A good startup education for anyone
For this post, I decided to switch things up a bit to give a little backstory on where I get most of the content for my blog.
I frequently have coffee meetings with first-time founders where they ask for advice on how to learn the basics of startups.
Here are the best four ways to learn about startups...
1) Best way - Leave your job and dedicate yourself 24/7 to launching your own startup. Your first one will likely be bad (trust me), but you need to cycle through it and learn the basic lessons yourself that no one can teach you.
2) Next best way - Keep your job and launch a side project. Side projects are easier than ever these days. They aren't as good as dedicating yourself full-time to your startup because you'll feel like you are moving in slow motion (because you are), but you'll learn some valuable lessons.
3) Good way - Go to work for a high-growth startup. Do your research and ask around to choose the right one. If it's a truly great startup, the role doesn't matter as much as learning as much as you can about as many things as you can.
4) Definitely do this too - Whichever of these you choose, if you plan to launch a startup you should start listening to startup podcasts as early as possible, so you are getting a passive eduction. This is particularly important if you aren't in one of the major startup cities. No single podcast series or episode will teach you all that you need to know, so you'll need to create a habit of listening.
The reason I made this blog so podcast-centric was how much value I’ve gotten from listening to them over the years. I consider it the quickest and easiest way to get a passive startup education…especially if you going to try and launch something in the next few years.
So here are the startup podcasts that I listen to on a regular basis in order of how often I listen. I’ve also added a quick description of how I think about each of them. Please tweet me if I’ve missed any good ones.
This Week in Startups - This is the best general startup podcast that I’ve found. The host is an acquired taste, but they get the best founders and guests and their weekly news roundtable is the highlight of my weekly treadmill routine.
Startup School Radio - I continue to be blown away by the quality of Y Combinator content. They are the center of the startup world and do their best to put out their best learnings.
Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders - I consider this podcast as well as a16z my “high brow” weekly podcasts. The topics and guests of this Stanford MBA podcast tend to be very high-level and related to academia/science/government. If This Week in Startups is my weekly fast food podcast, these two podcasts are my weekly white-table-cloth podcasts.
The Rocketship Podcast - A very quick-hitting, focused podcast with good moderators and guests. Always some good nuggets to be found.
Mixergy - Moderator is quirky & likable. High volume podcast that gets some great guests and moderator is not afraid to ask some probing questions.
Startups For the Rest of Us - The Car Talk of startup podcasts, these two very likable developers focus on owner-operated bootstrapped businesses. Even though owner-operated startups aren't my main area of focus and I’m not a developer, I really enjoy hearing about their journeys each week.
a16z - The podcast from one of the best venture firms around. Tends to focus on very big and very technical trends from a high level.
Product Hunt - It feels like they are still trying to find the sweet spot for this podcast, but Product Hunt has a great brand and product and this podcast reflects this. Kinda reminds me of Diggnation…the startup show that got me first hooked on regular startup content.
Traction - A fantastically focused podcast from a seed-stage VC with a “a craft brewer approach to investing in startups.” I wish more VCs would put out unique, actionable content like this.
How To Start A Startup - Another good content source from the folks at YC.
Dorm Room Tycoon - The name is bad and the moderator is super-weird, but I’ve enjoyed it over the years. There are some really good past episodes in their library.
Ones that I’ve heard are good, but aren’t in my regular rotation...
Collective Wisdom For Tech Startups
Founder’s Journey: Building a Startup from the Ground Up
The Reboot Podcast
The Twenty Minute VC
Zero to Scale
Lastly, some tips on how to listen to podcasts...
1) Podcast app. Stitcher is the service that got me listening to startup podcasts on a regular basis. Then I started using the Castro app. Most recently I've been using Breaker. I’m always looking for better ways to listen to podcasts, so please tweet me if you’d recommend something else. There are lots of good options out there.
2) Headset. In 2014 I purchased a Jawbone ERA bluetooth headset to make it easier to listen to podcasts doing chores around the house, driving (because it's just in one ear) or walking to a meeting. Now that Apple released their Airpods, I've been using those and loving them for the same reasons.
3) Podcast speed. For most podcasts, I set the listen speed higher than normal, so I can get through them faster.
4) Life hacking. To give myself additional motivation to get to the gym, I only listen to my favorite podcasts (startup or otherwise) when I'm at the gym.
I hope this overview was helpful. If you don't live in a startup hub like SF or NYC, it's very difficult to get the same level of knowledge transfer on a regular basis. Podcasts are one of the best ways to level the playing field that I've found.
If this particular lesson resonated with you, please pass it along to one other person who you think it might help. Also subscribe on the homepage to receive each new lesson via email when I post them (once or twice a week).
Thanks to these folks for helping us all learn faster
This Week in Startups (@TWistartups)
Y Combinator (@ycombinator)
Stanford ECorner (@ECorner)
Rob Walling (@robwalling)
Mike Taber (@SingleFounder)
Andreessen Horowitz (@a16z)
Product Hunt (@ProductHunt)
NextView Ventures (@NextViewVC)
Dorm Room Tycoon (@dormroomtycoon)
Please let me and others know what you think about this topic
Email me privately at firstname.lastname@example.org or let's discuss publicly at @davempayne.
The best startup advice from experienced founders...one real-world lesson at a time.