Andrew: Hey, they’re freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I record, um, interviews with entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses for an audience of entrepreneurs joining me as someone who listened back in the beginning part of Mixergy, and I’ve been watching him for a long time and feeling really bad about any interaction we had because I’m not a customer of his.
His name is Justin Jackson. He is the founder of Transistor. Transistor, is a phenomenal way to publish your podcast. And, um, even though I say that, I feel bad that Mixer G isn’t using it. And that’s a legacy issue that we’re locked into an old system that just works. But every other podcast that I’ve created since I’ve gone directly to a transistor, um, it’s just so beautifully done and I would not have thought that he could pull it off.
When I first found out that he was doing it, I said, there are enough podcast platforms. In fact, nobody even cares about publishing podcast software because it’s in the background. What is he doing getting into this space when competitors are so freaking cheap already? You, you heard all this from other people.
Justin: Mm-hmm. . Yeah. But it’s, uh, it’s great to be here, by the way. I I have been a longtime fan and you, when I got, when I was interested in podcasting, when I started to think of myself of like, oh, maybe I could do a show. It was, your show was always one of those ones I looked up to. So podcasting and podcast hosting is benefits from, uh, search intent, meaning every single day all around the world, people are waking up, opening up their laptop and saying, I’d like to host a podcast like Mixer g. How do I do that? And they’re typing in things like how to start a podcast and then once they realize they need to host it somewhere, they’re typing in podcast hosting.
And there’s, you know, probably millions of people doing this every week
Andrew: Literally millions of people wanna start a podcast every week.
Justin: I think there’s enough people searching there. I mean, I don’t know exact search intent, um, like how, how we could, you know, uh, quantify it. But there’s a lot of people that get up every day and go, I’d like to search, I’d like to figure out how to start a podcast.
I mean, when we started transition in 2018, the number I used to give was, I’d say there’s 500,000 podcasts. And at the time on Apple Podcasts now, I think the number’s around 4.5 million or something like that. So literally since we’ve started trans. Millions more podcasts have been created. And um, you know, especially during the pandemic,
Andrew: but here, here’s the thing that made me think that this was. Mistake for you to go into this space. And by the way, I should say this interview is sponsored by two, uh, two companies. The first is Origami, where I’m going to promote in a moment, actually, I’ll do it right now, say that I’m hosting a podcast about how to create a dao, and it’s published on Transistor, and I want everyone to go and check it out.
It’s at join origami.com/podcast. And the second, if you’re hiring developers, go to lemon.io/mixer G. But here’s the thing. Most people who who are creating podcasts don’t really have. , they’re not going to make any money from their podcast. They’re, I, I feel like podcasting is a really challenging space to succeed in.
And then in addition to that, you’ve got people like Spotify that have free podcast hosting software. You’ve got YouTube that has become the host of podcast hosting software. Uh, I mean, they’ve become the, the podcast hosting software themselves, and they’re failing at it, uh, unfortunately. But even while they’re failing, they’re doing well by failing.
I mean, people are hosting their podcasts on, on YouTube, and YouTube still doesn’t have a podcasting app that’s a standalone app that you could listen in and has its own native controls. The way they do from music and podcasting needs its own controls. You need like a 15 second back button, not a hit the back button, and you go all the way back to the beginning of the podcast episode.
Anyway, the point is, there are all these competitors. I don’t How did you think that you were gonna succeed with all those out there?
Justin: Well, yeah, you know, there, so you’re part of the old School of podcasting. I mean, podcasting’s been around for decades now, but initially I would’ve agreed with you. So when I was hosting my own podcast, I was doing it all myself. I was hosting it on WordPress with plugins and you know, trying to save money wherever I could.
And over the years, Different people would approach me with ideas for podcasters. Hey, I’ve got this idea for an app for podcasters. I’ve got this idea for, you know, a new stats application for podcasters. And I would always say the same thing you said, which is, the podcast market is not a good market.
These are hobbyists, these are DIYs. But then things started to shift. So there’s a few touchstones and I always refer to like entrepreneurship, kind of like a surfer who is just waiting in the water, looking and waiting for a good wave. And I was in the water of podcasting. I had my own podcasts. I was, you know, on forums I was in, there’s these like Google Plus, uh, groups that I was a part of.
I was like really into podcasting and really into the community. And for a long time it’s true. It was, it was DIYers and hobbyists not a great market. . But then the tide started to change and it, it really started to change around the time cereal came out, cereal comes out and it’s a sensation. And for the first time, 51% of Americans had ever listened to a podcast.
It tipped over. I was like, oh, that’s interesting. And then I started looking at my friends who were running their own businesses. Many of them were starting podcasts and they didn’t want to mess around with WordPress plugins and all this other stuff. They just wanted it done for them. And so they were using Simple Cast and Libs in and Buzz Sprout and uh, and then a lot of businesses, bigger businesses were starting podcasts, right?
So Base Camp had a podcast and you know, there’s all these things kind of going on. And so I was taking note of all this. . And then at near the end of 2017, my buddy John Buddha, who uh, was working for Cards Against Humanity at the time, said, Hey, cards Against Humanity is about to launch a new podcast called The Good News Podcast.
It was right around when Trump got elected and there’s all this like, negative news, and they were like, we’re gonna, we’re gonna have a podcast. That’s just good news. And he said, I offered to build a little platform for them to run it on. And I said, John, we gotta do this together as a business. Like this is the project we’ve been looking for.
We’d done some other things together. He and I met at a conference, uh, in Portland in 2014, so we’d been hanging out in Slack and building little things. And he said, you know, he came to me and said, Hey, now Cards is starting a new podcast. And I said, this is this. It just feels like all the touchstones are there.
I know personally in my circle of friends, probably I probably knew 20 people that were paying for podcast hosting. Then you’ve got all these other companies that I know and respect are starting podcasts. You’ve got the sensation of cereal and there’s just way more interest in podcasts in general, and you’ve got this first customer cards against humanity.
It’s just kind of, it just seemed like a great opportunity and uh, he’d been burned by some partnerships in the past, and so he wasn’t convinced right away. He thought about it and then by January, 2018, we decided to work together, had signed the partnership docs and were working on it together. Yeah, January, February of 2018.
Andrew: But the other, so yes, they’re more hobbyists getting into it, but in my mind, all these hobbyists, were gonna spend a few bucks, and then they were going to realize that they weren’t going to become the next cereal and dropout, or they were gonna look for something free because they’re hobbyists. And when people think about a business tool, they’re willing to pay when they think about a hobby.
Well, I guess maybe they’re willing to pay for that too. But I, but then even if they were willing to come in, I’m looking at Lipsense prices right now, it’s five bucks a month for three hours of publishing per month. If you go to 10 hours of publishing a month, it’s only 20. So to me, it feels like there’s just no margins in this space, and there are enough cheap competitors that I wouldn’t have entered.
