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. 👍

  • (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

Justin Jackson
Co-founder of
Chris Enns
Owner of Lemon Productions
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 as they bootstrap a podcast hosting startup.

Full episode: Paul Jarvis

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. I spoke with my old friend, Paul Jarvis. Paul Jarvis, the guy that invented the internet. Well, actually, he's the co-founder of Fathom Analytics, and Paul and I did a mastermind for years, a a weekly hangout with, uh, Jared Drysdale.

The three of us would get together on Zoom and talk about our businesses, talk about life, 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, um, 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?

Justin Jackson: How's it going?

Paul Jarvis: Not too bad, man. How are you?

Justin Jackson: I, sorry. I'm a, I'm a, I was just a little bit in a rush because I took, 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: uh, dude. I've got, Sadie is, uh, Sadie is in her going into her third year at Uve.

She's 20. Geez. She'll be, she'll be 21 in December, which is when I got married, so.

Paul Jarvis: Geez. Wow.

Justin Jackson: Man. Dude, it's good to see you. It's as been so long, man. And things for you are good. You're just the, you're, you're enjoying not being on the internet. I mean,

Paul Jarvis: yeah. More, more and more every day. Uh, 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. Yeah. And it's weird 'cause like when I was on the internet, like all, none of it seemed trivial. Yeah. And now all of it does everything. 'cause Jack tells me, Jack tells me about the internet every day.

Justin Jackson: Yeah.

You get, he probably gives you the Cole's 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 gonna get back to work now.

Justin Jackson: Have you been, have you been spending time, uh, are you still doing some gardening?

Are you still, what's recreational Paul look that look like these days? If you're not, you're not writing a newsletter, you're not writing a blog, not writing anything.

Paul Jarvis: Yeah. Um, 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 I don't recommend.

Okay. Yeah, I don't, I don't recommend You

Justin Jackson: don't, yeah, don't, 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. Um, riding my electric dirt bike a lot. Um, oh, sweet. Just being outside. Like it's, I mean, it's raining today, which is weird 'cause 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 two months. And then it's cool at night. Mm-hmm. It's perfect. It's just like, why, why not be outside?

Justin Jackson: Right. Oh, well, yeah. And take me through this. So like a, a typical day for you now. What does it look like? What, what's like Yeah.

What are you doing?

Paul Jarvis: Yeah, I mean, wake up early. I've always woken up early.

Justin Jackson: Um, how are, how early were you talking about here?

Paul Jarvis: Between four and six, so.

Justin Jackson: Oh, okay. Wow. I didn't realize you were always that up that early. Yeah.

Paul Jarvis: I mean, yeah, usually about five or six, but lately my body's been like, the sun's out.

Okay. Get up. But I mean, like Jack is, I guess two hours ahead. Our other folks are eight hours ahead. So the, however early I wake up, I'm the last person Yeah. Starting to work. So, yeah. And then I work for several hours, and then I usually like make lunch, which takes a little while. Yeah. 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 four to six hours a day. Yeah. And it's still about four to six hours a day.

Justin Jackson: And no other computer time outside of that.

Paul Jarvis: I mean, like at night we wa 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.

Justin Jackson: So, and no phone time. Are you pretty good? Just not having....

Paul Jarvis: my screen time. Jack was asking about this. He's like, my screen time is like four hours or six 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. Like it's just not, yeah, nothing. I don't know it. I'm curious. That's remarkable, man. 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.

Mm-hmm. I do. I will caveat that with, I do work seven days a week. Four to six hours. Okay. Not five days a week. Okay. 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: It's just another day. And you like the consistent, the rhythm. When you and I were doing that mastermind call every week, how long ago do you think that was?

That we, we kind of stopped it right when we were both starting our current companies. Mm-hmm.

Paul Jarvis: Probably four or five years ago. Yeah. So probably it was pre Covid way. Pre Covid.

Justin Jackson: It was pre covid. Yeah. So 2018 is when we stopped and we probably did those calls for at least three years. Mm-hmm. 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. 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. 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 the cycle. The difference with a 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?

Paul Jarvis: Yep.

Justin Jackson: Does it feel like that for you two?

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. What the fuck did we do? It's like we put out a million 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. Mm. Yeah. It's just all things that need to happen, and most of them aren't very big and forgettable. Yeah. Um, and then it's just like onto the next thing. Yeah. Like even we were talk, I was talking to our, uh, digital privacy officer this morning and she's like, well, what are you guys even working on with Fathom right now?

