Build Your SaaS

Justin catches up with his old internet friend Paul Jarvis. Today, Paul co-founded Fathom Analytics with Jack Ellis: a simple alternative to Google Analytics. Paul is also the author of the book "Company of One," which has influenced a whole generation of indie entrepreneurs (and has been reviewed by Cal Newport, Chris Guillebeau, Ben Chestnut, Tiago Forte, and more). Previously, Justin and Paul did a weekly mastermind, where they supported and encouraged each other around our indie businesses. They decided to do a catch-up call and recorded it so you could listen in. πŸ‘


Highlights:
  • (00:10) - Intro
  • (02:20) - Being off the internet
  • (03:58) - What's a typical day for Paul?
  • (06:21) - Looking back at our Mastermind call
  • (08:08) - There's no beginning and no end
  • (10:36) - Things that are out of your control affect your business
  • (13:08) - Does Justin's surfing metaphor make sense to a surfer?
  • (16:11) - How would you start an indie business in 2023?
  • (22:05) - You've got to get in motion
  • (25:08) - Using products in your category for a long time
  • (27:53) - Is there still any room in Saas?
  • (31:56) - The act of making the bet
  • (38:45) - Is freelancing still viable in 2023?
  • (42:55) - Company design is lifestyle design
  • (45:00) - Worrying about being stagnant
  • (47:20) - How do you handle customer feature requests?
  • (52:08) - It's ok to be late to a shift in the market
  • (58:24) - Caring is an indie advantage
  • (01:05:05) - Collaboration is what gets us anywhere


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Creators & Guests

Host
Justin Jackson
Co-founder of Transistor.fm
Editor
Chris Enns
Owner of Lemon Productions
Guest
Paul Jarvis
Co-founder of Fathom Analytics, author of Company of One

What is Build Your SaaS?

Interested in building your own SaaS company? Follow the journey of Transistor.fm as they bootstrap a podcast hosting startup.

Justin Jackson:

Hey, welcome to Build your SaaS. This is the behind the scenes story of what it takes to build a web app, a SaaS, an indie startup in 2023. I'm Justin Jackson. I'm the co-founder of Transistor. And this week, I've got a real treat for you.

Justin Jackson:

I spoke with my old friend, Paul Jarvis. Paul Jarvis: the guy that invented the internet! [chuckles] Well, actually, he's the cofounder of Fathom Analytics. And Paul and I did a mastermind for years. A a weekly hangout with, Jarrod Drysdale. The 3 of us would get together on Zoom and talk about our businesses, talk about life.

Justin Jackson:

And, Paul and I had not spoken in a while. So we thought we would Do a call, but also record our little audio reunion for all of you and, publish it on our podcast feeds. Paul and his co-founder Jack have an amazing podcast called Above Board, which you should go check out. Anyway, here is my conversation with Paul.

Paul Jarvis:

Paul Jarvis. What is happening? How's it going? Not too bad, man. How are you?

Justin Jackson:

I'm sorry. I was just a little bit in a rush because it's my oldest son's 18th birthday.

Paul Jarvis:

You don't have enough gray hair to have an 18 year old.

Justin Jackson:

Dude, I've got Sadie too – she is going into her 3rd year at UVic. She's 20. She'll be she'll be 21 In December, which is the same age I was when I got married. So...

Paul Jarvis:

Jeez. Wow.

Justin Jackson:

Dude, it's good to see you. It's been so long, man. And things for you are good? You're enjoying not being on the Internet?

Paul Jarvis:

I mean, yeah. More and more every day. It seems so trivial to me. The longer I'm off of The longer I'm offline, the more trivial everything on the Internet seems. And it's weird because, like, when I was on the Internet, like, none of it seemed trivial.

Paul Jarvis:

And now all of it does. Everything. Because Jack tells me Jack tells me about the Internet every day.

Justin Jackson:

Yeah. You get he probably gives you the Coles Notes every week or something.

Paul Jarvis:

Exactly. He tells me what's going on in in the startup space and with Laravel and all of that.

Justin Jackson:

And and you're just like, great.

Paul Jarvis:

Just like, cool. I'm a get back to work now.

Justin Jackson:

Have you been have you been spending time? Are you still doing some gardening? Are you still what's recreational, Paul, look like these days if you're not writing a newsletter, you're not writing a blog.

Paul Jarvis:

Not writing anything. Yeah. I don't spend any time on the computer unless I'm working. Like, unless I have to be on the computer, I don't. So right now I'm in I'm doing a kitchen reno, which

Justin Jackson:

I don't right now.

Paul Jarvis:

Yeah. I don't, I don't.

Justin Jackson:

You don't. Yeah. No. Don't do that at all.

Paul Jarvis:

Don't do that. But yeah, man. I mean, gardening a lot, hanging out at the beach with friends a lot, Riding my electric dirt bike a lot. Oh, sweet. Just being outside.

Paul Jarvis:

Like, it's I mean, it's raining today, which is weird because it's The island and it's summer, but Yeah. It's, like, 25 degree other than today, it's 25 degrees sunny every single day for, like, 2 months, And then it's cool at night. It's perfect. It's just like, why why not be outside? Right?

Justin Jackson:

Oh, well yeah. And take me through this. So, like, A typical day for you now. What does it look like? What what's like, what are you doing?

Paul Jarvis:

Yeah. I mean, Wake up early. I've always woken up early.

Justin Jackson:

How are how early were you talking about here?

Paul Jarvis:

Between 46. So Oh, okay. Wow.

Justin Jackson:

I didn't realize you were always that up that early.

Paul Jarvis:

Yeah. I mean yeah. Usually about 5 or 6, but lately, My body's been like, the sun's out. Okay. Get up.

Paul Jarvis:

But I mean, like, Jack is, I guess, 2 hours ahead. Our other folks are 8 hours ahead. So the however early I wake up, I'm the last person

Justin Jackson:

something to work.

Paul Jarvis:

So yeah. And then I work for several hours, and then I usually, like, make lunch, which takes a little while. And then go do then go outside more. Yeah. So I I it's still like I still I think I've always worked, like, 4 to 6 hours a day.

Paul Jarvis:

Yeah. And it's still about 4 to 6 hours a day.

Justin Jackson:

And no other computer time outside of that?

Paul Jarvis:

I mean, like at night we we'll watch like Netflix and stuff. Like Yeah. But Yeah. Like, I try to be in the sunlight, like, actually in the sunlight for some of the day and then just, like, being outside with light For Yeah. A lot of the day too.

Paul Jarvis:

So

Justin Jackson:

And no phone time? Are you pretty good?

Paul Jarvis:

Just My screen time Jack was asking about this. He's like, my screen time is, like, 4 hours or 6 hours or whatever it was. I think mine's, like, 20, 30 minutes. Like, if I need to look something up, I'm not gonna, like, not look it up. But, otherwise, like, I just Don't care, I guess.

Paul Jarvis:

Like, it's just not nothing I don't know. It I'm curious

Justin Jackson:

remarkable, man.

Paul Jarvis:

Yeah. I'm curious about How you do things as well running a business. But, like, there's not that many emerge like, there's not that many emergencies. There's not many things that are like, Oh, I need to deal with this now versus tomorrow or the next. Mhmm.

Paul Jarvis:

I do I will caveat that with I do work 7 days a week, 4 to 6 hours, not 5 to 6 hours.

Justin Jackson:

Okay.

Paul Jarvis:

Because I like work I like working. Like, I like to get my work done in the morning. So Saturday and Sunday, I don't care.

Justin Jackson:

Just another day and you like to consist the rhythm. When you and I were doing that mastermind call every week, How long ago do you think that was? That we we kinda stopped it right when we were both starting our current companies.

Paul Jarvis:

Probably 4 or 5 years ago. Yeah. So probably It's pre it's way pre COVID.

Justin Jackson:

It was pre COVID. Yeah. So 2018 is when we stopped, and we probably Yeah. Did those calls for at least 3 years. Mhmm.