Justin: Yeah. Well, the other thing I had was that becau and through podcasting like you, I, I started an interview podcast called Product People. I was a product, uh, manager at the time, and I wanted to interview other product people. And eventually I just wanted to interview, you know, the people I admired who were starting companies and building products, and I met.
uh, one of the people I met through that show was Nathan Berry and we became friends and Nathan went on to found Convert Cat and watching him build that company, um, it, and being able to talk to him in kind of the back channels of the internet. Uh, it also seemed like there was a lot of similarities between the email newsletter market and the podcasting market.
I’d also met Jason Cohen, uh, of WP Engine, and him and I were talking and there was, and Ruben Ga Gamma. So I’m having all these conversations and it became clear like the podcast hosting market is not nearly as big as email newsletters. It’s not nearly as big as WordPress hosting, but they’re similar. In that there’s this whole new wave of prosumers of people who want to be creative, who want to start a side project, who wanna start a side hustle, who wanna make a little bit of money on the side, or want to, uh, invest in their career on the side.
And they’re starting newsletters and blogs and YouTube channels and podcasts. Now, podcasts are definitely the, it’s the smallest total market size of, of any of those categories. But I could see the momentum and I knew what, you know. Roughly what Nathan’s margins were and what Jason Cohen’s margins were, and especially in terms of podcast hosting and web hosting are very similar businesses.
And it just seemed like, you know what? I think there’s something here and there’s enough momentum. The wave is big enough, there’s enough energy in the wave that if John and I paddle out and catch that wave, I think there could be a good business there. Now there’s lots of unanswered questions, but that was my idea was like, sure, lots of people start a Convert kit account and they’re just doing it on the side and they have to talk to their spouse and say, Hey, can I put our credit card on Convert kit and sign up for this?
Um, that’s true, but I’d just come off of working for a startup in project management. . I remember having to do these calls with people and this was like a $39 product a month. And to convince a team to switch project management software, it was like you talked to one person and they would love it and they would say, oh, I just gotta talk to the dev manager and then I gotta talk to this person over here.
You had to convince five, six people to switch, uh, for a $39 product. And I was telling this to Nathan one day and he’s like, yeah, he is like, I don’t have that problem because most of my customers are solopreneurs, prosumers, hobbyists. , I only have to convince one person to take out the credit card. They don’t need to get approval from anybody except for maybe their spouse.
And there’s no, like, you know, company decision, there’s no purchasing department. It’s just one person. And that direct connection with the customer was also very attractive to me after having worked at this other place where it’s like, man, just to get the credit card, the company credit card is so much work.
So I think having those examples, um, I, I still didn’t know exactly how it would turn out, but I was, I was, uh, the, the signs looked good. It’s like the size and shape of this wave looks like other waves. I’ve seen my friends ride. , and I think this is a good one to go after. You know what I mean? Um, whereas the size and shape of the wave in project management software is just completely different.
And, um, you know, if you’re gonna surf that wave, you have to know what’s kind of built into that category. It’s hard to get teams to switch. You’re gonna have to compete with Trello, and you’re gonna have to compete with massive companies that are well funded. Whereas podcasting was mostly independent bootstrap companies.
Lipson’s a public company, but very, very small . And uh, it’s just like, you know what? I think we could do something here. And the the other thing is, is it looked like there was an opportunity, because John and I were product people. and we had, uh, ideas about how to create great products, how to craft great user experiences that we felt were missing from the other tools out there.
So there was this opportunity. It’s like him and I could maybe do this together. The wave looks good. The market looks good. It looks similar to what I’ve seen my friends do. Let’s do it. Let’s try it.
Andrew: I think I totally underestimated the prosumer audience and I could understand how they would be willing to pay 10, 20, 30 bucks. Um, so that was one thing that I missed when I saw you get started. The other thing that I missed was, How many companies aren’t really looking to make money from it, just like they’re not looking to make money from, I don’t know, from a, well, ev, everything else.
I guess they are, they are maybe looking to make money from their website, but it doesn’t need to convert Exactly. Like I think about, um, origami. Origami is not looking for somebody to listen to the podcast and then listen to an advertiser and then make money from that. They just know there are few people who are interested in a doo, they don’t wanna read about it.
They, or in addition to reading about it, maybe they wanna listen to a story that helps them dive deeper into this topic and then maybe they continue to work with them. And that’s a completely different use case than I realized. I thought everyone was either trying to become the next serial or basically wasting their time.
Justin: Yeah. I mean the job to be. In podcasting is very interesting. Ha. Have you talked about job to be done with your listeners before?
Andrew: Um, a little bit, but never in depth.
Justin: The, the basic idea is that human beings hire products and tools to do jobs in their lives. It was popularized by Harvard researcher Clayton Christensen, uh, who has this book Competing Against Luck.
He’s, uh, passed on. But the book is awesome and it, it really explores this idea of why do people buy. I’ve been interested in that topic for a long time. Like, what makes somebody take out their wallet and then take out their credit card and then put their credit card digits into a, a form on the internet and then actually give you money.
Like what makes somebody do that? Uh, People are hiring products to do jobs in their lives and often the underlying reason they’re hiring the product is emotional. So when I started my podcast, my, the reason I was doing it was I was a brand new product manager. I just moved from a bigger city, uh, Edmonton to a smaller ski town Vernon.
And I was scared that I was gonna lose out on all the networking opportunities in tech around Edmonton and that I was not gonna be able to go to the meetups and I wasn’t gonna be able to meet interesting people doing cool stuff. And so my job to be done with the podcast was help me connect with interesting people doing product work around the world.
And then maybe a secondary job was help me improve my career. And maybe in the future I’ll start a business and this will be, you know, I can build on top of this. So I think people are starting podcasts for all sorts of reasons. The folks at Base Camp, I think they do the podcast just because, uh, those founders have a lot of things to say.
They’re opinionated, right? They want a place to, to discuss their ideas in public. Uh, and some podcasts are to make money. Some podcasters do wanna be the next serial. Um, for John and I, when we started Transistor, we started a podcast and the whole goal was just to narrate and journal our startup experience as it was happening.
And so we would have a record of it. And I often joked that while we were recording that show, I said, John, I would do this show with you even if nobody was listening. Because the act of getting on the microphones and us talking as co-founders, the, the microphone kind of elevates you a little bit. It it like you have to be a better version of yourself.
And so it, it, it gave me the courage sometimes to. Talk and ask him about kind of difficult topics that I wouldn’t have normally asked if we weren’t recording a
Andrew: And to take the conversation more seriously. So the, the reason that I started a podcast with Origami was Beha is a guy that I’ve known for years. He’s the guy he’s known best for finding, uh, for building I Icon has cheeseburger, this network of meme sites. I think he had like a thousand of them back, uh, back before Memes Worth thing.
And he goes, I’ve created a DAO with other Y Combinator founders. It’s amazing. It’s over a thousand of us together, investing through this Dao, helping to find new companies and support them and so on. He goes. Then I created another company called Origami to create DAOs. I don’t know how to explain this to people who are not in our world.