I'm like, a ton of stuff. She's like, what? 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. Yeah. So it's like,


Justin Jackson: I almost don't like it when people ask me what I've, what I'm up to.

'cause it's like, ah, 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, Jon 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. Mm-hmm. 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. 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 ranked for search terms and then it's like, oh yeah, I should probably also check on the search terms. And then, oh yeah, 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? Yeah, yeah. And um, 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. Yep. 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. Oh yeah, Google Analy.

Has Google Analytics been crazy for you? Like that new people switching?

Paul Jarvis: Yeah. I mean when Google killed off, uh, universal Analytics, it was a lot. Yeah. And we sent them a cake. I don't know if you saw the cake. Yes, I saw that. We actually sent Google headquarters a cake thanking them for GA four because it feels like Google is, wants to just not have SMBs as customers for analytics.

Yeah. And we're like, "hi!"

Justin Jackson: Yeah

Paul Jarvis: Fathom's over here." Perfectly positioned. Like we can't even control that. But I think, I dunno if you remember like the week that I launched Fathom with the previous co-founder was the week that Zuckerberg was testifying in front of Congress for privacy issues. Yeah. I'm just like, there's things like that that just ha like 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, starting podcasts. And it's just like, You didn't get to plan that, but if you can capitalize on it, then awesome. Then.

Justin Jackson: Perfect.

Yeah. And also, I mean, I think it's kind of like, it's funny 'cause 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, it's like, oh, that's a pretty good sized 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. Mm-hmm. And I think it's kind of like that 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, 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 and it's like, okay, here's a little one. And it's like, okay, you know, we're, we're kind of 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?

Paul Jarvis: I think so, yeah. I mean, I definitely think that, What you just said. The last point, uh, makes a lot of sense because not every wave is right for the surfer Yeah.

As well, right? Yeah. 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 long board today. Yeah. 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 hundreds or thousands of employees like that doesn't, like, that's not the right wave for me kind thing. Yeah. And there's also...

Justin Jackson: that's the equivalent of, of getting somebody to tow you in on a sea-doo that's venture capital.

Yeah, exactly. 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 it is, well, good luck buddy. And that's why so many of those guys crash and burn. It's like the wave is massive. You're gonna need some help getting on there and then good luck.


Paul Jarvis: Right. 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. 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 two or three good waves in the next set, and then I can wait and just kind of like bob up. And that's why you see all the surfers just like sitting out there bobbing up and down. Mm-hmm. It's like 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 seth, you can't control the waves. Yeah. But if you can capitalize on externalities that happen mm-hmm. Then you can get a little bit further. Yeah.

Justin Jackson: Right. 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've had a favorite spot in Taino or something.

Yeah. 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, 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. Paul and Jack starting Fathom, and Jon 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, checking, understanding the weather, understanding the patterns, picking up layers and layers of skills, better equipment, better networking, better, uh, 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 I, you know, uh, 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. Right? If he's only surfed 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 mention to me when I'm talking about a good market and the people, I don't know why people get upset.

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, 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. Like if I showed up into pheno 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. 'cause my co-founder Jon, 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.

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 Yeah. Any ways you've spelled it out that that helps or,

Paul Jarvis: yeah, I mean I think experience is a moat. Yeah. Right? Like. You can do it without that, but it's harder.

And I think the exper and, and it's a self-fulfilling prophecy after a while too, 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.

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 kind of like, it didn't even, it didn't even matter what the topic, like it didn't matter what the niche was, what the topics was, what, when people just fucking followed along.

Yeah. Like, not all of them, but enough of them where it kind of gained traction. And with Fathom, it was just like, I launched it to my newsletter. Danny, who is the original co-founder, launched it to his newsletter, uh, for WordPress folks. Right? Like that kind of was the catalyst to kick off growth. And then as is.

Gone on. We have the experience of having customers for four or five years who are just like all in on Fathom. Mm-hmm. 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. Like that's, yeah. There are so many analytics companies that started around the same time as Fathom that basically were just rips of Fathom. Mm-hmm. They don't exist anymore. Yeah. Didn't care then don't care.

Now there's, there's more. Now don't care. Yeah. Because I think part of it is the, the reputation. Yeah. Right. Like the reputation that I had. Mm-hmm. 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 polar, the sway or be able to build the moat as somebody who's just been like, Trucking along doing the thing like, like you and me in the beginning. And it's not like we even succeed, like we did well enough to keep going, but we didn't, like you said, it was just like line drives, line drives kinda thing.

