Bootstrapper's paradox


A few months ago @mijustin reflected on how long it takes a bootstrapped SaaS to reach decent revenue:

Five years. 60 months. That’s a long time to wait for a paycheque. Once Transistor hits $20,000 a month, that’s dependable, recurring revenue. With that kind of MRR, Transistor also becomes a valuable, saleable asset.

But at the beginning, before the product has proven itself, it’s all a big risk.

It’s easy to see why bootstrapped founders get stressed. It’s easy to see why many experience burnout and have to quit.

I found Justin’s calculations to be surprisingly conservative, but perhaps also level-headed.

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I find them opposite.

He starts with $1500/mo right off the bat. That was only possible because of the accumulated following Justin had for all the self-promotion work he did before, which in turn allowed him to sell himself to then the sole founder of, who, on his own part, was involved with Cards Against Humanity which became their first (and large!) customer even before the launch.

So no, not every SaaS can count on such good starting conditions.

Having said that, 5 years to 20K MRR is OK with me, personally. In fact, my “made it” goal is just 10K in MRR. I do not realistically plan to become a millionaire. I just want to replace part and eventually all of my consulting income which must go down as I get older and less capable. (Bad/good thing is that so far that consulting income only grows, and at a rate few SaaSes can match :confused: )


I also find these calculations optimistic. I run a B2B SaaS and linear growth is what I see. Exponential is (I think) only possible with B2C and its additional word-of-mouth advertising effects.

Bootstrapping a SaaS takes a long time.

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