And so would you just get on a call with me and let’s talk? And I said, I’ll tell you what, if we just talk, it’s never gonna be taken seriously. You’re just gonna riff with me and you’re not going to bring your best self. I’m gonna turn these conversations into a podcast and record it that way. You have to think about more people listening than me, and it’s gonna elevate the conversation.
Trust me. And he goes, okay, I’ll trust you. And so I did that, and then I went and I published it on, um, on Transistor. And it did change the conversation. And I think if nobody had heard, and I actually don’t think that we were, I didn’t know that he was gonna promote it. I wasn’t planning on having it promoted.
I just knew that if it was publicly available, it would change a conversation. That would be enough. If nobody had heard it, still would be a win. I should say. This will be our sponsorship message for them. If you wanna listen to this podcast about how these decentralized autonomous organizations work, go to join origami.com/uh, podcast.
Okay. The other thing that I did that I underestimated was. how important design would be for something that’s backend. I tend to think of backend tools as being okay if they’re ugly, as long as they’re inexpensive and they just work. And it wasn’t until I needed to create another podcast, um, that I realized, ah, I don’t wanna go back into these ugly tools.
I am willing to pay a little bit more to make sure that what I create looks better to me, because then I have a feeling it’s going to look better to my audience and make me look,
Andrew: better than I, than I had, uh, with, with the previous tools. And so I did try a bunch of other tools, to be honest with you.
I really thought for a long time that you were, I I thought you were just like, Playing business with, with transistor. I’m gonna, I’m always open here, like even when you did an interview for Basecamp’s podcast, you talked more about surfing and wanting to have a good quality of life than you did about building your software.
And I thought, this guy’s just hanging out. He’s not sweating the details, making his people stay up late, staying up late himself and making sure it works. I, I don’t get it. And so I tried a bunch of other tools and I, I reluctantly tried your tool thinking, let’s just see what’s out there. And I thought the one that would win was the free one that I can’t even remember the name of that’s built into Spotify, but, You had to make so many compromises and risk having them stick their stupid ads and messages in your podcast.
And I thought, I can’t do that. That’s like post posting my family pictures up on, on the internet and having somebody water market just to show that I’m too chinsy. I said, screw that. None of the others were good. And then transistor was just super beautiful. And then I go, oh, I came into this whole experience of all these expectations that weren’t right,
Andrew: and that’s when I got the business.
Justin: yeah, I mean, well first of all, thanks for trying us. That always means a lot. I think this is something I’m actually really passionate about. John and I started Transistor when we were both in our late thirties. I was 38, he’s 37 at the time. Uh, now I’m almost 43. He’s turning 42. We had been through lots of startup jobs.
Uh, I had run my own business for a while by that point. When you work for enough startups, you start to recognize that just because the whole team is grinding, just because the whole team is putting in 80 hours just because you have lots of funding, just because people are, I think that the grinders are often actually playing business, quote unquote more than what we were doing.
Because from the beginning we were like, okay, if this is gonna work, this is the kind of business we want. This is what we value. What is a business for? Well, a business on one hand is to create value for customers. If you, if you’re not doing that, and if there’s not a bunch of customers that want that value, then you’re gonna fail.
But for a founder, the business, what’s the purpose? And for us, we said the purpose of this business is to give us a better life when we’re up, like once we’ve launched this thing, it. It eventually has to give us a better life, and we can’t wait too long. So in our heads, it was like within one to two years, if this hasn’t given us a better life, meaning more margin, more calm, uh, more freedom, more flexibility.
And when I say margin, I mean financial margin. I mean emotional margin. I mean, uh, margin for our energy, margin for a bad day. And you need to sleep in. We, we defined all of that from the beginning and we paired it with a great business opportunity that was the right size for two founders starting out that we were, I think, uniquely, uh, equipped to take advantage of.
And, um, we, we built something. At a sustainable pace. The first year there’s, you know, he’s working full-time, he’s doing evenings and weekends. I’m trying to run my other business and do this. First year was tough, but once, I think we, we launched a year later. We launched in, um, August of 2018. So we, so we started in January, launched August, 2018.
By August, 2019, we had both quit our other things and were full-time on transistor and, um, I’m not, uh, I, I, I, I’m on podcast a lot and they’re like, man, you must be really busy. Like, sorry to take all your time or whatever. I said, this is like the only thing I have on my schedule this week. If you look at my calendar, there’s nothing there except for podcast interviews.
We have built lots of margin into the business. Now, do we work? Hard, quote, unquote. I don’t know what is work hard. I mean, definitely the construction worker working outside my window is working harder than me Are. Do we take the business seriously? Yeah. Do we try to go the extra mile for our customers?
Absolutely. Are we trying to build the best product, the most recommended podcast hosting, uh, company in the world? Yes. But we’re doing all of that within this idea of calm margin and we want to now make, we want the company to make the stakeholders lives better. So that’s us as founders, that’s our two employees.
It’s all of the customers. And then we’ve also started to include just our broader community. How can we contribute to, uh, you know, John’s in Chicago, how can he contribute to Chicago? How can I contribute to where I’m at? How can we contribute to the environment? We’re thinking about all those things. And we want this company to make the stakeholders lives better.
And everything’s been crafted around that. The, the hustle is, sure, sometimes hustle will get you an extra bit, but, uh, one of my key kind of lessons, especially for bootstrap companies is that most of the energy is in the. So you’re in a bad market where there’s no customer demand, no matter how hard you work.
And I’ve been there , you can’t change the fundamentals of that market. It’s outside of your control. And um, you know, when I was in my early twenties, I started a couple snowboard shops. The margins in that business are pretty much set. The underlying fundamentals are pretty much set, and I was working way harder back then running that snowboard shop, making no money than I am today.
This is just a
Andrew: a, that’s a good point. It what, how did you phrase it? It was the market. The, the,
Andrew: is in the market.
Justin: The market has the momentum in the market dictates most of a business’s success, especially in bootstrapping because sure
Andrew: you’re saying, look, it, if this, if the business is growing, if there are more and more people getting into podcasting, even a, a crappy podcasting company, publishing company is gonna end up doing better. All right. Let me understand how you got here then. How much did you have to get up in place before the two of you could launch?
Justin: Uh, I mean, we signed, we signed some partnership documents, uh, we incorporated through Stripe Atlas. We each put in $5,000, but that was more, um, you know, uh, that, that was, uh, what do you call that? Um, that’s just like, sure. Paid for a few for some of our server infrastructure and stuff. And then the only investment transistors ever had is John and I each putting in 5,000.
Then John had already started on the app and. , um, we both collaborated on product. I was the one who had been using a lot of these podcast hosting platforms, so I knew about that and we were, you know, designing features together. Working together. And then I was also doing all the kind of marketing growth, pr, all that stuff.
And I mean, we talked through a little bit of this because part of what we had to negotiate was we’d known each other for a while, but partnering up really is kind of like a marriage in that you’re reliant on this other person. . Um, I think the joke in our initial podcast was, you know, John, you could be an ax murderer, or I could be an ax murderer.