Yeah. And, and I don't think it even matters, like I don't think at the beginning, like you can even fail a bunch of times and I don't think it really matters, 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 mm-hmm. I would, I know I would suck at the beginning. I know I'd 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.

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. Mm-hmm. And it, it's kind of like that in business. It's like you gotta get in motion.

Yeah. 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, one of the two. Mm-hmm. 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 I.

Crucial for me to get to the next thing. Like without that connection, it wouldn't have happened, but we would've 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 and customer support, and then worked my way up to product manager, and then you know it, these things all build on each other.

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 and he's like,

Paul Jarvis: yeah, I think he makes like $80 million a day with ConvertKit or something like that.

Justin Jackson: But the key, like you can't hate on him because you can look back on it and you can just see like these are the reps. Like he started. Mm-hmm. 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. A bunch of info products.

Yeah. It's being in motion. And if you look at any of these guys like Taylor Twell with Lar Laravel, he just starts programming. And P H P wanted to make programming and P H P better. Starts building this thing. But in his mind, he was building an invoicing app. Like that was his goal. Yeah. And Adam Waan, when Adam Waan stumbled into Tailwind, he was building a, um, like a Gumroad competitor, and he's just like, live streaming it.

Mm-hmm. So, yeah, I, I don't know if like, it's, it's hard to communicate that to people to say, 'cause if, if someone comes to you and, and you, 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, 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 tail, uh, you and Fathom and all these other businesses, is that one of the ways reasons you were able to launch an analytics company is 'cause you'd been using analytics for a long time.


Paul Jarvis: And since urchin.

Justin Jackson: Yeah. This is since the like, like I'm sure you, you tried, you, you were familiar with stats in um, in Medium Google Analytics. WordPress had stats. MailChimp had stats, like you just think back all the way back to probably, uh, page counters and things like that.

Paul Jarvis: Do you remember Mint?

I think Sean Inman made it Mint. Have a mint. No Mint stats.

Justin Jackson: Mint stats.

Paul Jarvis: This is such a, it was, I think half a mint. I wonder if that still exists. I can't even find it anymore. Oh, have a mint.

Justin Jackson: Here we go. Yeah, here it is. Onn.

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, it went away. I was like, oh, that sucks. Mm-hmm. 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? 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, 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, a new tide could come in and all of a sudden that idea that the tectonic plates of the world have shifted and all of a sudden it's like, you know what, 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 2005. Wow. Yeah. Oh, I do remember this. Oh my, this, this, it was great.

Paul Jarvis: Like I loved it, but it was just such a like little niche thing, and I think he sold it for 20 bucks for like a one time li because SAS didn't exist then.

Yeah. Like there, there wasn't such a thing as like, oh, you can charge money every month for software. Yeah. Yeah. This, it's like 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? Hmm. 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. 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. 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. It just feels cleaner. It just feels more modern. It feels like people want to give, sometimes 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. Okay, simple one pager. I can see what's going on. Great. I don't need to do any other things. It's just always, it's a pinned tab in my browser 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

You need a budget. I just saw people talking about, you need a budget the other day. You need a budget. It's just kind of old and crusty. 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?

Yeah. Like I was just saying, my, my son is turning 18 soon. 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, right? Yeah. Yeah. And 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. Let's, I mean FreshBooks, FreshBooks has been up 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, this is the one advantage of growing older is you just see these cycles, you see these same tides mm-hmm.

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 betts are always gonna work out. Um, 'cause 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 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 Medium, I was just like, let's just have a writing platform. And there's like always a gazillion writing platforms. Yeah. And we didn't even end up launching that.

I think we sold it to Ghost and just left it at our 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 is the act of making the bet. Mm. Because that de-risks things because in the beginning you have all of the risk because it's all in your head.

Yeah. You don't know if this thing's gonna work, what's gonna work, and you don't know anything. Yeah. Other than the idea that you have, which is important for 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?

Yeah. But you need to, it, the act of actually making the bet and trying the thing and putting the thing out there mm-hmm. Is I think what builds that muscle or what builds that motor or what builds out whatever we're talking about here. Yeah. 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 'cause that's what I did back then. Yeah. Yeah. And I was just like, why can't analytics just be fucking this? And everybody's like, Yes, please. That fry from Futurama. Like, take my money. Futurama is back.

Apparently there's a new episode of Futurama that came out since weekend. Oh, everything's back.

