Four years ago we launched our startup (Transistor) on Product Hunt and it changed our lives. AMA!

Justin Jackson
25 replies
Hi! I'm Justin Jackson. My friend Jon Buda and I launched (podcast hosting and analytics) four years ago on Product Hunt. Since then we've been able to quit our day jobs, acquire thousands of customers, earn millions in revenue, and hire two amazing people. Here's a retrospective: Ask me anything about bootstrapping, product-market fit, why choosing your market is the most crucial decision you'll make, SaaS, building in public, and more! I'll answer the questions on August 4th.


Cesc Vilanova
Hi Justin! So happy for you guys :) How important is to validate your idea if you manage to pick a good market? (good market = big enough group of people looking for & willing to pay for the kind of solution you want to build)
Justin Jackson
@cesc_vilanova this was definitely something I was thinking about. One thing that helped is Jon and I had both been in the podcasting industry/community since 2012. We saw signs that it was growing + picking up steam. When Jon and I were discussing this in Slack early in 2018 I said: "It definitely feels like podcasting is ascendent right now. The media's talking about it. Folks talk about podcasts in coffee shops. Businesses are using audio to build trust with audiences. We need to get in front of it!" I wrote about this in more detail here: And I spoke about this in my MicroConf talk right as we were preparing to launch in 2018:
Ilya Novohatskyi
Hey Justin. Great product. 1. What three factors are the most crucial in building a successful SaaS startup? Based on your experience. 2. Any resources and posts you suggest to beginner founders(which helped you build Transistor)?
Justin Jackson
@sweatc These three factors are most crucial for building a successful SaaS: 1. Build a product people are already searching for 2. Build a product in a market where you have a personal competitive advantage (experience, skills, network, connections) 3. Distribution matters (a lot). You're going to need to find good channels that bring you qualified traffic, consistently. Articles and resources:
Connor Lindsey
Hey Justin, what are some lessons you've learned on building a strong relationship as co-founders while being remote?
Justin Jackson
@connor_lindsey Jon and I just talked about this for an upcoming episode of the Build your SaaS podcast. 1. The work you're doing as an individual (therapy, working on insecurities) matters a lot in a co-founder relationship. You have to trust that the other person is working on themselves, and becoming more secure. 2. Considering a co-founder is a lot like dating: you don't want to make any impromptu decisions. Jon and I had hung out for years before we decided to team up. More here:
Ryan Gilbert
What has been the most surprising thing/learning about starting a podcast hosting company? Could be good or bad!
Justin Jackson
@ryangilbert I think most people would be surprised to learn how small the podcasting industry really is. Compared to other product categories (web hosting, product management, etc) it's very small. Podcast hosting is still very much like web hosting; many of the lessons/tactics that web hosting companies have used in the past are the ones we're using today.
Will Schmidt
Hi Justin, I recall you were spinning quite a few plates when you launched, what made you go 100% all in on Transistor? (obviously focus is a huge key in business success, but it must have been a somewhat risky decision for you at the time?)
Justin Jackson
@will_schmidt2 by the time the opportunity for Transistor came along, I was definitely ready to move on from other projects. My two most popular projects (MegaMaker and Marketing for Developers) continued to sell while we were working on Transistor (and helped pay my bills while we were ramping up to full-time). But my decision to focus on a SaaS like Transistor was deliberate. I explained my rationale here:
Stas Voronov
What 3 things would you advise bootstrappers to focus on AFTER choosing a niche and validating a problem? Bootstrappers = 2-3 full time teammates (Design+Sales+Tech)
Justin Jackson
@stas_voronov if you're building a product people are searching for (or that there is latent demand for), your next steps are to: 1. Deliver on the promise: build a product/features that people want. 2. Find distribution: you're going to need to find marketing and acquisition channels that will reliably bring you lots of leads. I made this video that describes the "Hierarchy of Needs for a New Product":
Daniel Burns
Hi Justin! Thank you for sharing your success journey. Which tips would you give to SaaS B2B companies on how to find their target audience? Which platforms do you recommend?
Justin Jackson
@testifi you should have a sense of where the people in your target market "hang out." This could be: 1) The conferences they go to 2) The Reddit sub-reddits they use 3) The email newsletter they subscribe to 4) The Twitter accounts they follow 5) Which podcasts they listen to One cool tool for doing this kind of audience research is SparkToro (
Daniel Burns
@mijustin Thank you very much @mijustin , I'll take a deeper look into the tool you suggested as well
Carter Bryden
I know before you'd started Transistor, you had challenged yourself to work on a bunch of different projects and make a lot of small bets to see what could turn into something more. Any lessons from that? Would you recommend others do that? What was it like to switch from that mentality to going all in on Transistor, and was there anything in particular that made it obvious this was the one before financial success? You've talked about catching the right wave (market and timing), how do you think about staying on this wave vs getting on another wave? Is there a natural point to get off of this one and onto another, or does the analogy end at catching the wave?
Justin Jackson
@carter_bryden in retrospect, my "build 100 projects in a year" phase wasn't optimal. The problem is that it puts you on a very specific track: "I'm going to build a lot of stuff" as opposed to "I'm going to find an opportunity where there's lots of demand, in a category where I can execute at a high level." By the time the opportunity for Transistor came along, I had already decided to move on from my other projects. I was ready for something new:
Ismail Pelaseyed
Hey @mijustin! Congrats on the Anniversary! I have two questions: 1. What in your opinion were the primary benefits from launching on PH (feedback, early adopters etc.)? 2. Any tips on channels outside of PH early stage founders should look for getting feeback/beta users to their SaaS? Thanks!
Sergei Petrov
Hi Justin, great story! Your experience inspires many people here. And what inspires you the most in your work now?
Tony Lea
Man! You are super inspiring 😉 Keep it up 👏
Anat M
With so many SaaS around, how do you stand out? I would appreciate any advice for SaaS B2B, especially.
Debi Barik
It always boosts my confidence to see such dedication and discipline. @mijustin Here we are all set to launch 🚀 XoForms "The Future of ATS" Send your good vibes. 🙏