In this live session, we'll cover:
Timesheet setup and sync with payroll system
Pay group and allowance setup
Approving clock-in/clock-out & adjusting shifts
Sync with payroll (Xero used, MYOB, Quickbooks/KeyPay discussed)
All right, folks. I have a great bonus episode for you this week, Tom and Robert had me on the framework podcast. I think you're really going to enjoy this.
While you're listening to it: Framework is where we dig into the research planning and building that goes into bringing products to market.
I'm Rob Hayes
And I'm Tom Creighton.
And today we're talking with Justin Jackson, who is the co-founder of the podcasting hosting and analytics platform, transistor and host of the Build your SaaS podcast.
We'll discuss building tools for creator communities like podcasters and doing it as an independent non-venture backed SaaS business.
We wanted to talk with Justin for a couple of reasons. Justin is one of the most recognizable faces in the independent creator community on Twitter. And he manages to do more than just register domain for every project idea he has (like some of the hosts of this podcast). He actually builds them and helps other indie creators do the same.
And as podcasters ourselves, we're excited by the idea of focusing on this community of creators to provide tools, to create better content and lower the barrier to entry. Justin, can you give us a short intro to yourself and what transistors all about for those people who aren't familiar with it?
Yeah, I mean, that was a really nice intro you just did. I don't know if I can live up to that!
I've been doing business stuff my whole life, but went independent from consulting in 2016 and then early 2018. Jon Buda. And I teamed up to work on Transistor.fm, which is podcast hosting and analytics.
So every podcast you've ever pushed play on in Apple Podcasts or Overcast or Spotify is hosted somewhere. And that's the part that we do.
And so when you guys got going on this in 2018, can you give us a sense of what the software landscape looked like for podcasting back then? I imagine it's evolved a ton in the last two years, but how much tooling was in that space when you got going and, and where was it focused in the workflow of a podcast?
Yeah, so I've been podcasting since 2012, and I met Jon at this festival in Portland called XOXO in 2014.
And at the time Jon was working on another platform called Simplecast. I was self-hosting my show at the time (using WordPress and a bunch of plugins and hosted my media files on Amazon's AWS). I thought self-hosting my podcast would save me money and it ended up just actually costing me more money. [laughs]
And so Jon said, "Hey, why don't you come over to Simplecast?" So I did.
Fast forward a bunch of years. We stayed in touch. Jon stopped working on Simplecast and got a job working at Cards Against Humanity. After he'd been with them for 3-4 years, they wanted to launch a new podcast.
And so they said: "Hey, well, you know, we're thinking about using one of the exiting platforms (Libsyn, Simplecast, Buzzsprout).
Jon said, "you know, I think I could build something better then what's out there."
At the time, Libsyn was the leader Well, Anchor technically has the most users, but in the paid hosting category, Libsyn was the leader.
And, I mean, Libsyn is fine; they've been around for a long time. They've done a lot of good things for podcasting, but it's pretty old and crusty. At the time, their UI is hadn't been updated in a while.
Jon and I were both product people, and we just felt like we could build something better.
We wanted to create a tool that was super simple that didn't have a lot of extra bells and whistles. And we also recognized (at the time) that there was this growing wave of interest in podcasting.
For years, I'd have people approach me saying, "oh, I'm thinking about building a tool for podcasters."
And I would always say: "ah, I don't know if that's a good idea, because a lot of podcasters are pretty DIY." For a long time, podcasting was like having a ham radio station: people in their basement putting together their own equipment and their own workflows. And so the timing [to start a podcast company] didn't seem right.
But around 2017, I noticed there was kind of a shift in the tide. Not only did I personally know a lot of people who had podcasts, but, every week, the New York Times had a new piece on podcasting. There was Serial, there was Gimlet. And then also VCs and bigger companies (like Spotify) were investing in the medium for the first time.
Companies were also building little podcast studios and starting shows. And so I could see this kind of swell of demand that was increasing. And as I was looking at that, I felt like, okay, this would be a good time to team up with Jon and maybe actually turn this into a business as opposed to just an internal tool for Cards Against Humanity.
So when you were chatting with Jon, either at XOXO, or shortly thereafter, how far along was, was sort of this core idea of Transistor.fm?
In terms of timeline, you'll probably get two different stories, depending on whether you're talking to Jon or myself.
The way I remember it is we were in this Slack together from a previous project (that never took off).
And, we just stayed in touch and we were sharing what we were working on. And sometime in 2017, he was saying, you know, I'm thinking about building a new podcast hosting platform for Cards Against Humanity.
Personally, I was looking for a new project to work on. And I had been thinking a lot about the market and how the market you're in really determines most of your growth.
