If you're interested in building a web application with less pain and fewer mistakes, you're in the right place.
I spent years making plenty of mistakes and learning lessons the hard way. I eventually sold my web application, and now I'm sharing everything I learned so you can do it all way better.
Hi, I'm Garrett. In 2008, I quit my job to launch a Saas application as a sole founder. Starting & Sustaining is a book and podcast that uses all of my experience to help you build, launch, and sustain your SaaS business.
I'm writing this book in the open so you and everyone else can learn, benefit, and even provide feedback without having to wait for the fully finished product. Each chapter from Starting & Sustaining is available on the site right now, and eventually, the entire book will be available for purchase as well.
Until then, read away, or take a moment to help spread the word.
A Work in Progress
Starting & Sustaining is a book that's currently a work in progress. In the interest of sharing as soon as things are ready, I'm writing all of the chapters in the open. This means that they may be incomplete or missing some of the polish you might expect from a finished work.
At the top of each chapter, you'll see a summary of the chapter's status that helps provide context about where the chapter stands. Here's a quick rundown of the various states for the chapters:
- Blank Placeholder - This chapter hasn't been written and simply represents a placeholder for a planned topic.
- Rough Notes - This is just some notes for a chapter that hasn't been written yet.
- Raw Content - This chapter has been written but is waiting to be cleaned up and clarified.
- Rough Draft - This chapter has been written and cleaned up, but it needs one final pass to become a "final" draft.
- Final Draft - This chapter is a rough draft that's waiting to be reviewed by an editor.
- Edited - This chapter has been edited by an editor, but the changes haven't been fully incorporated.
- Final - This chapter is finished and ready for publication.
I've been working on the web since 1998. In 2008, I left my full-time job to freelance and bootstrap a hosted web application as a sole founder. In December of 2008, I launched Sifter, a bug and issue tracker. It eventually grew to low-six-figure revenue and provided a great living.
About five years into running Sifter, I had a minor surgery, and my recovery got a little sideways. I spent the next three years juggling surgeries (ten in all, including a below-knee amputation), physical therapy, doctor appointments, and Sifter. During that time, Sifter kept on trucking, and I began to recognize the value of SaaS and recurring revenue.
Despite my progress, in late 2015, exhausted from years of surgeries and recoveries, I decided to sell Sifter and move on. I simply didn't have enough left in the tank. I joined Wildbit, where I still work every day with SaaS applications like Postmark, Beanstalk, DeployBot, and Conveyor. The only difference is that now I'm surrounded by a team of fantastic people.
Through this roller coaster, I've learned an incredible amount about SaaS. I look back at what I knew when I got started compared to what I've learned, and I wish every day that I could go back and share all of this knowledge with past Garrett. I can't do that, but I can write it all down and share it to help others.
I released the first edition of Starting & Sustaining in 2013. That was before my medical issues, joining Wildbit, and before selling Sifter. The combination of those experiences and context from the new perspectives helped me see a handful of additional things that I could add to the original book and improve it. So at the end of 2016, I set out to make some small updates. Those updates grew and grew, and now I'm working on the second edition of the book in the open.
Once I started on the second edition of the book, I reached out to others in the industry to talk with them about their journeys. What originally began as a series of casual conversations to complement the book turned into a regular podcast where I talk to other founders about their trials and tribulations.
What have people been saying?
…the accompanying spreadsheet has to be seen to be believed. While it's an incredibly useful tool for planning and measuring your business, it's also the most beautifully designed spreadsheet I've ever seen. Wade Winningham Developer at Updrift
As a founder of a successful startup, this book highlighted so many gaps in the way I went about setting up my startup initially. For my next startup, I'm following this recipe to save time, money and loads of rookie mistakes. Adii Pienaar Founder of Conversio
OK, I haven't even had a chance to crack open the book yet, and I'd already pay twice this price—just for the spreadsheet alone. I built a crappy version of this spreadsheet for myself and it took me hours. This is a steal for anyone who's even half-way serious about a SaaS business. Amy Hoy Cofounder of Freckle
Starting & Sustaining is easily the best book I’ve read about running a web app so far. Andreas Zecher Founder of Promoter
Just finished “Starting and Sustaining” by @garrettdimon. Highly recommend it. Andy Johnson Cofounder of Harpoon
Just finished reading Starting and Sustaining. Great book on all the things to consider when launching. Brandon Hilkert CTO at Bark
I spent about six hours doing a basic P&L for a SaaS product I was considering building. Garrett's sheet is far more detailed and would have saved me hours of time. He's truly thought through it all. A steal at twice the price! Brandon Savage Author of Mastering Object Oriented PHP
This is the first book I’ve ever eagerly awaited, and I was blown away by a draft Garrett sent me. Buy this right now. Brennan Dunn Founder of RightMessage
Just got to laugh at Starting & Sustaining from @garrettdimon, insane value for money if you're launching/running a web app. Chad Tomkiss Chad_tomkiss
You must read this book if you are starting a SaaS business. Packed with advice and lessons learned by Garrett. Chris Nagele Cofounder of Wildbit
Just started a SaaS company or are considering it? This new book from @garrettdimon is loaded with practical advice. Dave Greiner Cofounder of Campaign Monitor
If you’re starting a new web business, I recommend Starting & Sustaining by @garrettdimon. Great read by a great guy. Des Traynor Cofounder of Intercom
As an early stage start-up founder myself, I'm finding all of Garrett's insights extremely helpful. It's saved us hours of disruption, and wasted time. If you are ready to take your idea, or side project to the next level and beyond, do yourself a favour and grab a copy. Worth every penny. James Deer Founder of GatherContent
The spreadsheet in Starting & Sustaining is easily my favorite SaaS business tool for budgeting...ever. Josh Pigford Founder of Baremetrics
Think the package is expensive? I can tell you the included spreadsheets alone are worth the price, and will pay for themselves. Kyle Fox Product Developer at Coach
If you're building or running a SaaS product, @garrettdimon's book is a must-read. Luke Miler Founder of Little Big Make
Started (and finished) @garrettdimon’s book today, and it’s really really good. Marc Amos Partner at The Outfit
For those looking to get into SaaS applications: Starting and Sustaining by Garrett is a must read. Nathan Barry Founder of ConvertKit
If you're into building software products, Starting & Sustaining by @garrettdimon is a no-brainer. There's something in there for everyone. Nick Zadrozny Nick_zadrozny
Slides 59 and 60 are worth $X0,000+ to SaaS companies. Run one? Want to? Buy the book, too. Patrick McKenzie (patio11) Working for Stripe on Atlas
Finally found space to read @garrettdimon's Starting & Sustaining. Very good. Worth the cash, worth the time. Paul Love Front-end Developer
If you’re thinking about starting a SaaS company then @garrettdimon Starting and Sustaining product is what you need. Paul Scrivens Developer and Marketer Obstacle
I’ve been using Starting and Sustaining to help me launch my new web apps and it’s great resource. Scott Nixon Cofounder of Meal Mentor
Starting+Sustaining by @garrettdimon is an invaluable resource for when starting and/or running a web project. Teddy Zetterlund Head of Product at Lägenhetsbyte.se
Starting & Sustaining by @garrettdimon is solid. If you are starting a new company, it will save you a TON of time. Todd Garland Founder of BuySellAds
The new playbook for launching your web app: @garrettdimon's ebook is loaded with practical and applicable advice. Tyler Rooney Cofounder of Format
Even if Garrett wasn't a friend and Sifter wasn't a part of our workflow, I'd still tell you to go pick this up. Aaron Mentele Partner at Electric Pulp