Justin Jackson:

It felt like you were in a little bit different of a place, but I was, like, still really building up to something. I had, like, a few good line drives Mhmm. At the time I mean and you know what that kind of business is like running when you're launching courses. It's just a lot of launching. Oh, yeah.

Justin Jackson:

And so It often felt like those calls, we were just, like, always talking about what we had just launched, what the results were, How we felt about that. And then it was, like, gearing up for the next thing. And this cycle, the difference with the SaaS is, Again, every business is different, but when you launch something that has legs and it gets running, Its momentum really does carry you kind of by itself a lot more than other businesses I've done. And so these days, My cadence feels way more, like, just showing up every day and pushing the rock a little bit further down the path, you know? Yep.

Justin Jackson:

Does it feel like that for you too?

Paul Jarvis:

Oh my god. There's some weeks where Jack and I are like, we both worked really hard this week. Like, yep. Yep. Like, The fuck did we do?

Paul Jarvis:

It's like, we put out a 1,000,000 little fires that needed to be put out and nothing. I think that's probably the biggest struggle that that I have is there's no beginning and no end. Yeah. It's just all things that need to happen, and most of them aren't very big and forgettable. Yeah.

Paul Jarvis:

And then It's just, like, on to the next thing. Yeah. Like, even we were I was talking to our, digital privacy officer this morning, and she's like, What are you guys even working on with Fathom right now? I'm like, a ton of stuff. She's like, what?

Paul Jarvis:

I'm like, I don't even know. There's just, like, It's just I'm working on a billing box, like, the the UI of a billing box Yeah. Today. But I I won't remember that tomorrow because it's it's kind of inconsequential. Yeah.

Paul Jarvis:

Yeah. So it's like Yeah.

Justin Jackson:

I almost don't like it when people ask me what I'm what I'm up to because it's like, like, maybe I have an email in my inbox from my lawyer about a bunch of stuff he wanted me to check over. And I'm like, John and I talked about it, and we're like, oh god. We just don't have time for this right now, so we pushed that to the side. But that's still running in my brain. And then I'm training a new customer support person, And then I'm also still have a Canadian company that I have to run, and so I'm, like, talking to the accountant about that right now.

Justin Jackson:

And then, oh, man, I should probably write a blog post because content is kind of like the lifeblood of the business. Like, we write content, and then we get Rank for search terms. And that's like, oh, yeah. I should probably also check on the search terms. And then, oh, yeah.

Justin Jackson:

Someone needs to get someone's gotta run payroll. So there's just all these things. You know, in the beginning, it was like we were growing 20% month over month, 30% month over month. And now, like, We've definitely plateaued in the sense that we're still growing, but it's like every month, it's just like It's smaller. You know what I mean?

Paul Jarvis:

Yeah. Yeah.

Justin Jackson:

And, part of it that is part of that's great because I feel like in most markets, it's like the wave of the market is gonna carry you most of the time. Right? So The the wave of the podcasting market, I feel like, has taken us to its kind of natural our natural cruising altitude.

Paul Jarvis:

Yep.

Justin Jackson:

And then it feels like I don't know how you feel. I mean, you've had some external things that have probably affected your business. Like, I imagine yeah. Google anal has Google Analytics been crazy for you? Like, that new people switching?

Paul Jarvis:

I mean, when Google killed off, Universal Analytics, it was a lot. Yeah. And we sent them a cake. I don't know if you saw the

Justin Jackson:

Yes. I saw that.

Paul Jarvis:

We actually sent Google headquarters A cake thanking them for GA 4 because it feels like Google is wants To just not have SMBs as customers for analytics? Yeah. And we're like, hi. Yeah. Fathom's over here.

Paul Jarvis:

Perfect. Positioned. Like, we can't even control that. But I think I don't know if you remember, like, the week that I launched Fathom with the previous cofounder was the week that Zuckerberg was testifying in front of Congress for privacy issues. Yeah.

Paul Jarvis:

And just, like, there's things like that that just had like, I can't time those things. It's just shit that happens Yeah. That's beneficial. Yeah. And I think even with podcasting, like, Through the pandemic, it seemed like a lot of people were finding podcasts Yeah.

Paul Jarvis:

Starting podcasts. And it's just like you didn't get to plan that, but If you can capitalize on it, then awesome.

Justin Jackson:

Yeah. And, also, I mean, I think it's kinda like it's because I've I've been using this surfing metaphor forever, and you're you're a real surfer. So that I've never actually gone surfing. But My understanding is, like, when you're when you're paddling out for a wave, you've gotten a sense of, like, this is how it's gonna perform. You know?

Justin Jackson:

It's like, oh, that's a pretty good size wave. You're looking at the shape of a wave. But a wave can, like, do things that you didn't expect that can be good or bad. Mhmm. And I think it's kinda like that.

Justin Jackson:

You're riding the wave, and all of a sudden it's like, Oh, wow. Like, I'm gonna get a lot more a lot more ride out of this than I thought, or now it's swelling and whatever, and I'm gonna go this way. And You can't really control the wave. You can control which waves you paddle out for. Like, you can say, you know what?

Justin Jackson:

That looks Pretty good that the size and shape of that wave, I'm gonna go up for that one as opposed to a bad wave. Right? Like, I think that's the that's where the The metaphor is kind of its most poignant is that it's possible to paddle out for a wave that's not gonna last very long. And in some ways, like, the course business that you and I were both in is like that every course you you're like swimming out. It's like, okay, here's a little one.

Justin Jackson:

It's like, okay, You know, we're we're kinda done as opposed to, like, oh, here's a fair sized wave. There's not a ton of Competitors on it. Not a ton of other people gunning for that wave, and it feels like the right size and shape of something I could ride. Do you think that metaphor works? Is there is there anything about surfing I'm missing?

Justin Jackson:

I think

Paul Jarvis:

so. Yeah. I mean, I definitely think that What you just said, the last point, makes a lot of sense because not every wave is right for the surfer Yeah. As well. Right?

Paul Jarvis:

Like, I can depending on the type of board I'm riding, like, that's not gonna be a good wave for me on a longboard today. You every business owner wants to have a business that's sustainable, successful, whatever that means for but, like, it doesn't like, me starting something like Airbnb would be a Stupid idea. Yeah. Like, I I wouldn't function well if I had to have like, if I had to set up in every single market around the world and have 100 or thousands of employee. Like, that doesn't like, that's not the right way for me to do anything.

Justin Jackson:

And there's also That's the equivalent of getting somebody to tow you in on a sea doo. That's venture capital. That's like you're like, we need some we need we need we need to drop this guy on this wave from a helicopter. It's like, okay. Well, good luck, Buddy and that's why so many of those guys crash and burn.

Justin Jackson:

It's, like, the wave is massive. You're gonna need some help getting on there, and then good luck. Right?

Paul Jarvis:

Yep. There's also sets as well. Right? Like, there'll be when you're sitting out when you're sitting past the break waiting for Waves. There's usually like, there'll be a lull where there's no waves.

Paul Jarvis:

Yeah. And then there'll be a bunch of waves. And you can usually, if you're sitting out there for long and if you can read it, Like, there's usually about like, I'm sitting out there. It's like, okay. There's, like, a minute between sets, and there's, like, 2 or 3 good waves in the next set, and then I can wait And just kinda, like, bob up.

Paul Jarvis:

And that's why you see all the surfers just, like, sitting out there bobbing up and down. It's like it's it's in between sets at the moment, so I'm just gonna, like, Wait for it. Yeah. And I think that's the, like, what we were talking about a minute ago about just, like, capitalizing on things you can't control. You can't control the stats.

Paul Jarvis:

You can't control the waves. But If you can capitalize on externalities that happen Mhmm. Then you can get a little bit further. Yeah. Right?

Justin Jackson:

Yeah. And there's another part of that that I love. The the the surfing metaphor is so potent. Like, I would've I wish I could've used something that I do like snowboarding, but it doesn't work in the same way. But surfer surfers have that thing where if you're in the water and you've been in those waters before, so you might have had a favorite bought into Fino or something.

