Podcasting is going big in 2021. The media is beginning to take center stage in the world of digital content especially when it comes to a startup podcast. This is evident when we look at Spotify’s recent acquisition of The Joe Rogan Experience (JRE) for a reported $100m. Podcasting is here to stay, and it’s only going to get bigger and better.
Listening to podcasts is a joyous experience. You get to listen to world-class experts share their wealth of knowledge and expertise; in an entertaining format that you can listen to on the go. Think of any sports star, politician, entertainer, or business person you admire; it’s likely they have featured on a podcast and laid out their tips and insider secrets to their success in an entertaining interview.
Imagine being able to listen to such quality information delivered by the thought leaders of today. Podcasts also have limited ads that you can skip at any time, anywhere, and for free. With podcasts, you can.
I’ve been listening to podcasts for years. From comedy to health, self-help to business, there is such a wide range of topics out there for everyone. I’d be lying if I said podcasts haven’t opened my mind. They have educated me on the wonders of the world and what the people in it have to offer.
Podcasts For Startups
A famous quote about reading states, “those that do not read have no advantage over those who cannot.” The same can almost be said for podcasts. If you do not listen to podcasts, you are seriously missing out on what could be vital advice. Advice that can help elevate your business, relationship, or life to the next level, for free.
So whether you want to become an entrepreneur, listen to thought leaders, or hear successful insider stories from entrepreneurs, podcasts are for you. Below we’ve outlined 10 of the best podcasts for startups. Some of these podcasts give you a fantastic insight into what it’s like to start a business and how to manage growth. In contrast, others focus on the mindset of entrepreneurs and how to manage your physical and mental health.
So open up the podcast app on your phone and get ready to subscribe to some of the best, most exciting podcasts for startups out there. This could be the first step to a new direction in your business and life.
#1 Masters of Scale
Hosted by Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, Masters of Scale is an award-winning podcast that brings in-depth analysis, advice, and theories on how to scale and grow businesses. Hoffman doesn’t do this job alone, though; he also brings in legendary industry leaders for his talks.
Just some of the leaders that have been on his show include the founders and CEOs of Netflix, Google, Facebook, Starbucks, Nike, Fiat, Spotify, Instagram, Airbnb, Uber, Paypal, Huffington Post, Twitter, Medium, Bumble, Yahoo, Slack, Spanx, Shake Shack, Dropbox to name a few. Along with the high-profile guests, the use of sound is second to none. It impactfully adds to the storytelling, making a well-edited and snappy podcast.
Come for: The most prominent names in the business
Stay for: The insight and advice
Top 3 Episodes
- How to do good and do good business, w/Starbucks’ Howard Schultz – #21
- Bill Gates: How to accelerate history – #48
- Innovation is managed chaos, w/Eric Schmidt of Google/Alphabet – #6
#2 Mixergy Startup Stories
Hosted by Andrew Warner, Mixergy is another business podcast that features interviews with people at the top of their respective but incredibly diverse industries. What sets Mixergy apart is the depth of research that Andrew Warner and his team gather for each episode. While using a typical bulldog approach to ask penetrating questions. Not letting his guests get away with easy answers, Warner is typical of an investigative journalist. He drills down on points and asks follow-up questions.
Mixergy also integrates case-studies into some of its episodes. Interviewing an array of business owners about the businesses they have built. This results in delivering incredible inside value to aspiring entrepreneurs, showing them that there is no one way to run a company.
Come for: Diverse guests.
Stay for: Warner’s bulldog interview styles.
Top 3 Episodes
- Reddit Founder: “I Wish I Still Owned Reddit Now” – #400
- How Sam Ovens Is Helping Everyday People Start Their Own Consulting Businesses – #1417
- How Clever Entrepreneurs Turned 3 Air Mattresses into Airbnb, the Site that Makes Any Home a Bed and Breakfast – #216
#3 Tim Ferris
One of the Godfathers of podcasting, Tim Ferris, has been around for what feels like years beginning with this startup podcast. Along with Joe Rogan, Tim Ferris is arguably one of the most influential podcasters around. Ferris can not only be called a podcaster, but a business owner, serial entrepreneur, best-selling author, and early-stage angel investor. His investments range from Uber, Duolingo, Shopify, and Evernote, reportedly helping Tim reach a $100m net worth.
While his podcast has lately taken a turn towards more health-related topics ranging from meditation to character development, Tim can bring in world-famous people and gurus in the industry and startup world. Personalities such as Seth Godin, Derek Sivers, Tony Robbins, Ray Dalio, Lebron James, and Vitalik Buterin, the cryptocurrency Etherueum creator, have all appeared on his podcast in recent years.
Come for: Long-form interviews.
