Podcasts are a great medium for learning about, well, almost anything — but they’re especially useful for learning about starting and leading a company. After all, most future entrepreneurs are super busy, so you need a way to digest information that’s easy, flexible, and accessible.
To help you get started, we’ve put together the entrepreneur’s podcast starter set.
These shows each meet the following criteria:
Actionable: Although theories are good, concrete tips you can implement right away are better.
Engaging: Unfortunately, it’s hard to pay attention to even the most fascinating interviews and conversations if they’re presented poorly. Each podcast on this list has high-quality audio and dynamic hosts.
Innovative: None of these podcasts will cover things you already know. You’re listening to learn, not to rehash the same tired lessons.
Focused: As previously mentioned, your time is valuable. If you’re listening to an hour-long podcast, it should have six times the information as a 10-minute one — not just six times the talking.
1. To learn how to start a startup…
Listen to How to Start a Startup. Sam Altman, the president of Y Combinator, originally taught this 20-part series as a Stanford class. He starts with the basics, like how to create a team and build a product, and ends with advice for after you’ve achieved product-market fit. Altman is brilliant — and he also brings in many startup heavyweights, including Reid Hoffman, Marc Andreesen, Aaron Levie, and more.
- How to develop a great idea
- How to build a high-quality product
- How to put together a winning team
- How to execute on the first three
Episode #1, in which Sam Altman gives an overview of the course.
2. To learn how to pitch to venture capitalists (VCs)…
Listen to The Pitch. This podcast is essentially an audio version of Shark Tank: Each episode, a different startup comes on to give their elevator pitch to a panel of investors and answer their follow-up questions.
After the investors have quizzed the founders, they’ll discuss whether or not they’d invest and why.
- What goes into a good pitch
- What types of questions VCs ask (and how to answer them)
- What makes or breaks their decision to invest
Episode #10, in which Dollar Beard Club founder Chris Stoikos pitches his startup to Marvin Liao, Howie Diamond, and Ryan Hoover.
3. To learn how to get traction…
Listen to Traction. Coming to you from NextView ventures, this show delves into the weird, inspiring, unexpected, and ultimately genius ways startup founders have made progress in the very early days of their companies. It’s a great antidote when you’re in the “startup trough of sorrow,” which is what entrepreneurs go into when they have a major failure.
- How to pivot
- How to ignore the disbelievers
- How to forge on through the worst times
4. To learn how to grow your business from an idea to an 45-person company…
Listen to StartUp. In 2014, public radio veteran Alex Blumberg decided to start a new podcasting company. He also decided to record his entrepreneurship journey and produce it… as a podcast. (Very meta.) StartUp is now heading into its third season, and Gimlet Media — Blumberg’s company — has six podcasts in its roster, $7.5 million in funding, and 45 people on its staff.
- How to write (and rewrite) your business plan
- How to handle inter-company conflict
- How to figure out equity, organization, responsibility, and more
Episode #1, in which Blumberg pitches famous Silicon Valley investor Chris Sacca.
5. To learn more about the startup world…
Listen to This Week in Startups. Once a week, host Jason Calacanis and a rotating group of guest experts sit down to talk about their experiences, their future plans, and of course, the latest news in entrepreneurship. Calacanis has a blunt, straight-forward style, which means the conversations are usually extremely interesting and sometimes controversial.
- What’s happening in Silicon Valley
- How insanely smart people see the world
- How to be more innovative
Episode #423, in which Calacanis talks to Mark Cuban about which startups he’s excited about and why he still invests in new companies (despite having billions in the bank).
6. To learn how to be more creative and grow faster…
Listen to Seeking Wisdom. This show comes from David Cancel, a five-time entrepreneur and former Chief Product Officer of HubSpot. Cancel is a highly respected fixture of the tech community, and you’ll understand why once you hear his innovative leadership and learning techniques.
- How to hire the right people
- How to organize your teams
- How to find awesome mentors
Episode #4, in which Cancel discusses why you should give your employees more autonomy.
7. To learn what goes into an ultra-successful company…
Listen to Collective Wisdom for Tech Startups. Founder Collective is a well-known venture capital fund that’s invested in Uber, Buzzfeed, HotelTonight, and SeatGeek, among others. In this podcast, Founder Collective’s leaders talk to founders whose names you’ll definitely recognize: Phillip Crim, the founder of Casper; Sam Yagan, the CEO of OkCupid; Stephen Kaufer, the cofounder and CEO of TripAdvisor, and many more.
The wisdom is definitely useful, but this show also stands out for its digestible format. Each interview is available both as a full-length show and in roughly one-minute clips.
- How to get tech reporters to cover your startup
- How to set your own salary
- How to build a culture that survives an IPO
Episode #4, in which Scott Belsky talks about founding and growing Behance.
8. To learn how to be a stronger leader…
Listen to the Growth Show. As you can tell from the name, this show is focused on growth — and because growth is such a broad topic, you’ll get suggestions on everything from designing a happier life to balancing innovation and competition.
The guests are equally varied. Although founders feature pretty heavily, authors, speakers, executives, and even a violinist have all appeared on the show.
- How to grow almost anything (your team, your abilities, your brand, your idea, your business, etc.)
Episode #52, in which HubSpot CMO Kipp Bodnar talks to Canva’s co-founder, Cliff Obrecht, and its head of growth, Andre Pinantoan.
9. To learn about design and product management…
Listen to Inside Intercom. In a unique twist, the guest and the host change every episode. The two things you can count on? The host will be an Intercom employee, and the guest will be a leader in product management, design, marketing, or startups.
When you’re fairly new to any (or all) of these worlds, it’s really beneficial to get first-hand insight into from some of the best, most experienced practitioners.
- How the design process works
- How to start and scale a marketing team
- How to sell before you have sales reps
Episode #12, in which Emmet Connolly, Intercom Director of Product Design, talks to Mike Davidson, former VP of Design at Twitter
10. To learn how to start, scale, and fund your startup…
Listen to Startup School Radio. Every week, host and Y Combinator partner Aaron Harris talks to two guests to get their practical advice on running an early-stage company. His guests are always fascinating, intelligent, and wildly successful; for example, past guests include Peter Reinhardt, CEO of Segment; Suhail Doshi, CEO and co-founder of Mixpanel; and Solomon Hykes, CTO and founder of Docker.
- How to launch a startup
- How to overcome major obstacles
- How some of the most successful entrepreneurs think
Episode #35, in which Aaron Harris interviews Paul Graham, author and co-founder of Y Combinator.
11. To learn how to build an amazing culture…
Listen to Mission & Values. Host Bryan Landers explores, as he puts it, “the ‘why’ behind startup work, and the ‘how’ behind their decisions.” In practical terms, that means asking CEOs questions like, “Do your employees have a shared characteristic — something that makes them a good cultural fit?” and “Can you tell me about your transparency value?”
- How values impact the day-to-day of your startup
- How to assess cultural fit
- How to scale your values
Episode #1, in which Landers talks to Zapier CEO Wade Foster.
12. To learn the best startup advice and latest tech trends…
Listen to a16z. You might not’ve heard of this podcast, but you’ve probably heard of Andreessen Horowitz, the VC firm that produces it. Some of the episodes cover tech news, others delve into trends, and the rest (and frankly, the most useful) provide how-tos. There are three to four episodes per week; we recommend only listening to the ones most relevant to you.
- The most important industry news
- Where the software world is headed (and how to prepare)
- How to run a startup