Paul Jarvis:

Yeah.

Justin Jackson:

You know the water. So on any given day, if there's a good wave coming, if you've been in the water, You have a better chance of catching that wave for a variety of reasons. You know that area. You know how the waves appear. You know the feel.

Justin Jackson:

You know, what looks like good weather, bad weather, you know, how hard you're gonna have to paddle out, you know, all of those things. Right? And I think I'm I'm I've been stressing about this talk I have to give. I haven't given a talk in a while, and they want me to talk on how I would start an indie business in 2023. And the challenging part about this is that Paul starting Fathom.

Justin Jackson:

Paul and Jack starting Fathom and John and Justin starting Transistor. Is the accumulation of being in waters for a long time, Spending a lot of time practicing paddling, spending a lot of time practicing swimming, check understanding the weather, understanding the patterns, picking up Layers and layers of skills, better equipment, better networking, better, friends, you know, like, All these things add up to Yeah. You being able to see a great wave and saying, I'm gonna go out for that. Now if, you know, I'll just make up a name. Like, Simon just shows up at your spot for the first time, has never been on a surfboard before, Or is from a different, you know, a different place and doesn't understand how the waters work.

Justin Jackson:

Right? If he's only served California waves and he tries to surf Tofino waves, it's a It's a brand new ocean. Right? And I think it's hard to communicate to people, like, being an entrepreneur and starting A business that's gonna work, it's like an accumulation of everything that's happened to you to that point And what you bring at that moment in those waters for that wave. And, of course, Some people mentioned to me when I talking about a good market, and the people I don't know why people get upset.

Justin Jackson:

Like, I'll mention, I'll be like, check out all these amazing indie businesses like Fathom, Transistor, Laravel, Tailwind, and they're like, well, you guys are like, you know, whatever. They they wanna dismiss these incredible indie businesses. And my point always is they're like, well, analytics like, if I started an analytics company, I wouldn't be able to do as well as Paul and Jack. And I said, that's the point. That's the whole point.

Justin Jackson:

Like, if I showed up in Tofino and went surfing with you, For sure, you would catch more waves. It's just the way it is. If you came to Silver Star snowboarding with me, this was proven to me because my cofounder, John is an amazing athlete. Can kick my ass in any sport, running, whatever. We go we go snowboarding in Revelstoke, and it's like the one thing Where I'm in the lead.

Justin Jackson:

You know what I mean? So I know you're not in the business of giving advice to people anymore, but how when when you advise people, That is a tricky part. Like, do you have any

Paul Jarvis:

Yeah.

Justin Jackson:

Any ways you've spelled it out that that helps? Or Yeah. I mean,

Paul Jarvis:

I think experience is a moat. Yeah. Right? Like, you can do it without that, but it's harder. And I think the and and it's A self fulfilling prophecy after a while too.

Paul Jarvis:

Right? Because in the beginning, like, I had the experience of all of the things that I did. Yeah. And when I launched Fathom, I launched it to my audience. Like, I don't I don't know how to go out and, like, promote things as I've never done that.

Paul Jarvis:

Yeah. But I had a group of people who followed along from, like, my vegan cookbook to, like, web design to books to courses to and they just kinda, like it didn't even it didn't even matter what the top like, it didn't matter what the niche was, what the topics was, what when it people just fucking followed along. Yeah. Like, not all of them, but enough of them where it kinda gained traction. And with Fathom, it was just like I launched it to my newsletter.

Paul Jarvis:

Danny, who is the original cofounder, launched it to his newsletter, for WordPress folks. Right? Like, That kind of was the catalyst to kick off growth. And then as it's gone on, we have The experience of having customers for 4 or 5 years who are just, like, all in on Fathom. Mhmm.

Paul Jarvis:

Right? And the more that they stick around, the more that they like it and the more that they feel like a connection to it. So just the the fact that you exist for a long enough time in a market Yeah. One is a good trust signal Because it's like, you haven't gone anywhere. You haven't disappeared.

Paul Jarvis:

Like, that's Yeah. There are so many analytics companies that started around the same time as Fathom that basically were just to fathom. Mhmm. They don't exist anymore. Yeah.

Paul Jarvis:

Don't care then. Don't care now. There's there's more now. Don't care. Yep.

Paul Jarvis:

Because I think part of it is the the reputation. Yeah. Right? Like, the reputation that I had. Mhmm.

Paul Jarvis:

The reputation that Jack has Yeah. That he's been building Yeah. Quite well over the last couple years. And I think that that's, like and I don't think there's a hack to that. I don't think there's a You could become famous instantly, and you're not gonna have the pull of the sway or be able to build the moat as somebody who has just been, like, Yeah.

Paul Jarvis:

Trucking along, doing the thing, like like you and me in the begin. It's not like we even 6 like, We did well enough to keep going, but we didn't like you said, it was just like line dries, line dries Yeah. Thing. And and I don't think it even matters. Like, I don't think at the beginning, You can even fail a bunch of times, and I don't think it really matters.

Paul Jarvis:

But it's building that kind of, like, just awareness of What you want and what the market wants from you kind of thing.

Justin Jackson:

Yeah. And in some ways, it's like surfing is such a great example because if If I wanted to start surfing, I'm 43. I just know, okay, well, what would that take? I'd I'd need to move somewhere where I could surf every day or at least every week. And Mhmm.

Justin Jackson:

I would I know I would suck at the beginning. I know I probably Need lots and lots of time in the water. I'd probably need a coach. I'd probably be and I could also see kind of my trajectory in that, You know, it's like but guaranteed, if I moved moved somewhere where there was surfing every day and I took it seriously and I showed up Every single day, I would get better. And eventually, I would become a pretty good surfer.

Justin Jackson:

Mhmm. And it it's kind of like that in business. It's like You gotta get in motion. And in motion could mean you start blogging, And you're just blogging every day, and it's like that puts you in motion. And then because you did that, That leads to like, you and I probably met through either blogging or podcasting.

Justin Jackson:

1 of the 2. And It's just each of these things, like, meeting you and Jared at that point in my life when we started that mastermind was Crucial for me to get to the next thing. Like, without that connection, it wouldn't have happened. But We would have never made that connection if I hadn't started blogging or started writing a newsletter or started podcasting and built some skills, like, actually Gotten a job in customer support and then worked my way up to product manager. And then, you know, it these things all build on each other.

Justin Jackson:

If someone wants to build an indie business, you kind of just have to get in motion, and it could happen faster than it happened for you and I. We know younger people that, you know, like, Nathan Barry just started way earlier. He started when he was 16 or something, and now he's 18. Yeah.

Paul Jarvis:

I think he makes, like, $80,000,000 a day with ConvertKit or something like that.

Justin Jackson:

But the key like, you can't hate on them because You can look back on it, and you can just see, like, these are the reps. Like, he started

Paul Jarvis:

Mhmm.

Justin Jackson:

And he was just, like, Got a job, I think, when he was 17 at a web agency and just started working and then built his own iPhone app and just It's iterations bunch

Paul Jarvis:

of info products.

Justin Jackson:

Yeah. It's being in motion. And if you look at any of these guys, like Taylor Otwell with Laravel. He just starts programming in PHP, wanted to make programming in PHP better, Starts building this thing. But in his mind, he was building an invoicing app.

Justin Jackson:

Like, that was his goal.

Paul Jarvis:

Yeah.

Justin Jackson:

And Adam Wavin, when Adam Wavin Stumbled into Tailwind. He was building a, like, a Gumroad competitor, and he's just, like, live streaming it.

Paul Jarvis:

Mhmm.

Justin Jackson:

So, yeah, I I don't know if like, it's it's hard to communicate that to people to say because if if someone comes to you and and you'd In some ways, the question is, like, well, like, what risks are you taking? How are you putting yourself out there? What work are you putting out? What are you doing to expand your world a little bit and to get yourself in motion. And that the comment is well, I'm not I'm just like, Yeah.

