About me

Hi, I’m Justin Jackson. This is my story.


Justin Jackson is the former Product Manager at Sprint.ly, and has consulted on marketing & growth for startups in London, San Francisco, Boulder, and Portland.

In 2015 he decided he wanted to make his own stuff. He published his first book, Marketing for Developers. Currently, he is working on his first SaaS called Network Effects.

Justin hosts the MegaMaker podcast, and has two past shows: Build & Launch and Product People.

When he’s not working, he’s chasing his 4 kids and spending time with his beautiful wife. He blogs at justinjackson.ca and tweets at @mijustin

In 1983

My family got our first computer: a Commodore Vic-20. I was fascinated by it. I spent hours trying to figure out BASIC, and made a few little programs.

Justin Jackson on his first computer: a Commodore Vic-20 programming in BASIC

In 1994

I was 13. I looked like this. I loved computers, and had begged my parents to buy me a 2400 BAUD modem. I immediately started calling local BBS numbers. I lived on an acreage in Alberta (just outside of Edmonton) and found a BBS called Absolute Future. The owner of the BBS made me Co-SysOp, which I remember being a huge deal.

I was homeschooled that year (this haircut is a testament to that). That gave me a lot of freedom to explore things online. My parents’ friend gave me access to the internet through the local university. I could use Telnet and Gopher to explore different servers. I also got access to UseNet groups (my faves were alt.hackers, alt.2600, and alt.binaries).

This was also the year I was introduced to Mosaic, the first GUI web browser. I was instantly intrigued by the web, and started fooling around with HTML.

In 1998

I turned 18, moved out of my parent’s home, and started going to college in Edmonton. I got a job as a bellboy at a hotel, but really wanted to start my own company. The next summer I quit my job and created Mediahead Productions. I got a small BDC loan and bought a Pentium PC, and a Sony TRV-900 video camera. I paid the loan back by the end of the summer.

Justin Jackson's first business: Mediahead Productions

My first business card

In 1999

One of my business ideas was to make videos at summer camps. I’d go and take video of camp activities, and at the end of the week I’d sell VHS tapes to campers for $20 each.

At one of these camps, I met a beautiful camp councillor who changed my life forever. We started dating at the end of that summer.

In 2001

Two big decisions were made.

First: I got married to my amazing wife (were were 21!).

Second: I left my small tech business, and become a Christian youth minister. I think about this decision a lot. At the time I was doing a lot of website design and multimedia production. My original plan was to grow my company into a full studio. But instead I decided to pursue ministry. I worked with teenagers for 7 years.

Justin Jackson skateboarding at the skatepark rocking Vision Streetwear t-shirts

This is me with campers at a skateboard camp

In 2002

A friend and I decided to start a skateboard and snowboard shop called The Real Deal. My friend managed the shop. I was still working full-time, and would help out whenever I could. In 2006 we decided to close it. That year I almost had a breakdown. I wrote about the experience here. At this point, my wife and decided we wouldn’t do anything else major on the side until our kids were in school.

The Real Deal - Skateboards and Snowboards - Stony Plain and Spruce Grove

In 2008

A pivotal year. I decided to look for a new job. I wanted to get back into technology work. I’d been away from the web for 7 years, and I was scared. I had a family to support, and my web skills were rusty. I was 28, and compared to the rest of the tech industry, already felt old.

My friend Gregg gave me a great opportunity. He invited me to come work with him at Mailout. The first day on the job, he introduced me to 37signals and their book, Getting Real.

Getting Real is the original manifesto written by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, and describes the philosophy they used to build Basecamp. Before this book, I had built a few “things” but had focused mostly on offering services. Now, I had a vision for building products.

In 2012

I went for a beer with a brilliant designer / developer named Kyle Fox. I’d just moved to Vernon, BC, and was back in Edmonton for business. When I flew back home, Kyle messaged me and said: “We should start a podcast about products.”

On October 2012, we recorded our first episode of Product People.

The original Product People podcast with Justin Jackson and Kyle Fox

The original Product People podcast with Justin Jackson and Kyle Fox

In 2013

I published the most popular thing I’ve ever written. It was also the year I released my first solo project in years: a little guide called Amplification. Soon after, I started a private community called JFDI. You can read my year in review here.

In 2014

Another pivotal year. I left Mailout, and created my own company, Nerd North Inc with my wife. I started doing product marketing consulting full-time. All of our kids were in school. This meant more freedom for side-projects. You can read about all the details here.

In 2015

I created a new podcast called Build & Launch. The premise of the show was that I would create a new product every week. The show did very well. I created a bunch of things. This was also the year that I finally finished Marketing for Developers.

Marketing for Developers by Justin Jackson

Now: 2016

I started the year by launching the 2016 Maker Challenge and a new podcast called MegaMaker.

This new podcast is interesting, because it’s pushed me to go beyond the safe “digital” world into the real world. The first episodes 3-5 focused on creating a menu item, working in the kitchen all day, and then launching it as a Friday lunch special at Station BBQ in Vernon, BC. The whole experience was humbling and gave me a lot of perspective: the restaurant / service industry is hard.

A photo from the launch of the MegaMaker burrito at Station BBQ

A photo from the launch of the MegaMaker burrito at Station BBQ

My writing

You may be interested in some things I’ve written. Here are some notable excerpts:

Video & Audio:

Things I’ve Made

Contact me

  • Follow me on Twitter: @mijustin
  • Add me on LinkedIn
  • I have an email newsletter where I write about building software and digital products. Subscribe now
  • You can email me at words [at] bizbox.ca

(Looking for a different Justin Jackson? Here’s a basketball player, and a baseball player with the same name as me)

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