Justin Jackson: Hot tip. There's a new, uh, there are new seasons of Beavis and Butthead, and they are fantastic, like Bel, like better than the originals. Incredible writing. Hilarious. Me and my kids are watching them. And if, if you liked the original beef and invited, or even if you didn't, yeah, you gotta check it out again.

You gotta put it out. You gotta ship it. This is kind of like, okay, I'm gonna, I'm gonna swim out. And then you're just, you're trying out waves. It's like, oh, is this the one? And you're like, hmm. Maybe not, you know, we've made it like way too shameful to have something that doesn't work out, you know? Mm-hmm.

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, 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, you know, I'm mm-hmm.

I'm done now. Mm-hmm. 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. The only way you can really get a sense for, like I said, Adam started building that gum road 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 c s s thing I'm doing. Maybe I should focus on that. Sure. And that's how you kind of figure things out is 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 a pretty good signal. You know?

Paul Jarvis: Yeah. 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. So something like, something like that. I was trying to make the hockey thing work for the, uh, for surfing.

Justin Jackson: Yeah, I like it. You miss, you miss a hundred percent of the shots. You don't see,

Paul Jarvis: but you see people, you see people, when surfing, so you actually see people, because like if you're gonna catch a wave, 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 one or two paddles and then like, stop, and then let the wave go.

And they're like, oh, interesting. 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, yeah. Right. So like if and if you're not putting things out there for people to give you feedback on mm-hmm. 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, oh, 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 shelve that. And then they'll do it again with a different, just like. You didn't learn anything. Yeah. Don't go to the next thing. Yeah. You didn't learn anything on this thing.

Justin Jackson: Yeah. Come on. Put, put it out there so people can see it. Yeah. Yeah. I mean that's absolutely the scary part.

A hundred percent. 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. Mm-hmm. And then we did an official launch. So let's say we started working on it together in like, uh, January, 2018.

Jon and I launched August, 2018, I think. And mm-hmm. You know, you, you build up to something and you're kind of gradually putting it out there. But I had to put my reputation on the line. Like I was manually emailing people saying, Hey, I'm building this new podcasts 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 mm-hmm. I'm putting this out, I'm hoping it works 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 are building a 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 a waiting list? No. Is there anybody that you've shown this to and said, Hey, could you buy this? No. Yeah. 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 and 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. It is sometimes shitty putting your work out there. Yeah.

Paul Jarvis: Yeah. I mean, I've 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 mock, the first round of mockups for a website.

Wow. And it being so off and they've just been like, no, no iterations, no nothing. Just nope. Done. And that like, that happens. It didn't happen very often, but like, I still like, I viscerally remember like I remember the name of the person who last did that to me. Yeah. 'cause it's like, it stings, but like, I don't know, probably four or 500 times that didn't happen.

Yeah. Yeah. And it was just like, this is a project that just went fine. Do,

Justin Jackson: do 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. Hmm. I literally have no idea because Yeah. I just, I'm been so far out of it for so long. Mm-hmm. There's another reason why I kind of just, like, I don't really need to give advice on the internet.

'cause 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. Like I just, I don't talk to people who are starting anymore. Mm-hmm. 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, you, I just, I don't know. I talked to, like all of my friends right now are retired. I. 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, you were working today. I'm like, yeah, I've But for a little bit, like not for long. Yeah. We're still hanging out. You're,

Justin Jackson: 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 mm-hmm. 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 mm-hmm. Whatever that kind of name is a WeWork person. Yeah. I watched the, it was a good show. I watched the Apple TV thing.

Yeah. I'm just like, this guy just did like, literally everything possible to win at something. Yeah. I'm just like,

Justin Jackson: 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 int between, I don't know how long, but like 10 years would probably be pushing the max.

Mm-hmm. But I also like, it could turn into a, 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 want to do well for the people that work for us.

Mm-hmm. 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. Yeah. 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.

Mm-hmm. And I don't, like, we don't care. Mm-hmm. Like, we want to, as we make more money, we wanna pay them more. 'cause like the people that work for us are fucking awesome and we never want them to leave. Yeah. Yeah. Kind of thing. Yeah. Right. So, like, I don't, I don't want fathom to be like a hundred person company.

Yeah. 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. Yeah. How about you? What, what are you, what are you looking for for transistor?

Justin Jackson: Uh, I mean, similar. I think the, the, um, 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, you know? Mm. But in terms of ambitions for transistor, like when Jon and I started the business, we were clear from the beginning, like, company design is lifestyle design.

