Joel Hooks (@jhooks) never found it easy to spend his life working for other people. So when he came across an inspirational book that told him he could learn to code and build his own company, he embarked on a fateful journey to do just that. Learn how Joel helped start a sustainable business that connects programmers to educators, and how he bootstrapped it to over $3 million in annual revenue.
David Rabie (@daviderabie), the founder of Tovala, set out to build one of the most complex businesses imaginable: a hardware device, a software application, and a food prep and delivery service all-in-one. In this interview, we talk about how he approached this challenge one step at a time, from carefully crafting the minimum viable product and making the necessary sacrifices to get to the next step, to shipping a popular product to thousands of paying customers all over the country.
James Clear (@jamesclear), the author of Atomic Habits, knows a thing or two about forming successful habits as a founder. In this episode, he talks about how he developed the habits he used to help grow his website to over 400,000 subscribers. We also go into detail about the methods and science behind habit formation, and how any founder can develop the habits necessary to do their best work.
Shola Akinlade (@Shollsman) knew that the online payments process in Nigeria was broken, and that he was in the perfect position to help fix it. However, numerous challenges stood in his way, including broken financial infrastructure, unreliable internet, and users that had little experience making online payments. Learn how Shola overcame the odds to build and grow Paystack — Stripe for Africa — to over 17,000 merchants processing over $20M per month.
When Christy Laurence started designing her mobile app, she knew nothing about building tech products or launching startups. In fact, she didn't even know that fundraising an option. Driven by her optimistic nature and love of learning, she traded web agencies for development time in exchange for her marketing skills to get an app built from scratch, and went on to make impactful connections with dozens of influencers who helped her spread the word. Plann generated over $10,000 in sales in its first week, and today is at an impressive 650,000 downloads with growth showing no signs of stopping.
After her co-founder left the company, Christine Spang (@spang) found herself in a difficult position: deciding what to do with a product that wasn't selling as much as she'd hoped, juggling several different projects competing for her team's time and attention, and rebuilding the team's morale to get the company moving again and foster a great culture. Learn how she overcame the odds to turn Nylas API into a profitable product with over 200 paying customers.
When Ben Halpern (@bendhalpern) decided to start another business, he set a very unusual expectation: He gave himself 10 years to succeed. In this episode, we discuss how Ben's patient approach and obsession with understanding things from his users' point of view helped him grow as massive following on Twitter and parlay that into fast-growing online community for developers.
When Mathilde Collin (@collinmathilde) started her first company, she knew she wanted to create a great place to work and to improve the lives of her customers. The product was just an implementation detail. Learn how she picked up the skills she needed to succeed, and built a 100-person company with over 3600 happy, paying customers.
Ryan Hoover (@rrhoover) has always been a product person. In a few short years, Ryan built an audience of tech enthusiasts from scratch and grew it into the massive and impactful community known as Product Hunt. Today, he's working to bring Product Hunt to profitability after selling the company to AngelList. We also talk a bit about the maker and entrepreneur communities in general, and the similarities and differences between Product Hunt and Indie Hackers.
When Brian Jagger (@briansjagger) became a casting director, spending hours copying and pasting and editing file names, he knew there had to be a better way. Learn how Brian and his cofounders took advantage of years of learnings from past failures to build a successful business in the film industry and spread to new markets one city at a time.
Nat Eliason (@NatEliason) knows exactly what he's good at. He puts SEO-focused content marketing at the center of every business he builds. When friends started asking for help growing their own businesses through search-optimized content, it was just the validation he needed to start Growth Machine. In this episode, Nat talks about how he hit profitability immediately and grew revenue to $85,000/month in under a year.
As Intercom's Chief Strategy Officer, Des Traynor (@DesTraynor) knows a thing or two about building a successful company. Over the past 7 years, he's worn almost every hat there is to wear. In this interview, Des explains how Intercom got to where it is today and what he's learned along the way, from marketing, to product development and feature prioritization, to hiring, sales, and developing an effective vision that people can believe in.
Katie Keith (@Barn2Media) sees small ideas as big opportunities. In this episode, she explains how she and her husband left their full-time jobs to go into business on their own, how they found an endless stream of client work, and how they transitioned into building WordPress plugins that generate a sustainable stream of income and allow them to live their lives more freely.
Mike Taber (@SingleFounder) dives deep into the steps he took to develop a viable idea for a company, validate it with actual customers, secure thousands of dollars worth of sales before writing any code, build a product from scratch, and get it into the hands of his first customers.
