk will be based on this blog post I wrote: “Why most product ideas aren’t that good.”

I’ve been observing developers launch their own products for nine years. There’s some common mistakes that come up again and again. I’m hoping to help people avoid those!

How did you become obsessed with product launches?

I’ve always been interested in: “Why people buy.” What causes someone to wake up one day, go over to their computer, take out their credit card, and purchase a product?

That’s lead me to reverse-engineer different launches and figure out why some succeed and others don’t.

After watching so many do you think successful launches is more art or science?

I love this quote Bill Gates made about Steve Jobs:

Steve has natural intuitive taste, both for people and products. I viewed [a product decision] as an engineering question. That’s just how my mind works. Steve would make the decision based on a sense of people.

You need both: an intuitive sense about what people really want, and a way to quantify that demand.

You have launched a ton of products over the years. What is your number one advice for those that are worried about shipping?

Ship something small and simple. Show it to people.

That’s the loop you need to get into. People try to build stuff that’s too big and complex. Build the tiniest version of your idea as possible, and put it out into the world. Observe how people respond. Iterate based on real-world feedback.

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Eric L. Barnes

Eric is the creator of Laravel News and has been covering Laravel since 2012.