Build Your SaaS – bootstrapping in 2019

76 EpisodesProduced by Transistor.fmWebsite

Can you bootstrap a profitable startup in 2019? 37signals did it in 2004, and since then thousands of entrepreneurs, developers, designers, and product people have tried to launch their own web apps. But with so many venture-backed startups now, is it still possible? Follow Jon and Justin as they bu… read more

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Is it a good idea to be a transparent startup?

September 17th, 2019

Jon and Justin discuss:
  • Good mics for podcasters. Justin recommends the Samson Q2U and the ATR2100. Make sure you get a pop filter!
  • Starting our …

How much MRR is enough?

September 10th, 2019

This week Jon and Justin answer a few questions:
  • From Jason Zook: "How much MRR is enough for Transistor?"
  • From Yaz: "What do you think of this new …

Change is in the air

September 3rd, 2019

Hear what's new from Jon and Justin on their bootstrapping journey:
  • Nothing like throwing yourself down a mountain when you're tired
  • We're seeing a …

The constant feature release cycle

August 27th, 2019

Jon and Justin share their SaaS journey:
  • "There's so many great feature ideas, but we can't do them all."
  • Jon's wondering about the constant feature …


August 20th, 2019

Jon and Justin are tracking a bunch of stuff this week:
  • We're moving from WordPress to Statamic CMS
  • "I had no idea how to set up PHP on my laptop."

How we're Shaping Up

August 13th, 2019

Justin and Jon have started the process of implementing Shape Up.
  • Lots of folks feel like it’d be hard to implement in their team
    • "This would be hard …

Jason Fried wants to delete our backlog

August 6th, 2019

Justin and Jon are joined by Jason Fried to talk about:
  • The philosophy behind their new book Shape Up.
  • Does Basecamp's approach to 6-week cycles …

No sleep 'till Brooklyn (what we learned in New York)

July 30th, 2019

Big week. Justin was in New York and Jon found an office!
  • Justin lost his voice.
  • Jon doesn't work from home or coffee shops anymore.
  • Jon found an …

Once you launch, you're immediately behind

July 23rd, 2019

Justin and Jon are starting to feel that stress.
  • We start with an unscripted bit.
  • Our backlog and todo list are still stressing us out.
  • We want to …

Your backlog is making me thirsty

July 16th, 2019

Justin and Jon dive into the growing backlog of features, bugs and tasks, and talk about how they might better manage it as a two-person team. A big …

What if there's an accident?

July 9th, 2019

Now, Justin and Jon share are both focused full-time on Transistor. This week they discuss: 
  • Emotionally processing what it's like leaving a …

Jon's big announcement

July 2nd, 2019

Jon had some personal news for Justin this week. This week they discuss:
  • What does this mean for the product?
  • What does this mean for us as a team?
★ …

I want to work at

June 25th, 2019

Jon is away, so Justin is tackling these questions:
  • "When you were early on and desperate, were you tempted to take investor money?"
  • "How do you …

We took funding (from our customers)

June 18th, 2019

This week, Jon and Justin talk about new developments with Transistor:
  • We've taken over $100,000 in funding (from our customers!)
  • We harken back to

"I can't believe you're using that in production"

June 11th, 2019

More honest updates from Jon and Justin on what it's like to be building
  • People can't believe that we're using this in production.
  • Why …

How big of a market should you target?

June 4th, 2019

Jon and Justin share some honest updates about as they continue to build their SaaS (
  • Justin swears in this episode.
  • We're half way …

Four different git branches in various unfinished states

May 28th, 2019

Jon and Justin share some honest updates about as they continue to build their SaaS (
  • Jon asks: "how do you prioritize with limited …

You can't put me in a box

May 21st, 2019

Happy Two-Four ya hosers! After a Canadian long weekend, Jon and Justin convene to talk about:

Wrestling with our company's growth

May 14th, 2019

Jon and Justin are wrestling with thoughts about growth:
  • "Our current rate of growth is nice: it feels sustainable." – Justin
  • "It feels less …

Burn it all to the ground

May 7th, 2019

Jon and Justin are back from Portland and wrestling with ideas, bots, and CMSes:
  • Justin's spouse wants to know why we wouldn't sell for $5 million …

Keeping the dream alive in Portland

April 30th, 2019

Jon and Justin do a founder retreat in Portland with Darby Frey and Shay Howe (Lead Honestly). We hashed out some ideas for:
  • How do you start …

The "charge more" debate

April 23rd, 2019

If you're struggling with pricing your app, listen to this episode! Ben Orenstein, Jordan Gal, Patrick Campbell, and I discussed whether "charge …

Taylor Otwell: "PHP (and a cheap laptop) changed my life"

April 16th, 2019

Jon is away so Justin called up Taylor Otwell, the creator of Laravel. In this episode we covered:
  • How Laravel become the most popular backend …

The market for your startup matters

April 9th, 2019

Jon's away! Today I talked to Spencer Fry, from Podia about:
  • How do you find a good startup idea?
  • What are the worst types of companies to start?