Like we're gonna mm-hmm. Design this company. In a way that is gonna give us a better life. And so 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 Jon and I, uh, our ambitions might vary slightly, but overall, I think the idea of having a calm company is what, you know, attracted Jon and I to it and what our employees like the best.

Mm-hmm. 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 in, you know, the kind of purpose they're gonna, you know, they can come up with their own ideas and pro 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 mm-hmm.

Um, I think that Mark is most people, you could pay them more and it would help them more, you know, like there, yeah. There would just be like a peace and a calm in their lives that, uh, 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. 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, uh, maybe I should have thought more about selling. So there's still a slight bit of anxiety that I think drives me, and yeah, I 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 call 'em sprints, but whatever they call 'em, and mm-hmm.

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 leavers. You know, sometimes I, I'm like, man, this is just such a good life. Do. Should I mess with it or should I just,


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. Mm-hmm. 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. We can kind of play off of each other. And kind of see where each other's at, because I think if it was left, to me, fathom wouldn't have very many features. Yeah. And if it was left to him, it would have a lot of features.

Yeah. And so what people like about Fathom is that middle ground, that compromise of like, mm-hmm. Okay. We did it but we scaled it back. Or we added this but we didn't add like these 18 other things. Yeah. 'cause 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. And then nobody would be happy. But then all of these people are like, oh, you should just have like this, this, and 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. 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 six months or less excited? Mm-hmm. 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. Yeah. And so is this gonna add something that we don't want? 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, uh, 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. And we had the discussion and basically at the time, Jason and Jon said, as the two engineers, they said this would just be an enormous a. 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?

Like I can't sleep for a week, because it's like, ah, 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, 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?

Hmm. And. There, those kind of betts 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. 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? 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? Mm-hmm. Like how can we figure out who's converting on this page? Yeah. And to me 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. Yeah. And maybe this is where US founders can be helpful to each other. 'cause I think outside perspective is helpful. You know, there's sometimes 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 signups.

Like, it's just not, yeah. Those, all of those things together, how we've kind of managed feature requests. Like right now there's, uh, 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.

At first I was like, ah, come on, this is just, everyone's doing it or whatever. And now I'm like, huh, well maybe we need to think about it. It's in play, like we're experimenting with it. Mm-hmm. But we're also in the market. I'm in the water. 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. 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.

Uh, we might be a little bit late, but that's okay too. 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. Mm-hmm. And we still got it.

Yeah. I mean, I think it was like 1.7 billion page views imported in the first 24 hours. Mm-hmm. We, and our sign, that was probably our best couple weeks ever. It was probably our best couple weeks ever. As far as like, um, As far as trials and trial, are we really low churn? Yeah. Like if somebody signs up for a trial, they're probably gonna convert.

Yeah. Like that's just, yeah. We have

Justin Jackson: about, I think we have like, it was like between 70 and 75% of our trials convert. Something like that. Nice.

Paul Jarvis: Do you require a credit card upfront or no? Yeah. Yeah, same. Yeah.

Justin Jackson: Have you increased your prices ever?

Paul Jarvis: No. Have you? No, 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.

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. Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. It was just the numbers that we came up with that looked good. Yeah. Yeah. Not a good way to price, not a good way to, 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 cost. Like we didn't know what our margins were gonna be. Yeah. We just knew that if we charge this amount and people are like, oh, 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. Like if we went up to like $50 a month, I don't think we would've, a business like that just wouldn't make sense.

Yeah. But on some of our higher plans, it doesn't make, there's no equation to get there. So like we need to adjust and our margins are ki and our margins are kind of wonky. Mm-hmm. 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 thousand customers and we could see where the math was weird.

Yeah. And, and so this is years ago too. 'cause I, I don't remember when we hit a thousand customers, but it was like, A long time ago. Yeah. 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.

Yeah. That are kind of everywhere in the software. Mm-hmm. 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. Yeah. But I do care about making it better because it's my thing. 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, um, like issue tracking and bug tracking.

Okay. Yeah. Yeah. We have a triage, which is unassigned tickets that aren't part of any project that are just there. And we've usually got a couple hundred and it's just these little niggles of like, a little thing doesn't work here, 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.

'cause 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. Yeah. So like the last, I've been pushing pretty hard on this, probably the last six months is no new things. Yeah. Like we can only do things we've already started or have specked, 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. Mm-hmm. Um, or killing things off, like custom domains. Yeah. Where we didn't have a choice, but literally, the thing that I say quite a bit is like, we're not starting that thing until we finish.