JT Marino (@johnmarino) made the unusual journey from software engineer to mattress tycoon, and he did it without raising a dime from investors. In this episode, JT provides mountains of actionable advice about how to bootstrap a business through every stage, from pre-launch product validation up through hundreds of millions in revenue. Learn how Tuft & Needle convinced their first customers to buy mattresses from a brand they'd never heard of, hired top performers on a limited budget, navigated a risky relationship with Amazon, competed with the venture-funded clones they inspired, and much, much more.
Psychologist and founder Dr. Sherry Walling (@zenfounder) might know more than anyone about the psychology of being a founder. In this episode she talks about the relationship between trauma and entrepreneurship; how to deal with stress and loneliness as a founder; the best methods for staying motivated through rough patches; and how she's building her own online business into something that allows her to do what she loves without trading dollars for hours.
When John Doherty (@dohertyjf) got laid off from his job, his gut told him not to go out and get another regular job. In this episode, John talks about how he built up a name for himself in the SEO world, used his reputation to land lucrative consulting deals, and self-funded the creation of a product that generates nearly $300,000 per year.
When Joel Gascoigne (@joelgascoigne) started Buffer, he had no intention of doing things "the way they've always been done." Learn how he helped lead the way by running a remote team, by being transparency about revenue and salaries, and how grew his business from $0 to $18M in revenue and 70 employees along the way.
Saron Yitbarek (@saronyitbarek) runs three podcasts, gives dozens of talks every year, runs a blog, a weekly Twitter chat, a conference, an online resource for teaching people to code, among other things. In this episode, Saron explains how she parlays her advantages in one arena to move into another, discusses her tips for being inhumanly productive, and discusses the psychological breakthrough that taught her when to say no to adding more work to her plate.
Quincy Larson (@ossia) explains how he's built freeCodeCamp into a community that helps millions of people learn to code every month by engaging in storytelling, encouraging open-source contributions, and focusing on accessibility to people across every income bracket worldwide.
From the very beginning, nothing has been ordinary about Claire Lew's (@cjlew23) company, its business model, or the way she came to lead it. Learn how Know Your Company has generated millions in revenue with a tiny team, how Claire has met with over 500 CEOs and business leaders, and what she's learned about creating a successful company.
When Vicky Hsu (@caffeinatedvee) began volunteering her time to help with HabitRPG as part of its community, she never imagined that she would one day end up as its CEO. In this interview, I talk to Vicky about how that transition came to pass, how she manages a thriving community to help build her profitable business, and the lessons she's learned along the way.
Steli Efti (@steli) has always had something to prove. After starting numerous successful businesses in Germany as a young entrepreneur, he moved to Silicon Valley to try his hand at the startup game, and was met with years of unexpected hardship and failure. Learn how Steli improved his psychology, habits, and skills as a founder; developed better relationships with the people he worked with; and went on to build a massively profitable SaaS business that helps sales teams sell more.
When the founders of Remix released a side project that unexpectedly went viral, they put their heads together and decided to turn it into a startup. Co-founders Tiffany Chu and Danny Whalen share how they were able to build instantly popular software, the mistakes they made and lessons they learned selling it to the governments who needed it, and how they grew from 4 founders and no customers to a 55-person team serving 275 cities and transit agencies across the world.
When Rand Fishkin (@randfish) was $500,000 in debt, he decided to save his company and the relationships within his family by… starting a blog. He went on to grow a massive audience and transform his services business into Moz, an SEO and marketing company the helped grow to $47M in annual revenue. Learn how persistence, a deep-rooted understanding of marketing, and genuine values that he refused to compromise on helped Rand find his way as a founder.
Katelyn Gleason (@katgleason) has been never satisfied with working for somebody else, and she's never been afraid to break into a new field and aim straight for the top. Today, she's the founder and CEO of Eligible, a rapidly-growing business in the difficult and highly-regulated healthcare and insurance industries. Learn how she used the knowledge she gained as a salesperson to develop a category-defining product, and how she goes about learning whatever is necessary for overcoming the next obstacle in her path.
Josh Kaufman (@joshkaufman) has read a lot of business books. He also happens to be the author of The Personal MBA, easily one of the best business books in existence. In it, he lays out the fundamental concepts that are core to every successful business, and in this episode, we talk about how he became the kind of person who was able to write this book.
David Smooke (@DavidSmooke) has been working with content since he got a job as a teenager at the local newspaper. In this episode we discuss the progression of his career from employee to contractor to the owner of multiple online publications, and we learn how he bootstrapped Hacker Noon and the @ami network to over 600k subscribers and 10M monthly pageviews.