I'd also become friends with Adam Wathan who is the co-creator of Tailwind CSS. And I watched him launch a series of products for the developer community, and was impressed by the huge momentum in that market. There was a pre-existing hunger for the different things he was launching.
It really showed me that, "wow, if you have a market where there's demonstrated demand for something, folks will line up for it!" That's a lot different than launching something for a market that is maybe too small, or where demand isn't strong.
And so there were all these checkboxes I was looking for. Is this market sufficiently large? Is there a growing tide of demand for something? How is that demand demonstrated in real life? Is there evidence that more people are getting into podcasting and that there is an opportunity to get into the market?
And as I was thinking and reflecting on all these things, Jon's like, "Hey, you know, I'm thinking about doing another podcasting thing."
I was just, I was like, "oh my god, that really aligns for me personally. It aligns in so many ways. I could see the market demand. I'd been tracking podcasting since 2012: I was in every podcasters forum, I was paying for paid private newsletters for podcasters. I was in it and I could see that the tide was shifting.
And for me personally, the opportunity had a lot of founder/market fit. I could just see in my mind that I had something to offer in a partnership.
And so, I pitched him on the idea of us working together and launching it together; doing it together as a business.
Jon wasn't like super enthusiastic right away, partly because he'd been burned in the past with partnerships, and he had a pretty good gig where he was, you know, he's comfortable.
But, he's a thinker and he went away for a couple of weeks and thought about it and then came back and said, "yeah, let's do it." And so we signed our partnership agreement and modified all of those Incorporation documents and everything probably around February of 2018.
And he's still here three years later. So he doesn't yet regret the decision.
I mean, there are definitely days where he regrets for sure. [laughs]
But, in the big picture. Yeah. I mean, we feel, oh, it's, it's honestly every single day him and I are just like, "I can't believe where we're at."
Even in a good market things feel like they start slow. And so we were, you know, in the beginning, I mean, there were definitely some growing pains and now it just, uh, it's definitely surpassed. Kind of minimum viable dream, you know, like we had a minimum viable kind of benchmark we wanted to hit.
And I think we said, you know, $20,000 a month in recurring revenue would be kind of default alive. And then at 50,000 monthly recurring revenue, um, that would be a pretty good business. And we've, we've passed both of those benchmarks. And so now. Yeah, it's just, it's a trip, uh, to be here.
It's, it's funny because you've got, you've got the Build your SaaS podcast, that's kind of evolved or running in parallel with the business itself.
And I went, spent the weekend just going through kind of episodes from start to finish just cherry picking along the way. And it's like, it's like watching the business and fast forward. Cause every, every episode there's a mention of like where you're at MRR, what the problems you're focused on and the problems get kind of higher level, big picture.
Every podcast you move further into the future, the MRR accelerates it's, uh, it's, it's pretty fun to watch that, that business development on, on fast forward there.
Yeah. And to have that, to have that archive is pretty. It's pretty dope. I mean, really, to be able to look back and again, if, if my story evolves too much, uh, from the truth, we have this, uh, this Canon of truth, we can go back to,
um, touch on the, what, what you said around you felt that, that groundswell of, of interest, the audience growth, the, the creator growth on around podcasting when you were batting around the idea in 2018.
So what gave you an indication of where the market was? How did you kind of settle in on the problem space of, of hosting and analytics as your kind of entry points into building software for that, that community?
I think the answer would be different for Jon. I think Jon, you know, he had built it before and he had some, some product intuition that he wanted to, you know, like he wanted to improve things that he'd done before.
Um, and. In his case, there was demonstrated demand because his employer was looking for a solution, uh, on my side, um, I was just seeing like the, there's some things that are kind of the main course of a meal that everybody gets, you know, like if you're starting a business, everybody needs to get podcasts.
I mean, a website hosting and most people's, you know, you'll sign up for a Twitter account. You'll probably get some accounting software. You're probably get some sort of project management side software. And, you know, as you go further and further from the main dash, some things are more like side dishes and some things are more like dessert, you know, and side dishes kind of compliment the main thing.
So maybe you'll get website hosting and then you'll. Uh, website analytics, uh, on the side and then maybe, you know, for fun, you might buy a few WordPress plugins that are more like dessert. I don't know, I'm trying to stretch the metaphor here, but that, I just noticed that there was this dynamic and in the category of podcasting, the main thing that everybody needs is hosting and analytics.
You need somewhere to put those MP3s and kind of, uh, included in that layer is, you know, other things too, like maybe a little website, maybe a little social media landing page and an embeddable player you can put on your. And, uh, in a way, of course, a way to generate the RSS feed that you're going to then submit to apple podcasts and Spotify.