Like it, we need to be able to trust each other. So we did do, um, I’d say a fair amount of work asking ourselves questions. We would like Google Co-founder questionnaires and go through those together and try to get a sense of, you know, is this gonna work? And then once we had decided, yeah, we’re gonna do this, we’re gonna sign these documents, we’re gonna put in this $5,000 he’s building at night, I’m doing everything else.
And, um, even though that part was hard, there was something about that experience that was so exciting for me, cuz I’d always been solo. On all my projects and Transistor was the first time, actually, I tried a few other partnerships that just didn’t work out. Transistor was the first time where I felt like I was running as fast as I could and I looked beside me and John is running just as fast and we really completed each other in a way that I had never had before.
He’s so good at building product and so our, our strengths, uh, partnered really well together and we, we call, we said, uh, like, we’re like Voltron, like together. We’re just better than we would be apart. And um, yeah, that experience was amazing. And yeah, we just, we knew Cards was gonna be our first customer.
They had already signed up and so we just gave them a very minimal version to use for their podcast. They launched it, it, it was a massive show and so instantly we, we had to scale and everything else, but this was the other advantage of us. Having worked in startups for a long time or a couple, couple, you know, in tech, if you’re in your late thirties, you’re old, right?
So a couple old guys, quote unquote, we, we knew we’d experienced scaling issues in our other jobs. We’d experienced, you know, we knew what tools to use, we knew we had a pretty good idea of how we wanted to build everything. So yeah, just built up the basic version. Launched it, the official version on product time, on August 1st, 2018.
Um, and it just had
Andrew: first version?
Justin: basically, um, a. A new business model that we hadn’t seen before, which was start as many podcasts as you want for $19 a month and then we’re gonna make, um, downloads the primary value metric. So, and, and this came through again, our network, talking to people, the, the value metric and email is number of emails sent.
The value metric in. Um, a lot of web hosting, especially WP Engine is number of visits, right? And so we wanted a value metric that made sense in podcasting, the costs are all bandwidth. That’s, that’s where you sp that’s where you spent all your money transferring
Andrew: expensive in podcasting than any of those other examples you gave.
Justin: that’s right. So we, first we wanted to create infrastructure that made that as efficient as possible, but um, yeah, once we figured that part out and then we had this business model, cuz when I was starting podcasts, , I would start a new show and then I would have to pay for another subscription, right?
And that always bugged me. I’m like, why are these com hosting companies limiting my creativity? I wanna start more shows. I wanna do limited run shows where it’s just 10 episodes and I’m done. I want to experiment with this idea and just see if it works.
Andrew: That is huge. I, I hadn’t thought of that. So I created this other podcast. I was trying to understand Bit Clout, which is now called Desso. And the best way I I could understand it was by doing the podcast in the space, because then I could interview people on the platform and I just kept that thing going.
And that’s a nice part of your business that even though I stopped because Desso had changed, uh, I mean, yeah, the whole thing changed. I didn’t wanna stop paying you because I didn’t wanna lose my data. And I said, all right, I’ll just keep paying. It’s only 20 bucks a month. Then when I went to create this new podcast, I realized, wait, it’s, it’s not gonna cost me any extra, and I get to keep that others, that other one is fantastic.
Um, and then I felt bad for you, Justin. I said, Justin’s not charging enough. It only 20 bucks a month for this, but.
Justin: it’s a great value metric though because it’s win-win because you know, most podcasts aren’t getting millions of downloads per month, right? It’s like something like 80% of podcasts get under 1200 downloads per episode or something. And these are still show, I have shows like that that I wanna keep around that.
I want them to stay up on Apple Podcasts and Spotify and everything. And so it’s win-win because we keep your podcast up. You get to keep all of your stats, you get to keep your podcast website, you get to keep all that stuff going, and the next time you have an idea for a show, you just go into transistor and you just create a new show and now you’ve got two shows and then you’ve got three and
Andrew: Okay. Let, let me understand how difficult it is though to get that first version going. It’s hosting of the content, which I’m sure you used. Aw s I imagine used them, right? It’s an interface and then essentially what you’re doing is you’re creating an r s s feed for each show that is being hosted on your platform, and you’ve got a sub, did you have a submission process where within transistor people could submit it into, uh, apple and all the other podcast,
Justin: came later. Yeah, that came later. Uh, the first version, yeah, you could just, you could upload episodes. Um, it, we, as soon as you uploaded episode one, we generate the RS feed for you. You would have all your show settings in there. And the last thing we added before launch was stats. Oh. And there was a built-in podcast website from the beginning because Cards Against Humanity needed it.
So we’ve just built a quick version for them that that ended up, uh, a lot of customers used. And then we eventually updated that later. But yeah, the first version was you could create multiple shows, multiple podcasts. Each podcast had its own rss. Cover art, you could upload episodes and you had stats and a podcast website and, um, that was enough to launch that, that kind of bare bones, uh, app was enough to launch and looked good enough that, you know, if you’ve been building products enough times, it’s like, okay, well we’re gonna use rebrand rails.
John knows that we’re gonna use this design framework. We know that. And, you know, putting all of this together as a two person team was actually attainable. That’s one of the beautiful things about tech. And that, I mean, it also, this category supported a simple product. If it was, if we’d gone into a different category that was very complex, you know, if we were doing our own artificial intelligence learning algorithm, we would probably have needed funding and it would’ve been more complicated,
Andrew: You know what? Frankly, even email marketing needs more because that that input box for how to design your email needs to have more features, and we have higher expectations of what it does. The templates need to be there, or else it feels janky to people. So, all right. I could see how you had that going for you.
Now let’s talk about marketing. How did you get people to start using transistor?
Justin: Well, this was the benefit of, you know, when people talk about building a business, like when I was a kid, I’ve always been interested in entrepreneurship. There used to be the show on CBC television at 11 o’clock at night after the news called Venture, which was back in the eighties about entrepreneurs who were like starting companies.
And I loved the show, and I used to watch it with my dad, but in my head it was like, oh, the way that people start a successful company is they have a great idea. They take a risk, and that risk either pays off or it doesn’t. But there’s way more nuance than that. And one of the things that benefited John and I was our years of accumulated experience, skills, connections, audience, every layer we had built over our careers.
You know, by that point we’d been working for almost two decades. Every layer helped. And so I’d been building a audience on Twitter and on a podcast and on a newsletter that. Those became our first a hundred customers came from my audience. Once you have a hundred customers and you’re really taking care of them, they start to tell their friends.
And so we were able to get some initial word of mouth that way. We had, um, a really good product hunt on product hunt launch back, and I’d been investing in that community for a long time. So when I launched, people were, people were cheering for me because I’d been sharing my story all these years. And so when it was like, uh, you know, Justin’s doing this new thing, it was like, okay, let’s get behind him and share this.
Uh, I had, like I said, I knew lots of people who had a podcast and I said, Hey, would you switch your podcast from whoever to us? And then tell your audience about it? And because they were friends and because I had cultivated a life of helping them when they needed help, they were happy to. So that gave us our initial, I don’t know, maybe our initial a thousand customers, 500 customers.