Joel Runyon (@joelrunyon) didn't start out with a whole lot. He couldn't get a job. He had no business skills. He didn't know how to code. In fact, all he had was long list of things he thought he couldn't do. In this episode, Joel talks about how he was able to pull himself up by the bootstraps and create multiple successful businesses by doing the things he was most interested in, being persistent and doubling down on the things that stuck, and literally attempting to accomplish the impossible.
Austen Allred (@austenallred) was in debt after watching his company implode. Learn how he used his entrepreneurial experience to turn things around, and then went on to create Lambda School — a successful business that changes people's lives for the better. He dives into the details behind how to align your business' success with your customers' happiness, how to decide whether or not to raise money, the future of education, and the lessons he's learned from Charlie Munger and Jeff Bezos.
Isn't having a vision just fluff? Doesn't every business need to start with the practical realities first? Max Lytvyn doesn't think so. In this episode he tells the story behind how he and his cofounder started with nothing but a vision, and used that to bootstrap Grammarly into a massively profitable business with hundreds of employees.
Stephanie Hurlburt (@sehurlburt) shares the story of how she went from being an employee to being half of a 2-person startup that sells software to gaming companies, and all the steps in between. Learn how she quit her job, met her cofounder, landed lucrative contracting gigs, built a product, learned about sales, and stayed sane while doing it.
Starting an online business is scary. You're putting yourself out there and risking failure in front of thousands or even millions of people. Learn how Pieter Levels has not only faced his fears, but used them as motivation while building an empire of profitable businesses that cater to digital nomads.
There's some stiff competition in the email marketing space, but that didn't stop brothers Gareth and Jonathan Bull. Learn how they overcame some significant business and interpersonal challenges to build EmailOctopus into a profitable, bootstrapped business.
Even as a programmer, Vincent Woo never loved school or working at big companies. But he was enthusiastic in growing his side project, CoderPad, into a $2M business. Get his take on startups, luck, and why advice is bullshit.
Spenser Skates, the CEO of Amplitude, took a very deliberate approach to becoming a founder and left as little to chance as possible. Learn about the steps he took to prepare himself, and how he went on to build a multi-million dollar analytics business with 100 employees.
When he wrote the first lines of code in his dorm room for his personal to-do list app, Todoist, Amir had no idea that it would eventually become one of the most popular apps of all time. Learn about his winding path to building a successful company, and how he got there by doing things he loved.
What would you do if your side project made $30,000 in its first month? This is the exact situation that Dawson Whitfield found himself in after a long history of launching projects that didn't make it very far. The conventional wisdom is that it takes years to build a successful business, but in this episode we discuss why that wasn't the case with Dawson's business Logojoy.
Jesse Patel and his cofounder Mike built a product good enough to attract 20k new users/month with no marketing. But it's not all roses. Co-founder disputes, competitors and clones, money problems, and real-life responsibilities have kept them on their toes. Jesse doesn't shy away from describing any of the ups and downs that come with building a rocketship product.
When he started Hotjar two and a half years ago, David Darmanin never expected it to grow so quickly. In this episode, we explore how David's past failures, learnings, and jobs as a marketer contributed to the incredible success of his business today.
How do you get people to notice what you're doing and sign up in droves? If Tobias van Schneider is any indication, the last thing you should do is try to fit in. Learn how his history of counterintuitive decisions, going against the grain, and having zero expectations has led to a string of successful products, and some pretty spectacular failures as well.
After a lifetime of hacking, Mike Carson hit on a very big opportunity selling .io domain names. Learn about the forces that made his massive success possible, the threats that almost killed his business, and how his life has changed.
Ever since he launched a profitable website as a teenager, Philippe Lehoux has had an uncanny ability to find something bigger and better to work on. Learn how a lifetime of experience as an entrepreneur has given him the confidence to move on from a business that brings in over $50,000/month.
Why is it so difficult to recognize product-market fit before you find it? And how do you find it, anyway? Learn about the struggles the team behind Segment faced, and how everything changed after they built a product that people wanted.
Most aspiring entrepreneurs assume they have to start from scratch. But when Kevin McArdle left his job at 38 with a wife, a mortgage, and 4 kids, he wanted to get a head start. Learn how Kevin and his partners at SureSwift Capital bought almost 30 companies in two years, and how they're helping to change founders' lives through 6- and 7-figure exits.
The founder of HackerRank tells the story of how he and his cofounder went from multiple failed businesses as brand new founders working from India to the creators of one of the most influential websites for programmers and tech companies.
Tracy Osborn once asked herself, "Should I learn how to code, or quit my startup?" You can guess which answer she chose, time and time again. Learn how relentless perseverance over time can help build a successful business.
