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This is great and educational. But I've noticed that many (most?) of the successful side projects were started by people who had some sales and marketing experience. Sales first, tech second (or third).

If you want other people to buy, rent, invest, etc., you have to be able to find the right people and communicate with them in a way that will lead them to become your customers/partners. Unfortunately, I doubt many of us with CompSci degrees and years/decades of experience have those sales and marketing skills.

So I guess there's a business just waiting (for someone who knows sales + tech)! Teach nerds how to market. I might be a customer.




> Unfortunately, I doubt many of us with CompSci degrees and years/decades of experience have those sales and marketing skills.

The history of enterprise tech is strewn with stories about that first big deal happening before the tech was even ready. Bill Gates and Paul Allen's meeting with IBM is probably the best known one. Hell, even Steve Jobs, with all of Apple's power, publicly pitched a ghetto-rigged iPhone because a fully working version wasn't ready at the time.

The 'best' sales people I've met always, always exaggerate the benefits of something. In tech, the "Comp Sci" people are the ones building the product, so they are especially mindful about not overstating what their product can do. Psychologically, they are forever in a problem-solving mode, meaning that when they talk about the product, they are primed to talk about current bugs, or how far away it is from being 'feature complete'. Not the people you want extolling your virtues in a sales meeting.

Salespeople aren't as closely embedded within the product development process, which gives them the mental bandwidth to straight up lie about what the product can do. I've seen it numerous times; sales exec closes a big deal, then goes to the dev team and says "I need X, Y and Z to be added to this sprint because customer H wants to launch in a month."


I think you've nailed it regarding problem-solving mentality and not overstating capabilities. And yes, I've sat right next to a salesperson and had to swallow my tongue while they told a customer that we could deliver something that we absolutely could not.

Fortunately, some of the side projects I've seen that have become successful don't appear to be overselling themselves based on their websites. So there must be room for success just by learning a process of how to get noticed by the right potential customers, and then plainly speaking what the product is.


I'm a marketer who has gradually gotten more and more technical over my career.

I refuse to believe that people with CompSci degrees can't quickly pick up the more basic (and even many intermediate and advanced) marketing skills, particularly in the digital realm.

Yes, knowing how to apply them, and learning about audiences messaging, etc. are going to be challenging, but you'd be shocked how far you can get for many products and services just by semi-intelligent testing and implementation of best practices with things like paid search, SEO, email marketing automation, analyzing web analytics, etc.

In fact, I'm often shocked at how many marketers are not technical enough to do those things at even a basic level.

There's a LOT of good information out there, and sometimes it really is just a matter of honing your bullshit detector to weed out the guru spam. Heck, spending a week reading through the Google Ads and Facebook help docs would set you ahead of quite a few of your peers, AND you'd have a leg up on implementing the more advanced approaches that require technical integration.

That said, finding an experienced marketing mentor or consultant can help you short circuit the learning curve and guide you away from wasted time and money.

Spending $5k with a consultant to help you create your initial plan might be wiser than say, randomly spending $5k on FB ads without having known you should setup conversion tracking, how to properly structure your account and audiences, how to build great creative, etc. and then not even having any clue what the spend did for you because you don't understand what the data is actually saying.


We can definitely learn things (CompSci people). In fact, my career is full of near constant learning. However, when it comes to marketing, knowing where to start (on one's own) is a challenge. And as you say, having a good bs detector is important.

I'll take your advice about reading the Google Ads and FB ads docs! Thanks.


Not saying your conclusion is wrong, but could this be selection bias? Maybe it's just that people with sales and marketing experience are disproportionately likely to write about it. I know some engineers with quiet side hustles that do quite well.


The fact is that you can have the best product in the world but if you can't sell it, it's basically worthless. No product or service is going to sell themselves.




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