Justin Jackson:

I'm staying in my little bubble. It's a lot harder, I think, to start a business in that sense. And then the second thing I think about a lot with you and tale you and Fathom and all these other businesses Is that one of the way reasons you were able to launch an analytics company is because you've been using analytics for a long time. Mhmm.

Paul Jarvis:

And Since Urchin.

Justin Jackson:

Yeah. Since since the like, I'm sure you you tried you you were familiar with stats in, in medium, Google Analytics, WordPress had stats, Mailchimp had stats. Like, you just think back all the way back to probably, page counters and things like that.

Paul Jarvis:

Do you remember Mint? I think Sean Inman made it. Mint. Have a Mint? No.

Paul Jarvis:

Mint stats. Mint stats? Such a it was, I think, half a mint. I wonder if that still exists. I can't even find it anymore.

Justin Jackson:

Oh, have a mint. Here we go. Yeah. Here it is on Smith.

Paul Jarvis:

This is literally Fathom, but, like Like, I used Mint. And this is like I used Mint probably 20 years ago. And I was like, this is cool. It's like a single page of analytics. And then it they'd went away.

Paul Jarvis:

I was like, oh, that sucks. Mhmm. And then, like, I don't know. I I didn't think about it for 10 years, and then I was like, Google Analytics is a dumpster fire of clicking around. Why can't I just have one page?

Paul Jarvis:

Like, I don't I don't care enough about analytics to spend that much time in analytics. And that's really what Fathom is. It's like, you don't care that much about stats Yeah. But you just want Some of them and yeah.

Justin Jackson:

Well, this is the other thing about being in the water for a while is you you've seen So many tides come in and out. This happens in all sports. It's like, you know, a decade ago, they couldn't imagine Professional servers couldn't imagine riding some of the waves they're riding today. It was just like, it's not possible. But in the same way, Things that maybe didn't work out in, you know, 99 on the web, they could have a second A new tide could come in, and all of a sudden that idea, the the tectonic plates of the world have shifted, and all of a sudden it's like, You know what?

Justin Jackson:

Now's a great time to start to start a simple analytics company. Right? Yeah. And you had that seed in your head from From this product here, like, this was this is I think they launched in 2,005.

Paul Jarvis:

Wow. Yeah.

Justin Jackson:

Oh, I I do remember this. Oh my

Paul Jarvis:

this It was great. Like, I loved it, but it was just such a, like, little niche thing. And I think he sold it for $20 For, like, a one time because SaaS didn't exist then. Yeah. Like, there there wasn't such a thing as, like, oh, you can charge money every month for software.

Paul Jarvis:

Yeah. Yeah. This There can be margins in software indefinitely.

Justin Jackson:

Well, and this is another thing is, like, when people ask me if you can still, You know, is there still any room in SaaS? Mhmm. I think some things have gotten harder. Like, channels are way noisier than they used to be. There's also gonna be sometimes the world just operates on a frequency that you might not like.

Justin Jackson:

Like, if nowadays, if the best way for an indie Company to get noticed is on TikTok and you hate TikTok, it is gonna be harder in that sense. Right? Yeah. Yeah. But these thing these ideas and concepts that may have they they always there's these cycles where it's like Like, one of the reasons I thought it would be a good time to launch a podcast hosting platform when we did is there just hadn't been anything new for years.

Justin Jackson:

And sometimes people are looking Same with analytics. Yeah. And and sometimes people are just waiting for something fresh, and then it's, like, oh, wow. This is a new take on It just feels cleaner. It just feels more modern.

Justin Jackson:

It feels like people wanna give some time they're just ready for a change. And, sure, a lot of people might keep using the old thing. But then you've got all these folks already in motion, already using Google Analytics, Who are like, oh, god. Like like, for me, the joy of using using Fathom is that I actually look at it. It's like, it's like, let let me look at it.

Justin Jackson:

Okay. Simple one pager. I can see what's going on. Great. I don't need to do any other Things is just always it's a pinned tab in my browser.

Justin Jackson:

And it's just simple. And I think there is these kind of natural turnover periods, where, you know, I mean, talk about Another area that, you know, maybe is a little crusty is like the actual mint.com, or you need a budget. I saw people talking about you need a budget the other day. You need a budget. It's just kinda old and crusty.

Justin Jackson:

It's still a great business, I think. I think they're still doing great, but there's this opportunity for something new. And the other thing that you realize once you get older is that There's just new adults coming online every day. You know? Like, I was just saying my my son is turning 18 soon.

Justin Jackson:

My daughter's 20. They're, like, brand new adults, and they have these thoughts where they'll, like, message me, like, you know, my daughter will go, Dad, is there any way to, like, save and bookmark, like, things you wanna read later on the web? It's like, yeah. There is. And they've never heard of any of these things.

Justin Jackson:

Right? And Yeah. It's like an opportunity to like, when I'm recommending stuff, I'm like, well, I could recommend Pocket, but Maybe there's something new that's better. Like, let's take a look and see what's happening. There so there's still, I think, opportunities for people To like, okay, it's time to, you know, there hasn't been anything new in this category for a while.

Justin Jackson:

Let's I mean, FreshBooks. FreshBooks has been out for a while. Maybe there is something new there. Maybe not. But once you've spent a lot of time in the water, Like, in this case, I'm just saying, like, Internet, society, the world.

Justin Jackson:

This is the one advantage of growing older is you just see these cycles. You see these same tides come in and out, and you're like, you know what? You start to get a sense for This might be the right time for, and then you make a bet. And it's not to say those bets are always gonna work out. Because, like, at the same time you launched Fathom, you also launched Pico or something?

Paul Jarvis:

Oh, yeah. That's right. It was basically a medium because medium, it was getting too massive, and I didn't know how to use medium after a while even though I was one of the first People using meetings. I was just like, let's just have a writing platform, and there's, like, always a gazillion writing platforms.

Justin Jackson:

Yeah.

Paul Jarvis:

And we didn't even end up launching that. I think we sold it to Ghost just left it at or Ghost acquired it, and we left it at that. I totally forgot about that until now. Yeah. But I think part of it is, though, is the act of making the bet because that derisks things.

Paul Jarvis:

Because in the beginning, You have all of the risk because it's all in your head.

Justin Jackson:

You don't

Paul Jarvis:

know if this thing's gonna work, what's gonna work, and you don't know anything other than the idea that you have, which is important an entrepreneur, but you don't have the you haven't tested like, it it hasn't been tested. Like, you don't know if your bet is going to pay off or Send you to broke. Right?

Justin Jackson:

Yeah.

Paul Jarvis:

But you need to it the act of actually making the bet and trying the thing and putting the thing out there Mhmm. Is, I think, what builds that Muscle or what builds that motor, what builds out whatever we're talking about here. It's it's it's that you don't know how a market's going to react to things. Like, Fathom was me pissed off at Google Analytics, and I just drew up a screenshot and I tweeted it because that's what I did. Yeah.

Paul Jarvis:

Yeah. I was just like, why can't analytics just be fucking this? And everybody's like, yes, please. Fry from Futurama. Like, take my money.

Paul Jarvis:

Futurama's back, apparently. There's a new episode of Futurama that

Justin Jackson:

shows up

Paul Jarvis:

to speed up.

Justin Jackson:

Hot tip. There's a new, there are new seasons of Beavis and Butthead, And they are fantastic. Like, like, better than the originals, incredible writing, hilarious. You gotta put it out. You gotta ship it.

Justin Jackson:

This is kinda like, okay. I'm gonna I'm gonna swim out, and then you're just you're Trying out waves is, like, oh, is this the one? And you're, like, maybe not. You know? We've made it, like, way too shameful to have something that doesn't work out.

Justin Jackson:

You know? It's like, just try something, ship it. And if it doesn't work out, like, it's fine. It's just That's how it works. You you go after a wave and whatever.

Justin Jackson:

It wasn't your day or it didn't work out or it wasn't a very good wave. It's fine. You just let it go. But the worst thing you could do at that point is be like, okay. Well, I'm I'm packing it in.