And then we just kept adding things that came through our connections. So my buddy Kyle Fox that I started that first podcast with product people, he was starting, uh, affiliate management company called Reward Full. And he said, I would love for Transistor to be our, one of our first users and use this. I was like, okay, cool.
Like I had seen Nathan Barry use Affiliates with Convert Kit and it had it, it seemed to be a pretty significant driver of growth for him. And when I talked to Ruben GMEs, uh, he said, you know, you gotta look at what other web hosting companies are doing. What are web hosting companies doing? Well, one of their channels is affiliate.
So Kyle comes to me with this idea. Sure. Oh yeah, I should do that. So then we start using Reward full. And then the next week I’m on, um, another friend’s podcast, Matt Gia Vinci’s podcast over at Money Lab, and he just happens to be in the affiliate space. He’s got an audience full of affiliates. So get on the podcast.
He’s like, Hey man, what are you doing? I’m like, oh, we just launched our affiliate program today. It’s really generous. It’s 25% of revenue ongoing. And he’s like, oh, great. And then from that podcast we got, I think we have about 800 affiliates now, maybe 900, and I think the top five probably came from Matt’s podcast audience.
They heard about us there. So that helped us. And then that starts a bit of a fr flywheel because now. These people are so good at search engine optimization. Like they have blogs and guides and you know, like, like how to start a podcast guides. They’re so good at it and they, they actually do a pretty good job of reviewing everything.
And so when they reviewed transistor and they’re like, man, this product’s great, and I get a share of revenue, so we’re partnered. Um, they, they would put us in their, their reviews and um, that led to more growth. And it was just, we just kept layering on things, you know, okay, let’s invest in search engine optimization.
Let’s try ads. Uh, ads have never really worked for us, but these other things that we keep investing in. And we were telling our story right when the build and public movement was just, Uh, that’s another wave that we caught this build in public movement is just cresting. And the idea of transparent revenue numbers was kind of at its peak.
And so I was friends with Josh Pigford and he got me set up on Barometric and we, we got into their open startups program where we were sharing all of our revenue numbers from $0 to, I think we stopped, like, sharing the, the dashboard at around 50,000 a month. And then we stopped sharing all of our revenue once we hit like a million dollars in revenue a year.
Um, but that was a huge driver too, because we had this audience listening to our podcast. It wasn’t a huge audience, it was like, you know, two or 3000 people at a time. But these were key people, engineer. Product people, marketers, working for, for companies, working for some of our partners like Spotify. And they were cheering us on because we were sharing all the revenue.
So they would check out our dashboard and go, oh my gosh, they’re at, you know, a thousand dollars a month. This is so exciting. And then they would tune in to hear how we’d done that, how we were thinking about it. Uh, they wanted to see us succeed and I can’t tell you how many times, uh, again, relatively small audience, one to 2000, two to three, I can one to 3000 people listening an episode.
I can’t tell you how many times , we would get a dm. We would say, Hey, like at the time to get into Spotify, you had to be an official partner, uh, like the podcast hosting providers to submit directly to Spotify. And we were so small. I was like, how are we ever gonna get in there? They initially only launched with Lipson, I think, and I mentioned it on the show.
Into my dms, come someone at Spotify, he’s like, Hey man, we love what you’re doing. This is, and I said, well, we would love to get into Spotify’s director. He’s like, I’ll make it happen. And then I was flying to New York the next week, I think, for uh, giving a talk at a conference and they said, Hey, we’d love for you to come in and give us feedback on the podcaster’s dashboard and all this stuff.
And so we were this tiny company of two people, but we were able to punch way above our weight because of all of this accumulation of expertise, connections, audience building. And then we were also just putting into play other things. Okay, we’re gonna tell our. Okay, we’re gonna be vulnerable with people.
We’re gonna act like human beings. Um, we’re going to, uh, you know, when people say they wanna help us, like, Hey, Kyle’s saying he wants to help us with affiliates, we’re gonna say Yes, . And then, and then our success ended up benefiting him because now all of a sudden people are saying, Hey, what are you using for affiliates?
And we were like, well, we’re using Reward for, it’s great. So all of this kind of built on each other and it, all of those years investing in the bootstrap community and the podcasting community, all like, those were not wasted years. It ended up really, uh, helping and just being a contributing member of a community for years and years and years, uh, just had this huge benefit later on.
Andrew: You’re still on Reward Falls homepage, um,
Justin: and Kyle sold the company.
Andrew: key customers. Well, All right. I should say, speaking of following people’s journey, one of the reasons why lemon.io is a sponsor is, well, the founder was a listener of, of my podcast, but also I’d been watching him as he, he said, I’m gonna hit 10 million in revenue with this marketplace where I can match people up with developers.
And we’ve watched him go through it and tweet and do well, and then all that stuff. And he hit his number. Uh, actually did he eventually, yeah, he eventually hit 10 million. Now he’s aiming for, I think 18. No, he didn’t even hit 10 million. I know what it was. , the, the war broke out in, uh, in Ukraine. He left Ukraine.
He said he was gonna support his team. Anyway, all this stuff, being in public helps me get to know him and care about him. And when he was here in Austin, we, we talked in person and I said, you know what? Your ad ran out. But I’m, I’m, I don’t know if you’d know it. I’m just continuing to do spots for you because I just want you to do well.
I feel how hard you’re working. I feel how important it is for your team. Uh, many of them still in Ukraine, a lot of them unable to work and you’re continuing to pay them. And I, I wanna support as much as I can. And so I’ve been doing ads for him and I refuse to take payment. And I should say, if anyone out there is looking for a developer, go to lemon.io/mixergy.
They will match you up with developers from all, um, all across Eastern Europe. I think he might have broke. He definitely broke out of Ukraine. I think he’s, um, now finding them in other, it’s not even Eastern Europe. He’s now going even beyond that. And he’ll match you up with a developer. If you need to hire someone, go to lemon io slash mixer g.
He’ll get you a phenomenal developer at a great price because of where he’s, he’s finding them. And, uh, if you use my url, you’ll get an even lower price. Go to lemon io slash mixer g.
Justin: That’s so cool. I love that story. And, and his website is so, so awesome. The, the, there’s something about this that I think is instructive, which is, I mean, it all depends on the market you’re in. The, the market really just dictates so much of how you’re, you’re going to proceed. But like, being personal and sharing your story is one of the things that indie entrepreneurs have that a big company doesn’t.
We can share our story. Apple, you know, apple computers has to be all buttoned up, has to be corporate, has to be shiny. Uh, indie software company can be gritty, can be raw, can be personal. And we still sell to big companies, but we’ve never been ashamed of who we are. Hey we’re the, one of my favorite conversations we had when we were building transistor is this massive company wants to use us.
So their developers heard about us, where fans of us started using transistor secretly, you know, for different podcasts. The purchasing department guy at head office gets wind of this and he is like, okay, I gotta call these guys and negotiate a real enterprise agreement.
