A little over a year ago, I quit being a software engineer to go into what is called sales engineering, or in other words, sales with a technical background. This is a story of why I made that choice, and how it’s turned out.
Right after my co-founder and I shut down our last startup, Bellovella, I joined a new company as a full-time developer to keep the lights on. I programmed for 8 hours, and then went home to code for 3-6 hours after that. This was exhausting. So I had a theory: what if I learned something else on the job, something where I knew I needed experience in so I could gain skills while being paid, and not be too mentally tired to code in my free time? I can safely say that my experiment was a success. Since joining sales, I have completed 3 projects (two of which are still up today: the logo game and tech tech events).
Not coding for the entire day was not the only reason that helped me launch so many products this year. I like to think that being in sales changed how I think as a maker/founder now. For example, one of the parts I hated most about being an engineer was seeing my work being thrown away. Watching something that I spent hours building not reaching customers was extremely demoralizing, and it made me cautious to work on any ideas I had on my own. In sales, you see a lot of different companies. Some companies even make you wonder, "how are they even alive?". Getting a glimpse into these companies made me more confident in myself and got me thinking: "Hey, if this company can make money, so can I". Every day I come home excited to start coding and as a bonus, doing my side projects helps me keep up with relevant technologies that make me better at my job.
In sales, you need to learn to prioritize. You can be working 10+ deals at once, and sometimes, you need to give up an opportunity for a chance at something better. Flexing this skill really changed the way I thought about building a product. Before I would get so worried about choosing the right framework or language and making sure my solution was scalable. You know, the things that only engineers care about. Now I concentrate on other things, like: how do I get my product to the hands of users as fast as possible? I think this is a lesson that everyone tells technical founders that's much more obvious in saying, but very hard in practice. I built the logo game in 2 months over my weekends and tech tech events was built in 2 weekends.
I encourage any engineers and makers who are looking to do side hustles to give sales a try (Shameless plug: we're hiring at Segment! If you want to talk to me about being a solutions engineer here, I would love to get on a call with you. Send me an email at email@example.com).
So what's happening now?
- I’m focusing on marketing the logo game and acquiring more users in order to generate more revenue. Right now the cost of running the logo game is $0 and it makes money off ads.
- Tech tech events has a grander vision that will take a few more iterations to realize, so stay tuned for more updates on that project!
- I’ve started on my third and final project for the year: Referee.
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