Yeah. Yeah. And I have to be the, I have to be that, but I mean, that's my personality. Like, I am that guy. I don't mind being that

Justin Jackson: guy, but that's, I think that's a, that, that's a, that's a function of care. Mm-hmm. 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.

Mm-hmm. Because Helen handles it in Europe while I'm sleeping. 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, Cus good customer service covers all sorts of gaps. So of course we want to, 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, 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 Eck at Spotify is not doing that, 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. I'm gonna like actually sit and write customers an email and say, I'm sorry, this is the other indie advantage. This is, uh, 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. If it's Friday night and nobody else's 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. When you can make it easier when it's like, oh, this onboarding thing isn't working and it's, it's blocking everybody. 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 get Google Analytics. Like they just don't care. And it's, it, it, it's, it's mind boggling when you experience it.

'cause 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. So you start a podcast hosting company, start a analytics company.

But I'm just telling you like I care a lot about mm-hmm. 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 caring more than that. It's horrible. It is literally the worst. And like I, it bugs me so much if somebody's paying us and doesn't have it work, doesn't have it working, even if it's their fault because there's some setting or some like security policy or something that it's like, 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 'em when we hired him, it's like, I don't care how long it takes to answer a ticket. 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?

Mm-hmm. Who is not fixed for. Yeah. And that's like, that's how we operate. Yeah. Because I don't like, it would bug me to, I think, I think it's also just a function of personality. Like, I don't know how to do things. 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: Honestly, I think, I think being a freelancer and a newsletter writer are the two things Yeah. 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. 'cause 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. 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 stakes. 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 re build a restaurant website. Like everyone should have to do that once. Oh God.

Paul Jarvis: The number of restaurant websites that I have done.

Justin Jackson: Oh man. Yeah.

Paul Jarvis: 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. Mm-hmm. 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? Mm-hmm. And it's alway, I always approached everything that I did from a place of, okay, 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?

Mm-hmm. 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. Don't, don't pay us. Like, don't get, like, it doesn't make sense. 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. Like I know that if a, if somebody's going to have a business and the business does well, they're gonna want keep using us, or they're gonna want to keep paying the web designer, they're gonna want to keep Yeah. Like, it, it makes sense, right? Like it's a win-win. It's not just like altruism and like rainbow shooting outta my fingertips.

Yeah. Like there's a, there's a, there's a capitalist function of that, but it also just, it makes sense. Like I want people to do well, like, We're doing well, I want, I want everybody to do well. Yeah. I, I, I see it as a possibility, right?

Justin Jackson: So yeah, that's, and that's, that's indie businessman. I think that when it's done well, um, 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, uh, 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.

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. You're trying to create some purpose in your life. You're trying to do something right, some form of betterment.

And, uh, 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 you 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. 'cause we've collaborated across individuals, across tribes, across groups of people. Like it's collaboration that gets us anywhere. Mm-hmm. 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.

Mm-hmm. And like that doesn't that, uh, that doesn't seem natural to me. 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 control or all of the money.

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.

Poverty and just like a small group of people who have so much mm-hmm. It's just like, I don't, 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 entrepreneurs 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 mm-hmm.

You know, most of my customers are small businesses. I'm guessing most of your customers are small businesses. And to me that's, uh, 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 kind of all in that space and.

Uh, 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. Yeah. Uh, 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. And, um, 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 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 a customers lives better. 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 Dy and all these other people and going, man, I would love to build something like that. Like that would be incredible.

You know? I hope that there's a new generation that can kind of 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 a, he's already the, yeah, like the, the network that he has is amazing.

And it's helpful too, right? Yeah. Like, it's like anytime there's a question that we have, he's like, well, I know somebody. So it's like, alright, that, that's awesome. That, that was me like 10 years ago. Yeah. And it's not anymore. That's perfect. And that's, I'm fine with that. I'm, I'm fine to be Jack and team, like that's my role.

Yeah. 'cause I don't want, I, yeah, I don't want anything other than that. So

Justin Jackson: This is great dude. Really great to catch up with you all. 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. 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. You can also email, or you can just email me Justin at transistor fm. Hey, I need to thank our sponsors, Pascal from Sharpen page, reward Greg Park, Mitchell Davis from Recruit

Marshall Foley from We are bold. Af. Ethan Gunderson, Anton Zorin from prod Bill Condo, ward from member Russell Brown, from Evan Sassy, Austin Loveless, Michael Siter, fathom Analytics. Thanks Paul and Jack and Dan Buddha. That's Jon's brother, Colin Gray and Dave Junta. 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.