Justin Jackson:

You know, I'm I'm done now. I'm never gonna Paddle out for another wave. It's, like, no. You gotta just keep the next day, you gotta get up and paddle out again. Yeah.

Justin Jackson:

The only way you can really get a sense for, Like I said, Adam started building that Gumroad clone. And as he was dipping his toe into that water, He was kind of like, Ah, this isn't really the thing. You know, it's not. It doesn't have that Momentum I'm looking for. But, man, people are really into this CSS thing I'm doing.

Justin Jackson:

Maybe I should focus on that. And That's how you kind of figure things out as you you as you're in motion, shipping something, you learn something, you get a new observation, The market all of a sudden sends you a bunch of take my money gifts, and then you're like, okay. That's pretty good signal. You know? Yeah.

Paul Jarvis:

I mean, I think it was the Canadian icon Wayne Gretzky who said that you you don't get to ride 100% of the waves that you don't paddle out for. Is this something like something like that? I was trying to make the hockey thing work for the, for surfing.

Justin Jackson:

Yeah. I like it. You miss you miss a 100% of the shots. But you

Paul Jarvis:

see people you see peep when surfing so you actually see people because, like, if you're gonna catch a like, you face The way the waves are coming, but you have to spin 180 to catch the wave. So you'll sit out there sometimes and see people who will spin 180 and do, like, 1 or 2 paddles and then, like, Stop and then let the wave go, and they're like

Justin Jackson:

Oh, interesting.

Paul Jarvis:

Doing that makes sense sometimes. If you do that every time, you're not surfing. Yes. You're sitting on a surfboard in the ocean. Yeah.

Paul Jarvis:

Yeah. Right? So, like, if and if you're not putting things out there for people to give you feedback on

Justin Jackson:

Mhmm.

Paul Jarvis:

There's not like, You you've you've literally learned nothing. If you work if you and this I think this is probably one of the things that frustrates me the the most about people who are Wanting to start a business or trying to, like, I wish I could be an entrepreneur. When they, like, do something and they build it and then they're like, oh, no. This isn't right. Like, I'm just gonna, like, shove Then they'll do it again with a different just like, you didn't learn anything.

Paul Jarvis:

Don't go to the next thing. You didn't learn anything on this thing. Yeah. Come on.

Justin Jackson:

Put it out there so people can see it.

Paul Jarvis:

Yeah.

Justin Jackson:

I mean, that's absolutely the scary part. 100%. I mean, I can remember. It it's nice when you can do it iteratively. I think we both did this with both of our products, but we, you know, we started building it, and we started inviting people slowly.

Justin Jackson:

Mhmm. And then we did an official launch. Let's say we started working on it together in, like, January 2018. John and I launched August 2018, I think. And, you know, you you build up to something and you're kinda gradually putting it out there.

Justin Jackson:

But I had to put my reputation on the line, like, I was Manually emailing people saying, hey, I'm building this new podcast hosting provider. Would you switch your podcast to transistor and pay us for it to use beta software. And there's something about that of, like, putting yourself on the line That does get easier the more you ship stuff because it's like Mhmm. I'm putting this out. I'm hoping it works.

Justin Jackson:

And but I'm also Going to be willing to cut my losses if it's just not the right thing. But you're right. If you just hold it all in and you don't show anybody and you don't there's, like, Some people here in Vernon that

Paul Jarvis:

are building a

Justin Jackson:

business. And I'm just so worried because it's just all in their little ecosystem like they haven't. It's like, do you have a waiting list? No. Is there anybody that you've shown this to and said, hey.

Justin Jackson:

Could you buy this? No. And you just start to get that anxiety of, like, Like, even if it's just a screenshot, like, how many designers are afraid to just, like, send out a image that they made I'd say, hey. What do you think about this? Because it is it is you know, you and I have experienced the dark side of that too.

Justin Jackson:

It is sometimes shitty Putting your work out there.

Paul Jarvis:

Yeah. I mean, I have 20 years of showing clients screenshots of things and just being, like, brutalized sometimes. Just like Like, I've had people fire me for showing them the the first round of mock ups for a website Wow. And it being so off, and they've just been like, No. No iterations.

Paul Jarvis:

No nothing. Just nope. Done. And that like, that happens. It didn't happen very often, but, like, I still like, I viscerally remember.

Paul Jarvis:

Like, I remember the name of the person who last did that to me because it's like it stings. But, like, I don't know. Probably 4 or 500 times that didn't happen. Yeah. Yeah.

Paul Jarvis:

I was just like, this is a project that just went fine. Do you do

Justin Jackson:

you think you focused on freelancing for a long time. Do you think that's still a good path for people?

Paul Jarvis:

Not a clue. I literally have no idea because, yeah, I just I've been So far out of it for so long. Mhmm. This is another reason why I kinda just, like, I don't really need to give advice on the Internet. Because, like, I don't I feel like the more that I've focused in on Fathom, the more I've kind of like, I sold all of my courses with the communities.

Paul Jarvis:

Like, I just I don't talk to people who are starting anymore, whereas for 20 odd years, I was talking to people who were starting. Yeah. And I always had My finger on the pulse of not only what it was like to be at the top of an industry, but also starting and trying to get there. And so I just knew for the longest time so many people who were starting, and now it's just like, oh. Yeah.

Paul Jarvis:

I just, I don't know. I talked to like, all of my friends right now are retired. Really? So, like, I well, all the people that live around here in the middle of nowhere don't have jobs because there's, Like, you're not gonna do anything, so they're all retired. So, like, when I hang out with them, it's just like, oh, yeah.

Paul Jarvis:

You were working today. I'm like, yeah. But For a little bit. Like, not for long. Yeah.

Paul Jarvis:

We're still hanging out.

Justin Jackson:

Yeah. You're you're still you're in the semi retired phase. How how ambitious do you feel these days?

Paul Jarvis:

None. I mean, I wasn't I guess I was ambitious to a point. I've always been ambitious to a point

Justin Jackson:

Mhmm.

Paul Jarvis:

Where I've always wanted success, but I've more cared about success on my terms and freedom than just, Like, I wanna succeed at all cause, like, the WeWork person. Mhmm. Whatever that guy's name is. The WeWork person. Yeah.

Paul Jarvis:

I watched the it was a good show. I watched the Apple TV thing. Yeah. I just, like, this guy just did, like, literally everything possible to win at something.

Justin Jackson:

Yeah. I'm just, like, Meh. I don't Like, with Fathom, are you are you feeling like you just, like, want it to keep growing because like, do you wanna do this for another 10 years?

Paul Jarvis:

Not for 10 years now. Another For some amount of time in between. I don't know how long, but, like, 10 years would probably be Pushing the max.

Justin Jackson:

Mhmm.

Paul Jarvis:

But I also like, it could turn into a situation where I just own Fathom, and I'm not an operator in Fathom. Yeah. Which is likely. Like, that could possibly happen where, like, yeah, I I want Fathom to keep growing because I want to do well for Jack and I. I wanna do well for the people that work for us.

Justin Jackson:

Mhmm.

Paul Jarvis:

Like, I want them to and we're so stickler about, Like, them be without being, like, pushy about it, but for them to Have, like, the work life balance that Jack and I do where we I just took a month off. Jack's heading off for a couple months, And it's just like, I just do the work, but take as much time off as you want. Mhmm. And I don't like, we don't care. Mhmm.

Paul Jarvis:

Like, we want to as we make more money, we wanna pay them more like, the people that work for us are fucking awesome, and we never want them to leave Yeah. Kind of thing. Yeah. Right? So, like, I don't I don't want Fathom to be, like, A 100 person company

Justin Jackson:

Yeah.

Paul Jarvis:

Because that doesn't I don't know. That doesn't seem fun for me. Yeah. But if we had a couple more people, if we made a couple more bucks, Cool. Like, that's I'm I'm down for that.

Paul Jarvis:

Yeah. How about you? What what are you what are you looking for for Transistor?

