We asked the 1000 startup members of the Runway East community to suggest the podcasts they listen to for startup inspiration and motivation, and these are the results. From leading VC’s dissecting the latest technological advancements to gonzo-esque journeys into the inner struggles and hurdles a startup faces as it begins, we’ve found 11 of the best startup podcasts.
HOW I BUILT THIS – NPR
Hosted by award-winning reporter Guy Raz, How I Built This lets entrepreneurs tell their stories in their own words. The podcast has featured guests like Richard Branson, Mark Cuban and the founders of Airbnb, Buzzfeed, Lyft and Patagonia. Raz anchors NPR’s most popular business podcast, encouraging his guests to describe how they’ve built something from nothing.
Raz, formerly a correspondent for NPR at the Pentagon and CNN in Jerusalem, decided it was time for a career shift. Since becoming a radio host, he has curated a podcast essential to anyone involved in startups. “I get to talk to incredibly brilliant and inspiring people, and this show is a master class in life lessons and in building something and in believing in something,” Raz said.
Our favourite episode: Spanx: Sara Blakely The Spanx founder and world’s youngest female billionaire recounts how she went from selling fax machines to eliminating panty lines all across the globe.
STARTUP – GIMLET
The original podcast by today’s podcast giant Gimlet Media, StartUp is hosted by company founder and CEO Alex Blumberg. He is joined by co-host Lisa Chow, a former senior editor of FiveThirtyEight. The first season detailed the creation of Gimlet as a media company, but now each episode takes on a different topic in the startup world. ABC is releasing a sitcom called Alex, Inc. starring Zach Braff based on the media startup’s launch.
Although similar to How I Built This, Blumberg’s series does not just look at success stories, he also illustrates lessons to be learned from failed businesses. Season 3, Episode 10 takes a look at a property in Blumberg’s hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, that has never been able to house a successful business. The space now lies empty and decaying, while Blumberg investigates why all companies die who start there.
Our favourite episode: Episode 1, How Not to Pitch a Billionaire. Blumberg talks about the mistakes he made in his pitch to Chris Sacca, the Silicon Valley venture capitalist who had early-stage investments in Twitter, Uber, Instagram, Kickstarter and more.
THE 20 MINUTE VC
Wonderkid Harry Stebbings interviews the world’s leading venture capitalists for 20 minutes. Stebbings got interested in VC as a 13-year old watching The Social Network, and started his own podcast interviewing VCs when he was 18. He had a stint at London-based venture capitalist firm Atomico, but left after rumors that he is starting his own VC fund.
Renowned for being one of the most well-researched interviewers in the podcast world, Stebbings got his start when he was able to secure an interview with Guy Kawasaki, a Silicon Valley VC. Stebbing’s show is slightly more technical than either of the two podcasts mentioned above, but is especially pertinent to the startup world, with interviews from founders, VCs and accelerators. The podcast airs three times a week and is worth checking out for anyone who wants to dig deeper into startup knowledge.
Our favourite episode: Michael Dearing on 5 Key Principles He Uses to Assess Startup Founders. Dearing, a VC who backed Twitter, MoPub, Birchbox and 99Designs gives a specific criteria for evaluating founders when he is deciding whether or not to invest in a company.
SECRET LIVES OF LEADERS
Recorded at our own Runway East Studios in Shoreditch, this London-focused podcast has featured interviews with HRH Prince Andrew, advertising giant Sir John Hegarty and many more of the UK’s brightest business minds as they spill their secrets to business success. The series is hosted by Dan Murray, co-founder of Mobula and Grabble. Murray himself is a valuable resource, a member of Startups.co.uk Young Guns Class of 2017, but even more valuable when interviewing the top UK founders and VCs, as well as business journalists.
The first in our list that is UK focused, Secret Lives is a must listen for UK startups. Interviewing the top players in UK entrepreneurship, the podcast has talked with the founder of Seedcamp, Photobox and Blippar. An already impressive list despite having just started in April of this year, big things are going to come from Secret Lives.
Our favourite episode: Sarah Wood. It was hard not to go with Prince Andrew, but Sarah is the real superstar. She sold her company Unruly to News Corp for £114 million while staying on as CEO. She also lectures at Cambridge in her spare time.
THIS MUCH I KNOW
This Much I Know is a podcast from Seedcamp, the European seed fund. It is hosted by Carlos Espinal, a Seedcamp partner. Notable guests include Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Phil Libin (co-founder of Evernote) and Mike Butcher (TechCrunch Editor-at-Large). Similar to Secret Lives (above), this show is focused on the European continent’s involvement in the global startup world.
Seedcamp has been the most successful player in recent European seed funding, itself doing a lot to prove that there is a viable market for European startups. In 2016, the fund announced it had returned its original fund two times over. This programme establishes what the seed fund believes are objective facts for European startups, in an attempt to help companies and push the industry forward.