Stay for: The range of quality personalities and interview style that packs a massive amount of quality information.
Top 3 Episodes
- How to Design a Life — Debbie Millman – #214
- Tony Robbins — On Achievement Versus Fulfillment – #178
- Jocko Willink — The Scariest Navy SEAL I’ve Ever Met . . . and What He Taught Me – #107
#4 Lewis Howes: School of Greatness
“Former pro-athlete turned lifestyle entrepreneur” is how Lewis Howes begins every podcast. I started listening to Lewis Howes over four years ago on the recommendation of my former boss. Since, I’ve seen this startup podcast grow from one with only a few hundred episodes to one that now has over 1000. Lewis releases 3 new episodes weekly, with a long-form interview format on Mondays & Wednesdays being replaced by a 5-minute motivational burst every Friday.
Howes’ story itself is inspiring. Going from a down-and-out injured pro-athlete with zero career prospects to being called one of the biggest names in podcasting, a best-selling author, and motivational speaker, Howes tries to find and share the definition of greatness in every episode. Attracting various guests from investors, entrepreneurs, therapists, authors, athletes, Howes’ brilliant interview technique brings you into the mind of those on the show, espousing their wisdom and knowledge to the thousands.
Come for: The knowledge.
Stay for: The inspiration and motivation to achieve greatness
Top 3 Episodes
- Mel Robbins – #970
- Wim Hof – #910
- Gary Vaynerchuk – #299
#5 NPR: How I Built This With Guy Raz
One of my absolute favorite podcasts series, not just in the business niche but in general. Guy Raz is a seasoned reporter who oozes a specific style of class interviewing with perfect storytelling. Hosted by NPR, so the editing, writing, and score are all top-notch. The clue is in the title of this podcast. How I Built, This (HIBT) brings in some of the industry’s biggest names, explaining how their company started in the very beginning and is built to last.
There are very few egos or tales of boardroom politics here, just stories of sheer grit and determination and how some went about raising capital. Famous entrepreneurs like Drew Houston of Dropbox, Daniel Mayer of Shake Shack & Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia treat listeners each week to past stories of their businesses’ early beginnings and how they identified the problem their organization now solves, and how they overcame initial hurdles while trying to launch.
It is a beautiful startup podcast that keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout. It introduces listeners to a wealth of personalities in the business world.
Come for: The guests.
Stay for: The storytelling.
Top 3 Episodes
- Ben & Jerry’s: Ben Cohen And Jerry Greenfield – #60
- Southwest Airlines: Herb Kelleher – #11
- Airbnb: Joe Gebbia – #6
#6 Breaking Into Startups
Breaking Into Startups is a platform that features stories of people who broke into tech from non-traditional backgrounds. If you’re curious about how startups work or how to get a job without a degree, the guys at Breaking Into Startups can help.
This startup podcast gives listeners an insider look at the most disruptive startups by sharing success stories from people from all walks of life. This includes guests from college dropouts, pro athletes, army veterans, investment bankers, consultants, and venture capitalists who all acquired new skills and found jobs in technology.
The show highlights how to break away from the traditional route into tech, where guests on the show describe how they attended coding boot camps and immersive programs. After graduating, they found well-paying jobs in startups focusing on a range of tech industries. If you’re a fan of other tech-based startup podcasts, then add this one to your list; you won’t be disappointed.
Come for: Stories of people changing career
Stay for: Advice on how to do it yourself
Top 3 Episodes
- Albrey Brown
- Rodney Urquhart
- Haseeb Qureshi
#7 Startup Podcast with Alex Blumberg & Gimlet Media
I credit “Startup Podcast” by Gimlet Media with launching my insatiable interest in business and startups. This startup podcast is a brilliant introduction for anyone wanting an insider taste of starting a business from the beginning, warts and all. Alex Blumberg, the host & co-founder of Gimlet, started this podcast as an experiment as he decided to quit his job and start his own podcasting business.
Gimlet Media & Alex Blumberg’s unique storytelling technique, combined with a relatable stumble through the world of entrepreneurship, is a welcome change to the polished and interview type of business podcasts we’re now used to. Alex opens up his home, relationship, thoughts, anguish, and anxieties in a podcast that makes you root for the underdog throughout.
In a particularly memorable episode, Blumberg attempts to pitch his business idea to Chris Sacca, a notorious billionaire venture capitalist, and gets it completely wrong. Instead of showing you how to pitch your business, Blumberg shows you precisely what not to do in a refreshingly open and riveting podcast series, especially the first season.