When should bootstrappers get paid?

April 2nd, 2019

Recorded on April fools day! Here's what we covered:
  • If you're bootstrapping, when should you get a salary?
  • An update on the worst day ever. (We're …

Worst day ever

March 26th, 2019

On Sunday, we had a service outage. Jon and Justin talk about what happened:
  • TLS / SSL day of horror
  • Sunday morning Justin started getting messages …

Pro athletes are mocking me on the internet

March 19th, 2019

Lots of interesting items this week:
  • Justin got a personal message from an NFL player
  • Jon moved everyone over to the new CDN
  • Podcasting has a lot of …

Do startups need specialists or generalists?

March 12th, 2019

Good stuff this week:
  • Justin wants to know: when's the last time you changed your business' homepage?
  • Jon does a deep dive into Apple's podcasting …

Full-on sweatpants mode

March 5th, 2019

Good stuff this week:
  • Jon ran into Myke Hurley at the Cards Against Humanity office.
  • Whether you should work from home or the office.
  • Spotify …

Did we solve our bandwidth cost crisis?

February 26th, 2019

Jon and Justin share their progress on:
  • The bandwidth / CDN cost problem (and how it might affect our profitability).
  • Marco Arment: "It would cost …

Counting beans and getting hit by a bus

February 19th, 2019

This week, Jon and Justin are wrestling with some heavy startup founder topics:
  • What should your SaaS company's gross margins be?
  • How much is …

Is this the best time to start a podcasting startup?

February 13th, 2019

Dave Zohrob, the CEO of Chartable, chats with Justin about bootstrapping a startup in the podcast space. We cover:
  • Why Jon and Justin started …

Getting real: sharing our founder struggles

February 5th, 2019

In this episode:
  • Jon and Justin open up about the challenges of bootstrapping "on the side." 
  • How things have gotten harder (in some ways) now that …

How to grow your audience

January 29th, 2019

In this episode, Jon and Justin discuss the golden rule for growing your audience. This could mean:
  • How to get more paying customers for your …

Should startups worry about their competition?

January 22nd, 2019

In this episode Jon and Justin discuss talk about how you should think about your software product's competition.Why you shouldn’t focus on the …

Marketing tactics for your SaaS: how to get the word out

January 15th, 2019

We received some product marketing questions from Nirav Mehta: 
  • How to get the word out about your SaaS?
  • Should you pursue partnerships?
  • How can you …

Our predictions for 2019

January 8th, 2019

Jon Buda and Justin Jackson make predictions for the tech industry, the podcasting space, and the startup ecosystem.Predictions for 2019
  • There will …

How to find the right customers for your software business

December 19th, 2018

In this episode, we talk about the different types of customers for a SaaS:
  • B to C: selling to consumers. Here, we'd think of products and services …

Let's chat about the podcast industry

December 13th, 2018

Justin gets interviewed by Harry Duran on the Podcast Junkies show, and answers questions about:
  • Is podcasting really having it's moment now?
  • Is now …

Why does Jon need a co-founder?

December 5th, 2018

In this episode Jon talks about why he decided to partner with Justin (even though he'd already built the product).

★ Thanks to our two sponsors:

How did you split equity in Transistor?

November 27th, 2018

How did you split equity in Transistor? How do I start a podcast? How do you say Adam's name?★ Thanks to our sponsor: If you want to get into podcasting, check out Podcast Insights. They’re a great …

Interesting ways you can use a podcast

November 20th, 2018

Why do you want to start a podcast?

Insulating our recording studio with dollar bills

November 13th, 2018

Jon and Justin respond to the new funding options available for bootstrappers, mainly Earnest Capital.

The GP, Tyler Tringas, told us what types of …

There's a new funding option for bootstrapped founders

November 6th, 2018

Tyler Tringas recently announced Earnest Capital; a new way for bootstrappers to raise money for their startups. 
Should Jon and Justin consider this …

Your startup's expenses are too high

October 30th, 2018

How much does it cost to run a SaaS in 2018? We take a look at our bootstrap expenses.

Every business accrues monthly expenses. The danger? Business owners can get in the habit of spending money, believing that "you …

How'd you get into computers? (Apple II, PC clones, BBSes, CYBERSPACE)

October 23rd, 2018

If you used computers in the 80s and 90s you're going to love this episode.
  • Apple IIe in the school computer lab
  • The original Macintosh
  • "I wanted an …

You forgot $20,000 in your snowboard pocket

October 10th, 2018

Here we are at episode 30! Just found this old 2012 interview with the founder of MailChimp, before they became a $4.2 billion company. This quotes …

You drew a prototype on that napkin from Portland

October 2nd, 2018

After one failed attempt, we're back with a new episode. Sorry it's late!