Justin Jackson:

I mean, similar. I think the the The one thing in my head is Transistor does very well. My income has increased a lot, and I've been able since starting Transistor, I've been able to put money away every year. I still have a little bit of anxiety because I have such a big family. It still feels like I'm still trying to put enough away where I would feel, like, totally secure.

Justin Jackson:

You know? But in terms of ambitions for Transistor, like, when John and I started the business, we were clear from the beginning, like, Company design is lifestyle design. Like, we're gonna Mhmm. Design this company in a way that is gonna give us a better life. And so Yep.

Justin Jackson:

When things come along that could make us more money, but would add way more complexity, would require, You know, way more phone calls, way more meetings, way more whatever the things are that we don't want. We've said consistently said no. And it's a little bit more challenging when you get more people on the team because then they also have their aspirations, like, they have their things they want. And there's also always going to be a difference between people too. Like, even just even between John and I, Our ambitions might vary slightly.

Justin Jackson:

But overall, I think the idea of having a calm company is what, You know, attracted John and I to it, and what our employees like the best, you know. I mean, that has been incredibly gratifying to give people This calm work environment where they have tons of autonomy, where I hope they still have lots of purpose and a say, And, you know, the kind of purpose they're gonna, you know, they can come up with their own ideas and propose them and compensation. I've always been the kind of person that we used to talk you and I used to talk about this all the time. I always felt like that $75,000 a year thing that to be happy, I always felt like that's bullshit. I think money has given me a contentment and a peace and a calm That, sure, there's a mark that you get to, but Mhmm.

Justin Jackson:

I think that mark is Most people, you could pay them more, and it would help them more. You know, like, there there would just be, like, a peace and a calm in their lives that, I think and we've seen it. You know, we've we've had employees and contractors that we've been able to pay well, and that's made a big impact on their life. So but on the other side, I'm I I sometimes do get a little bit worried about us getting stagnant because now if we're at cruising altitude, I go, okay. Like, it's one thing to just show up every day and just push the rock a little bit further down the path.

Justin Jackson:

But There are kind of bigger things in my head of, like, on one hand anxiety, like, this could all go away. It's unlikely at this point that I'll wake up tomorrow and it'll all be gone, but, you know, it could go away. And so, You know, maybe when everyone was buying podcast hosting companies, maybe I should have thought more about selling. So there's still a slight bit of anxiety that I think drives me. And,

Paul Jarvis:

yeah, I

Justin Jackson:

don't know. There's I I I feel like I I I sometimes I'm like, ah, I wonder if we should just be pushing it harder and, you know, like, we should, like, really get serious about Doing shape up and having shaping all of our ideas and then doing these these, you know, they don't come sprints, but whatever they call them. And We should set some more deadlines, and we should, you know, just really be super focused. But then on the other hand, I go, but, man, we have such a good life. So I I don't know where to crank all those levers, you know.

Justin Jackson:

Sometimes I I'm like, man, this is just such a good life. Should I mess with it or should I just Yeah.

Paul Jarvis:

I guess for Fathom, like, I wanna keep improving it. I think Also, like, there's a good balance between Jack and I. He's obviously a lot younger than I am, and he has a lot more ambition than I do with, like, oh, let's do this, like, big feature or this big pivot, and I'm always like the, let's pump the brakes a little bit there. But, like, we always find a happy medium where it's just like, okay. Well, this is actually a a really good thing to do.

Paul Jarvis:

We can kinda play off of each other And kinda see where each other's at. Because I think if it was left to me, Fathom wouldn't have very many features. If it was left to him, it would have a lot of features. And so what people like about Fathom is that And so what people like about Fathom is that middle that compromise of like, okay. We did it, but we scaled it back, Or we added this, but we didn't add, like, these 18 other things.

Paul Jarvis:

Yeah. Because it's hard. I think a lot of the time too, like, we have A list of things that customers want. And, like, if we did all those, we would be Google Analytics. Yeah.

Paul Jarvis:

And then nobody would be happy. But then all of these people are like, oh, you should just have like this, this, and then How do you deal with, like, the onslaught of, like, never ending feature requests or suggestions? Or Yeah. Why don't you guys just do x? Yeah.

Paul Jarvis:

Kind of thing.

Justin Jackson:

Yeah. I mean, it has been helpful to have we have these, like, company values and company questions that I still refer back to all the time, which is, like, if we build this, will we still be will we be more excited about Transistor in 6 months or less excited? If we build this, is it going to feel like, is this gonna add more complexity? Because we know everything we add, we have to support. And so is this gonna add something that we don't want?

Justin Jackson:

You know, now we have those discussions as a team, And often, I'm the one you know, I wanna push the envelope a bit and say, hey. Maybe listen. Like, for a while, I was really worried about All the recording podcast recording tools. And I was like, maybe we need to get into this market. Like, it's there's a risk that All of these tools are gonna add hosting, and a few of them did.

Justin Jackson:

And we had the discussion. And, basically, At the time, Jason and John said, as the 2 engineers, they said, this would just be an enormous undertaking. We also have this philosophy that we've built called wait and see, which is just like which is just like, okay. We had Justin has strong feelings. Right?

Justin Jackson:

Like, can't sleep for a week because it's like, I just feel this, like, our competitors are coming for us and maybe we should be pushing ourselves more as a team. But then we had the discussion, and then I was like, okay. Well, why don't we just wait and see what happens? And we wait and see, and it's like, Actually, it ended up being fine. You know, it's like Yeah.

Justin Jackson:

Some people launched hosting. It hasn't really taken off. It's hard to do multiple things well. And so there's this balance. I do often think about the hard question Is if we launch this, is it going to meaningfully impact the number of new people who wanna sign up Or the number of people who will stick around.

Justin Jackson:

And they're those kind of bets when you really think about them And go, like, for example, we could add a podcast advertising marketplace. Besides The fact that that's a very complex business, and we can go out in the market and look at other people that are doing it and go, no one's doing it well, and there's probably a reason behind it. It's just Everybody wants advertisers on their podcast, but there's not that many advertisers. There's all sorts of problems. And, also, would that meaningfully change Like, for us, our bread and butter plan is our $19 starter plan.

Justin Jackson:

It's most of our revenue. Would that meaningfully change the number of people who are signing up? And I just don't think it would. It wouldn't it wouldn't meaningfully change it. And would it meaningfully reduce our churn rate?

Justin Jackson:

I just don't think it would. I could be wrong, but I like weighing things in that sense. Like, for fathom, I think in my head, The one thing that's missing is, like, more conversion stuff. Like, where Mhmm. Like, how can we figure out who's converting on this page?

Justin Jackson:

And to me Yeah. That's the kind of feature that if you could do it within a privacy oriented framework, I think there would be More customers signing up and probably more retention. It's because it's the one big piece that you're missing. If you're Oh, we know. But there's probably a bunch of things on that list that if we went through them and maybe this is where us founders can be helpful to each other because I think outside perspective It's helpful.

Justin Jackson:

You know, there's some times I ask, like, Jason Cohen or whoever. I'm like, what do you think about this? And he'll be like, You know, honestly, that's not gonna change that's not gonna change sign ups. Like, it's just not. Those all of those things together, how we've kind of managed feature requests.

Justin Jackson:

Like right now, there's AI, like, You can a lot of people are adding these one click. It'll transcribe your podcast. It'll automatically generate a title. It'll automatically generate show notes. And I'm feeling a little bit more pressure from that now.

Justin Jackson:

At first, I was like, come on. This is just everyone's doing it or whatever. And I'm like, well, maybe we need to think about it. It's in play, like, we're experimenting with it, but We're also in the market. I'm in the water.

Justin Jackson:

Every wave that comes along, I'm right in the water, right next to all my competitors. It's not like I'm I've I'm, You know, somewhere else. I'm there. I'm feeling it. Yeah.

Justin Jackson:

And if I notice a shift, like, oh, wait a second. Like, You know, generating these automatic show notes is just like, this is a lever we have to pull. Then I think we've got the ability as a small team to actually build things pretty quick. And Yeah. We might be a little bit late, but That's okay too.