Justin: books a call with me and he’s like, man, I’ve been researching you all day.
You’re consistently in the top three recommended podcast hosting platforms. We have five divisions that are using you right now, but we have 500 divisions that have podcasts and I wanna bring that all under one roof. I wanna negotiate one umbrella deal, and everything I’m seeing just looks so good. Your customer support everything.
Kudos to you and your team. This is incredible. And I said, okay, well that’s great. And he said, okay, I’m impressed. Let’s. Right away after this call, let’s get your legal team to talk to my legal team. Let’s get your accounts payable to talk to my, I mean your account’s receivable, to talk to my accounts payable.
Let’s, and he’s just listing off all this stuff and I’m like, whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold on. I said, at the time. I said, this is a two person company. He said, what? I said, yeah, it’s just John and I. John’s in Chicago. I’m here in British Columbia. He’s like, are you serious? I said, yeah, and I can also tell you if you need all of that stuff, you need the enterprise agreement.
You need us to go through the security audit. You need us to sign this. I said, I’m not interested. And it, it literally took his breath away. He was like, what do you mean like this? He said, this will be a massive. Contract for you. I said it will, but we would need to increase the complexity and the weight of our business so much to serve you.
I’d have to hire 10 people just to serve you. I’m not interested in that. I started this company, John and I started this company so we could have a better life. And life is really good right now. Like we love serving our customers and if serving you means we have to change that, I’m not interested. And he just could not believe it, that we didn’t want these 500 accounts.
I said, we’ve got enough accounts. Our growth is good right now, we’re growing month over month, we’re doing fine. So he sits back
for about 30 seconds and then says, what if we bought you? and I said, I can tell you right now, John and I aren’t interested. We don’t wanna work for somebody else. We definitely don’t wanna work for a big company. So respectfully we’ll say no. And he was just like, well, . He’s like, thanks for being honest.
He’s like, that’s really refreshing. He’s sounds like you guys are just really kicking ass. And you know, those five accounts that were with us, they stayed for many, many years. They just actually switched off. And um, you know, they probably negotiated a contract with some big, you know, big enterprise contract.
But they stayed customers for a long time and we stayed happy . So it, it, it’s just refreshing to be able to live like that, to be able to say this is how it is.
Andrew: thought that you’d say, I would’ve thought that you would say, we’re going to do this because if we can do it with this one company, it’ll get us more companies like them. It’s another way to grow further. You, you just don’t want that at all. Philosophically, you’re opposed to
Justin: Well, philosophically, and I’m also not convinced that it, I’m always thinking about, you know, you got all these founders risking the best years of their life, risking their energy, risking their marriages, risking their relationships with their kids, risking their stress, they’re getting stomach ulcers, they’re putting all of this work into building a company.
And then what they end up with is a job they hate, a stressful work environment, stakeholders that are just grinding them down and pushing them down. Uh, enterprise clients that are asking for all sorts of bullshit, honestly. And that just does not sound like a good life to me. And I wonder if it’s because A, maybe people don’t know it can be different, or B um, people don’t stop to consider.
This path I’m on. Where is that going to lead? So John and I have these questions that we ask before every decision. It’s on GitHub. It’s, it’s, uh, op open. Anybody can see it. One of the questions we ask is, is this, does this decision, is it going to make our lives worse than it is right now? Is it gonna make add more stress?
Is it going to keep us up at night? Is it going to put more requirements on us? Is it gonna make transistor feel more heavy? And if the answer is yes, then usually we’re just like, well, we’re not gonna do it. Is this decision going to make us, uh, enjoy working on transistor more or less? If it’s less, we don’t do it.
Is this decision going to har ha does this decision have the potential to make the business more complicated? All, all those things, we’re asking those questions. and we’ve been doing that from the beginning. And again, part of it is the market we’re in, part of it’s the category, but part of it is the intention with which we’ve, we’ve progressed, we’ve said we want this company to be a healthy place to work.
And, um, founders, I think sometimes add way more weight and complexity and pain than they need to. Uh, because they’re like, well this, they’re offering us 500 contracts. I guess we gotta go through this security SOC compliance or whatever. Well, maybe you don’t, maybe you don’t need those customers. Uh, and again, it’s one of the benefits of serving the prosumer SMB hobbyist, you know, we have enterprise customers, but most of our customers are just solo people that wanna make a show.
and we’ve been able to say no to anything that, including acquisition offers. You know, when acquisition offers came around, especially John, he was like, I just got done working for companies . He’s like, this is the best job I’ve ever had. This is the most relaxed I’ve been I’ve ever been. This is the best money I’ve ever made.
Like, why would we give this up for working for somebody else? And so that’s, that’s kept us, that, that’s kind of our, the mode we’ve operated in from the beginning and continue to try to operate in now.
Andrew: That’s one, one of the things that scared me off of working with you, I thought, these guys are just keeping it too chill. Everyone else is gonna out feature them, but in reality it just, it’s not necessary. I,
Justin: margin begets it’s like, When you’ve got margin in your life and margin in a business, you, you’re, you serve customers better, you just do
Andrew: I get it. I aren’t you worried about, for example, we’re now using Riverside. Eventually Riverside might say, we’ll host your podcast too. Hit this button and, and it’s hosted with us instead of downloading it and then having it hosted somewhere else. Or YouTube says, we’re just going to become a podcast app.
And then No, you are, but not too much. Why not?
Justin: Um, I mean, I do think about those things. Um, a lot of those things are out of my control. But, you know, I’m, I, I went to business school. I do a SWAT analysis every once in a while. Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats in the threat corner is YouTube is, you know, what if Riverside adss hosting is all these?
Um, but here’s what’s happened so far, and again, this is part of business. The market can change underneath you. The waves don’t last forever. And
Andrew: why people wanna sell because there’s always this going to bed feeling that tomorrow I could wake up and this big company’s going to announce that they’ve taken our whole product and made it
Justin: yeah, we have that, some of that pressure too, we have some of that anxiety. But the more, the more margin we give ourselves and our employees, the less that becomes, uh, a, uh, a pressure. So we’ve done profit sharing every year since we’ve had employees and, you know, they’re, they, they are starting to build their own little nest egg from transistor.
The more, the longer we do that, the less there’s a risk of, wow, we might miss out on that big acquisition offer that is gonna change our lives. Um, if. We’re not quite there yet, but if individually each of us keeps working and we’re able to do this for more years, I think we’ll be, uh, safer. You know what I mean?
Andrew: saying your savings, what you’ve taken out and your team has taken out of the business is enough that you’ll eventually have savings that will protect you against, okay.
Justin: And competitively, just to get back to that, um, again, it’s so helpful having friends who are also bootstrapping. So Nathan Berry was really worried when CK came along. Oh my gosh. Here’s a free competitor that’s going to just eat our lunch. and then the opposite happened. Now the number one refer to Convert kit is former CK customers who want to level up, who want better customer service, who want built-in e-commerce, who want these pro features.
