You’re ready to kill it. You’re on the path, building the dream, equipping yourself to not just chase, but catch that prize in your mind. And you’re not going it alone, which means you’re filling your heart and mind with wisdom from the pros who have blazed trails before you.
Well, you should be. The world of entrepreneurial podcasts has absolutely blown up in recent years, and there’s so much to learn, piped right through your earbuds.
But who has time to wade through them all? You’re a busy founder who just needs to know who’s worth your listening time. Who has real insight? Where can you go to become a better founder and nail this thing?
(Oh, and if you’re still trying to figure this thing out, check out this article on how to start a startup. Told you we had your back.)
Startup Podcasts Offering ‘The Inside Story’
Often, the best way to learn how to start a startup is to ask somebody who’s done it. Their stories provide budding entrepreneurs practical insight and wisdom that can’t be found in textbooks. There are a few podcasts that offer up new episodes weekly featuring interviews with successful business founders. Here are the ones we think are worth a listen.
OK, no surprise here. We’re not too proud to plug our own podcast. It was one of the first projects Foundr ever created and 300 episodes later, we are still going strong!
On the Foundr Podcast, Foundr’s founder Nathan Chan gets entrepreneurs to share the inside scoop on how they built their incredible companies—bootstrapped, venture funded, and all points in between. There are hundreds to choose from, often featuring CEOs you rarely hear from.
Many of our guests share what has made them so successful as well as the hard and sometimes heartbreaking lessons they have learned along their entrepreneurial journeys. There’s something for everyone no matter how long you have been an entrepreneur. Listen and be inspired!
NPR’s How I Built This with Guy Raz
While Foundr’s podcast is a straight interview-style show, NPR’s How I Built This with Guy Raz uses interview excerpts with founders to build a more produced narrative. On this show, the founders of well-known brands like FUBU, LARABAR, Dippin’ Dots, StitchFix, and more tell Guy Raz the stories of how they built brands and companies everyone knows today. Raz parses the highlights, fills in with some narrative of his own, and delivers the entire story in about an hour.
“It’s not enough,” you think. “I need way more detail than a half-hour or hour-long retelling. I want to know all the nitty-gritty experience, emotions, decisions, and details involved in building a business and being bought by a giant!”
There’s a podcast for that.
StartUp from Gimlet Media
When Alex Blumberg and Matthew Lieber started Gimlet Media, they also began recording episodes for a podcast they titled StartUp—a show documenting their own startup experience. The idea for Gimlet Media was to build a company that housed a variety of podcasts. The guys built a solid company for five years and their 30+ shows have hundreds of combined episodes.
The strategy paid off. Spotify bought Gimlet this year for $200 million.
Blumberg even documented the process of being acquired by Spotify on StartUp.
So if you want to hear the story directly from the sausage makers, of figuring out how to make the sausage while making it, then StartUp is your podcast.
Note: if you listen to the show keep in mind that, with the sale of Gimlet Media to Spotify, the content for StartUp has shifted. After all, Gimlet is a startup no more! The last episode of Gimlet’s startup journey aired October 17, 2019. Now, Blumberg shares news of what’s happening as Gimlet grows and assimilates into Spotify’s corporate presence, while also interviewing other successful startup founders like Nina Jacobson and Dapper Dan.
Startup Podcasts That Go Beyond ‘How I Made This’
While it’s incredibly helpful to hear interviews about how founder built their businesses, there is yet more wisdom to gain from them. How do founders live their lives? Handle communication? Filter life experiences? Challenge themselves? Stay creative? Organize the chaos?
There are podcasts for that, too.
Masters in Business with Barry Ritholtz
The Masters in Business podcast from Bloomberg is interview based, but the interviews delve beyond, “How did you build this massively successful company?” and into, “Tell me about you and your experience as a person.”
For instance, a show featuring Imagine Entertainment co-founder Brian Grazer began with a focus on how Glazer’s dyslexia impacted his early life (he didn’t read until fifth grade). That episode also covered how Glazer chooses projects, keeps his creativity flowing (hint: he makes himself uncomfortable on purpose and bombards himself with information), collaborated with Spike Lee on the Inside Man starring Denzel Washington, loved his “little, crazy Jewish grandmother and her isms,” and more.
Masters of Scale with Reid Hoffman
Masters of Scale with Reid Hoffman is like Masters in Business, in that interviewees are successful entrepreneurs who go beyond the “How did you build it?” question. Masters of Scale, though, is perfect for uncovering lifestyle hows and hacks.
Hoffman is the co-founder of LinkedIn, so advice from him would be helpful all on its own. But he brings in heavy hitters who specifically share their strategies and stories of going from startup to global brand. The show is well-produced and Hoffman masterfully takes his guests into conversations that reveal the personal growth and out-of-the-box areas for learning that made them, and the businesses they lead, into world-shifting entities. CEOs from Nike, Netflix, Starbucks, Slack, Facebook, Instagram, Paypal, Twitter, and more have been guests.
The Tim Ferriss Show
Of course, Reid Hoffman isn’t the only podcast host getting successful executives to reveal their lifestyle hacks and worldviews. No article about startup podcasts can leave out The Tim Ferriss Show.
By now, Ferriss is the granddaddy of this space! His podcast is regularly ranked #1 in business podcasts and has been downloaded over 400 million times. His interviews with luminaries like Lebron James, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tony Robbins, and more are a high-energy, intense experiences that go beyond surface-level “how to” and into the core of what makes these successful humans tick.
Foundation with Kevin Rose
And, though he isn’t producing new episodes any longer, Kevin Rose’s Foundation is still a podcast that founders should consider. Rose launched the show in 2011 with an interview of Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, setting the tone for a podcast that went on to build an incredible list of heavy-hitting interviewees.
Best Startup Podcasts From the Helpers
Maybe you’re at that point, though, where it’s not only about learning how to start the startup and what kind of lives, worldviews, hacks, and experiences founders have. Perhaps it’s also about getting into community with people who can help start the startup.
There are podcasts for that, too.
OK, we’re cheating a little here, because Y Combinator actually has a few podcasts, but they are great. Y Combinator brought a fresh approach to funding startups, in that they don’t just put up money, they move entrepreneurs into their Silicon Valley offices for three months and provide instruction for how to do this thing, only better. They prepare founders to pitch investors, and stick with them even after the investments have been secured.
As part of that mission, Y Combinator produces several podcasts. Startup School by Y Combinator is a collection of lectures from the accelerator’s 10-week course.
In Startup School Radio, host Aaron Harris talks with two founders (or investors) about what worked, what didn’t, and how they grew businesses. Finally, the Y Combinator Podcast is a platform for interviews with influencers of the future about technology in business, research, and art. They also include episodes from the other shows in this main feed.
Another good podcast that was created by startup funders is a16z. That’s an abbreviation for Andreessen Horowitz, which is now actually AH Capital Management, the venture capital firm started by Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz back in 2009. Their show focuses on culture, technology and business. From cybersecurity to cryptocurrencies and quantum computing, this is the show that delves into the science and tech sides of startups.
Foundr’s Startup Podcast Time Hack
“I already told you,” you think, “I don’t have time to check out all these podcasts. Make it easier! Quicker!
Ask and ye shall receive. Rather than review all nine podcasts recommended here to see what’s best for you, start by listening to these key episodes featuring their hosts:
Now you’ve met six of the podcast personalities recommended here in just four episodes. You’re over halfway through the list!
What “Start a Startup” Podcasts Do You Listen To?
What podcast is proving helpful on your journey to building a business? We’d love to hear your favorite startup podcasts and favorite episodes. Let us know in the comments below. (We really do read every one.)