Justin Jackson:

You know? It's like when Yeah. When you have existing customers, I think you can afford to wait sometimes and just see How things play out. Right?

Paul Jarvis:

Yeah. I mean, we were a year later than our biggest competitor for Google Analytics import.

Justin Jackson:

Mhmm.

Paul Jarvis:

And We still got it. Yeah. I mean, I think it was like 1,700,000,000 Page use imported in the first 24 hours. Like, we and our sign that was probably our best couple weeks ever. It was probably our best couple weeks ever as far as, like, as far as trials and trial are we really low churn?

Paul Jarvis:

Yeah. Like, if somebody signs up for a trial, They're probably gonna convert. Yeah. Like, that's just Yeah. We have about

Justin Jackson:

I think we, like, between 7075 percent of our trials convert, something like that. Nice.

Paul Jarvis:

Do you require a credit card upfront or no? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Same.

Paul Jarvis:

Yeah. I Have you increased your prices ever? No. Have you? No.

Paul Jarvis:

We have not. We haven't. Yeah. We prob we are going to soon because we need to. We let you in on a little secret that obviously nobody else is going to hear.

Paul Jarvis:

We did there was no formula for our pricing. Yeah. For, like, there wasn't like a a factor for this many page views Equals this.

Justin Jackson:

Oh, yeah. Yeah.

Paul Jarvis:

It was just the numbers that we came up with that look good. Yeah. Yeah. Not a good way to price. Not a good way.

Paul Jarvis:

So there's some plans where it's, like, double the page views, and it's only, like, $10 more. And so, like, the pricing doesn't make sense. So we have to make it, Especially at the volume we're at now, we can see but also in the beginning, we didn't know how much it was gonna cut. Like, we didn't know what our margins were gonna be. Yeah.

Paul Jarvis:

We just knew that if we charge this amount, people like, you need to have a lower plan. It's like, I don't think so. Not based on, like, not based on knowing the internal math. It doesn't make it makes sense where we are for our Starting price Yeah. Thereabouts, we could go up a little bit, I think, but not a ton.

Paul Jarvis:

Like, if we went up to, like, $50 a month, I don't think we would have a business. Like, that wouldn't make sense. Yeah. But on some of our higher plans, it doesn't there's no equation to get there. So, like, we need to adjust, And our margins are and our margins are kinda wonky

Justin Jackson:

Mhmm.

Paul Jarvis:

Depending on what plan people are on. So, like, we need to fix this, And we've known we needed to fix this. I think once we got to about a 1000 customers, and we could see where the math was weird. Yeah. And and so this is years ago too because I I don't remember when we hit a 1,000 customers, but it was, like, a long time ago.

Justin Jackson:

Yeah.

Paul Jarvis:

And so, like, there's little things like that where If I could, like, wave a magic wand and make Fathom better right now, it would just be to fix just these little things that are kind of everywhere in the software. Mhmm. And even, like, little things in the onboarding. Little things, like, when you close your account, it could be better, which is silly. Like, I don't care about making that better, but I do care about making it better because it's my thing.

Paul Jarvis:

Yeah. So it would be like, if I could have anything, it would be to fix, like, All of the things we use linear for, like, issue tracking and bug tracking. Yeah. Yeah. We have a triage, which is unassigned Tickets that aren't part of any project that are just there.

Paul Jarvis:

And we've usually got a couple hundred, and it's just these little niggles of, like, A little thing doesn't work here. A little thing could be better here, and it's just like, if we could just, like, wipe that out and do them all, I would be so happy because it's just like, It just it I feel like it adds up in my head. Oh, yeah. Like, this little thing and this little thing and this little thing. So, like, The last I've been pushing pretty hard on this probably the last 6 months is no new things.

Paul Jarvis:

Yeah. Like, we can only do things we've already started or have spec'd, like, it can't be anything else with the exception of things that are out of control where we've had some issues with vendors, so we've had to jump on Fixing things

Justin Jackson:

Mhmm.

Paul Jarvis:

Or killing things off like custom domains

Justin Jackson:

Yeah.

Paul Jarvis:

Where we didn't have a choice. But, literally, the thing that I say Quite a bit. It's like we're not starting that thing until we finish the other day. Yeah. And I have to be the I have to be that.

Paul Jarvis:

But, I mean, that's my personality. Like, I am that guy. Don't mind being But that's I

Justin Jackson:

think that's a that that's a that's a function of care. Mhmm. And I think care is still The number one feature of any software. That that's always like I've For the summer, I've hired someone to help with customer support during Pacific Time Zone. Because Helen handles it in Europe while I'm sleeping.

Justin Jackson:

But often, the next day, I would wake up and other people are pitching in, but I just care so much about customer service that I'm the one answering live chats. What I love about that is cost good customer service covers all sorts of gaps. So, of course, we wanna we wanna fill in those gaps. But if I care more, I care so much that I'll spend time. I will go over your podcast.

Justin Jackson:

I will give you advice. I will give you feedback. I will help you build your website with your brand colors. I will do all of that. And I know that Daniel Ek at Spotify is not doing that.

Justin Jackson:

Right? Yeah. And that right there care, like, caring enough to say, I've got this list of niggles in my head that I know are gonna make the the it better, and I'm gonna make sure that we get those things done. And I actually do care when we mess up. Like, I it it makes me feel bad, and I'm not gonna go golfing.

Justin Jackson:

I'm gonna, like, Actually, sit and write customers an email and say I'm sorry. This is the other indie advantage. This is, Jason Cohen said this to me. He's like, there's bad indie companies that don't care, but the the indie companies where the founders care, Those are the best businesses to be a customer of because they contact you, and they, like, care. Like, people Yeah.

Justin Jackson:

If it's Friday night and nobody else is answering customer support and so I see a little beep on my phone, I'm answering it. I just care. I can't Stop myself because I just there's there's that feeling of people are trying to accomplish something. And it feels so good when you can help them out. Right?

Justin Jackson:

When you can make it easier. When it's like, oh, this onboarding thing isn't working, and it's it's blocking everybody. Well, I'm just gonna fix it because I care enough to do it. And then and you could see when people don't care because that's how you kick Google Analytics. Like, they just don't care.

Justin Jackson:

And it's it Yep. It It's it's mind boggling when you experience it because you're like, how can they create software that is so confusing, so offensive to the user? Like, what it it it doesn't make sense to me. That's part of our advantages as indie founders is if you care, It's really hard to combat that. Sure.

Justin Jackson:

So you start a podcast hosting company, start a analytics company. But I'm just telling you, like, I care a lot about

Paul Jarvis:

Mhmm.

Justin Jackson:

The customers, and that's what you're competing against.

Paul Jarvis:

Yeah. I mean, we help people debug their WordPress sites. I don't know what's carrying or not. This horrible is literally the worst. And, like, I it bugs me so much if somebody's paying us and doesn't have it doesn't have it working.

Paul Jarvis:

Even if it's their fault because there's some setting or some, like, security policy or something that it's a, No. If you're paying us, I want your fucking stats to work. Yeah. The the the person that we hired for customer support is the same way. Like and we even told them when we hired them, it's like, I don't care how long it takes to answer a ticket.

Paul Jarvis:

Yeah. Just answer them. Yeah. Like, what do you have to do? How can I make it easy for you to do whatever you need to do to fix this thing for this person

Justin Jackson:

who

Paul Jarvis:

was not fixed for? Yeah. And that's like, that's how we operate. Yeah. Because I don't like it would bug me I think I think it's also just a function of personality.

Paul Jarvis:

Like, I don't know how to do things in a different like, I don't know how to do I don't know how to work where I don't care. Maybe it's because I've been an entrepreneur for, like, 26 years.

Justin Jackson:

I think I think being a freelancer and a newsletter writer Are the 2 things that this plays into. Because when you're writing a newsletter, you're getting replies from real human beings. And I think that's part of where the care comes from. Because once you can see, like, oh, wait, there's a real human here Who's trying to accomplish something in their life, once you get into that world, once it opens up to you and you go, there is a real human being on the other end of this chat or the other End of this email or the other end of the screen when they log in. I think a lot of it comes from that.