And there’s this idea, especially for prosumers, hobbyists, whatever, sometimes it’s like, you know what? I don’t want this free option. I want to level up. And it’s, he, he gets tons of people switching from CK to convert it from the free product to the paid product. And we’ve seen the same thing with Anchor and anybody else offering a free, um, you know, my joke is I have lots of margin in my life, but I answer customer support tickets all day long.
It’s just part of the rhythm and fabric of my life. Pull up my phone. Oh, here’s a ticket. I’m just gonna answer it. I can guarantee you the CEO O of anchor is not answering customer support tickets, but I am because I care. And. . People at Anchor have noticed that now Anchor is one of the, the number one places that people switch to, they switch from anchor to transistor.
It happens all the time switching from a free product to a paid product. So sometimes it doesn’t always work like this, but sometimes the free product ends up being a lead generator. They’re just helping people get into podcasting. That’s your first podcast is on Anchor. But when you’re ready to level it up, when you want better stats, when you wanna run your own dynamic ad campaigns, when you want to add a private podcast, when you want a better integration with Patreon, then you level up to transistor or you want to add another show, you know?
So we’re seeing that same effect, uh, with
Andrew: I didn’t know I could do that. I could do, uh, dynamic ads with
Justin: Yep. We have a dynamic ad, uh, feature. It’s on the 49 plan, $49 plan and up, but it’s still the most affordable dynamic ad tool on the market. The other thing in, in podcasting, and I think this is important for all indie entrepreneurs, cuz this is, th this is just something I’ve noticed.
Think about the most successful indie bootstrapped software companies you can think of, MailChimp, campaign monitor, convert kit, uh, base camp, uh, WP Engine, all these other things. What are they built on? They’re all built on open source and decentralized protocols. Email is a decentralized protocol that nobody owns.
It makes sense that the most successful bootstrapped company of all time, I think is MailChimp. And the other ones are not too far behind. It makes sense that they built it on email, this open, decentralized platform that nobody owns. Podcasting’s the same way it’s built on this open, decentralized protocol called rss.
Now, RSS and email and anything open and decentralized is a little bit more messy, is a little bit not as, not as tight and cleaned up as a centralized platform like YouTube. But what it gives creators especially is optionality and leverage. So even now you’re seeing YouTubers are building an email list because they don’t want to get demonetized or they wanna have a backup plan in case they do get demonetized.
Um, you see people, you see a lot of YouTubers now starting podcasts. The great thing about a podcast. Is if you wanna switch platforms, if you wanna switch hosting providers, you just forward the RSS feed and then all of your subscribers automatically just get forwarded to the next place.
Andrew: You know what I’d love to see? So here’s, here’s an interesting feature. I would love an easy way for YouTubers to convert their shows into podcasts. There are a lot that are out there that the YouTube app doesn’t make easy to work with that I would prefer to listen to as a podcast. Now, I know that they would probably prefer that I listen on YouTube because they get more money there and they get more links and it’s, but if I’m not going to, then I think their second best is that I listen on another app.
Is there a way to suck in like all the YouTube content immediately into a podcast?
Justin: I mean, we do the other direction right now. So you can upload an MP3 to Transistor and if you’re on the $49 planner up, we’ll generate a YouTube video for you. The opposite way, the only limitation is their, their, uh, API rules. But I would not be surprised if it’s coming. And again, this goes back to the decentralized platform and why it’s so good for indies.
So who’s gonna take over podcasting? It could be Spotify, but they only have like 30, 40% market share of the listening market. Could be Apple, but they only have 30, 40%. And now let’s, YouTube probably has the other 30%, but you’ve got these big companies battling it out. None of them own a majority. . And so they have to work with, they have to partner with the ecosystem.
And that means when Spotify wanted to go to market, they had to partner with all the podcast hosting platforms and they implement stuff all the time. But over here you got Apple with 30, 40% share pulling this way. And then over here you got YouTube pulling this way. And YouTube is already talking about, I don’t know if they’ll end up doing this, but the, the, the buzz is, I think they’re going to open up the API for hosting platforms.
So you upload a YouTube video to YouTube and they don’t wanna do the audio hosting part. And partly because distributing to Spotify and Apple and other things, those are their competitors in some cases. So they’ll do it through the independent hosting providers. They’ll just open up the api, we’ll be able to suck in, uh, the video, convert it to mp3, and then distribute it to all of the audio platforms.
Andrew: be so surprised if YouTube encouraged that. I, I, I would find that they would probably,
Justin: I w I I don’t think they, this is because
Andrew: think they’re gonna make their content available by r s s?
Justin: no, no, no. They’ll, what they’ll do is they’ll open up the API so that we can suck in a video, turn it into an mp3, and then we generate the RSS feed. I don’t
Andrew: would, so here
Justin: I don’t think they’re going
Andrew: think they’ll do it the opposite. Let’s talk this through. I’ve been thinking this a lot. Here’s what I think they, they could do and what they’re likely to do. You know how there’s YouTube music that if you’re a, a subscriber to YouTube’s premium service, you also get to listen to music on the YouTube music app, which is essentially sucking music in from YouTube and giving you better controls and playlists and so on.
I imagine they would create YouTube podcast where anything that is marked as a podcast or their system thinks is a podcast can be playable, and then they give you controls that are meant for podcasting. Like 15 second rewind. Like, remember your place if you stop listening and come back a month later.
Justin: It is possible, but, and you could be right, but the reason I don’t think they’ll do it is because, again, it’s just so messy generating RSS feeds, supporting those customers, having that whole other, um, a whole CMS built for this whole other ecosystem that they don’t really care about. Uh, I, I would be very surprised if they, now Apple has also added, uh, hosting, um, a lot of people don’t know this, and again, I, I was worried when they did it, but because it’s Apple, Um, when you upload, so you can upload it to Apple, but you can only distribute it to Apple Podcasts, right?
This is, this is how big companies think. They’re centralized, they want everything there. YouTube is launching a podcast thing, but they’re just concerned about video. That’s what they care about. And so far, you know, who knows they could, they could change their mind, but when they’re at the ho the conferences and I’m talking to their people, um, right now, the, it’s the, the, uh, rhetoric is all about partnership.
And I think I can see why, because it’s just so messy. It’s the same reason that Google, why didn’t Google go into MailChimp’s? This email is so freaking messy. It’s just, it’s just a headache. It’s too, uh, messy. It, it, it doesn’t, it doesn’t conform to what these big companies want, which is they want centralized control, simplicity.
Uh, and so the indies can take up this whole market
Andrew: And you know what, Justin, even if they do create their own app, that’s, that doesn’t give their creators distribution in Spotify. And so then their creators would be even more eager for Spotify and other, uh, access. So then why? So then maybe, I think I understand why you wouldn’t do this, but the thing I would think you would do is say, if you’re a YouTube creator, prove that it’s your content and we will just scrape the content and turn it into a podcast for you and put it in the various stores and let YouTube come after you for scraping your own content.