"We, as the customer, are paying people who make apps so that their good …

What's the most important metric for a web app?

September 25th, 2018

What do you think?

We have some explaining to do

September 18th, 2018

Jon and Justin are back from Portland and the XOXO festival.

In the last few weeks we've had a chance to interact with many of our customers in-person:

Your revenue forecast is wrong

August 28th, 2018

What does "bootstrapping" mean really?

For most folks, bootstrapping means self-funding your business from revenues. It means not taking Venture …

The problem with podcasts

August 21st, 2018

Nick Quah shared this in his recent newsletter, commenting about podcasts:

[I have] this feeling that everybody’s drilling for oil in the same spot because some other guy found oil there already.
Nick thinks podcasters …

What's a good conversion rate for a web app?

August 14th, 2018

SaaS conversation rate cheatsheet:Credit card upfront:
  • Visitor to trial: 0.75% - 1%
  • Trial to paid: 40% - 60%
No credit card upfront:
  • Visitor to …

Launch week hangover

August 7th, 2018

What do you think?

The opposite of bored money

July 24th, 2018

In 2013, I interviewed Jason Calacanis, the angel investor.

One of the things I asked him: "Why do venture capital investors take these big risks with their money?" 

"There's a lot of money in the world. There are …

Startup advice from Justin Kan, Stephanie Hulburt, and Naval

July 17th, 2018

Three tweets TuesdayJustin Kan
"B2C is a gamble while B2B is (more) within your control."
Stephanie Hulburt
"We have a philosophy of “no hard sells” …

Meet me in Chicago

July 10th, 2018

How to build anticipation for your product launch
  • Have a mailing list! Email them consistently during development.
  • The week of launch you should send …

I see Spots

July 3rd, 2018

Show notes:

SaaS pricing advice from Rob Walling and Patrick Campbell

June 5th, 2018

Jon and Justin are probably 1-2 months away from the launch of That means we need to figure out pricing.

“In your early stage two things are essential: your customer focus, and your value metric. If you …

What does Nathan Barry think of podcast hosting pricing?

May 29th, 2018

Today's show is not a full episode!

Jon and I have been busy with our day jobs, plus Memorial Day, and didn't have time to record a show.

But, to be …

How should we price our SaaS?

May 22nd, 2018

We're hoping to launch Transistor officially in July 2018.

And that means we need to figure out a pricing strategy. What types of tiers and plans …

Should we make our revenue numbers public?

May 15th, 2018

How transparent of a startup do we want to be?

There's an app called Buffer that really kickstarted the "radical transparency" movement with startups. Over time, they've revealed almost everything: how much their …

How to validate your product idea

May 8th, 2018

Play this episode | Download MP3

Jon is busy launching our new podcast analytics feature, so this episode features Justin's talk from MicroConf 2018 in Las Vegas.

You need more than product/market fit. You need alignment …

How to organize your time when your startup is your side-hustle

April 24th, 2018

What’s been happening?
  • New iTunes review from Shane Smith in Australia: "Keep up the great work. Love hearing the behind-the-scenes part of setting …

Startup money

April 17th, 2018

Recent news

We need to talk

April 10th, 2018

What’s been happening?
  • Is the Macbook Pro 2013 the best computer ever made?
    • Jon's review of the new Macbook Pro: the screen, the keyboard, the …

My teenager wants to play Dungeons & Dragons

April 3rd, 2018

Jon and Justin discuss "Why did we choose podcasting? And why now?" Picking the right idea, the right market, and having the right timing is crucial.

Six screens and a power glove

March 27th, 2018

This episode is sponsored by Bullet Train. If you’re building a SaaS in Ruby on Rails stop what you’re doing right now, and visit

You …

What are you scared of?

March 20th, 2018

  • We’ve opened up early access! We’ve been inviting people by email.
  • We currently have 15 shows on our platform. In four months, we’ve served …

I want Castle Grayskull

March 13th, 2018

A story

In 1999, Basecamp started a blog called Signal vs Noise, which they billed as “Strong opinions and shared thoughts on design, business, and tech.”

It had a huge impact on their business. By 2009, over 100,000 …

How to find a cofounder (our story)

March 6th, 2018

Who are we?Jon is a Web Designer and Developer in Chicago. He’s done great work for companies like Cards Against Humanity and Blackbox. Justin is a Product Manager and Podcaster from Canada. He’s done great work for …

What does it take to build a SaaS in 2018?

February 17th, 2018

Jon Buda and Justin Jackson are building and launching a new product this year called Transistor.

You can follow along as we explore this question:

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