Building a $15k MRR side project while working at Stripe - Justin Duke, Buttondown

Justin Duke is the founder of Buttondown, a simple email newsletter tool without all the bloat. In December 2022 Buttondown was around $15k MRR. He also runs Spoonbill, which is a way to stay updated on what people change on their social profiles. At the time of recording this Justin was an engineering manager at Stripe so you’ll hear references to that, but he’s since left to go all in on being a founder.

👉 Join the Indie Bites membership here.

  • 00:00 Intro
  • 01:57 Origins of Buttondown
  • 03:25 Buttondown launch
  • 05:37 Keeping Buttondown as a side project
  • 07:47 A pricing conundrum
  • 09:26 Having a free plan
  • 10:20 Finding balance
  • 12:31 Are Stripe side-project friendly
  • 13:56 Recommendations
Follow Justin
My links
Sponsor - Ahrefs

Thank you to Ahrefs for sponsoring Indie Bites. Ahrefs is the most complete and valuable SEO tool on the market. Bootstrapped companies such as VEED and Transistor have used Ahrefs extensively to understand how to craft their SEO strategies, which have been such a pivotal part of their growth.

If you want to get more traffic from Google on your side-project, I’d recommend first trying out Ahrefs Webmaster Tools for free. You’ll see what keywords your pages are ranking for, understand how Google sees your content and discover what changes you need to improve your search ranking. You should also check out their YouTube channel to understand both the basics of SEO and some more advanced techniques.

To try out Ahrefs Webmaster Tools, head to

Creators and Guests

James McKinven
James McKinven
Host of the Indie Bites podcast & founder of PodPanda.
Justin Duke
Justin Duke
Founder of Buttondown. Prev Stripe & Amazon.
Building a $15k MRR side project while working at Stripe - Justin Duke, Buttondown
Broadcast by