I don’t think they’re going to, you thought of
Justin: Yeah. We’ve thought about it. The,
Andrew: that hard.
Justin: the challenges. The challenge is that it took, honestly, it took forever to get that API connection the other way. Um, I dunno if you’ve ever had to deal with people at at u Google or YouTube, it’s such a massive company. People are constantly changing teams.
And so there was a while where every podcast hosting provider that was publishing, um, MP3s to YouTube as videos, like having that direction go, um, we could not get API access. It was limited for all of us. And eventually they, they changed it. So I just don’t wanna threaten that. And I think, I think the next thing is coming.
I think, um, that the, the, I think eventually it’ll be possible, it’ll be supported by YouTube to. Take your video and then Yeah, we can suck that down programmatically, turn it into an mp3. Um, and there’s other ways of getting around that too. Like Riverside, for example, has a, uh, integration with transistor where you can publish directly to transistor and then export your video and upload it to, to, um, YouTube.
So we’re in the, the creation cycle even before that. But yeah, these are all good. These are all reasonable
Andrew: that’s a pretty good business. I could imagine somebody saying, uh, frankly, I thought about it myself just outta my own personal frustration. I hate listening to podcasts on the YouTube app, even though I have YouTube premium. I could listen in the background. I thought I’m just gonna create it.
Go to Ali Abdal and a couple of other people and say, can I just automatically turn your thing into a podcast? It’ll go into these different apps and then you don’t even have to promote it, cuz I know it’s not great. Um, but I, I, I don’t know that that’s gonna be my world and I don’t think that’s where I want my, my attention to
Justin: and the other difference is that these, uh, in terms of monetization, these are still separate ecosystems cuz YouTube wants to control all of their ad market. But if you’re doing dynamic ad insertion on your podcast, you need to do that separately anyway. So at some point you’re gonna have to say, here’s where the mid-rolls go, here’s where, so there’s these built in, they’re not insurmountable, but I actually love that tension.
A little bit of tension, a little bit of mess, a little bit of inconvenience for the creator is actually not a bad thing. YouTube is centralized and has, you know, very little friction to getting a video on YouTube and getting all that distribution. But what you give up is, and for a little bit of mess and a little bit of friction.
Now you can distribute your podcast to Apple, Spotify, Google Podcast, overcast Amazon music, and if you don’t like what Amazon’s doing, you can take it out out of there. If one place decide, you know, if Spotify decides they don’t like you and your podcast and they kick you off, you’ve still got Apple and everyone everywhere else, it gives you optionality.
Andrew: it out with this. You’re in this space a lot. I’m in this space a lot. I want to hear some tools that are interesting. When I heard about this script, I got so excited. It just automatically turns your audio into text that you can edit, just like you would a Google Doc, and then you end up with this beautiful audio.
Gimme some more tools. Is somebody who’s in this space. What else is exciting that you’re noticing here?
Justin: I mean, script is really great. I think, I think the, the, the next thing I’m waiting for and is close, and I think Descript will end up probably taking this, but there’ll be other tools in this space. Now most people are recording video and audio at the same time, and then the, they export the audio as an mp3.
That becomes the episode, and then they export the video and maybe just take some clips for promo and everything. The next step is artificial intelligence. That just says, in the same way that you can ask chat g p t, you can give it a whole essay and you can say, Hey, create a Twitter version of this and create a, um, you know, a one paragraph summary of this.
Eventually, you’re gonna be able to ask these tools, okay? I’ve got, I’ve just recorded all my video. I want you to automatically edit it for me, take out all the ums and everything. I want you to create a MP3 episode version. Then I want you to create a two minute MP3 trailer version. Then I want you to create a one minute, 22nd video version for Twitter.
That’s a perfect promo. Then I want you to create a five minute YouTube. Clip or I a sequence of clips that you publish, you know, over time to promote the podcast. I think that’s the next step is these AI tools are gonna be able to take the content you recorded and put it in all of the formats that podcasters are using to, you know, publish the episode itself, but then to publish these little promo clips of, you know, here’s a video on Twitter, here’s a video on Instagram stories.
It’s gonna do all of that for you. Script seems to be the most pos well positioned for this, but there’s other companies thinking about it. There’s lots of companies that say they’re doing this, but they’re really just, um, manually, uh, finding things cuz you want them to find the best bits, right? Like if, if it, if the AI could automatically go, oh, you know what, here’s Justin and Andrew’s voices and they’re getting higher here and we’re excited.
We’re gonna capture that moment right there and we’re gonna make that moment. The trailer, because that’s the peak of the
Andrew: like this is a little bit off because Des script does do a really good job of finding all the ums. And then there was one interview that I did, not for Mixergy, but for origami, where the ums would just drive me fricking crazy. And so I just, instead of deleting each one individually, I just said, go for it.
And it, it didn’t quite get it. It was like 95% there. And then the other 5%, it would clip the word before the um, or it would find a like or some other filler word that shouldn’t have been clipped. And still I kept it because it sounded better with that change. And I’d rather go and edit after the change than edit to get to all those elms out.
So I feel like there, here’s where I think the first step is going to come. We have taken podcast episodes where we get the descript transcript, which is, it’s still even at 90, 85% accuracy. Um, maybe even 80. But if you use Notion, they have an AI feature and you could say, summarize this whole thing for me, or write based on that.
And that is pretty impressive. And frankly, I do think we need more more text from the content, from the, from the recording. And that’s a hard thing for somebody to do, but it shouldn’t be. And so software I think is gonna get to that. So that’s what you’re
Justin: Yeah. I
Andrew: AI to
Justin: I think, and removing ums is actually a, a more difficult problem technically than highlighting one, uh, part of that transcript that also has audio and video attached that you could then export as a compelling piece of promo content. So I think the ums and ahs. That that’s gonna continue to improve, like the removal of that.
But highlighting that one part of the podcast where it’s like, yes, this is the piece that we should promote. And it just generates, when you click publish, it just generates all the stuff for you. Pop, pop, pop, pop, like publishes the episode, but then also gives you the video trailer and you don’t even have to look for it.
Um, I think that’s actually closer and not as difficult technically, and we’re gonna see in the next couple years. I think we’re gonna see more companies offering that
Andrew: Do you think you’re gonna integrate AI into the show notes so that you can pull show notes or create show notes for people?
Justin: I mean, so far we’ve been able to partner with folks like Descript who can do it better than we can. So sometimes just saying, you know what, we’re just gonna be in the hosting game, and then the creation and recording game. If script’s better at that, let’s just partner with them and let them do it.
Andrew: They, they did get funding from chat from, uh, what is it called? Uh, chat GT’s, uh, parent company. What is it? Um,
Justin: Uh, open ai.
Andrew: it? Open ai. Thank you. Okay. All right. The website is transistor.fm. It’s just beautifully done, super elegant. Congratulations on your success. And if you wanna listen to my podcast that I host there, go to join origami.com/podcast.
Justin: this was a real pleasure Andrew. Thanks so much for having me.
Andrew: Cool. Thanks Justin.