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Jon and I met in 2014 at @xoxo. Our friend @chasewreeves introduced us. We chatted about podcasting, and hung out a bunch that week. (Back then I had a beard, and Jon had none. We’ve switched since then. 😆)
Fast forward to late 2017: Jon and I started brainstorming ideas for podcast hosting. Here’s one of our early planning docs:
In early 2018, we decided to make it official, and signed a partnership agreement. From the outset, we had two main goals for @TransistorFM: 1. To build the best podcast hosting platform on the planet 2. To build a good life for us as business owners
Six months later, we were nearly ready to open Transistor to the public, but we needed one last push to get it launch-ready. I booked a flight to Chicago for the end of July. The plan was to stay at Jon’s apartment and get Transistor out the door.
We sent an update to our mailing list, stating that we would launch on August 1st, 2018. To our surprise, @JamesCridland at @Podnews announced our launch date on their site.  Having our launch date out in public meant the pressure was on: now we had to deliver!
When I arrived at Jon’s apartment on July 27, the first thing we did was take this picture. Over the next several days we worked on the final elements of Transistor: adding podcast analytics, finalizing our pricing, and updating our marketing site.
Up until that point, we’d only worked remotely. To be in person felt special: working side-by-side, taking coffee breaks, and hanging out at night. When we look back on everything we’ve done with @TransistorFM, these in-person moments are the most significant.
I had to fly home on the 31st. This meant finalizing all the remaining pre-launch steps on airplanes and airports.
After getting home late, I stayed up until 12:01 am and posted it on @ProductHunt.… @TransistorFM was officially launched to the public!
It’s hard to communicate what it’s like to launch a new product to the public. It’s a mixture of relief, fear, and hope. We were relieved, but at the same time we were anxious: would people like it? Would people sign up and use it? And, would it one day support us full-time?
We knew growing @TransistorFM would take time; this meant keeping our day jobs and working on Transistor on the side. It wasn’t easy. There were many times where Jon and I were stretched thin. I wrote this blog post at the time to express my feelings:
Bootstrapper's paradox
When you're self-funding a startup, you're caught between two realities: you're investing real time and money, but you're not earning income from your SaaS.
We forecasted it would take us five years to get to $21,000 in monthly recurring revenue (enough for Jon and me to work on Transistor full-time). Waiting 60 months for a paycheque felt ominous. It's easy to see why many self-funded founders experience burnout and have to quit.
What kept us going? Two things: 1. Hearing from customers who loved using @TransistorFM for their podcasts 2. Encouragement from other startup founders, like @earthlingworks
While it felt like we were a long way off from our goal, we kept shipping new features, helping customers with their podcasts, and spreading the word. These actions compounded, and 12 months after our launch we achieved our goal: $20,000 MRR! (4 years faster than expected)
For funded startups, $20k MRR doesn’t mean much. But, for indie entrepreneurs like us, this was a big deal. Shortly after going full-time, I went on the @IndieHackers podcast and said this:
For the first time, in a long time, I feel relaxed | Justin Jackson | Episode 1
A clip from the Indie Hackers interview #118
Since we went full-time on Transistor in 2019, we’ve accomplished so much: What feels most impressive is that we’ve accomplished all of this with a small team. Jon and I were the only full-time people until 2021 when we hired @HelenRyles and @jsonperl.
Changelog for
Product updates, new features, and announcements for our podcast hosting platform.
Throughout it all, we’ve guided @TransistorFM based on this belief: “Good businesses have margin. Profit margin? Yes. But also margin for our time, emotional and physical health, relationships, sanity, and integrity.”…
Every day, Jon and I wake up and feel incredibly lucky: We get to work on a product we love (@TransistorFM), serve creative customers (podcasters), and work with people we like (@HelenRyles and @jsonperl). Our weekly team Zoom calls have become the highlight of our week:
Over the next four years, we’ll focus on the things that got us here: 1. Understanding our customers better than anyone else 2. Building high-quality software 3. Offering exceptional customer support 4. Having a calm work environment
We want to thank everyone who helped us with @TransistorFM along the way: our customers, the podcast community, the indie SaaS community, our founder friends, and our families. Thank you. ❤️
Awesome product. Here's to 4 more years 👍
When I have time to podcast again, I can’t wait to be a customer once more. Couldn’t have worked out nicer for a nicer pair of guys. Here’s to more niceness!
Thanks so much Josh! 🙌
do you have an idea of how many ppl you want on the team eventually? or a number you don't want to cros?
Definitely under ~10. The ideal team size feels like 4-6.
i can agree. i keep moving to smaller and smaller orgs and it keeps getting better! 😄
Congratulations on the success and great new features!
🙌 fellllllllas!
Congrats! So cool what you guys have done. Truly inspiring and motivating. Cheers to more 💰🤑 The product itself is amazing and always improving. The cleanest I know! ✊
Thanks so much Val! (And thanks for being an early believer)
Absolutely! Happy to be one of the first ones 🔥
Love it! Beat podcasting platform I have ever used . And I did use few of them in my life.
Thanks! That means so much to us. 🥰
Congrats dudes! 🙌
Thank you! And thanks for all of @getRewardful’s help!
Congratulations, Justin and Jon! 🎉
Congrats! Happy paying customer here :)
So cool Justin. Will have a read. Would you like to talk more about that journey on the WBE Podcast? I am sure the peeps would love it
Congrats on 4 years Justin! It's been awesome to watch you have such life changing success and I admire the values and way that you run Transistor.
Great to see you (and team) build and grow Transistor! 🙌
What was the key to finding Product market fit?
It was about "building a product that people were already searching for." So much of our traffic/trials/purchases come from people who strongly intend to buy.
How do you build something people want?
As a founder, you want to build something people want. But how do we go beyond platitudes and actually do that? Here's some actionable advice.
I think the "highly motivated" point is the one many miss (including me).
yup. That's key!
Congrats man. I remember seeing you and Chase at xoxo that year. Knew who you were because of Chase.
So happy for you guys! Massive inspiration 🙌
💯 Build your SaaS was my intro to this community. Distinctly remember listening to episodes in our first apartment doing the dishes, going to the laundromat, etc. Kind of want to re-listen, following along with where we're at in our journey
Transistor is GOALS We should definitely re-listen to some of those early episodes. I remember some moments very distinctly.
It’s been fun watching Transistor’s growth and success these past years. Congrats Justin (and Jon)!
Congrats! And thank you for sharing with us!
Congratulations on your 4th anniversary and all your hard work pay off 🥳 It's a great inspiration to learn and implement lessons learnt while bootstrapping @vadelabs
Congrats! Using @TransistorFM since last year. Love the whole experience :D
Happy bday! Will put in my @HighSignalio newsletter :)