It’s not all bad news for Alex Blumberg and Co.; Gimlet has since grown into one of the biggest podcast media companies in the world, which Spotify recently acquired in a deal worth $200m, (I’m sure they celebrated with a Gimlet or two). The podcast is also the motivation behind the ABC sitcom “Alex Inc.”
Come for: The birth of Gimlet Media
Stay for: The captivating story-line
Top 3 Episodes
- #1 – How Not to Pitch a Billionaire
- #3 – How To Divide An Imaginary Pie
- #6 – How To Value Your Startup
#8 The Joe Rogan Experience (JRE)
One of, if not the biggest and most famous podcasts in the world. Joe Rogan is a UFC commentator, comedian, and reality TV show host, so why is he on a blog post about the best podcasts for startups? Because of his massive audience and influence, he can attract some of the world’s biggest names. Entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk, Andrew Yang, John MacKey, Robert Bigelow & Tom Bilyeu have all appeared on at least one episode.
Rogan himself is a brilliant host. His relaxed style and setting make his guests feel incredibly comfortable throughout, resulting in a more open and honest conversation. The JRE has been responsible for some of the most memorable moments in podcasting history, including one Elon Musk incident which caused Tesla stock to fall by 9% after the episode aired.
The longest of all podcasts on this list with an episode lasting anywhere from 2-3 hours, the JRE is the ultimate in easy listening. Imagine you were at a bar, and you couldn’t help but eavesdrop on the following table, put it on a podcast, and you’ve got the JRE. This show will teach you less about how to start a business and more about entrepreneurs’ minds, what made them successful, and the reasons they wanted to venture into the business world.
Come for: Elon Musk
Stay for: The chit chat
Top 3 Episodes
- Elon Musk – #1169
- Anthony Bourdain & Brian Redban – #138
- Jordan Peterson & Bret Weinstein – #1006
#9 Business Wars
As the name suggests, Business Wars pit well-known companies against each other to deliver some great insight into these companies’ real stories. This podcast highlights famous rivalries and assesses their performance and reputation to show who’s winning the race. Hosted by David Brown, an award-winning radio personality, Brown delivers a show like no other. Primetime business boxing finally has a platform.
Expect to see lineups including; Starbucks Vs. Dunkin Donuts, Nintendo Vs. Sony & Netflix Vs. Blockbuster and more. This no-holds-barred expose into some of the world’s most infamous and binge-worthy business rivalries stokes the flames of already fragile business relationships.
Come for: The headline names.
Stay for: The boardroom politics.
Top 3 Episodes
- Starbucks Vs. Dunkin’
- Southwest Vs. American
- The North Face Vs. Patagonia
#10 HBR Idea Cast
Moving away from the charming personalities and army of famous guests and billionaires is HBR’s Idea Cast. Not to say that this podcast is not as entertaining as the others, but IdeaCast brings under-appreciated but extremely skillful management & leadership experts rather than famous CEOs.
Away from the fireworks and celebrity, HBR’s IdeaCast is arguably one of the more insightful and helpful podcasts when it comes to delivering excellent and actionable business advice. Expect topics and information on everything from networking & growth to business management. However, the real diamond is the podcast’s ability to share valuable information on managing teams of employees and contractors, something often overlooked by its fancier competitors.
For entrepreneurs and founders looking at building a team, this podcast is for you. To make the information being shared more valuable and easier to grasp, the host often frames advice firmly around real-life case studies we all could learn from.
Come for: The real business heroes.
Stay for: The exceptional value.
Top 3 Episodes
- Become a Better Listener
- When to Team Up with Your Competition
- Networking Myths Dispelled
So You’d Really Like To Start A Podcast?
Maybe you’ve tried all of the above podcasts, and you’re inspired to try recording your own. Starting a startup podcast is a business in itself. All you need is a microphone, some editing software, an idea, and away you go. Not sure where to start? Try listening to podcasts about starting a podcast (very meta), or take notes from the above shows and see where you could offer improvements.
Get it right, and podcasting can be a great way to earn a side income or even a full-time one should the show become popular. However, you better begin soon since, as of January 2020, there were 880,000 podcast shows currently available, contributing to over 30m episodes, a figure that’s only going to increase. Launching a podcast isn’t easy, but it’s like any business. It takes determination, dedication, and a staunch mindset never to give up. The biggest stars in the game have over 1000 episodes under their belt. If you want to compete with the big boys, you’ve got to put in the time.
There you have it. Ten of the best podcasts for startup founders to listen to and follow in 2021. These 10 are a sure-fire way to provide motivation and infinite knowledge and wisdom in the world of business and technology. Podcasts are here to stay, and they’re only going to get better as more people realize the platform’s potential and demand higher quality. Don’t miss out on an education you can carry in your pocket. If you’re not listening to podcasts, now is a great time to begin.