Justin Jackson:

And then freelancing, it's the same thing. You're just, like, Helping people all the time. You're helping that Main Street business owner create that restaurant website or whatever. You can see everything. You can see the states.

Justin Jackson:

Yeah. You know? I yeah. I think that's why calling back to that earlier stuff, just getting in the water and serving people, Like, writing a newsletter, writing a blog, freelancing, doing some work for somebody. Build a Build a restaurant website.

Justin Jackson:

Like, everyone should have to do that once. Oh god.

Paul Jarvis:

The number of restaurant websites that I have done. Oh, man. But Part of it too, I think, is I've always I guess I've always cared about the business of the person that I was doing business with.

Justin Jackson:

Mhmm.

Paul Jarvis:

Like, I think this is what set me apart. Like, I was never like, I'm a good designer. I'm not, like, an amazing designer, but I always cared about, okay, how What would my design what could design do for this business to make this business do better? Mhmm. And it's all I always approach everything that I did from a place of okay.

Paul Jarvis:

Well, I want it's just like with Fathom. Like, I want people's websites to do well because then they then they have more use for stats. And it's like we tell people, Like, don't use Fathom sometimes because they, like, they have no traffic or they're not there's nothing that they can make money off on their website, so why spend money on analytics?

Justin Jackson:

Mhmm.

Paul Jarvis:

Right? It's like I can't there's nothing I can do for that. It's like, if you don't want your website to make money or have any kind of function for business or betterment, then, like Yeah. You don't don't pay us. Like, don't get like, it doesn't make sense.

Paul Jarvis:

Yeah. But if you do, if you do that, if you do make money, then let okay. Let's figure out, Like, how you how your business can be better with this thing. Yeah. Because it's self serving too.

Paul Jarvis:

Like, I know that if if somebody's going to have a business and the business does well, they're gonna wanna keep using us, or they're gonna wanna keep paying the web designer. They're gonna wanna keep Yeah. Like, It it makes sense. Right? Like, it's a win win.

Paul Jarvis:

It's not just, like, altruism and, like, rainbow shooting out of my fingertips. Yeah. You know? Like, There's a there's a there's a capital list function of that, but it also just it makes sense. Like, I want people to do well.

Paul Jarvis:

Like, we're doing well. I want want everybody to do well. Yeah. I I see it as a possibility. Right?

Paul Jarvis:

So

Justin Jackson:

Yeah. That's and that's that's indie businessman. I think when it's done well, It's one reason I'm still a little bit opinionated about, like, venture capital and mega corporations. And The world is gonna always have to have some mega corporations. But the difference in, what's motivating, Like, if if your motivation is to increase your share price, that is just gonna cascade down to a set of behaviors that's very different than an indie business owner saying, well, when your podcast does well, we feel better about it and we do like, everyone's doing better.

Justin Jackson:

Yeah. You know? It it it we actually do care about how how you're doing, How you're doing with the product, but what you're trying to accomplish. Right? This is just a part of your bigger job to be done.

Justin Jackson:

You're trying to create some purpose in your life. You're trying to do Something. Right? Some form of betterment, and, I think you lose that with a different set of incentives. It's one of the beautiful things about having a small business that works where there's people that want it, but then there's also this opportunity to serve them in a way that It just doesn't happen anymore.

Paul Jarvis:

Yeah. I mean, I it's the difference between, like, collaborative versus extractive. And I think as human beings, like, Collaboration is why human beings are, like, what we are Yeah. Because we've collaborated across Individuals across tribes, across groups of people. Like, it's collaboration that gets us anywhere

Justin Jackson:

Mhmm.

Paul Jarvis:

In in life. Yeah. And with big mega corporations and insane amounts of venture capital, like, it's extractive. It's extracting something from the community and putting it in one person's pockets.

Justin Jackson:

Mhmm.

Paul Jarvis:

And like that doesn't that that doesn't seem natural Yeah. Yeah. Like, just as far as, like, how things work, like, evolutionarily, but also it just doesn't seem like that can't last because if you look at history, it's never lasted. Yeah. Like, anytime there's been a regime that had all of the Power, all of the controller, all of the money.

Paul Jarvis:

Yeah. Like, the people fucking rose up with their pitchforks and came for those people. Yes. And it feels like we're not at that place yet, but, like, We're not that far from that place. Like, if you look at the way the world is going and with, like, the hollowing out of middle class and there just being a lot more people In poverty, just like a small group of people who have so much.

Paul Jarvis:

Mhmm. It's just like,

Justin Jackson:

I don't

Paul Jarvis:

I don't think this is gonna go well. No. Like, it just it doesn't seem like it can.

Justin Jackson:

No. No. I I totally agree. I think that's it's one reason I'm still I am I have stayed in the giving advice to new Entrepreneur space because, again, I think there's always gonna need to be mega corporations, but the what we really need is a thriving small business economy. And Mhmm.

Justin Jackson:

You know, most of my customers are small businesses. I'm guessing most of your customers are small businesses. And to me that's, that's where the opportunity is. That's where the better margins are. That's where The chance for normal people to change their lives is, like, kinda all in that space.

Justin Jackson:

And, I want I don't want the last batch of startups to be Transistor and Fathom and, you know, these examples that I always give. I want there to be a new batch that are that's like, okay. Yeah. We we're still excited about this. There's still opportunities.

Justin Jackson:

And, this can lead to a great life for you as founders, and for your employees, And for your customers, it's like, I always think of it like the company is for us. That's for an owners and employees. That's That's us. The product is for customers, and the purpose of a company is to make the employees' lives better. The purpose of A product is to make customers' lives better.

Justin Jackson:

And that to me happens in indie business. That's That's where it happens. I think it's cool. I think it's cool that there are examples like us that that people can in the same way that you and I were looking, you know, we were looking at, like, PELD and all these other people and going, man, I would love to build something like that. Like, that would be incredible.

Justin Jackson:

You know, I hope that there's a new generation that can kinda get that same vibe and go, yeah, I wanna do that too. You've already done your part. You you got you got a young Jack on your side. You you You've you've already brought in the next generation.

Paul Jarvis:

Exactly. He's he's already the yeah. Like, the the network that he has is Amazing. And it's helpful too. Right?

Paul Jarvis:

Like, it's like, anytime there's a question that we have, he's like, I know somebody. It's like, alright. That's that's awesome. That that was me, like, 10 years ago, and it's not anymore. That's perfect.

Paul Jarvis:

And that's I'm fine with that. I'm I'm fine to be Jack and team. Like, that's my role. Yeah. Because I don't want I, yeah, I don't want anything other than that.

Paul Jarvis:

So

Justin Jackson:

This is great, dude. Really great to catch up with you. All right. That was so nice to get back together with Paul and reconnect, and I hope you all enjoyed it. If you did enjoy it, please let people know.

Justin Jackson:

Share the episode on Twitter or threads or x Or Mastodon, Blue Sky, Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit. There's too many things now. But, yeah, we'd love to hear from you. If you enjoyed the Episode. Reach out however you can.

Justin Jackson:

You can also email us at shows at transistor.fm, or you can just email me, justin@transistor.fm. Hey. I need to thank our sponsors, Pascal from Sharpen dot page, rewardful dot com, Greg Park, Mitchell Davis From recruitkit.com.au, Marcel Follett from we are bold dotaf, Ethan Gunderson, Anton Zoran from prodcampdot com. Bill Kondo, Ward from memberspace.com, Russell Brown from Fotivo dotcom, Evandro Sassy, Austin Loveless, Michael Sitfer, Fathom Analytics. Thanks, Paul and Jack.

Justin Jackson:

And Dan Buddha, that's John's brother, Colin Gray, And Dave Joonkta. If you wanna support the podcast to get your name read out at the end, just click the link in the show notes that says support This podcast on Patreon. Thanks again, folks. We'll see you next time.