Our favourite episode: Ben Saunders. Absolutely nothing to do with startups or entrepreneurship, 26-year old Saunders was the youngest person to ski solo to the North Pole in 2004. Although not directly related to the business world, his story of perseverance is an inspirational lesson for all. “Self-belief is something like a muscle – it responds to being challenged,” he says.
THE TIM FERRISS SHOW
The self-proclaimed ‘human guinea pig’ Tim Ferriss has one of the most well-known business podcasts available anywhere. Not necessarily startup specific, Ferriss talks to pretty much anyone and everyone he believes has a valuable perspective on how to be successful.
Although he has become a celebrity himself, Ferris has scored interviews with the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Malcolm Gladwell, David Blaine, Arianna Huffington and more. Clearly a diverse group of subjects, we guarantee Ferriss has interviewed someone you are interested in. Check out Ferriss’ unique direction with your favourite celebrities insights into the business world.
Our favourite episode: Investing Wisdom from Marc Andreessen, Peter Thiel, Reid Hoffman, Chris Sacca and Others. Having all of these big name entrepreneurs in one place talking about what they look for in a company is a necessary resource for any startup looking for funding.
The podcast of world famous Silicon Valley VC Andreessen Horowitz (aka a16z), the a16z podcast offers a rotating panels of hosts, often featuring Sonal Choksi, former editor of WIRED Opinion. This podcast is definitely more technical than some of the others on this list, but has valuable insight into some of the inner workings of the startup world.
While most programmes on our list are interview based, a16z is discussion based, bringing in varied panels of startup experts, including founders, VCs, professors, authors, politicians and CEOs. Slightly more technical, the panels will discuss tech news and investigate case studies of companies for valuable lessons.
Our favourite episode: Taking the Measure of Tech in Policy with Kamala Harris. The California Senator discusses the intersection of technological innovations with ethical considerations, and what role technology ought to play in our society.
MASTERS OF SCALE WITH REID HOFFMAN
Masters of Scale with Reid Hoffman is hosted by the co-founder of LinkedIn and partner at Greylock. Offering the unique insight from a proven entrepreneur, Hoffman gives listeners the inside scoop as he talks with the biggest names in the startup world.
A WaitWhat production, Hoffman discusses the theories he has learned in his experience with the experiences of the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, Eric Schmidt and Brian Chesky. Putting what he believes to the test, getting a front row seat to the back and forth of Hoffman and other industry leaders should not be available for free.
Our favourite episode: Netflix’s Reed Hastings. The founding CEO of Netflix discusses how the company has pivoted from a DVD rental service to online streaming to an award-winning video production studio. “A winning culture only emerges when every employee feels they personally own the culture,” said Hastings.
Y COMBINATOR PODCAST
The podcast from the world’s most famous startup accelerator, Y Combinator, is a must listen. The show hit the ground running in May of this year, featuring a diverse range of interviews with tech heavyweights like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, as well as with cultural influencers like Ryan Ridley (Rick and Morty Writer).
Startup School Radio is another podcast available from YC that is also worth checking out. It’s a weekly broadcast hosted by partner Aaron Harris and is an extension of YC’s startup conference available for free. The programme focuses on offering practical advice for those at any point in the life of a startup.
Our favourite episodes (a tie): Ex Machina’s Scientific Advisor – Murray Shanahan. The research scientist at DeepMind and professor of Cognitive Robotics at Imperial College discusses his experience helping out in the sci-fi thriller and his other contributions to the scientific community. We also had to mention Sam Altman’s interview with Elon Musk, which was obviously awesome. The episode is called “How to Build the Future” and is also available on YouTube.
SETH GODIN’S STARTUP SCHOOL
Originally a workshop for 30 entrepreneurs, Seth Godin recorded his 15 lessons on how to get a startup off the ground. Although they were recorded in 2012 and many things have changed in startup’s since, there are many timeless lessons valuable to any new business. These free recordings are a great resource for how to develop an idea into a business from its very beginnings.
Godin is a renowned leader in marketing. After selling his marketing company Yoyodyne to Yahoo for $30 million, he became Yahoo’s VP of direct marketing. Over the years, he has kept a blog and written 17 books, making the New York Times and Bloomberg Businessweek bestseller lists.
Our favourite episode: Adjusting the Course. Godin discusses how entrepreneurs need to be willing to pivot, as too many startups fail because they are unwilling to change their original idea and adapt to the actual market.
HOW TO START A STARTUP
This video series is the product of a partnership between Y Combinator and Stanford University. Featuring the big names of YC like Paul Graham and Sam Altman, as well as other giants of the industry like Reid Hoffman and Ben Horowitz.
Not a traditional audio podcast, this 20 lesson lecture series was a originally a class taught at Stanford in Palo Alto. The videos are available on YouTube as well as audio versions on traditional podcast platforms. The information in these lectures is top of the line education from Silicon Valley’s best, all available for free online.
Our favourite episode: Growth – Alex Schultz. The VP of Growth at Facebook discusses theories and practices of how to build a business that any startup can learn from.