What goes into creating a collection of online courses that reaches hundreds of thousand of people? Wes Bos explains everything from how he's built an audience and grown his massive email list, to his work habits and schedule, and a step-by-step walkthrough of how he created and launched his most popular course.
Few people have seen as many companies bought and sold online as Thomas Smale has. Hear the founder of FE International explain how he started his M&A firm and share the lessons he's learned about selling your business for as much as possible.
Reuben Pressman has succeeded at doing some very difficult things as an entrepreneur, and building a mission-driven company is just the tip of the iceberg.
In 2016, Mubashar Iqbal was named as Product Hunt's Maker of the Year for launching more products and better products than anyone else. In this episodes, Mubs shares his thoughts on what allows him to be uniquely prolific.
Moritz Dausinger started off like so many of us, releasing and then abandoning project after project. But when he launched Mailparser, something changed. Listen to the story of how he built, grew, and sold a profitable business as a solo founder.
Why do some products become habits? What keeps people coming back to apps like Facebook and Pinterest every day? Nir Eyal breaks down the step-by-step process any product can use to to become a habit, and we also dive into the ethical implications of this new super power.
Not everybody gets to work for the internet, floating from project to project and doing creative work that they love, but Dave DeSandro does just that. Learn how he's made a career for himself by building and designing widgets that tens of thousands of other developers have used on their websites.
The early team behind Intrinio got off to a very challenging start. In this episode, Rachel explains how being dedicated to their mission helped them stay scrappy and persevere through the hard times.
Learn how Scott Keyes grew his mailing list from 300 to 600,000 subscribers and $4M in revenue in two years.
Todd Garland went from being a blogger who published ads on his website to creating one of the leading advertising platforms on the web. Here's his story.
How did a company that nobody'd ever heard of find hundreds of beta users, and even convince them to pay for access? Wade Foster tells the story behind user acquisition at Zapier.
Growth consultant Julian Shapiro joins me for an extra long episode in which he shares a wealth of knowledge and stories about how to make your numbers go up and to the right.
Learn how Mike Perham turned his open-source side project into a business, quit his job, and grew revenue to $80,000/mo without making a single hire.
Alex MacCaw started Clearbit.com as a solo founder, and he's since grown it to millions of dollars in annual profit. Learn the marketing and sales techniques he's used to reach over 1000 customers.
Brennan Dunn has earned $20k/week as a freelancer, grown an agency to millions in revenue, started and sold a SaaS product, and makes over $100k/mo from his online courses. Learn how he thinks about business.
Patrick McKenzie divulges his wisdom around how to develop promising business ideas, find your first customers, convince smart people to work with you, generate more revenue, and stay happy while doing it.
Tyler Tringas talks about the difference between good and bad ideas, launching new products in days not months, finding your first customers one at a time, hiring effectively, and more.
Turning your skillset into a product that solves customers' problems is one of the best ways to start a business. Learn how Ryan Bedndar came up with an idea, iterated on his product, and found his first customers.
The point of marketing is to draw new people in to your business every day, but how exactly do you go about doing that? Laura Roeder, who bootstrapped her business to $4M/year, explains how to build an audience.
Thinking about becoming an indie hacker? Learn how to start, what skills you need, and the biggest pitfalls to avoid in this discussion I had with Clifford Oravec, author of The Epic Guide to Bootstrapping a SaaS Startup.
Learn how Nathan Barry grew his business by teaching what he knew, taking advantage of big competitors, showing up every day for two years, and treating direct sales as the answer to everything. Brought to you by Vettery.
John O'Nolan explains how he used his industry experience to come up with a simple idea, built a landing page that converted 30,000 email subscribers, and raised $300,000 on Kickstarter. Brought to you by SparkPost.
Josh Pigford went from having an idea to having paying customers in eight days. Less than six months later he was making $14,000/month. In this episode, you'll learn exactly how he did it. Brought to you by SparkPost.
Why is the VC narrative so dominant? Bryce Roberts, partner at Indie.vc, talks about why it's important to focus on generating revenue from the beginning. Brought to you by DixonAndMoe.com.
How do you cut through the noise and stand out among the competition so you can start landing your first customers? Garrett Dimon, the creator of Sifter, explains how he did it. Brought to you by SparkPost.
David Hauser explains how prioritizing selling early on, talking to customers, and rigorously testing marketing channels helped him bootstrap to $30M/year. Brought to you by DixonAndMoe.com.
Learn how Instapainting founder Chris Chen used a combination of SEO and content marketing to grow his business to $32k/month in sales.
Jason Grishkoff, the founder of SubmitHub, proves that being scrappy and doing things that don't scale (like sending 1000 emails) can lead to explosive growth.